Adventures on Horseback: How a closed window can save your horse

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Last year, I was driving down the interstate, and a horse trailer passed me with the window open.

I was astounded to see a beautiful gray Arab’s head sticking out!

You read that right. The horse, wearing a nylon rope halter, had its head stuck out the window on the left side of the trailer next to the traffic whizzing past.

I flagged the woman down and asked her if she realized the window was open. I couldn’t even get to the part about how the horse could be seriously injured before she was assuring me how “fine” he was, and how he liked to trailer with his head out.

I was dumfounded. Didn’t she realize it would only take a second for a truck to drift too close and literally decapitate her horse?

While I don’t often see horses sticking their heads out trailer windows at 60 and 70 miles per hour on the interstate, I do see trailers with the windows down all the time. Though the bars prevent the horses from sticking their heads out, they do not protect the horses from objects flying up from the road.

I know the owners are well intentioned, wanting their horses to have some air, but this can be extremely dangerous. It is so easy for a rock, a stick or a can to fly up from the road.

At speeds of 60 and 70 mph, these objects immediately become missiles that can impale a horse’s skull, eyes, neck or shoulder. Even a piece of plastic or a plastic bottle can do severe damage at those speeds.

Last week, the Foothills Riding Club offered a trailer safety clinic. I wish I could have been there to write an article for the paper, but I was teaching a writing class at Isothermal that night.

While most horsemen and women in this area are very knowledgeable, we can always learn something.

I actually know a lot about trailer safety and handling horses in emergency situations. However, several years ago, when I took a large animal emergency rescue class at Clemson, I was amazed at what I learned.

One of the things the class addressed was trailering safety and the importance of closing trailer windows when on the road. It’s something many of us don’t think about when we want our horses to have some fresh air in the trailer.

Another fear I had for the poor Arab horse with his head out the window included the halter he was wearing. Nylon halters do not break easily, and this was one of those knotted rope halters with no-break-away strap.

I’ve seen other horses sticking their heads out trailer windows — all with halters on.

I guess their kind-hearted owners don’t realize if anything were to catch on the halter, the least that could happen would be a broken neck. The worst I can imagine is too terrifying to mention here.

I appreciate your indulgence in allowing me to deviate from my usual fun stories about the adventures Count and I have enjoyed. I just wanted to give FRC a shout out for hosting such an important clinic, and hope lots of people were able to attend. I hope they will be able to host this clinic at least annually.

Until then, if you haven’t already, please, please consider your trailer windows.