Saturday, May 1, 2010

Suicidal horse

So Dixie tried to kill herself yesterday, but she's fine today. I am not so fine; my nerves are completely shot.

I packed everything I own in the truck and trailer, then got my horse out and dressed her up to go for a ride. I put the red Renegades on her front feet, to protect her heel bulbs, then I put these snazzy new shipping boots on all four legs. Then I spent an hour and a half trying to get her to load. I tried coaxing, annoying with the whip, food, clicker training food, pushing on her and crying, threatening to sell her at Fallon, and finally ignoring her. Ignoring her actually worked - the other ladies I board with, who had been quietly watching and occasionally offering helpful advice, came out and loaded the mare. One had treats and the other shoved from behind. We tied her head on the left side of the manger and left her standing diagonally in the whole trailer.

I thought there was no more horrible feeling than the totally impotent rage of your evil demon-horse going on a trailer when someone ELSE asks nicely, in the same way you'd been asking. I was wrong, actually.

I pulled out very slowly, in a textbook-perfect example of driving with a horse. At the corner, I stopped at the stop sign and made my right turn, and halfway through Dixie put her right foot in the manger. She immediately started thrashing around, so I turned on the hazards, leapt out of the truck, and yanked the window at the front of the trailer open while I frantically called ~C. She said to try and shove Dixie's foot back down, maybe with a rope to help lift the hoof over the lip of the manger, or just open the doors and let her try to get free on her own. I untied Dixie's head and she started thrashing around even more and got her head on the right side of the manger divider. Right leg on left side, head on right side. I have never been so scared in my life. I was so sure that she was going to break her leg or rip all of her tendons.

I couldn't budge the leg, so I ran around to the back to open the doors. As I headed around the trailer, there was an explosion of thunks and crashes, and when I got to the back my fucking horse's head was wedged in the back door window and she was wheezing. Her body was curled up sideways, with her back facing the doors. I have no idea how she did that - some kind of somersault backwards, I guess. I flung the doors open - gently shoved her head in as I got the second door open - and she hauled herself to her feet and walked out of the trailer completely sound.

I could not believe it. I still can't believe it, but the horse is completely unscratched. Her head isn't banged up. Her legs are cold, tight, and totally unscratched. Nothing is puffy or obviously sore.

I walked her the half-block back to the house, then walked back to the truck and drove it back to the house. I'd left the driver's door open the whole time, and there was a little kid standing at the fence next to the truck with her jaw dropped, just staring. I guess none of it took that long.

The trailer's kind of banged up. When Dixie somersaulted backwards, she hit the doors so hard that the divider thing between them is bowed out an inch and a half. The doors don't shut so good anymore. I think I can fix it with a come-along, if I can figure out where to attach the come-along. And I'd really like to fix it, because as soon as I get the title back from the state I'm selling it. I cannot think of a way to put that horse in that trailer where she'll ride without killing herself.

A couple people suggested I load her and take her around the block, because she probably learned something from getting her foot hung. I don't think humans usually learn anything from their mistakes, and it's the worst kind of anthropomorphism to think a horse, which is a creature not really known for its critical thinking skills, would learn from its mistakes. I think the only thing she learned is that (yellow) bumper pull trailers are absolutely, positively trying to kill her.

I don't know when I'll get another trailer. I still don't want to finance one, but once I sell the trailer of death, I could put almost 50% down, so it wouldn't be much, but I don't want to finance anything, ugh. And right now, I don't even want another trailer. I am so shaken by how I almost killed my horse that I don't want to do anything that might kill my horse. This is a problem because horses are huge idiots who can conceivably kill themselves doing anything at all.

I brought her an apple today. She ate it, then ran off the chickens who were scavenging for apple juice drool, then charged the fence to run off the low-ranking mare on the other side, then ran off the chickens AGAIN for good measure. Then she came back over to me, licked my hands for a long time, and fell asleep while I scratched the two permissible itchy spots - her poll and her withers. So I'd say Dixie is completely fine, and that's the only thing that makes this ordeal bearable.


  1. Yikes!!! I'm so glad you are both OK. How scarey!

  2. I have been looking for a trailer lately. And everyone has something to say about different kinds and styles. I will not buy one with mangers for the exact situation you had. And there is nothing you can really do, without putting yourself in harm's way, to try and help them get free.
    Thank goodness you and she are alright!

  3. That is so, so, scary - I'm scared of trailers and never understand why horses aren't too. I have a big 4-horse Featherlite slant, which is really very safe - I don't have mangers and really don't like them - but I still worry. The first trip I took - on an expressway - with 3 horses, our mare Dawn had a kicking fit, apparently got a rear leg hooked over the partition, and in getting herself off put her head through the window, bending the steel bars - glass everywhere but luckily I trailer in fly masks. She was a bit dazed but otherwise OK. The whole window had to be replaced - everything was bent.

    So glad she's OK, and that you are too.

  4. Glad Dixie's okay and I'm sorry your nerves are so frazzled. My stepdad says that horses just approach each day looking to find a way to kill themselves and are pleasantly surprised at the end of the day when they don't.

  5. Wow... I'm sorry that happened to both of you! I know when my horses get into a situation like that, I panic! Sounds like you did just as you should have... the proof is that you and your Dixie are ok!

    I'd be surprised if she ever got back in that trailer. Like you said, probably the only thing she learned is that she's never getting back in that thing again!

    You were so excited to have a trailer... it really sucks that it has turned out this way.

  6. Holy. Crap.

    Glad she and you are OK. I'd sell the trailer too!

    Be safe...

  7. Oh dear! How frightening! How frustrating and aggravating and FRIGHTENING! I'm so glad neither of you were hurt. What a sad way for your weekend to happen, when you were so excited for the adventure. But luckily, there'll be a next time to look forward to.

  8. It is truly a scary sight to see your horse in a trailer in a predicament that you have no way of getting her out.

    I have a mare that was brought from SD to AK in 4 days in a 4 horse stock trailer with 4 other 2 year olds. I borrowed a two horse bumper pull to haul her around in. The first time I hauled her my friends saw all 4 feet out the side of the trailer at the same time. Somehow she managed to not hurt herself. The second time I hauled her she managed to get both front feet in the manger. I had never had a horse do that before! Scared the snot out of me but she got out of it herself with no injury. The third time I hauled her she reared up in the trailer and smacked her head on the roof. After a $400 vet bill to stitch up her head, I sent the trailer back to the owner.

    It took me over a year and a new 4 horse stock trailer painted white to get her to load again. Now though she hauls fine - in a big stock trailer.

  9. I'm so glad that she's ok and you for the most part survived.

    I know how you feel. I don't know if I ever mentioned how my first trailering experience ended up in an accident (from the horse freaking out) where neither the horse nor the trailer were ok. To this day I still panic when trailering, especially with two horse straight loads.

    I'm so glad to hear she's ok. But, if you're like me, you'll only be really comfortable with a different type of trailer as this kind will start flashbacks whenever you use them.

  10. I expected a nice sunday morning ride story from you, not a horrible trailer incident!

    I'm glad you are trusting your instincts.

    I never thought that a manger could be a problem. Gee, imagine if she'd been in one of these flimsy little European jobs. *shudder*

    The worst trailer accident I've seen was a divider wall that did not quite reach the floor. A horse fell and got his legs trapped under the wall and rode that way, and when they opened it up, there was blood everywhere. I remember a puddle under the trailer too. A vet came into camp and fixed up the horse and he was fine. But I'll never forget that wall with blood all over it. Tack room walls must connect with the floor.

    This post brought me right back to my bridge accident last May, when I asked Baasha to try again to get up, and the 5 inch nails were pointing right at his belly as he struggled, and then he just stopped. He lay down and waited to die. That was our top traumatic moment (and then I had to leave him there) and it was all my fault.

    Last week the firechief visited Baasha, and Baasha lay his head on his shoulder and shut his eyes and I swear, he remembers him from the rescue. (If only Baasha would put his head on my shoulder sometime, that would be nice.)

    Poor Dixie. I'm so glad she's unscathed.


  11. OMG. Complete freakout.

    Thank the heavens that everyone is unscathed (and GunDiva's stepdad is totally correct, except he left out the part about "and doubly so on weekends and holidays when the vet costs extra)!

  12. Thank you so much for the comments, yall. I do feel better today. I actually liked hearing other horrible trailer accidents that turned out ok - Kate, AKPG, Sara, Lytha. I remember Baasha and the bridge - that was the scariest thing I ever read that turned out ok.

    GunDiva, I have kind of the opposite theory about horses. I think that they cannot possibly die unless it's their time to go - they are indestructible despite whatever stupid accidents they get in to. But if it's time for your horse to die, no amount of bubble wrap will save it. Clearly Dixie isn't meant to die yet.

  13. OH MY GOD....That story scared me so bad I'm teary! I'm so thankful your final outcome was good. My first horse trailer Phebes would not even get into, and I imagine it would have been a train wreck if she had. My closest accident that could have injured horse or myself was tying Doug's horse in the back slant, moving out to close the door, and he backed up and hit the end of his rope and started scrambling with his front legs and I was between him and the divider. Doug ran up the drive and yelled WHOA! Cree stopped struggling and we were able to get him undone, and loaded back up. Every bit of my body was shaking and I was bawling like a kid that I almost killed my husband's horse. We never load the back compartment now unless one person can go in, while the other mans the door to keep the horse from stepping back once in.

    Oh the things we learn.

    Sell that trailer and find you one with a nice smooth inside and NO MANGER!

    HUGs ~E.G.

  14. good grief! that is spooky - it's like she knew that was going to happen!
    (I'm always a bit scared of trailers and hauling myself, anyway)
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  15. Oh My!!!!!
    It may look banana like...but maybe lemon would be a better term!
    I wish I could find you my trailer it for a steal of a deal...barter and some payments..not even a finance charge.Pd off this month too!I really like the openness of the wide slant trailer...if you have one horse..they can move around some and it does not feel so closed in..Wa is very claustrophobic!
    I leave the divider open and tie her with a blocker at the front..she can stand sideways or move to face the front. She has done very well.

    I am so freaking sorry Funder...and sooo freaking glad she was almost her body could use stretching and an adjustment.You too!
    My mare had the chance to get into a straight loader..and would not- to save her hiny...I think she and miss Dixie know best in that regard!
    Take care dear!

  16. PS
    Meant to tell you thanks for the support in me sharing w Jo. wow...I can't wait to tell Jo of how you started to crave the horse and riding like you do now!

  17. OMG! You are so very lucky you are both alright! My horse is afraid of trailers too, and it makes me wonder if he had a bad experience like that at some point. You never know what's really happened to them to make them react so radically sometimes. Maybe she also had a bad experience in the past which would explain her hesitance to get in the trailer in the first place?

    Maybe try to reassure her that not all trailers are bad? just walking her around the other boarders' trailers will maybe help ease her nerves? I've only trailered my guy a few times and each time I have my trainer with me so we can both take our time and really ease him into everything and reassure him (backing out is his major freak-out issue).

    At any rate, glad you're alright! Hopefully, though, you can work past it and find the right (SAFE!) trailer for you and Dixie...

  18. Ok - I admit it - I laughed hysterically through your entire post.

    don't feel bad, I tend to do that in high stress situations.

    I too have had some very errr....interesting trailer expereiences and the horses all turned out OK, but it has put the fear of GOD into my about trailers and exactly HOW I go about loading, unloading, what kind of trailer etc. I'm VERY opinionated when it comes to trailers...e-mail me if you want to hear some of those opinions....or maybe I'll blog on it????? Mmmm....

    anyways - so glad to hear that everything came out OK. Aren't adventures fun?

  19. Ugh--I'm sorry to hear that.
    If you aren't 100 percent sure about selling it, you *might* want to think about finding a good metal-fabrication shop to not only fix the door, but also have the mangers and divider removed. They can cut them out and then buff all the edges smooth. That way, Dixie won't have anything to hurt herself on.
    Just a suggestion. I would be totally spooked too, but I'm not sure i would give up on the trailer so soon if it has a safe floor and is mechanically sound.
    I used to haul a horse that wouldn't tie. It was pretty easy, actually. I got a 2-horse slant with an escape door and i would open the escape door, lead him in, unhook the lead and exit the escape door while someone else shut the back door. He would turn around and haul loose, facing rear-ward. I would hang his hay net really high up on the back door. He loved it. Most horses prefer to haul rear-facing, which is why Roxie has a Turnbow reverse-slant.
    I'm not sure Dixie cup could turn around in a 2-horse straight--they aren't very wide.

  20. Actually, I'm did you get her back home? How far away were you when it happened?

  21. Hey Kacy, good idea about the adjustment. I will ask around about a good chiro.

    Epona and Serena - the thing is, I used to haul her in a much more beat-up 2h straight two years ago. She loaded ok (once she realized she really HAD to load) and rode ok! The manger in the other trailer was much lower, and she got her foot stuck in that one too... I guess I should've known. But anyway, she really can turn around in a 70s 2h trailer. And she is not a small mare. It's amazing to watch.

    There's only one other boarder - it's a private barn - and she has the exact same trailer, in white, so no loading in another type of trailer. Sigh.

    Serena, the space under the manger is the little tack area. If I had the manger taken out, I'd lose the entire tack area, and that's untenable for me. Better to get a trailer we both like more, I think.

    Horse and the City - I walked her back home. Because we were a hundred yards from home when it happened. Half a subdivision block! SIIIIGH.

  22. Oooh, yeah, i didn't think about the tack area. That's another cool thing about slant-loads--real walk-in tack rooms!!
    Keep your eyes peeled on the interwebs! There are some AWESOME trailers out there, and good deals (especially right now). You might have to drive a little but it is SO worth it. I found Roxie's trailer on CL. Good thing too, cuz I only had to drive 5 hours (to Seattle) to get it instead of to the manufacturer in Oklahoma.

  23. Wow! What a nightmare! Glad Dixie didn't get injured. I had a similar incident when I first got my horse- I will NEVER use a straight load again. Way too many things can happen.

  24. That sounds absolutely terrifying! I was living it with you as I read your post. So glad it worked out as well as it did. Whew.

  25. Have you ever thought about just hauling her loose in a solid sided stock trailer? She can move around and won't feel trapped. There isn't anything she can get her feet/legs/head stuck in. More inviting to load in since they are open. Thats what I got for my horse (confirmed puller). Eventually I started tying him long and he is doing great now and hauls quietly. I think he just needed to know that he had room to move around and no be so claustrophobic. Good luck!


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