Posted 2010-04-09 9:55 AM (#118627) Subject: Horse kicks in trailer
I've got a gelding that is a bad kicker in the trailer. Thought maybe I would post here to see if anyone has any advice. I've had this horse since he was 2 and he is 15 now. He has been a jerk in the trailer for several years. Hasn't been in any accidents and I am a very careful and slow driver. He is big, 17 hands and well over 1100lbs, so he can do damage. In fact I have replaced the back wall of my trailer three times and the back door once. When he kicks (or bucks) he can rock a 37' motorhome going down the highway.
Previous trailer was 4-Star 4 horse slant gooseneck. It was a stock combo with drop down windows on the head and stock slots on the hip. It was a VERY loud trailer going down the road. I rode back there with a new foal once and couldn't believe the noise. I just got a new 4-Star three horse bumper pull. The gelding hauled the first time well in the new trailer, but then the second time he ripped up the padding by kicking and dented the side wall. I was hoping that it was just the noise in the old trailer as the gooseneck was the only trailer that I have hauled him in since I bought him and he hauls better in my friends trailer that doesn't have the stock sides. Both the old gooseneck and new bumper pull are 8' wide and 7'6" tall.
I have tried hauling him in every spot of the trailer. I have tried turning him loose. I have tried tying his head up tight. I have tried 2 way hobbles. I tried hauling him alone, or with other horses. (Although he does seem to haul a bit better alone or with my stud. But neither of those are an always available option.) Hauled him once on a short trip with the window and the window screen down so he could stick his head all the way out and he was an angel. But that is just so dangerous.
I have tried just about everything. He has been hauled extensively. Has no problem loading or unloading. Quiet and calm. Good in his stall and under saddle. He will not eat on the trailer. Also he will ride in the trailer with the point of his hock up against the back wall. He almost always has his right hock rubbed raw after a trailer ride.
He is a very competitive show horse and I love showing him. But I'm going to kill him if he destroys my brand new trailer! (HaHa) Other than retiring him to the pasture does any one have any suggestions? I am considering three or four way hobbles. Two way hobbles don't work. That just taught him to buck/hop up in the air with both hind legs.
Posted 2010-04-09 10:55 AM (#118632 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
What type of trailer does your friend have? What is different about it? Please don't take this the wrong way, but who was driving each time? There are several things that could be happening._____How does he haul in a straight load (I know you said you've hauled with him loose). Some horses like to right straight with side supports._____Does your new trailer have the stock sides, too?_____Is he only doing the kicking while in motion, or when at stop, too?_____Is he one that if his ears tap the top of the trailer, he does not like it?_____Are your brakes working properly? Any electrical issues? I recently had some brake issue with my sister's trailer and my horse was all over the place in there._____With the two way hobbles - not sure what those are. Are they similar to a breeding hobble?
Posted 2010-04-09 10:57 AM (#118633 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
Location: Brooksville, Fl
I wonder if his issue is purely clausterphobia since he was so good with his head hanging out so he could see? Can he hang his head out of his stall or is he totally shut in? You could experiment with that theory by shutting him in his stall (providing he can hang his head out already) and seeing how he behaves. I have one horse that goes nuts if I shut his outside windows to his stall and I can't close the top rear doors of my 2-horse on him that have no windows. The shipping boots that cover the hocks might be a good thing so he doesn't rub himself raw. You have tried so many things already....Make sure he has as much light as possible in the trailer. Maybe bars on the dividers rather than a solid divider might help him feel less clausterphobic? Letting his head out would be great if it were't so dangerous and such a simple fix too....bummer.
Posted 2010-04-09 1:22 PM (#118644 - in reply to #118632) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
He does the same thing no matter who is driving. We tried switching drivers. I have never hauled him in a straight load. New trailer does not have stock sides. It has drop down windows on both sides. He kicks both in motion and when stopped. His ears could easily touch the top of the trailer and he HATES having his ears messed with at all. You may be onto something there. Brakes and all electrical have been looked at several times. I was worried that there was a short and he was getting shocked but all checked out good. He has me stumped.
Posted 2010-04-09 1:30 PM (#118645 - in reply to #118633) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
He is in a solid sided stall so no window. He actually seems to haul better if I put him in the front stall with the stud divider. I have tried the shipping boots and hock wraps, he ends up with them down around his cannon bones and ankles. Thanks for your thoughts!
Posted 2010-04-09 3:38 PM (#118651 - in reply to #118645) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
Location: Brooksville, Fl
I have tried the shipping boots and hock wraps, he ends up with them down around his cannon bones and ankles. Thanks for your thoughts!
Mine occasionally end up with those wraps around their ankles too...I have a 16.1H horse in a 7ft trailer. He's not funny about his ears but he can touch the top of the trailer which doesn't bother him but it does me....Maybe the other poster hit on it about his ears and perhaps that is why he's happier with his head out...free ears :) Buy a taller trailer..
I really hope you can figure it out. Sometimes it's such a simple thing, or can't see the forest for the trees thing. Good luck!
Posted 2010-04-09 4:31 PM (#118652 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
Location: Galahad, AB, Canada
It sounds like you've tried a lot of things, and done your homework, so I'm not sure if I have any magic for you. I personally would be very hesitent to use 3 way hobbles. If you ever had to brake hard, such as to avoid a deer running across the road, I think he could easily go down in the trailer, not what you'd like!
Your horse may want a higher trailer. But this isn't always feasible. Is there anyway you could feed him off the ground, so he kept his head low a good part of the time? You mentioned he wouldn't eat, but i wondered if he would with practice. I have a slant load, and I feed my horses off the ground when we travel, they eat almost the whole way. I feed a better quality hay than they normally get, so they consider it a yummy treat, I also feed alfalfa cubes off the ground. If you could find a way to persuade your horse to eat the problems might stop.
Next, I might try a fly mask when traveling. I don't know why, but I read a study that showed horses that wear fly masks in stressful situations often reacted calmer. Perhaps its because there vision is somewhat less. Simple to try, might help. You might also want to try ear plugs. The plugs take a big of getting used to, but cause no harm whatsoever, and they do block some of the noise that might be causing him fear. I know both these things sound unrelated to your problem, but I think they would be worth the try.
I personally would try a shock collar before I would three way hobble him, but I'm not sure if you're there yet, or not. Likewise, I think I would allow my horse to ride with his head out the window before allowing him to totally destroy the trailer. Riding with a head out isn't safe, but if you put on a fly mask you'll get some protection. And if you're hauling only short distances you might be okay. As I mention, this is a last desperate thing to do, not the real answer, but it almost seems as if you've tried everything else. For his rubbing his hock, I would buy some of the "hock protectors" that you can get for horses that get bed sores there. I don't think he'll rub that down to his ankle, it only goes on the hock and is not a top to bottom of the leg protection. I think the rubbing may be part of the problem. I wonder if he's too long for the trailer? That could be true in a slant load, many of them are none too long. I find eating off the ground solves that issue. lastly, have you considered a mild sedative? Maybe try some of the herbal products first, and talk to a vet. You wouldn't want him too sedated to stand.
Posted 2010-04-10 5:39 AM (#118662 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
Location: Home of Wild Turkey Whiskey
If being rid of him is not an option(I don't like horses with trailer issues) then I might really look into this hock thing, if he is putting that much pressure against the point of his hock will traveling, think every bigger bump is rubbing it, I might try shipping boots on him to see if that irritation is what's causing the kicking. If he is truely a sensible horse and is just bracing himself up in the trailer then the pain of that hock rubbing may be the problem, if shipping boots aren't an option try rubbing a bit of Vasoline on it before loading.
Posted 2010-04-10 9:58 AM (#118663 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
We haul many, warmblood-size, draft-cross, and draft horses and I can tell you from experience that the standard size slant load stall is made for your usual 15.2H quarter horse. The length and width is not there for a 17H horse, especially the length, unless the angle on the stalls was changed when the trailer was ordered to accommodate a warmblood or draft. He needs to be in a 10' long straight load stall, at least 7' from butt bar to chest bar, and 3' for the head. I would guess that might have been why he was happier with his head out the window. It might take him a while to lose the kicking habit once you start hauling him in a straight load, but he should eventually realize that he's no longer a 10 lb. load in a 5 lb. box. Make sure also that you have a trailer that is 7'6" tall, without mangers. Mangers would not allow him to bring is his leg forward to occasionally stretch or to put his head down. Good luck.
Posted 2010-04-10 2:21 PM (#118673 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
Location: rapid city sd
We had a 4 year old stud that was a jerk in the stall when you led any other horses past he would lunge at the bars. However his number one naughty stunt was to kick in the trailer when we pulled off the interstate at our exit and actualy bowed out the side wall of one trailer. When I would ride in the trailer I could intimidate him enough he would behave, but would glare at me the whole time. I tried tying his back feet to his front, his back feet to his head, somehow he could still manage. So, then came the dog shock collar. I attched it to the top of his halter and he had no idea how much I enjoyed that first shock. Probably 3 times but he had to where that halter for the next 4 years. Never to kick again. Yup, worked in the stall too.
Posted 2010-04-11 8:48 AM (#118688 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
Wilmarfarm, Did you figure out anything with your horse?
I measured my horse's length with her head in a relaxed position before we started trailer shopping many months ago and I was shocked at the long measurement (she is 16 hands right now). We ended up with a four horse so we could give her two stall sections. One of the posts mentions the hock rubbing, which would most certainly cause a horse to kick as he starts to get sore. I would think your 8' wide trailer would give plenty of length if you can give your horse two stalls. If your 17 hand horse has huge ear issues and/or is high headed while being hauled, your 7'6" trailer may not be enough. I know mine is a real look-i-loo when riding in the trailer so her head is up and moving while we're hauling. But maybe adding the extra stall space will be all you need.
Have you ridden in the back with your horse on a haul long enough for him to do the kicking so you can see exactly what he is doing? I would only recommend this if you have enough space to be safe from any kicking. This might help you figure out what is going on.
Also, I had a 16.2 TB gelding that had terrible ear issues when I bought him. He had been eared at the track. It took a little time, but I slowly worked him out of that ear problem to where he really liked having those ears handled. This transferred to his hauling better, too, so maybe this would help your horse?
You've had your horse a long time and I hope you get this figured out. I'd like to know what ends up working for you. Good luck.
Posted 2010-04-11 11:52 AM (#118693 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
I would say most people buy a trailer that is too small for their horse/horses and, unfortunately, most trailer dealers aren't really knowledgeable enough to give proper advice. Aside from the obvious problem of clonking their head when loading or unloading, riding in a too-small space with sensitive body parts touching or rubbing can lead to all sorts of issues and injuries.And personally, I'd never hobble a horse in a trailer.
Posted 2010-04-12 1:27 PM (#118728 - in reply to #118627) Subject: RE: Horse kicks in trailer
Location: Burleson, TX
There is a real clue here when said that "right hock" is the one being rubbed. That is the one nearest the wall in a slant load. Too much advice already here to add more, but think there is something about the slant load that is causing the problem.