I have had a bit of a quieter week this week partly due to the fact that two people that I had spoken to by telephone or e-mail have cancelled because I have already fixed the problem. The first was a travelling problem and her e-mail went like this:
"Hi Sarah,I have been to a couple of your clinics and was very impressed.We have a 15-2 tbx 8 year old gelding called R who my daughter competes Pc level and BSJA and we are at the end of our tether!.We have owned R for a year and half but recently his behaviour in the trailer has been horrendous. What he does is he puts all his weight/leans on the partition (I have an Ifor Williams trailer) and crosses his legs and basically lifts his hooves up and down on the spot and his bum dissappears. He hasn't fallen down yet but the trailer is rocking like mad and the noise is very upsetting and he kicks out as well. It's like he can't keep his balance but I drive very carefully. We removed travel boots as he wasn't keen on them and now has bandages with gamgee and overreach boots as he definately needs some protection as the damage he can do to himself has been awful. We travelled back from WW yesterday and it was worst so far and
when we got back to the yard ,he had broken the back partition which was hanging and back breast bars were down. I have not changed the trailer since we've had R so nothing nasty has happened to him. It probably started around corners a bit so I go very careful around corners and now its on the straight he seems to wind himself right up. Sorry to waffle on but if you think you could help us that would be great."
I replied as follows:
"I come across this sort of problem two or there times a year and I am sorry to tell you that it is not one that is easy to solve. By the time a horse gets to this stage of anxiety, going into pressure against the partition and effectively galloping along the walls of the trailer or on the spot, they are in quite a lot of trouble. Unfortunately in R’s case this has now been reinforced by the partition actually letting him down. I am very happy to come and out and see what I can do to help. However, the only way I have ever found of solving this problem is to take the partition out altogether and to travel the horse cross tied with full width front bars and back bars Horses that have this problem seem to like having more room made available to them and you are right to think about the type of boots that you use – the big thick boots seem to cause more problems than they solve. This does mean driving even more slowly as your load will be less secure than with the partition in. I cannot say for definite that it is legal to travel a horse without a partition but the fact that Ifor Williams make full width bars (they cost about £100 for the two) tends to suggest that they think their trailer is designed to work that way – they do however make it clear that horses should not be travelled totally loose in their trailers or forward from the front bars as the front of the trailer isn’t as strong as the rest of it.
If you want to experiment with this with me present then I am happy to come and help and advise. I an also willing to come and try to see if we can get him to travel with the partition again but I think it is only fair to tell you that it’s a tricky one."
The owner and I then made an appointment over the telephone and I urged her to get a CCTV if she was going to try this method. I then got this very happy e-mail:
"Hi Sarah, just to say that we tried R yesterday without the partition and have full width bars and took him for a little drive, and I have a camera fitted now, which is fab! He was really good and it was great watching him.We have just got back after taking him out again and a bit further and again he just stood there his ears were forward and he was very calm. We are happy to travel him like this for so can I cancel our appointment and thank-you for your advice kind regards L"
I have asked her to send a donation to the Dartmoor Pony Training Centre out of any change she has from her full width bars and CCTV!