Trailering your horse is essential for veterinary visits and if you ride off your property. Even if hauling is a rare occurrence, it is vital that horse owners know how to properly tie a horse in a trailer. The most important aspect of tying is safety- trailering should be done in the manner which poses the least danger to both the handler and the horse.
We first need to make a quick note about trailering: taking a horse from Point A to Point B is actually one of the most dangerous activities a horse owner will engage in. This is due to the loading portion of the transport. Horse owners are frequently crushed, kicked, struck, or ran over by their horses during loading. Horses can also injure themselves in a trailering session gone awry. For tall horses or inexperienced animals prone to rearing, many owners opt to use poll covers to protect this area, if struck.
Horses must be trained for trailering- it is not a natural behavior. As an animal of prey, trailering goes against every natural instinct a horse has. We are asking our animals to enter a dark enclose space with no outlet. This is the main reason there are so many injuries while trailering. If/when a horse panics, the owner is easily trampled as the horse tries to make an escape.
Types of Trailers
Horses will are hauled in livestock-specific trailers. However, animals should be transported in a specific manner to the trailer being used. This also creates a safer exit when the animal is placed correctly in the trailer.
Many horse owners utilize standard stock trailers for transportation. Although it is recommended all horses are tied with the exception of long-distance box-stall transports, horses can be loose or tied in the stock trailers. Due to the openness of a stock trailer, many horses prefer to face the rear when the trailer is in motion. Although this is not standard, research has shown horses experience decreased fatigue and muscle stiffness when traveling rear-facing. There are reverse load trailers on the market.
Straight Load or Slant Load Trailer
Horses should face forward in straight-load trailers and forward towards the middle of the road in slant-load trailers. In either scenario, horses should be tied. This can be done with a lead rope, utilizing a quick release knot in the event of an emergency. The excess rope should be removed from the ground so a horse will not injure itself. Trailer ties can also be used, with quick-release snaps. These attach directly to the halter. Many owners opt to tie with a thin piece of leather that will snap in an emergency.
Read more about Trailers Security- Best Ways to Lock a Trailer
Why Tying a Horse in a Trailer?
Tying a horse will help prevent a horse from hurting itself. This stabilizer will prevent them from irritating other horses or stop them from turning around. It will also prevent them from going under a divider or laying down. Most trailers will have rings to attach a lead rope or trailer tie to.
For safety reasons, horses should be tied at wither height, minimum. There should be enough length in the tie or lead for a natural head position, but shouldn’t allow excess movement. Horses can become tangled, tripped, or even break a leg with low ties. Under no circumstances should a horse be able to graze the ground with its head! The decreased movement from tying will keep a horse safe during a haul, and a handler safe once parked and retrieving the horse.
Tips and Tricks on How to Tie a Horse in a Trailer
- Choosing an attachment is a matter of owner preference. If using a lead rope, make sure the excess rope is out of the way. A quick-release knot should always be used. If using a trailer tie, opt for an adjustable tie (not a bungee) to limit the range of motion. Trailer ties are made with quick-release snaps.
- Using food can offer a good distraction and keep horses content when tied. But make sure to use actual trailer accessories build with safety in mind, and ensure the horse can access the food safely while properly tied.
- Make sure the tie is not too tight. No slack will take away your horse’s ability to balance or regain balance on a bumpy road.
- A proper tie is essential both in and out of the trailer. Here is a quick guide to basic equine knots you can keep in your travel bag or trailer.
- Practice makes perfect. Trailer your horse regularly even if you do not haul often. A comfortable horse is a much safer horse.
Final Words – How to Tie a Horse in a Trailer
Trailering can be a daunting task for new horse owners. But with quick-release knots, trailer-ties, and knowledge of trailer styles, it can be a safer experience for both horse and rider.
Have friends with horses? Be sure to share this article before the next trailer trip!