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Trailering: breakaway halters? breakaway ties?
Topic Started: Nov 23 2010, 09:41 AM (1,067 Views)
Trialbyfire
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What do you use when trailering your horse?

I witnessed a freak accident with one of our 4-h kids and her horse a few weeks ago: kid thought they had unhooked the [non-breakaway] halter from the tie, but didn't....horse went to unload backwards and couldn't get out, freaked out and then went [you don't even want to know]....out the tiny person escape door :jaw: and lived to tell about it.....albeit some injuries. :sigh: It was terrifying, and had the horse been any bigger it would have been an absolute train wreck.

So breakaway halters sound like a good idea. Until you consider unloading the horse in an unfamiliar place and they spook and break the halter. So maybe breakaway ties? Or switch halters before unloading? I've also read that a lot of people don't tie in the trailer at all. Just curious what you guys do.

Obviously when I'm more confident trailering my mare it will be less of an issue, but I need to buy trailer ties and other accessories soon....so trying to figure out the most useful items.
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ImJumpin
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I had a trailer incident a few months ago, and had Mr Horsey not been in a breakaway halter, there probably would have been damage to his neck. The trailer tie was a saftey one, but as quick as what happened happened, there was no time to pull the snap. My rule now is no horse gets snapped in until the trailer is fully closed up and horses are unsnapped before anything begins to open. I usually just trailer in leather halters, so in this instance I was super lucky to have teh breakaway on. In the future I will still do leather halters in the trailer, but like I said, will be more than careful when things are unsnapped.

Obviously what happened to your friend was a pure accident, but hopefully will cause the kid to triple check to make sure horse is unsnapped.
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CDE Driver
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I always use leather halters. I really hate the nylon ones, the only horses here that have those are boarders that came with them. I do what I can to get them to buy leather ones.
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onthebit
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I am an absolute freak about making sure all chest/butt bars are up and doors secured before horses are tied in the trailer, and that nothing is opened or undone until the horses are untied when unloading (obviously I have to open the side doors to untie the horses but nothing else). I've gotten to the point where I rarely trailer anyone else anymore because TWICE I've had people put the ramp down and undo the butt bar before their horse was untied. So then the horse tries to back off, hits the end of the leadrope and pure panic ensues. Thankfully no horse or person was hurt either time and my trailer only had minor damage but it is amazing to me how lacadaisical people are when it comes to trailering.

TBF I am hesitant about breakaway halters in new situations just b/c as you mentioned - what happens if the halter breaks away when the horse freaks out and is now running around loose in a strange location? I usually just trailer in leather halters, I have Quillen halters for my horses that I use for both show and every day use so just use the same halters all the time.

I know some people do not tie in the trailer but I'm not comfortable with that approach unless they are riding on a semi in a box stall or say have half of a stock trailer to themselves like a box stall. I saw a very preventable accident once where a horse managed to get completely turned around in a 2 horse trailer. If he had been tied that wouldn't have happened and it is amazing that the horse survived the incident and that the people kept the truck and trailer on the road and didn't kill the other drivers around them as the horse was totally panicing and freaking out and that was obvious from watching the trailer bounce around. One of the scariest things I've ever seen.
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TarynJ
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Leather halters all the way. They don't have to be expensive ones.

If the horse is pushy on the ground in a new place (cough Bria cough) they'll get a chain put over their nose before they get off the trailer.

And bungee cord trailer ties are evil. I saw one snap once when a horse pull back... could have been really dangerous. We usually just use their lead shanks to tie with a quick release knot and leave enough room they can move their heads around.
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SidesaddleRider
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I always have my horses in leather halters. In the trailer, they are usually tied with a nylon tie with a breakaway--BUT, that trailer tie (just like my cross-ties in the barn) is ALWAYS attached to the trailer's metal loop/ring with a piece of baling twine that has been double/tripled, so it does require some force to break it, but not as much as would be needed to break a halter/tie. That way, the twine will break first, rather than the halter or the tie. And if it does, the halter is still firmly on the horse, and you have a (short) leadrope via the tie to hold.
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goodhors
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Sorry, totally opposite opinion from all those expressed. My horses wear nylon halters with head bumpers and cotton neckropes EVERY trip. We work with them, have a lot of time in on their trailer manners. All of them TIE hard and fast, WELL, before they start going anyplace. They GIVE to pressure by moving forward, wait, even if pull is unexpected like not being untied when horse should be free.

We do some extra practice WAITING, standing quiet in the trailer, moving forward when butt bar is dropped, ONLY backing up when asked.

Neckropes are for moving pull of tie rope back onto a more muscular part of neck, than the spine and skull connection that plain halter pulls on. And over the years, using neckropes, I have not seen or had any kind of neck injuries from horses who pulled back hard, even fighting their ropes.

Also have seen some nasty accidents, some trailers over on their sides. Horses who were tied, had good halters that didn't break, were the horses who were less damaged, kept under control in the rescue efforts and after removal from trailers. I am sure others have seen other results, but this was some fairly bad accidents, having to tip trailers back upright to remove animals. No loose heads to allow horses flopping about in the interim time of managing the situation, tearing himself up worse. Couldn't move, they stayed quiet.

All I have seen with the breakaway halters, quick release ties, is a horse who will REALLY fight when restrained. He has learned that if he just fights, pulls, HARDER he WILL get loose. That horse is never going to wait to be saved, he will damage himself, you, trailer, because he has been taught things WILL get loose if you fight.

I had one halter fighter, got loose when she was a yearling, leather halter broke. That horse would test a rope until she died, 35yrs old! That ONE TIME she got loose, had a grand time running about at a show, taught her bad things. Other tying training later, did teach her to give up! But she would always give it one good jerk, then give up, when tied with her neckrope.

I NEVER want my horse getting loose, wherever we are. With no halter, show or accident on the road, how will you control horse if he does get loose? Saw that, when horse came out of the trailer naked, ran onto the highway and got hit. Breakaway halter did it's job, too bad for the horse though. Sounds awful, but I would rather have horse tied and dead, than running wildly thru a crowd or onto a highway to hurt or kill innocent drivers.
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OpticalIllusion
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Im on the fence in what to haul in halter wise.

My mom always hauls in nylon halters. She believes that if the horse goes to rear up, and its in a leather halter, the halter will brake and horse will flip over backwards in the trailer slot.

On the other hand, if horse falls in the trailer, you want the halter to brake.

I absolutely never ever use just a lead shank tied in a slip knot. One too many experiences when the horse gets in trouble and tightens the knot to the point you cant get it undone. I use trailer ties, panic snap on the wall. You dont want to have to stick your hand under a flailing horse to unhook the panic snap.

The only time I ever haul untied is if the horse is in a box stall that they can make a full 360 in. Have you ever seen a horse try to turn around in a trailer slot and get stuck? Its NOT a pretty site. They dont have to be tied short, but they can not have the option to turn around.

Horse is on the trailer with chest bars, butt bars, and doors closed or ramp up before the horse is tied. Horse is untied before everything is undone to unload.
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Trialbyfire
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Interesting discussion everyone.

It goes without saying that practice and training is critical, so I'm not looking for a shortcut. After having witnessed the accident, and it was truly an accident, it has made us all think about trailer safety and what safety really means. The trailer owner is rethinking his requirements to haul someone else's horse -- it wasn't his kid or his horse (poor guy!). Had the mare been wearing a breakaway halter, she probably would have backed off the trailer without injury. BUT, then she would have been loose at an unfamiliar stable. Had she had her legs wrapped, she might have been totally uninjured....so now he wonders if he should require wrapping.

Obviously having a specific checklist for dropping the butt/chest bars is important. And now I know I will NEVER have my front door open with horses on the trailer except to get in and shut it. My door is big and at a 45 degree angle to the sides so it's very visible to the horses as a potential exit.

SSR - I like your method of having the trailer ties held on with baling twine. That certainly solves a couple of problems in one easy step should there be a problem and the horse is still wearing something solid enough to get it off the trailer.

Thanks for your thoughts! Do you always wrap your horses or ship them in boots? Or only for longer trips? Some people dislike wraps because they could come undone and trip the horse..... :sigh: I think there is always a way for them to injure themselves!!
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SnackPack
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My one hard and fast rule: NO BUNGEE ties. ANYWHERE (crossties, trailer ties, lead ropes, etc). OMG, can you say slingshot of death?

Every other rule I have is more a guideline. I usually use leather halters and turtle snap trailer ties. Sometimes I tie with the leadrope. One thing I try to be very vigilent about is the order of doing things re: loading, unloading. I have a mental checklist and I usually verbalize that list depending on who I'm with. (horse in, butt bar up, tied, door closed...next horse in, butt bar up, tied, door closed...ramp closed, etc). I talk newer folks through unloading all the time. They are often the ones undoing the butt bar before the horse is untied.

Thankfully I've never experienced or witnessed a trailer accident so I don't really know which is the best way. I did have an instance where Show got his neck turned around in a two-horse straight load and got stuck. Amazingly, he didn't freak out...just stood there until I could get him out (he was pushed so hard against the butt bar, I couldn't open it and wa really just jammed in there). While I don't think it's great to rely soley on the kind of training goodhors mentions, it sure is invaluable.

I owe whoever put that training on Show a debt of gratitude. He would be a nightmare without it. He gives to pressure, doesn't fight it, doesn't pull back, etc. It helped in the trailer situation and countless other times when he's being a twit and scare of something. Elf doesn't have the same training and I need to figure out how to do it myself. It's so wonderful not to have to worry about a horse stepping on a leadrope and freaking out...not to mention the countless other opportunities for awfulness horse's get themselves in.



Edited by SnackPack, Nov 23 2010, 02:42 PM.
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SidesaddleRider
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Trialbyfire
Nov 23 2010, 02:31 PM
Do you always wrap your horses or ship them in boots? Or only for longer trips? Some people dislike wraps because they could come undone and trip the horse..... :sigh: I think there is always a way for them to injure themselves!!
Typically, I usually do not wrap my horses unless they are on a longer (1.5+ hour) trip. If that is the case, I use standing wraps and padded bell boots on all 4 feet. Most of my hauls are local, less than 30 min one-way trips.

However, two things to mention:

1) I do have a large 3 horse slant, step-up stock trailer, in which I typically just haul 2 horses (which gives each horse half the space), bed deeply with shavings, and the step of the trailer is rounded rubber. Minus one of them managing to kick the other or step on themselves, there isn't much for them to get hurt on in there.

2) We haul the horses FREQUENTLY. During the spring/summer, we take them to a neighbor's ring to ride that is 7 min away at least 1-2x/week. They go to shows, hunt trail rides, hunts, indoor ring schooling, clinics, etc. all year long. Therefore, they quickly get used to having to load, be on the trailer, stand on the trailer, etc., and therefore are much less likely to get themselves in trouble. They get hauled fully tacked up (saddle/bridle/martingale/boots) when going to school at the ring or when going to a hunt meet. Really, the only issues we have had (knock on wood) are when a horse is new here; we take it slowly with them, but then they get with the program pretty quickly.
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Smiles
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Am I the only one who's breakaway ties never pull apart? I stop using them because of this. The horse would usually break the tie in half before the metal pull apart thing released. Way to dangerous if you ask me. My horse generally travel with nylon halter but I don't tie them up. I have not had an issue because my girls know the trailer routine well. I just load them up and close the doors behind them. Most of the time they are riding solo so it makes it easy to unload them from the other side of the partition. If I had a slant load I might be more inclined to tie them up but this works for me so I just do it that way.
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TarynJ
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I always have the "to wrap or not to wrap" debate with myself... if we're going a short distance (ie hauling to the XC course up the road, or a local schooling show), I'll just leave Bria in her brushing boots and bells like she's being ridden in. But, there's usually just one or two of us in a three horse trailer in this situation, and Trainer always give Bria 2 slots. If we're going in a full trailer, I use shipping boots, especially on her hocks. She's long, and I just don't want to risk rubs.

Keep in mind... Bria is NOT spooky about stuff like a sliding boot. She stands and gives us the "stupid human" look until the situation is fixed. The first time I put her in shipping boots she took a step, stopped, bent around for a look, and then walked on like she'd worn them her whole life.
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Trialbyfire
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SnackPack
Nov 23 2010, 02:38 PM
OMG, can you say slingshot of death?
Excellent description!! :one:

Smiles - I was concerned that the velcro ties might not give easily enough. Maybe if a horse absolutely exploded to get away, but I don't want them to be that strong. Some velcro is really tough to undo! (And others -- e.g. velcro on tail flaps on blankets :brickwall: not so much....)

SSR, you're my inspiration. That's my goal -- by next summer I hope to be able to haul both my horses out 2-3 times a week. My trainer's barn is only about 7 minutes away -- I could practically ride there through the woods....a small outdoor ring, but lots of trails which would be great fun. So I am excited to work on trailer training all winter and spring so that next year we can just go "You guys are going trail riding? We'll be there in 20 minutes" and load up and go. Not to mention the idea of going to a show without having contingency plans for getting home.... ;)

Thanks for all the insight and tips. I'm keeping them all in mind as I shop for accessories and gear up for training. :cheer:
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Fish Cheeks
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Depending on the horse I use different halters. Mac is one to pull back so he gets a rope halter all the time - if he were to pull back with a leather halter he'd have broken a few of them by now.

Paddy and the Tomato have regular leather halters. Tomato broke one when he was unloading and wasn't untied (Mr. Fishy was learning how to trailer - big lesson there!) Paddy broke one when he was being a ninny because he was tied to the trailer and Miles was where he couldn't see him. :rolleyes:

In the trailer I tie them - I have the velcro breakaway trailer ties that I use for Paddy and Tomato and Mac gets tied with his leadrope. The velcro DOES break away, almost too easily.

If we're shipping to a show a couple hours away I'll put shipping boots on (the Dover ones, not wraps that could come undone and tangled), otherwise I don't bother. I trailer out 1-3 times a week depending on what's going on - one lesson, one or two trail rides...the horses are used to short trips on a regular basis and are (knock wood) well-behaved.

I find that the regular halters have broken easily enough that I don't feel the need for a special breakaway halter. I have also tied to some baling twine on the outside of the trailer.

Edited to add that I also have a strict protocol I follow when loading and unloading. Horse goes in, butt bar goes up. Go to front, tie horse, close front door. Go back and close back doors. Reverse when unloading.

Edited by Fish Cheeks, Nov 23 2010, 08:10 PM.
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