Photo & Poem: Horse Trailer Conversation

Horse Trailer Conversation

She takes me from the herd, pulling me to the box.
Her hand is thick, there is no air in her feet. I want to run,
fast and far, instead dragging my hooves, looking away.

No, stand and fight, she says with dread in her spine.
Standing next to the box makes her dark and stiff.

There are no horses near, the air is filled with bad.
She must feel its danger, her shallow breath.
This box she does not like, I cannot trust.

The predator repeats louder, her word turning to stone.
Does she not know me? Not remember I must run?

I am alone from my herd, isolated with her, and
her driving worry grates the air. Trapped and wrong, I
tell her again, I am no threat, only prey. I will not hurt you.

Repetition of the thing we dread does not make
the task easier, it makes dread more common.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
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Anna Blake

38 thoughts on “Photo & Poem: Horse Trailer Conversation”

  1. And we wonder why horses hesitate – at best – getting into a closed up box? Says it all, Anna. If only people would look at it from the horse’s viewpoint.

  2. Deep sigh. This makes me think about every minute I spend with her. With April my mare. And, yeah. The “her” that is me. How many times in my day do I want to run. Feel “trapped and wrong.” Maybe, I should listen, take a breath, and soften. Returning to the herd, a state of mind. Could it be that easy?

  3. I’m at a loss to figure what this means. My horses do not fear the trailer-they step right in as they’ve never felt or experienced any bad thing, and I make sure their experiences are good. Maybe I’m not reading this correctly?

    • Your horses are very fortunate – BECAUSE you make sure their experiences are good. Far too many dont have someone who takes that kind of care or inspires that kind of trust.

    • Good for you, if it isn’t a challenge, and if this doesn’t fit any other challenges… your horses are great. As a trainer, I work with some horses with challenges. Thanks, Susie

  4. This really hits home, with us and so many we have known. No wonder some horses don’t want to get in a trailer, and call when they are aboard. Let’s all remember to go lightly, and with fun, and a friend to make journeys easy in the beginning. Thank you.

  5. I have seen that exact look in my mare. I use to get impatient, tense. But now I soothe her, look back into her eyes and tell her it will be okay and then wait. She softens in return, sighs and walks in. I don’t enjoy trailering either, but it is a necessary evil.

    Thank you for this💕

    Jeannetta

  6. Yes! Please, please take a ride inside your trailer. Not a “hop in and go down the driveway” but a ride. Around curves, over bumps, on a highway. Experience the sights, the sounds, the feelings. If nothing else it will improve your driving…

  7. Thank you for this, Anna. It is a very powerful reminder of why my beautiful big boy is afraid of the float (some months ago he fell over when I had to brake suddenly). He tries so hard – walks in & stands while I massage his bottom – but then just has to come out again before I close the back. I guess we just keep trying & I have to remember he’s being as brave as he can be.

  8. Just went through this with Jace … load time down from 4+ hours (😭 – both of us!) to 1 hr, 44 minutes … when he looked at me, huffed, hopped in, turned around, said “Let’s do this thang” and down the road we went. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to the boy who’d hop in anything, but for sure this was his decision – made BEFORE I just wanted to lay down in the gravel and bawl. I will never understand people who think they know better, who whip horses in, who use dangerous and harsh halters, who I will never ever forgive.
    However, if I had read this before Thursday, I don’t know if I’d have had the guts to just keep asking calmly, trying, resting, repeating. So much to ponder, Anna, so much to ponder.

  9. In case of an evacuation or a necessary trip to an equine medical facility, trailers may be a good thing to practice getting calmly on. Just sayin’.

  10. I’m feeling happy because although I do feel a bit anxious when loading becomes necessary, your poem helps me see that I do keep my horses’ experience and well -being at the forefront. And having some great friends with more experience than I have certainly helps as well!❤️🐴

  11. I love this post for many reasons. Actually, I am always astounded that ANY horse would willingly get in a horse trailer ! No matter how pleasant we might make the experience, it’s got to be so challenging for a creature with flight instincts and then again, there is the constant balancing the horse must do. Those videos of horses in trailers, going around on FB, are a real eye opener as to how hard they work to keep themselves upright even with a rather slow cautious driver.

    I think we need to remember too that they are surely sore from using certain muscle groups when they arrive at the destination.

    Anyhow, as always, just really appreciate your pointing out so eloquently the part the human plays in making such an experience either tolerable or horrid for the horse.

  12. Wow, such a great poem. Of all the places predator and prey come out, it’s the trailer. My trailer does not work for our horses at any level, emotionally or physically. We have found that slant load is the best, they stay calm and go in without any fuss. We are actively looking for one. Is it worth it? You bet, for the well being of my horses. I am their caretaker and it is my responsibility to do exactly that.

  13. You have hit a spot here with me. I never owned a trailer, we would hoof it just about everywhere, and the odd time one was needed, loading was never easy. I would send my youngsters at 3 yo to be started, loose on an open truck with a crate, and suggest that the driver park in town for lunch before going on, give the youngster a good look at town and traffic. My trainer was a very good one, only kept mine for 2-3 weeks, others left them longer for more work. He was 50 km west of us, town half-way. Now, what we did sounds harsh, but it wasn’t. He’d call me out and we’d ride together to make sure I was happy with the job, then a few days later he’d ride the youngster 25km to town, park it at the saleyards with feed and water. Just a walk and jog slow ride. The next day after a feed I’d ride it home, another 25km. I’d get off and walk here and there, water and graze, and it would be a long slow day. The pure joy of arriving home, after all the new experiences they’d had, the knowledge that hoofing it gets you places, and will bring you home, was their revelation. Absolutely the making of them. But they never did learn to happily go into a trailer.

  14. Recently chastised by a vet for bringing companion horse along for the trip to the vet, I was quite stung but stood firm in defense of my animals. My horses live together 24/7, therefore, they now travel together for that annual trip to town. Why make something that is already difficult, more torturous than it has to be? Back when I was green and listened to the hype, their cries of separation ripped at my heart and while I understood it was only temporary, I failed to convince them. I could feel their terror. Could feel the big hearts break. Torture for us all.
    But the human learned and we are all happier for it. The trailer is no longer a monster. That vet is history.

  15. No trailering, ever. Unfortunately that meant horses which would not get into a trailer. There just wasn’t one around. It also meant better horses. They’d go where they were pointed and they’d get where they were going. If that meant riding alongside a busy roadway, passing the lead rope of the packhorse over the guide posts, just beside the tar, made no never-mind to them. Shoes, feed, water, and trust. The horse was mankind’s only mode of transport for thousands of years. Now we put them in a trailer, take them to an event, and wonder why they play up. Bursting with energy. Modern feeds are all by-products of (human) food factories, moulded into horse tucker so nothing is wasted, while “horse as taxi” has disappeared. Too much feed, not nearly enough work, the old ways all lost forever. Most people have no idea what it takes, nor the balance, hands, understanding or guts to get it done. Not to mention time. Twice in 60 years I’ve spotted a horse truck or trailer parked, seen that someone has driven out to take their horse for a good workout. I always felt that anything short of two hours and a soggy saddle blanket was never worth the effort, so hats off to those who will haul to a place where they can do it. Please forgive this rave, facts of horses’ lives.

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