Have you ever pulled in to a gas station or up to a traffic light next to someone hauling their horse and heard the horse pawing the sides or the floor. Sounds terrible and usually draws some funny looks from other people. It can be a little embarrassing depending on where you are and what else is happening.
So what can you do to stop it. Pillows tied to the front feet wear out pretty fast and cost quite a bit to replace. Besides who wants to climb into the trailer and tie the pillows to the horse’s feet anyway. Hope you haven’t tried the pillow thing and recognize we are just kidding.
Patience is a virtue. Some horses are naturally more patient than others, but patience can also be taught. You just have to be willing to spend the time and go to the trouble. If one of our horses is pounding the floor of the trailer, I am going to tell him to quit once or twice. If he keeps up, then some lessons in patience are going to be given.
A horse that should know better is going to spend the next 4 or 5 hours tied in the trailer while chores around the place are done. He can pound the floor till he goes deaf if he wants. Usually an hour or two of standing in the trailer gets some attention. The last thing you want to do is run over and back him out. If you do, you just taught him to do it again next time. It is analogous to a crying baby, if you race into the room and pick him up, he learns to cry. It gets him his way.
If you are concerned about the floor of your trailer ( ours are thick oak boards ), you can do some practice drills outside the trailer before you load. Spend a couple of evenings with your horse tied to the hitching rail or a tree. Tie the head with just enough slack to ensure comfort, but without enough rope to be able to move around. Walk away and let him paw the ground. Don’t untie him while he is acting like a spoiled baby. When he stops and learns to wait for you patiently, then pet him and turn him loose.
As a matter of safety, make sure there is nothing under his feet that can cause damage. Some horses can injure their legs or feet if objects are in the way. Also make sure you check on him every once in a while to make certain everything is okay. Obviously, you should never tie a horse in a trailer on a hot Summer day unless the ventilation is adequate.
Don’t give in to a tantrum or turn him loose until he shows progress or you will just make more problems for yourself. Patience is a wonderful thing in a horse and we haven’t seen one that couldn’t learn.