How Often Does Trailer-Driver Error Cause Horse Injury?

Before you load your horse into a trailer, you might wrap him head-to-toes to protect him. But the most important thing you can do to help him travel unscathed? Drive safely, researchers say.
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How Often Does Trailer-Driver Error Cause Horse Injury?
Recent study results suggest that as many as 10% of the injuries horses sustain during transport are due to driver error. | Photo: iStock
Before you load your horse into a trailer, you might wrap his legs and apply a head-bumper to protect him during travel. But one of the most important things you can do to help him arrive at his destination unscathed? Drive safely, researchers say.

Recent study results suggest that as many as 10% of the injuries horses sustain during transport are due to driver error. And that’s mostly because drivers are using their phones (leading to sudden decision-making), taking turns too sharply, braking too hard, driving too fast, not adjusting for slippery conditions, or even causing collisions with horses in tow, researchers said.

The remaining 90% of injuries might be horse-related (moving around, losing balance, kicking, biting, etc.), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t preventable, said Barbara Padalino, PhD, researcher at the University of Bari Aldo Moro Veterinary School, in Bari, Italy. When transporters recognize the behavioral signs that a horse isn’t adapting well to transport, they can intervene—if they know how—to help prevent injuries.

“We recommended that all drivers or transporters attend a course to learn how to drive a vehicle transporting live animals and also to recognize the signs of stress in those animals, which should be monitored by video camera during transit,” Padalino said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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