Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Accident, Horse Fell through Trailer Floor

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

    Old, weak or rotten trailer floorboards may break under the weight of a horse during transit. Unfortunately, the driver usually does not know that the accident has occurred for some time, and injuries to a horse can be fatal.

    When equine feet and limbs contact the road, tissue and bone is ground off. While a variety of life-threatening injuries can be sustained in this circumstance, the injury that I have seen most frequently is severe wounds to the front of the fetlock joint.


    Call your vet and 911, and tell them what happened. Once help is on the way, you can try to help your horse. At all times, keep in mind that the most important thing is your own safety. Turn on any and all emergency flashers, apply the parking brake and turn the vehicle off. If it is possible, set out warning flares or triangles and stay out of traffic lanes.

    If the horse is down in the trailer, you should wait until you have help. Listen to and work with emergency personnel to ensure an orderly approach towards stabilizing and saving your horse. If you remove a horse from the trailer, have a confident handler hold the horse rather than tying it and risking its escape and further injury.

    Note, trailer floorboards can easily rot or weaken due to the cumulative weight and corrosive effect of shavings, manure and urine. Regular monitoring, maintenance, cleaning and replacement is a must to prevent tragic injuries during transport.


    Your vet helps extricate the horse from the trailer, stabilizes general health if possible, then assesses the injuries and discusses prognosis and potential treatments.

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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