What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Accident, Horse Trapped in Trailer


You are involved in an accident in which horses are trapped in a trailer. They are down or the trailer is overturned.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

your role


What To Do

Immediately call 911 and a local equine or large animal vet for assistance. 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. Do not tie horses as they may break free and run into traffic. Instead have helpers or bystanders hold them.

Once help is on the way, you can try to help your horse. A trapped horse can struggle violently and is very dangerous. At all times stay away from the horse's limbs, which can flail and cause fatal injury.

Do not try to get into the trailer with the horses until you have help. Check on the horses through a window or opening; comfort them from there and try to take note of their breathing and general attitude.

Try to remove mats, tack and other obstacles so that rescuers have a clear path to get to the horses. Some horses will require tranquilization or even anesthesia to allow extrication.

Listen to and work with emergency personnel to ensure an orderly approach to the rescue.

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to handle this emergency alone. Do not tie horses. Have helpers or bystanders hold them. Do not try to get into the trailer with the horses until you have help.

your vet's role

Your vet's role in this sort of accident is to ensure the best care of the animal as it is extricated and prevent bystander injury. In some cases, sedation may be useful to help extricate a horse. Following extrication, they will assess the horse and determine the need for further treatment.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Briefly describe the situation to me.
  • Give me directions to your current location, so I can get to you as soon as possible.

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

further reading & resources

Related References:

Kellon E, Dr. Kellon's Guide to First Aid for Horses, 2nd ed. Emmaus: Breakthrough Publications, 2005.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP