What’s Causing My Horse’s Negative Trailer Behaviors?

How do you deal with negative trailer behaviors such as kicking and pawing while on the road? An equine behavior expert shares advice.
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horse trailer behavior
Discomfort can cause some horses to kick and paw while on the trailer whether its moving or stopped, as it is here. | Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

Q.What’s causing my horse’s negative trailer behaviors, such as kicking and pawing on the road, and how do you deal with them? Loading is not a problem.

—Hilary, Florida

A.When loading is not a problem, and the kicking and pawing occur only when on the road, the first thing I think about is something about the vehicle’s movement that is uncomfortable for the horse. Examples we have found over the years include balance problems and painful musculoskeletal conditions, particularly neck and back discomfort, that understandably get aggravated by the horse’s nearly constant effort to adjust head height to maintain balance on the trailer

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Written by:

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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