Sick of this Sh*t

Olivia   March 23, 2016   31 Comments on Sick of this Sh*t

On Sunday we were supposed to go on a docent led ride to an abandoned hot springs resort. The hot springs are in an area of a park that is generally off-limits, but they would open the gate just for this ride. Sounds awesome, right?

We didn’t go.

Nilla loaded onto the trailer just fine, but once we turned the truck on and moved slightly, she flipped out. Scrambling and kicking and trying to destroy the trailer or herself, whatever would get her out. When nothing was working, she decided lying down would be an acceptable way of getting out of the situation. She’s tried using laying down as an escape before (at the mule clinic) but she’s never tried it on the trailer.

And laying down is insanely dangerous on a trailer. Thankfully, she just sort of folded down and I was able to pull her halter and get her to stand up.

This isn’t a normal trailering problem: she’s totally calm while the trailer is still and she’s loading without a single issue. Since the issue is with movement, we tried keeping the side escape door open and drove down the driveway slowly with me walking beside the trailer. If she started flipping out, I’d smack her with the crop and she’d stop. I do believe there is an element of panic to her behavior, but the fact that she can be persuaded out of it means that part of it is just her being an asshole because she doesn’t like being on the trailer.

Since I can’t run next to the trailer while we’re driving down the highway, I cancelled our ride RSVP. However, I didn’t want her to win this round, so we drove to Rancho San Antonio, which is only a few miles from the barn. I usually leave her untied in the trailer, but I clipped her so she couldn’t lie down. She made it to the park on her feet though absolutely drenched and dripping sweat. I made her stay on the trailer and eat her morning hay there. She was fine except for occasionally tying to paw, but she quit it when I told her to stop.

Watching the wild turkeys while Nilla ate

We eventually tacked up and did a short ride through the park. We stopped at one point for my husband to use the bathrooms and I was holding Dijon who was really convinced I should be feeding him the treats he could smell in my pockets. 
We ended up talking to a woman who had just moved to the area and was looking for a barn so she could bring her horses down from Washington. We commiserated on the misery of trying to find a barn with real turnout in the bay area. After giving her my contact information, we rode up to the viewpoint. The weather was gorgeous and we could see across the bay. 

The ponies got a chance to eat some of the lush green grass at the viewpoint. If you look closely, you can see where Nilla has ripped chunks of hair and skin off around her eye and hip.

I’m not sure why, but we always get a lot of attention at this park. Most of the other parks we ride at we get a few people who are excited or annoyed to see horses, but it’s not a lot. The people at this park just go nuts about horses. We actually used to board within walking distance of this park and ride here all the time. I had even thought of getting business cards with my info to have people send me their pictures as we will end up having tons of pictures taken on any given day.

Don’t believe me? Here’s Dijon being adored by the public.

We got back to the trailer, untacked, and loaded up just fine. As we were driving back, I could hear Nilla thrashing around so I had my husband pull over and I went to check on her. She had managed to  pull her head out of her halter and laid down again. I yelled at her, she got up, and I put her halter back on as tight as it would go.

It wasn’t tight enough.

We stopped again a few miles later (the park and our barn are only like 5 miles apart so this is really an excessive amount of stopping) and I went to check on her. She had pulled out of the halter and laid down again and now she was on her side and cast against the wall of the trailer.

There wasn’t really anything we could do on the side of the road so we got back in the truck and drove the remaining mile to the barn. I went to get her halter on while my husband unloaded Dijon. When I first opened the door, she threw her head towards me and made a little whinny/nickering sort of noise like omg, save me. As I was working to get her halter on, she tried getting up a few times and couldn’t because she was stuck sideways in between the center divider and the side wall of the trailer. When she realized she was stuck, she let out this huge, long moan and just laid her head down on the floor and gave up.

Thankfully, my husband was able to get Dijon off and then pull the center divider pin and swing it to the side. With the extra space, she quickly pulled herself to her feet and I backed her off.

Shockingly, she didn’t have any obvious injuries. She had some small scrapes, but nothing as bad as I would have thought for being cast in a trailer. I forced her to trot around and she was sound. I do think she wrenched out her back though as she was holding it humped up a bit. I’m going to have the Chiro come out again and look at her.

That’s short term though. Long term, I don’t really know what we’re going to do. I don’t want to own a horse/mule that can’t be trailered anywhere. It’s not just about showing either. My husband and I like to go trail riding and camping. If we can’t get her over this, I won’t keep her. I’m not giving up yet though. We need to see if she’ll trailer by herself without the histrionics. She was trailering fine by herself, but her trailering issues are progressing so I don’t know if that’s still the case. We’re also going to try borrowing a slant-load and see if that helps her.

As for drugs, she was on 10 ccs (this is not a typo, I do mean ten ccs per my vet’s recommendation) of Ace and a whole tube of B-calm. I am going to see if the vet will give me Dormosedan to try since she seems to be immune to Ace, but I have my concerns about her being sedated while trailering, especially if she’s already willing to lie down.

This isn’t something that can be solved by teaching her the trailer is an okay place to be. She’ll load fine and stay on it just fine so long as it’s not moving. So the usual training tricks of feeding her on the trailer or practicing loading won’t help. And I can’t really take her on even short trips to get her over it if she’s going to cast herself. It’s way too dangerous. I’ll be happy to send her to a trainer if I can find a trainer who knows how to solve this.

Like I said, I’m not giving up on her yet, but right now I’m sick and tired of this behavior. And I’m kinda sick and tired of her. I’ve been to the barn to feed her and trot her around bit in the arena to check her soundness, but I haven’t spent any real time with her and I don’t really want to right now.

I should have an update on Eugene coming soon, but aside from that I will probably not be posting much for right now. I just don’t feel like I have anything positive to say. I hope readers will bear with me for now.

31 thoughts on “Sick of this Sh*t

  1. TeresaA

    oh that is so frustrating. it definitely sounds like fear to me. I wonder how she would do in a stock trailer? I would start looking for a trainer to see if they can help. I hear you on having to sell her if you can't trailer her but she will be difficult to sell if you can't get there to her to new home on a trailer. If you know what I mean.

  2. appydoesdressage

    Wow that totally sucks. Can you stand in the 2nd partition of the trailer while it is being driven and correct her since she stops on correction? I have no real ideas, just can understand the total frustration.

  3. Karen Burch

    When was the last time you had the trailer serviced? I have a friend who's mare refused to load and was very stressed while hauling (who had NEVER had a problem with it before) to the vet. They got home and checked the trailer and the frame was separating from the axles. Manufacturers defect. The mare knew.

    It might be worth checking just to be sure its behavioral and not an issue she can sense.

  4. Megan Kiessling

    god that is REALLY rough. and the pits. and also poo and merde. gettign cast in a trailer might be the most terrifying thing ive heard and you're right, its just too dangerous.

    you should definitely see how she does alone. horse i used to ride could only ship in a box otherwise she'd climb the walls. kinda sucked bc it meant i could only go on the big rig and it took a lot more setup (i had to get her 'presidential suite' ready, as i called it).

  5. Olivia

    We're going to try on a slant load and try her by herself on ours (we can pull the center divider to the side so it's like a stock). She has been fine with that set up before so I'm guessing I could get her to a new owner. But I'm not sure who would want to own her if they also can't transport her except in a box stall.

  6. Olivia

    I did think about trying that. It just seems so dangerous. Dijon had a cut on his leg despite a full metal divider. I don't even know how she got to him. I don't want to get injured in this process.

  7. Olivia

    I had the trailer serviced at the end of November. I don't think it's the trailer. I now have to take it in to have the divider fixed as she bent it so I'll have them look it over again while it's in.

  8. Olivia

    I have a feeling she'll ship in a box just fine. I need to test it, but she used to be fine in the trailer alone with the side pulled over so she had a make-shift box stall. But I can't pay for a large-scale hauler every time I need to go somewhere. And I can't afford to sell the truck and trailer and get a bigger rig so that she can have a private box stall all the time. I can do a slant load if that'll fix it, but I'll have to see how that goes.

  9. Stephanie

    How frustrating! I don't have any suggestions, but you have my sympathy and best wishes for some sort of solution (even if it's selling her).

  10. jenj

    Wow, what a stinker! I have no advice to offer, just lots of wishes that you manage to break her of this habit! What a wench!

  11. L.Williams

    I'm sorry I probably sound like an idiot because I don't own a trailer was this a slant load or a straight load? Can you try someone else's trailer that is the opposite of yours out? Carlos was a bad horse to have in a trailer, for a racehorse it seemed implausible that he would be so bad. He ended up going best if there were less horses in a slant and we could leave the doors open.

  12. eggiewegs

    That sucks. I'd put in a vote for a trainer if one can be had for cheap. Know any starving college student types that will come out multiple times a week in exchange for beer money or ride time? It sounds like she may not need pro training, just someone to stuff her in the trailer and do slow circles around the block while providing stick or carrot as needed.

  13. Olivia

    Unfortunately, this is California and I'm not up for being sued so it'd have to be a real trainer. I'm going to talk to a few that I know, but I doubt any of them want to climb into a trailer with her and wish their lives either.

  14. Calm, Forward, Straight

    For what it's worth my guy was refusing to go into my straight load during his p-i-t-a "heck no I don't load" phase, but then walked right into a slant happy as could be…

    When you do get her back in a trailer (I know you will!), maybe a few sessions of just sitting there not moving, and graduate to tiny rides around the block? Good luck!

  15. Carly

    Ugh, I wish I had any words of advice to give you. Hopefully you guys figure something out with her. You've certainly been trying!

  16. Wilbur, Ellie, and Emily

    What a bummer of a situation. I guess it's good that she at least didn't panic when she realized she was cast and you were able to get her out OK. Good luck- no helpful suggestions here but fingers crossed on the slant.

  17. Liz Stout

    Oh dear god does that sound beyond frustrating. Just reading about it makes me want to drink or something.

    This is a really bizarre idea, but maybe if the slant load doesn't work… I did have a friend who trained a gelding of hers years ago to be less mean at meal time (horses fed in their field with separate hay piles and separate grain buckets about 30 feet apart) with a remote dog training collar. She'd beep him when he pinned his ears and then shock him if he kept up his advances on other horses. Like dogs, the horse quickly learned the beep meant to stop what he was doing before the shock was delivered. He quit being so mean at meal times after that! And she was able to sit on her porch sipping a beverage and watch him from there while it all took place. So maybe a camera in the trailer + remote training collar? I feel like there would be an absurd number of steps required to build up to being able to do that though as a confined space is so different from a wide open field setting. This is probably a completely insane, absurd, no-go out-of-the-box idea. But I figure crazy problems sometimes need out-of-the-box solutions? *shrug* :-

  18. Olivia

    I actually contemplated doing the shock collar thing for pawing, but I couldn't get the collar to fit on her and since I also use it for my dog, I didn't want to deconstruct it. I'm also not sure that the remote could activate the collar through the truck and the trailer. That seems like a lot of interference. I'm really hoping the slant-load thing will be a solution. I don't know if I'm up to being this much of a trainer.

  19. Liz Stout

    FWIW, I think my friend used fishing line/baling twine/paracord or something of the sort to extend the collar to go around the gelding's neck and sit a little bit behind his cribbing collar.

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