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Horse Scrambling in Trailer

Images on backup cameras are often reversed by default so that might be it too.

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D’oh! Hope that’s the case!

When my senior gelding started having trouble balancing in the trailer, it ended up being due to arthritis in the neck making it painful to try to maintain his balance. The vet did several injections in his neck and after that I would only haul him with the divider open or with him in the last stall of a slant trailer (because they’re wider). He needed more space to spread his legs to balance when traveling.

I’d have a vet check neuro, arthritis, and have a look at the coffin issue some more, it may be causing more pain than originally thought.

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Image is flipped - she is on the drivers side (left) there!

We have been dealing with the most ridiculous heat wave (aren’t we all?) so I haven’t tested some variables in the trailer yet. I’m wanting to try: other side of the trailer, with the divider pulled over, with no boots, maybe with her Soft Rides instead, and without shavings. I also want to ride in the back myself and see if anything note worthy comes up. I did trailer the other horse on the one day it was in the 80s and put the camera on her. She was better than the mare in this thread but I notice she too was swaying/ scrambling/ leaning on some turns (again, not to the extent of this mare but it was noticeable where before when she’s been in the trailer she hasn’t done it). That makes me think it may be related to either the new floor OR the new (as of December) tow vehicle. Those are the only things, that I can think of, that would effect both horses. Obviously, I still need to investigate more with this mare since she is worse, but the fact they are both doing it to a degree has me looking at the truck and trailer.


I have not taken the time to read all the posts- I had a mare who did this until I cut away the bottom of the petition so she didn’t have anything to brace her feet against. Also a good driver can help restore confidence

Typical shoulder stay apparatus injury. Talk to your vet about rehab.

We took the trailer to the shop this weekend for a bunch of small items (install fans, new camera system, saddle boss saddle rack, wash and wax, and custom fabricating a one piece butt bar so I can remove the divider if needed) and noticed on the way there that the trailer was rocking/ bouncing side to side. It was NOT swaying, it tracked completely straight behind the tow vehicle. It was like the right side would pop up / left side dipped, and vice versa. It wasn’t extreme (maybe “popping up” an inch or two) but out of the ordinary for the trailer. The shop is checking the shocks as they think they are likely the culprit of the side to side rocking/ bouncing/ whatever. I can see how if the shocks are bad, that could make it difficult for them to balance on turns. The shop is also checking over everything else (bearings, tires, brakes, etc) just in case. I’m hoping to pick it up on Friday and will try to update if we are able to identify the cause of the rocking/ bouncing.

One a semi related note - I’ve been looking into getting some super soft mats to go on top of the rumber for 1. A change in surface / hopefully additional grip and 2. Some added comfort for my older, coffin bone horse. I am likely ordering a set of Mayo Mattress mats for the trailer (and her stall) and will post an update on those when they come.


We picked up the trailer this past weekend and it was (is) a whole thing. Many items that were to be addressed were missing (such as the brakes needing adjustment which wasn’t done) but the shocks were done. The old shocks were so worn I could compress them by hand pretty easily (and my upper body strength is lacking). I also took the time to ride in the back once we got home. I was shocked at how smooth the ride was (I didn’t need to brace or hold onto anything for balance on our short trip to the park and back). I did notice the butt bars and divider rattle more than I would have expected so am going to try either vet wrap or bed liner spray on those (not that that would be related to the scrambling issues). Unfortunately since the brakes weren’t done it has to go back again (3+ hours one way) before I can see if the shocks helped. I am happy with the camera though and think that will make these “trial runs” with the different variables easier to record (not literally recording). My hope is that with the shocks and the brake adjustment that’s all that we need to get them both comfortable and stable in the trailer.


Update: we are still scrambling/ failing to hold ourselves up in the trailer.

I have tried:

  • Replacing trailer shocks
  • Replacing trailer tires
  • Riding on the right side (that was WAY WORSE)
  • Riding untied (slight, slight improvement)
  • She is now in composite shoes instead of the Cavallo boots
  • She had a full lameness exam 30 days ago and had both stifles and her left hock injected

She has started back in work but is certainly not fit yet.
We ran through some neuro tests at home and she seems normal (maybe, MAYBE a 1 out of 5) on those but I can’t think of any other reason for it to be happening. She still happily gets on and off the trailer without issue and my other mare (a different one from the one previously mentioned in this thread) does not have the same issues. This mare is worse when I make left turns, she seems to not even try to hold herself up and just collapses into the trailer wall for support. She is finally sound and I had some riding goals this year that included trailering to shows, but even outside of showing it is extremely concerning to me to not be able to trailer her places for vet work. Any new ideas?

I don’t see if you ever tried the divider swung over or removed completely. I knew one horse that needed the divider removed as she still scrambled with it swung over.

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The horse I knew that did this was a 0 out of 5 on neuro tests, but had a crazy high EPM titer and improved significantly after treatment.

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I have not tried without the divider yet, you are correct. I have a Brenderup Baron which is meant to be towed with the butt bars up as they give the trailer structural integrity (from my understanding) and thus can’t be used without the bars. They do make a full length butt bar but they are very hard to find (I spent all summer trying to have one made or looking for one to buy without luck).

@joiedevie99 (Kinda) Glad to hear of a similar experience with subsequent improvement!

Where are you? I’d be willing to let you borrow mine if you’re close enough to pick it up.

@joiedevie99 I’m in St. Louis, MO!

Darn! I’m outside of NYC. Mountain Top Trailer Sales in New Hampshire got mine for me, but it was years ago.

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I had a brenderup for years, no problem. Got new mare, after a couple trips, she started scrambling. Once so badly that she bent the divider and popped it partway loose from the floor hole. Put her in a slant load borrowed from a friend, she was perfect, never moved a muscle. So traded in my beloved B’up . She rewarded me by trailering well to and from both colic surgeries, another clinic event for enteritis, and finally bilateral suspensory branch desmitis in hind legs. lots of other small health issues along the way. She is retired. :roll_eyes:

@2tempe I am worried that will be the fix but am wanting to be CERTAIN before I sell the B’up and buy something else (I would be so upset if the new trailer didn’t work for her as well). I’ve been thinking about posting in local groups to see if anyone with a slant or even a straight load we could configure as a box stall, would let me pay them to drive her around (it really doesn’t take much/ long) and see how she is. With trailer prices being what they are, I’m sure I’ll be hard pressed to find something in an affordable price range.

Could you ask your vet if they know someone that could help you try your mare in other kinds of trailers enough to be sure what she likes?
Maybe get one of those basic portable wireless cameras, to see how she rides, like our I-Ball?


I had a large pony as a kid who scrambled in the trailer until I removed the lower half of the divider (Kingston 2-horse) so that she had noting to brace against to slide down and it solved the problem

Any places near you do trailer rental? I have 2 horse trailer dealers about 15 miles from me and I bet they would both allow a “test ride” in something used if you were a verified buyer.