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Horse Trailer Accidents
 By Winniefield Park   •   3rd Jun 2018   •   623 views   •   0 comments


Horse Trailer accidents really scare me. Iíve seen horses hung over the chest bars, cast upside down on the floors, stuck halfway out the human doors, hung up in tie ropes and I know of at least one that climbed out the side window and landed on the highway. In my news feed, I noticed two stories about trailering accidents recently. One left a horse dead, the other, the horse trailer was being used to smuggle humans. In the accident that resulted in a horseís death, the horse is said to have kicked through the floorboards. Now, I donít know how many of you might not agree, but I think itís pretty odd that a horse could have kicked through the floor of a trailer.

Many trailers have metal floors, usually covered in thick matting. And, wood floors on trailers are usually made of very heavy wood. The wooden floor in my two-horse was made of two inch oak planks. The only way a horse could have gone through it is if it were rotten, and I think you could say the same for a metal floor. That means those sorts of accidents are entirely preventable. Regular inspections and maintenance can almost eliminate the chances of a horse going through a floor, even it if paws and kicks.

As to the humans hurt on the overturned horse trailer, they obviously shouldnít have been there in the first place. There is no safe way for a person to ride in a horse trailer - whether they are being smuggled or not. Yes, Iíve stood in a moving horse trailer being pulled across an open field, just to experience what a horse experiences. I can tell you that trying to stand up on two legs over the rough ground was a challenge. Horses obviously fare better with four.

So why did this particular accident happen, regardless of the cargo? Eighteen people probably wasnít too much of a load for what appears to be a 3 horse slant load trailer. The trailer was being pulled by a Ford F250, a heavy duty pickup truck was probably more than up to the job. Witnesses say the trailer started to fishtail. What makes a horse trailer fishtail? Gusts of wind, improperly balanced loads, faulty tires, too much speed, and for tag-along trailers, lack of sway bars which can help stabilize the trailer. Trying to stop too fast or make quick lane changes could also cause swaying. Which all means that you have to drive carefully paying close attention to the traffic and road conditions, always keeping in mind that you have a trailer behind you with animals standing upright in it.

Keeping the load on your trailer balanced means you have to decide which side of the trailer you load your horse on to, and if there is more than one horse, which horse should go there. In a front facing bumper pull trailer, youíll probably want a single horse on the left or driverís side of the trailer. When hauling two horses, the larger one should go on the right side. This way, if you drive off the edge of the road, it will be easier to drive back on, with little worry of sway. If you hit a soft shoulder with most of the weight on that side of the trailer, it could tip over more easily.

On a slant load, you may want to put your single horse in the front stall. If you have more than one horse on the trailer, the larger should go to the front stall. Although, if you have a horse that is a really bad actor in the trailer, you might want to put it where you can get it on and off most easily.

Most trailer accidents can be prevented. Thorough inspections and maintenance are a must. I had mine inspected once a year by our mechanic who checked things like welds, floors and wheel bearings, and my husband always kept a close eye on things like lights, the hitch and tire pressure and wear. I kept it scrupulously clean so the door hinges and floors didnít have a chance to deteriorate.

When driving, slow and steady is best, avoiding quick turns, stops and accelerations. This is for safety and for the comfort of the horse. Make sure all the lights are working and check that the brake and turn signal lights are working each time you hitch your trailer to your truck. Use trailer ties, rather than ropes, so there are no long ends to get tangled anywhereólike an axel. And, have a first aid kit, sturdy knife and fire extinguisher on board.

And of course, donít let people ride in a trailer on the roadway. A short trip across a field is a rough enough ride if you feel you must try it out.

If an accident does happen, stay calm. Thatís easy advice from someone whoís heart starts pounding just thinking about a trailer accident. But, you donít do your horse any good by panicking - try to save that for after. And accidents are less likely to happen if youíre prepared and careful in the first place.
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