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Friday, February 5, 2010

Having it her way

I own a three horse slant trailer. I try to keep in mind that the horse is, as a result, not square. Although I have no proof to back it up, I believe that asking a horse to travel long distances with one diagnol taking the brunt of acclerations And deacclereations is not necessarily the best thing. Ideally I want the horse to have the freedom to change position for comfort and muscle fatigue relief, be able to use the trailer and dividers for support when needed, AND provide a safe trailer for me to pull by not making the trailer shift too much when she moves.

It's a lot to ask.

I think I have found the method that works for me.

Farley has finally gotten to the point where she's absolutely solid in the trailer. I don't have to worry about her pulling back or trying to escape from the trailer. As a result, I feel comfortable getting in with her in the middle of a trip to "rearrange" her.

On the portions of the trip that are mostly flat, smooth, straight highway I'm letting her ride in the trailer with no divider. (she rides in the second stall to maximize my weight distribution, so I'm describing the divider that seperates the second and the last stalls). Then, when it's time to drive in he moutains or in town, I'll swing the divider back over so she has something to lean on.

I am taking a risk but I think it is a small one compared to the benefit over a long trip. Obviously, if there isn't a good place for me to pull over and adjust the divider I won't.

Farley seems to like to ride straight but also seems to like the dividers in the mountains (moves around less) so this seems like a good compromise.

I could buy a new trailer, but that's the difference between fantasy and reality!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod


  1. Oh the things we do for our horses! I have a stock type trailer with a solid wall that divides the trailer into two box stalls that are about a 6x7 foot size. I sometimes leave Boomer untied for short trips and he always ends up facing the same way, at a backwards slant facing the 'road side'. So, when i do tie him, I tie him in that direction, but he doesn't have panels so he can still shift around pretty well even when tied.

    Would it be possible to remove the divider between the front and center stalls so that you can put her in with only the back divider done so she can have a double stall to be able to move but still have a divider to lean on so you dont have to get out as much?

  2. There was actually a study done about the way horses prefer to ride in a trailer. I can't remember where I saw it now, but they let the horses loose in the trailer so they could decide how to stand. Most of them chose to stand facing straight backwards. And sure enough, when my boss bought a wild filly and brought her home loose in the trailer, that's how she stood the entire ride. I'm gonna have to go find that study now...

  3. Heather - Good idea, but for now I have to my first stall for storage so it's not avaiable. It also puts all my weight on the trailer in front of the axel which makes me a bit nervous. And since my first stall is half size (how they can even justify this trailer as a three horse absolutely blows my mind) she still couldn't get staight like seems to want to do. Still, it's something i can keep in mind for the future.

    Breanna-I've seen studies similar to the ones you describe, however the ones I saw said that horses seemed to spend time in different positions as the trip went on, sometimes riding backwards, sometimes forward etc. The highest percentage of time was spent forward and backward, while the least amount was spent at a slant. However, like you I don't have it at my finger tips!

    So here's a question for y'all-does anyone have ant of these studies that we are talking about?

    Question 2 - what is you ideal trailer?

    I would LOVE to have a 3+1 walkthrough with a font dressing room. Probably a gooseneck. As my second trailer I would have a benderup with a small light popup camper for my truck.

  4. My ideal trailer...
    Three horse reverse slant load with a side ramp and a rear tack room. Gooseneck with a LQ in the front.
    a four horse straight load (two face backwards, two face forwards) with a side and rear ramp that can be converted into two box stalls. Plus tack and LQ. This would be a VERY long but useful trailer. Not that I would ever need to haul 4 horses.

  5. You know, I never thought about how hard it would be hard the horse to ride at a diagonal. Though it would explain why, after trailering Estes for six hours through the mountains, she was so stiff and sore. She'd been raised being trailered in a stock trailer and we hauled her in a three-horse slant. By the time we unloaded her, her right front shoulder was stiff. Given her age, we chalked it up to arthritis, but after I had a massage therapist work on her, it loosened up so it was soft tissue-related, not arthritis.

    We now have just a two-horse bumper pull, in which she faces forward, and she hasn't had any problems.

  6. I have a four horse slant. My horses definately prefer to walk in, turn around, and face backwards towards the non-road side. The trailer dividers are short on their head side this way and I think they like to lean against the dividers.
    This only works well if I'm hauling one or two horses and can leave a section empty in between. Otherwise they tend to fuss at each other.
    I have hauled horses loose several times and they have all turned to face backwards as well.
    Thanks for bringing this up, I have been hauling my mare facing the front on the way to rides (as I need to keep the front of the trailer clean due to thats where I end up sleeping).
    I may have to stop and turn her around half way on the long trips so she doesn't tire out on one side!
    Karen W.

  7. I have read the same studies but also can't cite the sources (bad librarian!), however I do recall a warning in the same article from the trailer manufacturers:

    Apparently, the "inside of the road" side of a slant-load trailer is engineered to carry the head of the horse, which is heavier than the butt of the horse. Flipping the horse around so they ride slanted with their head on the "outside of the road side" screws up the geometry of the trailer and makes it a less-stable ride. This is not true for open or stock trailers, just slant-loads.

    Also in the article I read was information about how ROADS are built. They slant! The high point is the centerline and the whiteline on the outside of each lane is lower so that if a vehicle loses control it will "fall" away from oncoming traffic.

    The combination of "heavy end of the horse + low side of the road" makes for bad engineering, which is why slant trailers are built with the horse's head on the driver's side.

    Who knew?

  8. That is interesting! I may have to stick to the stock type trailer, I never thought about the slant of the road affecting the ride but it makes sense.
    Karen W.

  9. The crown on the road is also the reason they recommend if pulling a single horse in a 2 horse straight load, to put them on the left side.

    When loading and pulling my horse trailer I consider the crown of the road, where the weight is compared to the axles as well as what forces are going to be acting on the horse. I will do whatever is necessary for the comfort of my horse, as long as it does not compromise the handling of the trailer. I don't want to get into a situation that could have been avoided if my trailer was loaded correctly. For this reason I will not let my horses travel loose in the trailer. If I cannot make my horses comfortable *enough* in a trailer that also does not compromise the handling then it's time to look at a new trailer....I know it may seem like the difference in handling is very minor, but I don't want to have any regrets if I get into an accident related to a prevantable cause like how I loaded....(this caution could also have come from pulling a trailer with a truck that was really too small for the job for a couple of years).

    I also think about how my horses are loaded if there was an accident where my horse trailer flipped on its side. I have a book I carry that tells rescue crews how to get horses out of different kinds of trailers. Slant loads with rear tacks are the most challenging. Any kind of straight load with front tacks are less challenging!

  10. A chart with rescue info seems like a great thing to laminate and put inside the trailer door along with vet and owner info!

  11. i had heard that a slant load was supposed to be more comfortable for the horses, but i've never actually used one and what you say makes a lot of sense. it's great you put so much thought into your horse's comfort :-)

    ideally i'd love to have a 4-5 horse gooseneck or a 4-5 horse van. but i did also see a really cool bumper pull once that had a side-load ramp, but the horses could face front or back and the front had a nice dressing/tack room with a bathroom. now THAT would come in handy on the road! ;-)

  12. So, if I post my dream trailer on here, does that enter me into a drawing to win it???? haha!

    I want to have enough room to haul 2 horses. A gooseneck trailer is MUCH smoother to pull than a bumper, so the next trailer we get will be that. Would LOVE a living quarters with a cooking area and storage to keep camping supplies in. It's also important that the trailer be very well ventilated, to me, just windows on most horse trailers aren't enough to keep a horse safe in the summer heat, especially after a ride, so I guess that means a stock type trailer.

    Right now I have a 16' stock trailer, that I pull with an F250HD. I leave the front half for tack and put the mare in the back, tying her in the front left corner, but she can swing her hindquarters side to side as needed, and always stands WIDE. My husband has said that while it's best to put the weight on the front of the trailer, it's okay to haul just one 900 lb horse, because she's so light it won't make a difference to the heavy truck. But then, he's used to hauling 6 fat calves in that same stock trailer.

  13. I don't know exactly which studies everyone is referring to, but look on the Equs website and search through their index. I have seen articles they have done with the studies cited.

    My recollection is that that the results were uncertain and depended heavily on the individual horses preference.

    Also, IMHO (I'm an engineer for a major road agency) if the truck/trailer combination is in balance, the crown of most roads should not be deciding factor in where the horse rides in a straight load. It is generally 2% or less on a straight away(but can be larger on back roads). I can see where for a long trip it could be an issue for a slant load with the horse facing to the outside.

    I would place the horse more for safety in case I had to access the trailer on the side of the road.



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