So, I want to emphasize that it’s important to listen to your gut/intuition. My first thought was to trailer my horse 24+ hours of driving without letting her out of the trailer, definitely taking a 4-6 hour rest at a rest stop and allowing her out of her slant, yet still inside the trailer. My second thought was finding horse accommodations to overnight her.
Well, 10+ hours of driving in, during a regular scheduled stop (we stopped for 15-20 minutes every two hours), she looked like she wasn’t going to be able to stand up anymore. I chose to take the risk, do the humane thing, and found a stable to overnight her in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was the perfect place, they had a nice paddock for her, and I could pitch my tent and have access to a restroom.
The next morning she wouldn’t load up. We tried everything including coercion, extortion, bribery, and asking nicely, for close to 8 hours. The horse would not go in and she was only hurting herself as she struggled. She was a lone, pastured horse at Sandhill Flats, and now she had other horses and a great paddock – she thought she was at her final destination and went “full on mule”.
We left her in her paddock with the trailer backed up to the entrance with her hay and water part way in, so that if she wanted something, she had to climb part way into the trailer. We overnighted again.
The next morning we called the vet out and had her sedated. She was loaded in 15 minutes, albeit the vet and barn manager had to lift her haunches up into the trailer. WHAT I LEARNED: IF YOUR HORSE WON’T LOAD AND YOU ARE SHORT ON TIME, SKIP ALL OTHER METHODS OF LOADING AND JUST SEDATE THE HORSE. It’s better for the animal and faster than other methods. Sometimes you just don’t have time for shennanigans. You can train your horse later.
The vet warned me; don’t let her out until you reach your final destination, no matter how long it takes. WHAT I LEARNED: IF YOU WANT TO AVOID “FULL ON MULE”, IT MAY BE BEST TO LEAVE YOUR HORSE IN THE TRAILER, EVEN DURING STOPS AND OVERNIGHTS, UNTIL YOU REACH YOUR FINAL DESTINATION.
Palau has safely arrived in Kansas and is back out to pasture. She appears to be no worse for the wear and is enjoying taste-testing new clovers and grasses. I learned a lot, and I’m so glad the horse shipment is over!