Monday, April 9, 2012

We did it.

Well we did it, we finally bought a horse trailer! After searching for about two years and missing out on a few that we liked, we finally found one! It is a 95 CM Circuit Champion. She isn’t fancy, or pretty , and she definitely needs some tlc and a bath. She’s got some rust and dents but her frame is solid, floors are great, has new tires, electric breaks, and the ramp has been redone. AND it meets two of my major requirements. It has two full sized escape doors, and is 7ft high. After my “incident” with the 3/4 sized escape doors I knew I didn’t want to mess around with them again. I’m sure I’d learn to be comfortable with them someday, but they are just so darn awkward to maneuver through, especially when you need to get in and out in a hurry.  Like I did that one day that smashed my head open. Horses are fun right?
Since the trailer has the two full escape doors it doesn’t have a manger or tack storage. That isn’t really a huge deal for me. I have a quad cab pickup so I can just toss my saddles in the back seat, and keep the rest of my stuff in the truck bed under the cover. No biggie! Plus, not having the manger, and the full doors, It is like having a walk in dressing room.

When it comes to loading our horses is kind of a challenge, I won’t lie about that. If anyone reading this has trailer loading tips please share! I would love to hear how to make it easier on both the horses and myself! Duke is a old fashioned fella. He loves stock trailers and he hates ramps. The simpler the trailer the better for him. We did try loading him in the trailer last night just to see if he would fit. Using grain and hay and some patience he walked right up into the trailer, and we were able to see that he had PLENTY of room! Both in the front, back and both sides. Hooray! We never closed the butt bar, or the back doors all the way, we just wanted a little victory of getting him into the trailer. I am worried that he is going to panic once we get him in the trailer and then close the butt bar. Ok, so I ‘m pretty freaked out about that. I have nightmares about trailering. I’d like to hope that when we close the butt bar and he backs up into it he will be like “oh, I guess I will stay in here and continue eating this hay!” But in my head he will back up into it, and then start thrashing around and rearing up, and basically just flipping out. Let’s hope it’s more like the first one. But my crazy post traumatic brain thinks it will be the second one.
Piney on the other hand, doesn’t really mind ramps on trailers, he just hates everything about the insides of  trailers. I could be completely wrong here, but I think he feels claustrophobic when he loads into the trailer. Of course once he is locked in there he settles down, but getting him to calm the eff down in order to get him locked in there is pretty traumatic. He’s kicked people loading him, and he’s smashed my head like a cherry tomato when he decided he wanted out NOW. Of course the best method to get him in a trailer, and one I’ve used a few times is to give him a tranquilizer cocktail before his journey.  I mean hey, who doesn’t like a little something, something to help you relax before a trip? I enjoy a cocktail or two before I fly anywhere and I’m not even scared of flying! But I don’t readily have tranquilizer on hand, it’s usually the vet who will get him his fix. One of the last times he was loaded up into the trailer it took 3 men to get him into the trailer. The time before that, I had given him some calming paste.  I’m really hoping to work on getting him into the trailer easier. I WANT to bring him to clinics, and shows, and out on trail riding adventures and I want to be able to do it alone. I worry about the same thing happening to Piney when the butt bar closes, that he will flip out and panic. So like I said if you have any trailer loading advice share away!
I did haul the trailer for the last leg of our adventure. I’d never before hauled a horse trailer and I’m very glad that both the parts of Minnesota and North Dakota I drove through were very flat. It had been a long, LONG day for us. We woke up at 6 to get on the road by 7 and down to the twin cities area to look at the trailer at 11. We bought the trailer and then we went to the happiest place on earth, IKEA, to shop for our new bathroom, then off to the Mall of America for a little shopping. We got back on the road about 5 and we wanted to swing out to my lake place to visit my parents for a bit. The GPS ended up taking us on the longest possible route to my cottage ever. So we got to the lake about 10PM we stopped for a quick visit and then headed home. Hubby said he was tired, after all he did have to haul the trailer most of the day and THROUGH Minneapolis/StPaul traffic, so I offered to drive the rest of the way home. Of course I had no idea how to pull a trailer at that point, but since it was 10:30 at night, and the roads were pretty dead, I decided to give it a shot. Plus we didn’t have to go through town or make any crazy turns so it really wasn’t that bad.  The trailer hauled really well, of course I can’t say much from my limited experience hauling a trailer, but after I got going I almost forgot it was there. I thought about where I would be hauling horses and how easily I would get there. I decided that so far, everywhere I would go wouldn’t require any in town driving. Hooray! The Horse park, where all of the English shows and clincs are, is located outside town. The vet, is on the edge of town and so is the fair grounds. I’m getting excited about the thought of hauling horses, but the getting them in and out scares the crap out of me. That will come with practice loading and gettin over what happend. I am totally open to horse trailer training tips and advice!


  1. Since they will walk on - do that all the time - just don't close them in at all for some time.

    Like walk them on - let them munch some hay with everything open and them not tied in (if you tie) - no pressure. Every day for a week (or longer if needed).

    Then next week add closing the side door - do that for a few days - then close the other side door.. Rinse repeat.

    Keep doing going this way until you have butt bars up - then close ramp door. It may take days, weeks, months but doing it this way removes all fears and pressures. Just my opinion though.

  2. Congrats on your new trailer purchase...very exciting!!!. I'm with Jenni on the trailering tips. My new mare Eve had never been on a horse float before and for the first week I had the trailer hitched up .....I would lead her up to it and sit calmly on the ramp and feed her her dinner. I never tried to load -just let her realise it wasn't going to eat her. You do need to do it every day and be consistent. Then have someone up front with the food and you ask your horse to go up past you and stand to eat....then ask them to come off ....then back on. It is imprtant to get them to go on up past you so you can close the back bar by yourself. When you are out on your own you cant afford to have them go on then tied but panic before you get to the back to do the bar up. The key is consistency. Another good thing to practice is have a drum set real close to a yard railing. MAke the space small to pass through. Ask your horse to pass through the small space past you and stop. Even make a chute next to a fence. Ask your horse to pass through while you remain on the other side. It simulates the trailer space.
    Once your horses are going on well try to have small outings often......all the best

  3. Hi - thanks for your comment on my blog! Congrats on buying a trailer! I would love to get one - maybe someday... :-) Hope you do ok loading your horses - maybe just practicing with them before you want to go anywhere so that they have some positive experiences would work?

    Going to read back through your old posts now to get caught up!

  4. I know! Buying a trailer is worse than saddle shopping in some cases! My gelding was an AWEFUL loader, hated ramps, hated straightloads, hated dividers.... he just hated. SO NATURALLY what do i end up buying.... a ramped straightload Brenderup.

    I taught Apache to self load. It took about 3 weeks to get him from deadlock-not-moving- or rearing-sky-high to a self loader (i just point in the trailer, click, he loads himself). It took alot of practice. Everyday. But it didn't have to be huge sessions. We'd go until he was in, id put the bar up and love on him hardcore, then tug his tail once so he knew to back up. Then go on with your day.
    I'll be writing a blog about self-loading soon, so keep an eye out! Thanks for following btw :)