Testing the Emergency Protocols

When I got my first horse trailer I really went out of my way to be prepared. I asked for a fire extinguisher and bolt cutters for Christmas, so I would be properly prepped for any and all catastrophes that happen.

I think what I neglected to acknowledge was that having those things is different than being ready to use them. It's the difference between having a fire escape plan and drilling it. Turns out that is actually a pretty large distinction.

This weekend I was doing my regular trailer loading practice with Spicy. He self loads now! Lately, what we've been working on is standing on the trailer and having feelings. There is a formula for this, see Exhibit A below.

Exhibit A
This is going to sound strange, but I do want him to get a little upset. After he gets upset he actually does calm down. That's where the purple arrow is. Once we hit that point, I immediately take him off the trailer. As time has worn on, he can spend more time on the trailer and actually lose less shits. However, if I don't take him off when we hit the purple arrow ALL THE SHITS WILL BECOME LOST.

Shits not lost (yet)
On this particular day, we had gotten through our initial pawing and snorting and had a hind hoof cocked. I was super happy so I fed him a bunch of mints and told him he was great at managing feelings and went to remove him.

And the pin was stuck.

I think I actually felt my body go cold. Spicy knew it was time to get off, backed into the butt bar and slowly started to unravel. I ran to the tack room and realized all my preciously procured emergency items were safely stored in my truck. Which was locked. The bolt cutters, the WD40, even the hammer were all outside my reach. The only thing I had access to was the fire extinguisher and jumper cables. Meanwhile, Spicy was starting to have some more intense feelings.

I tried to use the fire extinguisher to knock the pin out with no luck. I stood there with the jumper cables uselessly in my hands trying to think if I could use them to do something - ANYTHING - to rescue my horse. Spicy's feelings started to intensify. He was hopping in the stall and lunging on the chest bar, seriously eyeing the side escape door. I absolutely could not leave him alone, not even to run around to the tack room to get sedative. I wasn't sure he wouldn't try to jump out.

At that point I guess the Universe had decided I learned my lesson re: emergency preparedness, and the Barn Dad happened to ride by on a four wheeler, saw our plight, and rescued us with pliers. Bless him. To Spicy's credit, he did not kick BD or even fly off the trailer after being released. Once he was off he went to grazing happily. It says a lot about this horse that he's able to recover from a fright like that in a few minutes. There was definitely a time where this would've unhinged him for days.

So, what did we learn?

Emergency tools are really going to do fuck all locked in my truck. I have a tack room. For heaven's sake, put the emergency stuff in the tack room. I'm also going to get a velcro-on first aid kit to attach to the driver's side escape door. In the event something goes down, I won't be able to leave his head to run around to the other side of the trailer and dig through a trunk. If I need sedative, I will have needed it, like, yesterday. 

I feel really guilty that Spicy ended up in that situation. I try so hard to give him positive experiences, and I let him down. It's one of those days I wish he spoke English so I could apologize to him. I suspect I'm more scarred by the experience than he is, since he went back out to his field and grazed while I sat in my car, thinking about all the ways that could've ended in either of our deaths.

That being said, I'm eternally grateful he didn't get hurt though, and that I also had the opportunity to realize some gaps in my emergency preparedness planning. Learning those things in a somewhat safe, controlled situation at home is probably the best scenario I could hope for!


  1. Try not to be so hard on yourself! Things happen, and that's also an important thing for horses to realize. From what it sounds like Spicy was over the whole thing once he was off the trailer, so you should try and move on to! But yeah, definitely put the tools in the trailer ;)

    1. right??? like put the jumper cables in the car, yes?? goodness.

  2. Man I am always surprised by the shit that I manage to fuck up on a regular basis by just not thinking things through so definitely do not be too hard on yourself. We are fallible humans afterall!


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