BUTT BAR HAZ­ARD

EQUUS - - Eq Hands On -

We all take pre­cau­tions to keep our horses safe on the road, but one scary and po­ten­tially harm­ful trailer ac­ci­dent can oc­cur when the ve­hi­cle isn’t

in mo­tion. It hap­pens when an im­pa­tient or fright­ened horse rushes to back out of the trailer when the ramp has been low­ered but the butt bar is still in

place. If he slips or low­ers his hindquar­ters even slightly (which is likely if he’s pulling against a head tie), the horse can wind up wedged un­der the butt bar. Be­sides be­com­ing panicked, a stuck horse can sus­tain se­vere soft-tissue in­jury and even frac­ture some of his spinous pro­cesses. Be­cause the horse is jammed against it, the bar is un­der tre­men­dous pres­sure, which makes re­leas­ing it dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble.

While it may seem like the eas­i­est

way to pre­vent this would be to re­lease the butt bar be­fore low­er­ing the ramp, this poses its own chal­lenges: Re­leas­ing the bar re­quires you to reach awk­wardly over the back of the trailer, and you’ll have to be ready for the horse to back out the mo­ment the ramp is low­ered.

An­other op­tion in­volves a bit of retrofitti­ng but may ul­ti­mately be eas­ier: Take your trailer to an ex­pe­ri­enced re­pair shop and ask them to weld a metal ring to the bot­tom of the di­vider and one at the same level on the op­po­site wall. You can then hang a chain stall guard from these rings to cross the back of the trailer. If a horse backs up be­fore the butt bar is re­moved, he will feel the chains on his hind legs and in­stinc­tively stop and step for­ward.

IN­SUR­ANCE: A chain stall guard can be used to dis­cour­age a horse from try­ing to back out when the ramp is down but the butt bar is still se­cured.

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