Letters: 02/00

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Excellent Trailer-Problem Detective
I read the letter from Lori Kirby, who is having problems with her horse traveling in her slant-load trailer (October 1999).

I have some ideas to add to your great suggestions:

1. Check the floor. My friend hauled my horse in her trailer that has an aluminum floor. It felt “unsteady” to me, and my horse also “complained” while in it (doing some damage in the process). My trailer has a wood beam floor (under the mats), which feels much more solid. If she hasn’t, she should check the soundness of the flooring under the mats. Also, are the mats slippery'

2. What kind of suspension does it have' I used to rent a trailer with spring axles. The horses seem much more comfortable in a trailer with torsion bar suspension, which seems to bounce much less. Trailers with spring axles will ride higher off the ground. They will have band springs connecting the axle to the trailer — similar to what you see connecting the bed of a pickup to its back axle. Torsion bars look very different, and the floor of the trailer will closer to the ground.

3. Check for other sources of disturbing noise. I don’t hang my bridles on the hooks in the tack area because the hardware bangs against the steel wall. I once trailered a horse that absolutely went nuts whenever we went under an overpass. We suspect the echo upset her.

4. Can she see out' Some horses are uncomfortable when they can’t see their surroundings (my present mount is in this group). Others are overwhelmed by the constant movement, and do better when dark windows mute their surroundings.

Because she mentions that the horse is worst on bumpy roads, I would guess the mare is objecting to either the floor or suspension. Echoing your recommendation, I would have a vet or chiropractor check her, too. The forces in a slant are very different than a straight load.

I haven’t had any trouble with my slant-load trailer, which I’ve had for four years. My current horse is somewhat claustrophobic and will attempt to kick his way out if he doesn’t have the divider removed (my three-horse trailer is now effectively a two-horse). So far, none of the two dozen or so horses I’ve hauled have had a problem in the slant-load trailer, but I have heard people say they’ve owned horses that would only go in straight-loads.

-Karen Cate
Tualatin, OR

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West Nile Spread Update
As you know, West Nile virus isolations from dead birds have been confirmed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland — all states that surround/border Pennsylvania. We checked with Linda Glaser of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the organization working with the USDA and coordinating collection of dead birds and the testing done by the CDC. There have been no West Nile virus isolations from Pennsylvania birds.

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