Click Here to see a poor horse that was loaded wrong and fell out of his trailer since the owner failed to secure the door and then ran down the freeway scared to death until it was caught and then watch how the wrong way is to load a scared hurt horse.
This the most common problem of all horse people. Yet it is the one of the easiest things to teach a horse. It amazes me how so many people blame the horse for not loading. Things like my horse is stubborn, my horse is a fighter, my horse has a high pain tolerance, I have to hit my horse hard to make him listen and the list goes on. There are always tell-tell signs of someone that truly understands a horse. Lead rope, reins and trailer loading. Leading: Watch someone lead their horse, if they are relaxed, leading with a lose rope (Photo to right is the wrong way to lead, notice the tight rope). Leading should be relaxed verses dragging, pulling, tugging and tight lead rope. Reins: Watch someone hold their reins, it they are lose, relaxed and never held tight verses pulling, tugging, yanking and always moving the reins unconsciously. (Photo reins too tight) Trailer loading: Watch someone who loads with a lose rope, relaxed and calm verses someone who yells, pulls, tugs, whips, hits or forces a horse to load.
If you watch other horse people and you see someone do these three things calmly, with lose control and without any force, fear or pain, then they probably understand a horse. You may see people do one or two of these but I rarely see too many do all three.
NEVER USEa whip, a stud chain, multiple people, multiple ropes, twitches, ear pulls, force, fear or pain to load a horse into a trailer. You will only teach the horse to fear the trailer more and confirm that the trailer brings pain, fear and force. Too many people only load their horse before they leave for a trip. This teaches the horse all the bad things about the trailer. It is the same thing as if a person only catches or visits their horse when they saddle up and ride, the horse learns NOT to be caught. Do not try and load a horse with a fly mask on, this obstructs a horse's vision and will only increase the horse's fear and concern. Well-lighted, open, trailers are best for teaching a horse to load. Like with all horse training, release and giving back is key. "DO NOT EXPECT THE HORSE TO LOAD ON THE FIRST TRY". Stop and give release, if the horse tries with one foot, give release and allow the horse to back up and relax, don't rush it, don't force it, don't put a time limit on it, these are all things that make trailer loading fail and then this teaches the horse to resist more.
HORSE TRAINER / HORSE ABUSE WARNING
The picture below is Ms. Young and Her Trainer
Here is "The Wrong Way" to trailer load a horse demonstrated by a "HORSE TRAINER"
I have said it before, just because someone says they are a horse trainer does NOT make it so. This woman works has a Vet Tech and tells people she is a horse trainer. Since there are so much ignorance in the horse world, people believe this and are too stupid to see that this is abusive and NOT training. CLICK HERE to Watch This Video of Horse Trainer Krystalynn Young Trailer Loading
Here is a picture where her training site used to be it has been removed now, it also shows Her Trainer calling her his assitant.
She is an EVENTING TRAINER, another abusive horse sport. Her Trainer Michael Vermaas
, who also teaches eventing and calls her his "Assistant" tells you what kind of guy he is since he trained her. According to some Krystalynn has been removed from her work as a vet tech after the release of this video. She still works Young Eventing Equine Center as a Horse Trainer. There is currently an open investigation and they are working to prosecute her as well as the videographer (allegedly her then-boyfriend) who was complacent in the abuse.
The pic below is Ms. Young Winning a Blue Ribbon - wonder how much she beat this horse to win this.
Before attempting to train your horse loading set the trailer up so it appears open with good light. You will want to open all windows, open all doors, secure all doors so they do not swing or move which may spook the horse. If someone has not ruined the horse by beating, forcing and hitting the horse to load it, you will not need much time spent on removing this fear. However, if you had a so-called trainer or horse expert person do all these fear and force tactics to load the horse, then you will have to take more time undoing all the damage they have done. If you do it right the first time it will be faster: "If you take the time it takes, it will take less time."
How many horse people can say they have ridden in a horse trailer as a horse? Not very many. I can tell you, it is loud, unstable, rough, dusty, and not pleasurable. I know this because I wanted to see how my horse felt. I could not hear myself talk. A trailer is a scary, closed area, with no way out and makes a horse feel insecure and trapped.
Watch a Video of Me Riding inside a trailer.
A horse is a flight animal and Mother Nature programmed them to run when in danger, to stay in open areas to easily see danger and not to get in small confined areas where a predator can trap them and eat them. So getting into a trailer goes against all that Mother Nature and instincts as told the horse. Anyone that does not understand this fear, does not understand a horse.
I am not a big fan of using food for trailer problems even thou it may help, it is not my first choice. You always hear great advice from everyone to put food in the trailer to train a horse. Trailer loading is about trust and respect that the horse has for the person putting them in the trailer. I have my doubts about any trainer that cannot get a horse to load. I have loaded horses that have broken halters, kicked and have been in trailer wrecks. Therefore, I know that loading; is about understanding the horse, not about tricks, food or force. With that said once a horse knows how to load and has loaded for years, if that horse refuses to load, it becomes a respect or trust issue and may not a fear issue. That horse needs to be shown that it must load and cannot say no. Only if the horse is good at loading and has done it so many times before, so you know the horse knows.
Here is a link to Monty Roberts trying to promote a special halter. I like Monty in some ways, think he has done well for horses, but this video is not what I would call his best work. He shows how to load a horse and succeeds. He makes it more about his halter, but his technique works. Look at the video as pressure and release. He keeps the focus on him, he gives lots of direction and does not let the horse freeze up and just focus on the scary trailer. This was done a little fast for me but the concept is good. Allow the horse to accept it, keep the horse focused on you, give good consistent direction, keep the horse's feet moving, do not trap or lock the horse in, do not shut the door and do not get into a fight with the horse. Watch a video by Monty Roberts on trailer loading: Click Here
NOTE: I am not a Fan of Monty Roberts, he fools people to buy his worthless gear like stupid halters and head pads for horses that bump their head when trailer loading. If your horse is hitting his head where you need a pad, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG, having a pad on the horse's head does not help you or the horse, but it makes lots of emotional people FEEL better so they buy it. Also, Monty supports Tennessee Walking Horse Shows that sore horses and promote the Big Lick, you can watch the video I have on this topic, Tennessee Walking Horse Abuse That Monty Supports.
I was told a story about a "trainer" that came to get a horse and could not get the horse to load. So he left the trailer and when another horse went in the trailer, the other horse (first time loader) went in with the first horse. Guess what happened? The door was slammed shut and the horses were trapped. What do you think happened to that horse's trust? Did the horse learn to load or learn that he is trapped, if he goes in a trailer? Therefore, the trainer had to come back for his trailer, no telling how long this took and how long the poor horses were caged and trapped in the trailer. Anyway, the "trainer" went to let one horse out and ended up letting both horses out. Thinking like a horse, how do you think "the never been in a trailer horse" felt about his first trailer experience? What lessons do you think this horse learned? I will give you a hint, nothing good!
I do not see a lot of patience from a trainer that first, cannot load a horse and secondly, once a horse is loaded he cannot get one horse out without letting the other horse out. This guy may be a great trainer, but I believe good trainers should first be good horseman with good horsemanship skills. Any good horseman understands a horse and can work around most horse issues. The problem with many trainers is that they train the horse for them and not for the owner or the horse. If I help someone with a problem, I do not just work on the horse. If I do that, then only I can handle the horse and the owner will still have the same problems. I will only work on horses if the owner is willing to get involved, learn the horse, and understand the horse. That way they will be able to fix problems and become a better horse person, which helps the horse in the best way. I see many people say that guy has a good horse, he must be a good trainer. Because a horse is good for someone does not make that horse a good horse. He may be scared, he be so controlled that he cannot react or he may be drugged or in pain from large bits or spurs. OK off my soapbox on trainers and back to trailer issues.
You do not absolutely need a trailer to teach a horse to load, but it would be better and is a bit easier. So if you can get a trailer at you place that would be best. If you get one, put it near your horse, in the horse's pasture or at the gate where the horse comes by a lot. The more the horse has to walk by it, see it, and is exposed to it, the better. (NEVER ride a horse into a trailer, if it spooks and rears it will break your neck and back) By leaving the trailer where the horse is exposed to it a lot, it will soon see it as part of a safe environment and will ignore it. Then you need to lead and walk the horse by the trailer, tie her to it to groom her, give her grain or treats by it, make the horse trailer a safe and nice place to be. Once the horse feels safe by the trailer, then you can start working on getting her inside. Do not let the horse know your goal is to get her inside. The horse needs to figure out that when I am inside the trailer, I am left alone with no pressure (release), I am safe and it is not a bad place to be. If you only focus on getting the horse inside, forcing or scaring the horse, then it will know to fear the trailer and avoid it.
If you do not have a trailer, you can use a garage, a small area, make a covered area with a sheet or tarp, or find some place that resembles a small-enclosed area that is spooky or scary to your horse. Once you get your horse in any of these areas, he will go into a trailer with little or no problem. I discuss this in my video about "Sending Horses".
You have to be able to handle your horse well before you start. Work on moving your horse in and out of gates, doors and confined areas. Back her in gates, around corners that she cannot see, etc. She has to know a walk or forward command and or go signal. When you move a horse's feet, you build trust and gain respect. Most horses will not load because it does not trust and respect you enough to give up its safety for you. I like my horses to load without halters or ropes and just by me pointing to trailer and telling them to load. That is the way all horses should be able to load. However, this takes time, trust and understanding of the horse. You can get your horse to load this way in about two hours. I know what you are thinking. I have heard it a 100 times. Not my horse, you do not know this horse, my horse is stubborn, my horse is too smart, etc. Trust me on this, you can load your horse as easy as walking it into pasture, if you do it right, within a couple of hours, without pain, whips, force or fear.
First, do not force it, do not trap it, do not scare it, do not hit it, do not cause it pain and do not shut the door as soon as it goes in the trailer. Most people do all of these things trying to load a horse. Why, because they think like a person (predator) and not like a horse (prey). A horse is always more relaxed with they think they have an escape or can run if needed. Most horses are always better when their feet are moving.
Once you work on getting your horse to walk when you tell her and to go where you tell her, she will walk into the trailer. Many people rush this step and make this a lot harder than it is. When you try to get her in the trailer, don't let her walk in right away. If you try to get her in the trailer, she will not want to do it. Just let her explore and check out the trailer without entering. Walk her up to it and then walk her away, walk her up to it, stand with her and let her relax and then walk her away from it. Don't just concentrate on the door or she will pick up that you just want her to get in. Work on the whole trailer, front, sides and entrance. You don't want her to know or think you are trying to get her in the trailer, it has to be her idea. Click Here to see a clip on a horse trailer accident to show the importance of "safety chains". Had this trailer had them these horses would have lived.
The more you walk up to trailer and then walk away the easier it will be. If she attempts to get in the trailer, only let her put one or two feet in and then calmly back her out and walk away. This is an important step. If you let a horse go all the way, they may get scared, will not know how to back out and will go into panic fear flight mode. Then you blew it and have to start over. By making the horse back out after one foot, two feet, one rear foot, both rear foot, you train the horse how to back out and let her know she can get out easy. Pretty soon she will be thinking why can't I walk in the trailer and relax and stop all this backing out and she will want to walk in.
Bring her back to the trailer, you enter and walk to the end of the lead rope with you in trailer and her out (don't pull her or call her) just stand there or sit there. She may sniff, paw, snort, step up and step down. Let her do what she wants, she is learning. If she steps in fine, let her and just relaxes. Do not react or get excited or happy, just act as if any other time she walked up to you. The less of a big deal you make it, the less of big deal it will be.
Another tip is open all doors and windows, let as much light in as you can, secure doors with hay string or strap so the wind will not blow or move them. Once she goes in on her own, give her a little carrot (this is my touch, not required). Next time, maybe scratch her favorite spot, give her treat and walk away. If you are in a closed and safe area, after she enters on her own (not by you pulling or pushing her!!!) take her halter off and walk away. Let her think she is not going to be trapped or cornered as soon as she is tricked in. Don't close the door for the first five or six times she enters. Then close is slowly, do not leave her alone, give her a treat or some grain and then let her out after a few minutes with the door closed. The more you can get her to associate the trailer with calm, treats, grooming, relaxing, the better she will be a loading. Too many people teach their horse to associate the trailer with fear, whips, being hit, being dragged, stud chains, force and fear. Then blame the horse for not wanting to load.
People make a much bigger deal about trailer loading than it ever needs to be. You just have to understand the horse's point of view, think like a horse, and put yourself in their horseshoes. Loading is about trust and respect, if you have good ground control skills and making sure the horse knows you a good leader that he can trust and not fear. If you can control, move and handle your horse on the ground and in the saddle, then a trailer should not be an issue.
Once your horse is trained well, try to mount your horse from the wheel/fender of your trailer. It is always good to let your horse know that you can mount him from anywhere and he should stand and allow it.
Thewrong way to trailer load. (He removed link because he knows he is an idiot) This guy is using pain (War Bridle) and creating fear and forcing the horse in the trailer and almost causes the horse to rear and hit its head several times. I say again this is the wrong way and not good horsemanship and this guy is NOT a "Horseman".
Trailering Tips: Always pick your horse's feet before loading him into a trailer. Rocks and other debris in feet will just vibrate in hoof, get jammed into the frog from bumps and driving and be very uncomfortable for the trip. You should also pick them after the ride, since most horses have a nervous release as soon as they get into a trailer and then step and stand in their feces for the ride. Remember an hour ride in a trailer is like a horse walking three or more miles. That means a two-hour trailer trip means your horse already went six miles before you even put the saddle on. Be aware of this when your horse gets out of the trailer and is tired, it takes a lot of muscle energy to balance 1000 pounds in a moving vehicle. I like to always walk my horse around a bit after I get them out of a trailer to get the blood flow back to hooves and allow the horse to release some nervous energy and relax, that way I can see any limps, pain or cuts that might have happened during the ride.
The picture below is the wrong way to try and a load a horse, forcing, multiple people and fighting a scared horse.
Another trailer debate is should you tie your horse or not tie. Tying helps keep your horse's head from falling on the floor and hitting the ground if he slips and falls, if prevents your horse from tucking his head too low and if you hit the brakes it could cause your horse to fall. If your horse is tied, the rope may help prevent a horse from falling and will help him get up if he falls. I think tying may also give a horse a little more security since he is used to being tied to other things, this is just another place to get tied. Do NOT tie too short, a horse needs to lower his head to clear out debris from his nose, especially while in a trailer with air blowing all kind of things around, if a horse cannot lower his head at all, he cannot blow his nose and clear out dust and debris, which can cause respritory issues and infection. That is why you normally find black snot and blow marks from the horse, on the trailer walls, after you trailer a horse. A horse also uses his head for a counter balance to help from falling.
A reason I hear a lot, is you should not tie in case you are in a accident, then your horse cannot get free. The chance that my horse will fall is greater than me getting into a wreck, I tie my horses when I trailer them to help them balance, help prevent falling, give them extra balance support, . A horse with its head tied too high also increases the stress level since the horse lowers its head when relaxed and raises it head when nervous or stressed.
I do not put shavings in my trailer. It can blow in the air, create dust, get in my horse's nose and eyes and shavings keeps the urine in the trailer and increased the smell that my horse has to breathe during the trip. With no shavings the urine goes through the floor/mats and evaporates quicker and reduces the smell. Feeding in a trailer while traveling, does a lot what shavings do, so I do not normally feed while traveling. I give hay before and after trips but not during the trip. Tying your horse to outside of the trailer before you load may cause him to have a bowel movement. Another old trick is if a horse is showing signs of colic, try and load him into a trailer, this creates stress and it may force or encourage a bowel movement and it can help him feel better.
The picture below shows two horses that are tied TOO SHORT. These horses have no way to lower their head, use their head for balance, clear their nose of dust or relax during a trailer ride. This type of tie puts a horse in danger and it is done by people who do not understand or know the dangers behind it. You will also notice the rope halters are tied incorrectly, which means they could come lose or become so tight that they cannot be untied.
Good Colic Information Additional Colic Information
There were recent fires in California, many horse needed to be evacuated. Some horses has not been loaded into a trailer in over 15 years. Other horses had never been trailer loaded in their life. Some horses were lose in a pasture and could not be caught. Some owners did not want to load their horses without leg protectors, pads and others things. If you don't prepare your horse for an emergency evacuation and make sure anyone can load your horse easily, then you are setting your horse up for failure. Abuse of a horse comes in many forms. Neglect of training is not much different than the person who does not feed or care for a horse, many types of neglect end the same for the horse and it is all bad and can even end in death.
Trailer Tips and Importance of Good Horse Trailer Tires
I see three main areas of issues and problems with horse trailers. They are the flooring, the axle bearings and the tires. I will mainly cover the tire issues and will briefly touch on the other two.
Tire Issues and Concerns: I hear story after story of horse trailer tires blowing while hauling horses. It is almost expected, in the horse community, that if you are towing horses you will have a tire blow out or an axle issue. Of course, it is normally human error and not always a tire problem. So here is some info on what I think is important about trailer tires. Low air pressure causes most blow outs. When selecting trailer tires for your horse trailer, GET Weight LOAD "D" OR "E". This is really important. Load ratings on tires mean what weight each tire can hold. Most stock or factory tires are load rated "C", which means it is a 6 ply (normally holding 50lbs of air). "D" rating means 8 ply (holding 65lbs of air) and "E" rating means 10 ply (80 lbs of air). [More air = more weight load] The weight the tire can safely carry goes up very rapidly with "D" or "E" rating. For instance, a "C" tire can carry maybe 1800 lbs, same tire with D rating can carry maybe 3000 lbs and an "E" rating can carry maybe 5400 lbs. What this means is if you have four tires the weight is, IN THEORY, spread out across all four tires. Of course, all this changes on a hill, slanted roads, weight shift, turning, starting and stopping. In addition, it changes instantly when and if you have a blow out or loses a tire, now the weight that was spread out over four tires is immediately spread out over 3 tires. So, a 1800 lb tire times 4 is 7200 lbs, but if you lose a tire now the weight is suddenly spread out over 3 tires with only 5400 lbs. This leaves little room for the other factors that cause the weight to shift, heat, tire pressure or other factors.
So, by upgrading your tire to a "D" or "E" rating really gives you lots more room for error. Since it can carry more weight, a higher rated tire is not carrying its max load or even close to max, so tire wear and heat built up is less. This also helps the tire run cooler since it is not at it's max load. Heat tears down the tire faster and put more wear on the tire, it affects air pressure and other things.
Balance Your Trailer Tires: Many tire places will say you don't need to balance trailer tires. This is true if you are hauling junk, equipment or other things. This is NOT true if you are carrying live horses. Horses shift weight during travel and a wheel wobble can cause extra stress on the leg and joints of a horse. By paying a little more and getting your trailer tires balanced, you increase tire life, you smooth the ride which is good for your horse and trailer and you save gas, so lots of reasons to have your horse trailer tires balanced. The next time you walk by someone's trailer, look to see if the tires have any lead balance tabs on the tire, most do not since it cost more, a horseman will have those balance weights since they put the horse first.
TWO MAIN BLOWOUT FACTORS: Air pressure and heat. Low Air pressure is number one. A normal accepted pressure loss is about one pound (lb) of pressure per month. So if your tire sits for six months it is expected that it will lose 6 lbs of pressure, if everything is perfect, it could and probably will lose more. This will cause a blow out faster than anything else will. Tire pressure is very critical to what load weight a tire can safely carry and is very often over looked. Every ride you should check your pressure, if only one tire is low, it can blow and cause all the weight to be immediately shifted to three tires and that rapidly increases the chance of one of three remaining tires to blow out. CHECK YOUR TIRE PRESSURE. Low pressure causes more heat, more heat tears down tires faster and weakens the tire structure, it also changes the amount of weight that tire can carry, which both increases the chance of a blow out. All of this is less if your tire is rated higher (D or E), also the higher rating makes it near impossible for you to put max pressure or weight on the time, which gives a bigger safety area for error or other issues. I was told by some tire guy that you could run a D or E tire with lower pressure to give a smoother ride. DO NOT DO THIS"- running a trailer tire below max load can cause a blow out. [Don't forget to check your spare]
Trailer hook up Safety Tips: Check tires, grease ball, check lights, check brake battery, check for old or moldy hay left from last summer, do a general inspection for wires or things that could cut or poke your horse and especially check for wasp nest before loading your horse, there ain't nothing like a nice nest in the corner of your trailer to really get you and your horse involved in a contest on who can get out of a trailer first. Make sure and criss-cross your safety chains so if your hitch happens to come loose the crossed safety chains will cradle and catch your hitch so it will not dig into the roadway or dirt, possibly flip or slam to a stop hurting your horses. In the picture above the chains are crossed but are too short and will not allow very sharp turns. If your chains are too long and drag on the ground this can wear them out, make them weak, cause sparks and other
damage. You can shorten up the chains without cutting them by just twisting them. When you twist a chain it becomes shorter, so can twist them to make them the correct length, not too short or they will not allow you to turn. In the picture to the left, the chains are not crossed and are a little long. It any weight is put in the trailer, the chains will drag and wear down. Floor rot is the number one cause of horse injury or death in a trailer, check you floors and replace the wood before it is needed. I can't tell the number of stories I hear about horses falling through the floor on the highway and dying a horrible death and then the owner is so sorry and feels so bad. This is a useless death of a horse from owner neglect, check your floor!
DISCUSSING BALL SIZE, HITCH RISE & DROP AND WEIGHT BALANCE
BALL SIZE: Most Horse Trailers take 2 5/16, ensure you have the right size.
DROP OR RISE: Drop is lowering the ball, rise is raising the ball above center.
BOLT SIZE/WELDS: Smaller balls have smaller bolts. The horse trailer size ball is 2 5/16 so the blot is much larger. Hitches come with Welds or No welds. No welds tend to be stonger but check pounds (lbs) ratings on hitch.
TRAILER BALANCE: Weight distribution is critical to prevent things like sway, weight shift and accidents. Trailer and truck should be LEVEL. If either is not you will have problems.
This is a weight shift problem:
TRAILER CHECKLIST: Here is a quick trailer hook up checklist.
Trailer Tire Inspection
When buying a used trailer or used tires know how to tell how old the tires are.
*Fun Tire Fact: A side note is some tire places use Nitrogen to fill their tires and does not use Air? Why you ask? Nitrogen is a larger molecule and tends to leak less and slower. Also it does not expand or shrink as much as air does, so tire pressure is more consistent and is not affected as much from road heat or cold weather. It also does not hold moisture and dampness like air does. If you see a Green valve cap on the valve stem, that normally means the tire is filled with Nitrogen. Of course there are mixed reviews on this and some do not think it makes a difference since air is like 78% nitrogen anyway. Not to worry, you can mix air with it and they can remove the air later and re-fill with pure Nitrogen later.
Tire Tread: This is a minor consideration but something to consider. Flat smooth tread pattern runs hotter than tread with cuts, gaps and water ways all help dissipate heat. So asking and comparing tread design for heat factors can also be considered.
Radial verses Bias Ply: I like Radial and would not use bias-ply. Bias ply tires have layers in alternating directions. They tend to be stiffer, stronger, harder and more resistant to sidewall damage. They also tend to be cheaper and ride much rougher, which is the first clue that they are not as good as Radial tires which tend to cost more.
The Radial tire has cords that are laid overlapped at 90 degrees and then steel mesh belts are added. The Radial design prevents the contact patch, the part on the road, from deforming, compared to the Bias Ply, which can deform when under load. Lots of benefits to a Radial tire, better tire wear, softer, smoother, quieter ride, runs cooler with improves tire life, better tracking, less chance of blow out and better fuel economy. I DO NOT RECOMMEND bias-ply tires for horse trailers. Another rumor out there is it is OK to use car or truck tires on trailers. I would not do this, it is not recommended by trailer manufactures and passenger tires are made different than trailer tires.
Tire Size: Your tire size is probably a 15 or 16. A 15 inch tire does not have as much selection as a 16 inch. If you have a standard horse trailer tire it may be a 15 and it may be harder to find a D or E rating, but if you look hard enough, you will find them and they can order them. Another factor is tire size, I have 205 75 R 15 C. The R means radial, the 15 is size and the C is load rating. The 205 is another size description. I would rather put a 225 75 R on my trailer since when you move from a 205 to 225 size, you get much greater weight loads. A 225 holds more air than a 205, which means more air = more weight load. However this change makes the tire an inch or so taller, which can throw off your balance or hit the fenders, so it is best to check with your trailer manufacture and get the factory specs. Changing tire size (over an inch or so) can create many other problems or issues, like trailer height, balance, center of gravity, suspension and other issues. To me the biggest most important factor when getting a trailer tire is the load rating and ensuring it is a D or E rating. Be aware an E rating carries a lot more load but will ride rougher than a D rated tire.
Circle J Trailer I called Circle J Trailers and they were very helpful. I spoke with the factory and they explained that changing my tire size from a 205 to a 225 is no problem. They actually put 225 on their three-horse trailer, so my concern was the fender height and axle distance, since they are the same on the 3 horse trailer as on a 2 horse, I was informed that changing my tire size was no problem. The big difference between a three-horse trailer and a two horse is the axle strength. A three-horse trailer has 5000 lb axles and a two-horse trailer has a 3000 lb axle. So if upgrading your tires for the purpose of carrying a much heavier load, then you would need to be aware of your axle strength. Since I am recommending upgrading the tire for the purpose of extra safety and tire life, axle strength is not an issue, in this situation. Again, it is important to check with your trailer manufacturer for your specific year and model.
Below are some links to various sites with good tire information and education so you understand tire size, numbers and issues with tire selection.
Barry's Tire Tech - Great Site with Lots tire information
Trailer Tire Facts
Frequently Asked tire questions
Trailer Safety Care
Tire Size Calculator
Flooring: This is really critical and often overlooked. Most horse flooring is wood. This is so it flexes and softens the bumps, absorbs rough roads and ride so as not to create more stress on the horse's legs and joints. Much like horse shoes are metal and are rough on the horse's legs and joints. Over time, acid from urine, feces and moisture will eat away at the wood floor. It can weaken and rot the wood and rust the support beams. So cleaning and rinsing after each use is necessary. While cleaning you can inspect for wear, rust, rot, chips or weakness in structure. Painting the wood floor, after a good pressure wash, will help prolong the life and protect the wood from rotting and will make it last longer. Some paint the underside as well or use a tough bed coating like used in the bed of trucks. Since most do not even clean after each ride, they only know there is a floor problem after their horse falls through the floor and is dead or has to be put down. CHECK YOUR FLOORING, your horse's life depends on it and it is your responsibility to protect your horse.
Axles: They recommend that they are packed or greased once a year. It can cost about 100 bucks or so to have the bearings (axles) packed. Take it to a reputable trailer dealer or someone that has experience with packing the bearings. Do not use the auto-grease devices that are designed for water trailers, they are NOT made for horse trailers and will fail and can cost much more in the long run. If the person that packs your bearings does not do it right, you will have failure and will be stranded and it will cost you 10 times as much to fix, so do it right and have your bearings packed. Water, weather, dust and just time will cause bearings to dry out. Depending on how much and how you drive and use the trailer will depend if you need to do this more often or less. I have mine done every two years since I don't do long trips and do not use my trailer daily. If you wait over two years you risk the weather, cold, heat and elements causing problems. So even if you don't use your trailer but once a year, I would say at least once every two years, maybe once ever three, if you did not drive it more that a few short trips.
I have a video on youtube where I discuss this topic. To view it click here Rick Gore Horse Trailer Checklist
I also discuss other trialer tips in this video Rick Gore Horse Trailer Tips
Here is a video where several women film them changing a trailer tire. The title is what they call it not what I call it. My big issue with this video is there is over 8 or 10 women; all apparently, have horses locked in trailers and are going out, yet not one of them take the time to get their horse out of trailer while they are waiting. In addition, especially the poor horse that is stuck in the trailer that is getting the tire changed. If you are changing a tire or doing lots of turns, backing and starting to get your trailer into a tight area, do your horse a favor and get him out. To me this is just common sense, but as they say, "there is nothing common about common sense". Some people will say never remove a horse on a highway or in traffic to change a tire. This can good advice since if the horse gets spooked, it can get away and get killed in traffic. However, this was the not the case in this video. And if you are on the highway, pull off to safety so you can get your horse out, tie them up and let them relax while you change the tire. To view this video where the horse was left in the trailer while changing the tire click here how many women does it take to change a tire
List of Trailer Tips: A couple of trailer tips, some of what I cover in the my video, but not all. Crossing your safety chains when towing a trailer can help cradle the hitch if it comes off. Grease your hitch ball before any long trip to ease friction and to prolong your ball and hitch life. (watch your pants legs when you walk by the ball after you apply grease, it stains) Always check your tire pressure. Rotate your trailer times. Many will tell you that you do not need to rotate trailer tires. By rotating tires, you increase tire life, this will also ensure your tire pressure is checked and your lugs nuts gets tightened. This will also help identify nails, damage or other problems with your tires, brakes, wiring and bearings. Balance your trailer tires to prolong tire life and ease the ride for your horses. Pack your bearings at least every two years. Check your flooring for cracked or broken, lose wood planks, or rusted broken support beams. Inspect the inside of trailer for wasp nest or other hazards. Make sure you have rubber floor mats on the floor to help with wind noise, to prevent road rocks, sand and dust from filling the trailer, mats also stops dirty oily water from the road from spraying up on the horses or in their eyes. Hose out and clean the inside of the trailer after every ride. By removing urine and feces you help protect your flooring, you remove nasty smells so your horse does not have to smell it and if you leave dried or old horse poop it blows around the trailer while traveling which can get in the horses eyes, ears and up their nose. Riding in a trailer for a horse is about the scary place they can be, having clean air, good airflow, a solid safe floor, good balanced tires and a careful considerate driver is the least you can do to ease the trailer experience for your Horse. Lastly, get your horse out of the trailer as soon as possible and only load your horse when your are ready to leave.
Emergency Brake & Battery
If you hitch is attached properly then the trailer should be fine. If you attached your trailer correctly and lock it into place, it should be fine. If you attach your safety chains correctly if the first two things fail then the safety chains should hold the trailer and prevent a run away. Finally, there is another safety feature, the battery back up emergency brake.
Most trailers, with eclectic brakes, have what is called a battery back up and quick disconnect switch. The battery is on standby and the power from the battery is NOT going to the brake and is being blocked by the quick disconnect. In the event the hitch, ball and safety chains fail, the switch will be pulled apart and that will complete the circuit so battery electricity will be supplied to the brakes and the tires will lock up.
So to be clear, the electric brakes work when power is supplied, so no power, no brakes. Since the stitch blocks the power with together, no power. Once the switch is disconnected, then power is supplied to the brakes.
TIP: So if one day your trailer brakes are locked up and the trailer won't move, check your emergency brake-away switch, it may have come disconnected; Simply reconnect it and your brakes should work properly. If you switch ever breaks, you will have to disconnect your battery to unlock your trailer brakes.
A common problem is the battery is not checked or charged so it becomes dead and has no power. If your battery is dead when the switch is disconnected, the brakes will NOT lock up since no power will be delivered to the brakes, since the battery is dead.
You can either ensure your battery is working and has power every time you trailer out. Or you can charge the battery periodically to ensure it is always changed. Some people will wire their hook up so a wire will supply a charge to battery whenever the trailer is hooked up to the truck. So, it depends on how your trailer is wired or you can get your trailer re-wired to ensure your battery is getting power.
TIP: If you wire it or if someone else wires it, ensure they wire to power wire to the correct wire so power is only delivered when the truck is on and running or the key is on. If you just give it power when you are hooked up, an overnight parking job with your trailer hooked up will draw power from your battery all night.
MY Thoughts: OK hold on to your hats, I took my battery out of my trailer. It never was charged, it cost too much for up keep in the off chance that my hitch, my connector and my safety chains fail. So, I removed the battery. Unless I am driving like an idiot, I should feel my trailer come off the hitch and feel my safety chains snap, I would simply hit my truck brakes and allow the trailer to hit the rear of my truck and use my truck to stop the trailer. By the way, older trailers DO NOT have a battery or emergency brake.
QUESTION: Hi Rick,
I need some fresh views and I like your frank and honest answers. I agreed to help a lady load her horse, a 4 yr old. The mare has only been in a trailer twice in her life, nothing much has been done with her of quality. I entered up and now I have to finish what I started.
I started out with basic ground work, hind quarters, front quarters, getting a bit going with having give to pressure, sending her forward off a feel, basics with my flag. It was not great but I was getting some good changes.
I loaded her front feet in the trailer, in and out several times until she felt pretty good and then asked for the hinds, rocking her in and out a couple of times and finally asking her to come all the way in. She did, but she didn't feel like she could stay for very long, so I backed her out before she did it on her own. When I asked her for her fronts again, she braced and would not come forward. I put a feel on the halter, released for every try at coming forward, she would come forward to the back of the trailer and then just brace. I tried increasing the pressure, using the tail end of my lead rope, my flag, a tarp and then some pretty good nips with the tail end of my lead. She would kick when I nipped her with the lead, but brace completely with her head in the trailer. I was still releasing for every try on her part. When she would lock up, I would go back to my ground work, work more at getting her feet better, and then ask her to step back to the trailer where again she would lock up. I would tap her with the lead, releasing for the try, and then nip when I wasn't getting any effort at all. I couldn't get a change. I am missing something. I know my timing wasn't always perfect, but I have never had a horse just quit and not try especially when they get a nip from tail end of my lead rope.
I owner had to leave and put the mare back in her pasture. I am so bothered about all of this.
Thanks for what ever you have to offer, even if it is a swift kick in the butt.
ANSWER: Well it sounds like you were on the right track with some release, you lost me and the horse when you tired to force him in. You don't want to use fear and flight as a motivator, so using a flag and tarp to scare a horse into another scary place (trailer) is confusing and gives the horse reason to question you leadership abilities and to trust you.
Trailer loading is about trust and leadership, you failed so the horse failed. You tired to force and make the horse enter, you should have stuck to what you can make the horse do (forward movement), you have to make the horse WANT to enter the trailer, not force him into the trailer.
You are NOT thinking like a horse. I will be your horse, so this is your horse talking: “what the hell does this two legged predator want, first I go into the trailer and trust her and follow her and then she wants to try and scare me with this stupid flag and tarp to get trapped in this small box trap, where I can't see very well and I can't run from danger. If she is hitting me with rope out here, what the hell is she going to do if I go in this box. Why does she want me in the box so bad? It can't be good if she is willing to hit me and scare me just to get me in there. She must be crazy if she thinks I am going to get in this box because she is hitting me with a rope and trying to scare me. I am scared since she is acting like a mean aggressive predator, I don't trust her since she is scaring and hurting me, so the last thing I am going to do is get into this box trap where no telling what she is going to do to me. I better watch myself with this thing, she is not instilling confidence with me and I better not listen to her very much since she is not consistent bears watching.”
Your focus was on the trailer and winning. You forgot about the HORSE. You failed to accept small tries and give the horse the time it needed. You tried to force it too fast and the horse had to remind you that even with a rope, pain and fear, you are not stronger, you are not smarter, you can't force it and you did not win. So horse 1, you Zero. You got too fast and did not take the time you should have, so now you have to undo all the bad you taught and it will take you three times a long. Hence the saying: If you take the time it takes, it takes less time.
Next time, forget the trailer, pay attention to the horse. Work the horse without fear, tarp, and flags, just work on movement. Have the horse move in the direction you want and at the speed you want and stop when you want. All of this will say you are leader and you are in control, after you do this in front of the trailer, on the sides of the trailer, and by the rear door of the trailer, the horse will forget about the trailer, as you should. The only time the horse gets to stop and rest is at the entry door of the trailer, don't run the crap out of him, don't try and wear him down, just make him move and let him rest at the door. Once he is really locked on to you then move him around and direct him into the trailer or towards the door, anytime he looks in the trailer, sniffs the trailer or attempts to put a hoof in or go in, YOU GO NEUTRAL, NO PRESSURE, NO LOOKS, NO TALKING, NO GOOD BOYS, NO NOTHING, make it very clear that you leave him alone and stop ALL pressure. If you do it right, let me say that again, "If you do it right,” the horse will learn that the trailer is a safe place, the trailer gets him release of all pressure, the trailer is where he wants to be [make the right thing easy, wrong thing hard] the horse will see the trailer as comfort and no work or movement, the horse will WANT to be in trailer. If you do it wrong, "THIS IS A CLUE,” the horse will tell you, listen to the horse.
There is a very big difference forcing and making a horse trailer load than making the horse WANT to trailer load. One is done by someone who does not understand horses, the other is done by the reverse. I will let you decide in what category you belong. :)
As for all horsemanship, "The horse is never at fault and is never wrong, if you got the wrong answer, you asked the question wrong the wrong way.” ALWAYS listen to the horse, it will tell you if you doing it right or doing it wrong. This horse was screaming that you are doing it wrong, you were just so focusing on what you wanted, you did not listen.
A good question to ask is "if you were a horse, how would you like to be trailer loading?”
I have a page on my site about trailer loading.
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QUESTION: Hi Rick...Thank you...so much. Â I am printing out your answer and putting it in my pocket. Â I did read your website. Â Thanks for all of your effort, that was a lot of work to help all of us.
I really needed to hear what you had to say. I have some dues to pay. I acted like a human and now I really owe the horse. This mare is teaching me a lot. I hope I'm smart enough to listen.
ANSWER: Calm seas never made a good sailor. Easy horses never make a good horseman/horsewoman.
As you long as you learn, don't blame the horse and listen to horse, they will continue to teach you. Not a short journey, so enjoy the ride. This horse is making you better, is making you think more like a horse, is making you change.
If you want your horse to change, you must first change.
If you always do what you have always done; you will always get what you have always got...
All good horse people have learned from many horses, made many mistakes and look back at how little we really knew, when we really thought we knew a lot.
Don't beat yourself up too bad, just try and avoid the same mistakes. This horse will forgive you and will have no hard feelings, just don't make her do it too often. :)
========== FOLLOW-UP ==========
QUESTION: Hi Again Rick,
I won't bug you again, I know you are busy. Loaded the mare today. It felt good! I'm going to visit her at her new home and will be able to follow up a few more times. She is such a good teacher!
I'm keeping your answer in a special place. It was just the right thing at just the right time.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Question: So here is the scenario.....winter time it gets dark early but I load my horses when it is still light out. I go to an indoor riding arena and by the time I get out it is dark. There are yard lights outside the arena. But here is my dilemma now.... the horse trailer has lights inside.....do I turn them on or leave them off. Because I can see better I turn them on, load the horses. Because I want to be "nice" I leave them on for the haul home. By the time I get home I unload them with that inside light still on but we have no yard light. I have the horse back up and then put them back in the pasture with the rest of the horses. So after reading your website and knowing how their eyes work....what would be the best thing for the horse when hauling in a situation like that.
Answer: Like most horse questions, there is no real right or wrong answers, most all horse answers should start with "It depends". I think you might be over thinking this one a bit, but good you are thinking like a horse. I like lots of light to load or unload so the horse can see good and feel more secure with less chance for him to spook, trip, slip, get nervous or accidentally hurt himself.
Trailers are so 'unnatural' for horses - so saying something is right or wrong is tough. It is technically wrong to put a horse in a dark enclosed box, take away his ability to move, which is loud, wind blowing at over 50 mph, where he cannot move or see and then drive around at various speeds, stopping, turning and accelerating with no warning for the horse. How can this be fair or right? Horses adapt and will accept anything since they are not fighters and know their place is low in the food chain. Which is why the accept abuse and why people take advantage of their kindness and forgiveness.
As long as you set your horse up for success, put all the odds in his favor, prevent unsafe things, then you are doing right by the horse. Leaving the lights on during travel is more a human thing. Car lights and streets lights come and go so the horse's eyes are constantly adjusting and re-focusing on light and dark changes. Something a horse never has to deal with in the wild. Want to see horses get nervous and scared, walk out to pasture with a flash light, horse don't like it and can't seem to figure it out and fear when they lose sight from the light hitting their eyes, all normal horse behavior. I knew this one ignorant lady that was scared of the dark and would always have a flash light on and shining it in the horse's eyes and then wondered why her horses were spooky and acted 'weird' with her. The answer was simple for me, she was an idiot that was selfish and more concerned about her feelings and fear and did not care about how it affected the horses. Lots of horses pay for selfish owners. This woman could not get over her fear of the dark and refused to not carry a bight light around in the dark, yet she was the first one to blame her horse for spooking or not listening to her. Very double standard, like many in the horse world today.
So lights on in trailer while traveling does not seem to help the horse so I would not do it. In fact I think it makes it worse on the horse since the horse can't see anything outside the trailer due to the light in the trailer. Think about if you are inside your house at night with lights on and you hear something outside, you can't see into the dark with the lights on, so you turn the lights off so you can see into the back yard. So periodically flashing light from street lamps and passing cars, may affect the horses vision temporarily, but it also allows them to adjust to dark and see outside the trailer easier. Also I would think if the lights are off and the eyes adjust to darkness, when I turn the lights on to unload the horses, it would be even brighter and easier for the horse to see, with all the new light. I guess if I was a horse I would want lots of light when I load until I get settled and then would want darkness (lights off) so I could see more outside and around me. And then I would want lots of light when I unload so I could feel safe. It that right or wrong? It depends?
Trialer Loading Failures & Concerns PDF