As a horse owner, you know the importance of transporting your equine companion safely and comfortably. However, it's not uncommon to encounter issues during transport, and one of the most concerning is when horses scramble in horse floats. This behaviour can put both the horse and the owner at risk, and it's essential to understand some potential reasons behind it to hopefully prevent it from happening in the future.
It's also known that scrambling is also a learnt behaviour so if the horse has previously been a scrambler then potentially it will continue to happen.
In this article, we will explore the reasons why horses scramble in horse floats and provide tips on how to prevent it.
What is scrambling in horse floats?
Scrambling is a term used to describe the behaviour of a horse that is struggling to keep its balance during transport, leading to a loss of footing or a fall. This can happen in both straight load and angle load horse floats however less common in an angle load due to there not being a solid wall beside the horse's legs.
What are some of the reasons why horses scramble?
There are several reasons why horses scramble in horse floats, and the mind boggles sometimes to try and find a reason, so here are the most common ones.
1: Poor Driving
Driving a horse float requires skill and care. If the driver is inexperienced or drives recklessly, it can cause the horse to become unbalanced and scramble. So, taking a corner faster than anticipated or having to stop in a hurry.
2: Poorly Maintained horse floats
Worn or damaged flooring can make the horse feel insecure, this can be worn matting which becomes slippery when a horse sweats or passes a bowel motion, as well as worn suspension can lead to a noisy vibration that in turn can cause a horse to become anxious and lead to scrambling.
Overloading a horse float may also cause scrambling. When a horse float is carrying more weight than it can handle, it can become unbalanced, causing the horse to scramble.
4: Inadequate ventilation
Poor ventilation can cause horses to become anxious and restless, which can lead to scrambling. If the horse feels uncomfortable or trapped, it may try to find a way to escape, which can cause it to lose its footing.
Preventing scrambling in horse floats is essential to ensure the safety and comfort of the horse during transport. Here are some tips to help prevent scrambling:
1. Choose a horse float that meets the needs of your horse and keep it maintained.
When choosing a horse float, it's essential to consider the size and needs of your horse. Make sure the partitions are wide enough to allow the horse to move its legs freely and that is good support for the horse either on its sides or chest and rump, and that the flooring and all suspension is in good condition and working order. If you find that the floor becomes slippery then adding shavings to the floor prior to loading can help absorb any moisture and also make the horse's footing more steady.
2. Ensure proper ventilation.
Good ventilation is essential for the comfort and well-being of the horse during transport. Make sure the horse float is properly ventilated and that there is enough fresh air circulating through the float. If the float is fully enclosed make sure there is the ability to have the hot air escape.
3. Avoid overloading
Never overload a horse float. Make sure you know the weight limit of your horse float and stick to it. Overloading can cause the horse float to become unbalanced.
4. Familiarize yourself and your horse with the horse float
It's essential to get yourself and your horse used to the horse float before transporting it. Let your horse explore the float and get used to the surroundings before you start transporting it. Know how everything works on the float know how the float feels to tow so that you will know when something feels not quite right.
5. Drive carefully
Driving a horse trailer requires care and attention. Make sure you have experience driving a horse float and that you drive carefully to prevent any sudden movements that could cause the horse to scramble or slip. Transporting livestock in a trailer / Float is very different to towing a domestic trailer. Remember horses move during transportation and that can affect your driving.
Scrambling in horse floats is a serious issue that can cause injury to both the horse and the owner. It's essential to understand a few of the reasons behind it and you can take steps to hopefully prevent it from happening.
Choosing a horse trailer that meets the needs of you and your horse is very important. As an example, if you have purchased a horse that is a scrambler, then an angle load horse float may be the float of choice for you. This will mean not having a solid wall beside the horse's legs preventing it from scrambling.
Some of the things you can do to keep your horse trailer well maintained are:
Ensuring proper ventilation
Familiarising your horse with the horse float
If you stick to these you can ensure a safe and comfortable journey for both you and your equine companion.