Horseproblems Australia
Post Office Box Victor Harbor
SA. 5211
(61) 0418814029
horseproblems@horseproblems.com.au

 

THE WALL CLIMBER

by

John O'Leary
Horseman

 

 


* click on all photos to enlarge them.

There is nothing more frustrating than to experience and witness, the frantic actions of the horse that climbs the walls of a horse float.

Over the years, I have floated many unbroken horses and have always noticed that they are 'rock solid' inside the float and are not easily upset. The same with foals, weanling and yearlings. Having a horse climb the wall is the least of my worries with these horses. In fact, I have deliberately tested a few of them, just to see how easily they can be upset or even worse, turned into 'wall climbers' I have never really been able to extract much of a reaction from them.

5 weanlings in one float. Not a problem

THE CAUSES

  • Bad Drivers', caused by the zero training via Pony Club or other avenues. Traveling too fast around bends or braking too abruptly causing the horse to lose it's footing.
     

  • Often Males who will not listen to their wives or daughters and are basic petrol heads at heart. No matter how slow they go, they are going too fast!!
     

  • Centre divisions that extend all the way to the floor. These guarantee the ruination of horses.


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  • Centre Divisions that extend down too low. A common design fault these days. Stopping the horse from spreading the legs. New floats are being made in South Australia, with this design fault.

     

  • Rough Horse Floats. Rattle Traps with high noise levels or even new floats with high noise levels.
     

  • Dark and dingy horse floats with poor lighting and small windows.
     

  • Storm Doors closed can trigger them through panic and chostrophia.
     

  • Claustrophobia kicks in.
     

  • This float arrived here with the horse climbing the walls and shoes ripped off. It only had the little window near the front door. I advised the people to lift the roof and leave the front and side gaps open. The horse was cured on the trip home and has never done it since. Thus proving my point yet again.
     
  • A lack of viewing options that the Horse needs to cater for the 'flight response' and the natural wants and needs. It has always been noted by me that Horse Floats only have windows positioned in the blond spot of the Horse when their eyes are actually on the sides of the heads
     
  • New and unusual noises like the wheel bearings on the way out.

VIEW

Where are the eyes of a Horse? ( on the sides of their head) Where are the blind spots in the field of view of a Horse? (dead in front and behind  them) Then why is every Float window in the front and about 2 foot below their heads? In 100% of Australian Horse Floats and I suspect other Countries of the World, certainly Europe and Britain, the most the windows will allow is a look at the Boot of the towing vehicle in front. Here, have a look.

Click to enlarge

 

VISION VERSUS 'FLIGHT RESPONSE'

* With the lack of focus leading to stress and unhappiness. The No. 1 cause of Floating problems of most kinds.

Horses  are unable to focus their eyes the way humans and most animals can. Have you ever seen a horse raising and lowering its head as it looks at an object? It does that to adjust the focal length, moving until the object comes into focus on its retina. Also, since the horse’s field of vision doesn’t overlap—the right eye sees what’s happening on the right side of its body, and the same on the left—it’s amazing that the horse isn’t confused all the time by two images that don’t match up at all.

The horse’s eyes also act something like a human’s bifocals. If the horse lowers its head and looks up, gazing through the upper portion of the eye, it can focus on the horizon. However, if it needs to look at something closer, it will raise its head to regard the object through the lower portion of the eye, where it can focus more clearly.

When you see a horse startled by a sudden movement just behind or beside it, its peripheral vision has sighted the movement but it has not yet had time to focus on it. Even when the horse is traveling a familiar path, such as to the stable or pasture, it can be startled by something as small as a paper blowing past.

 

When Horses detect movement and often perceive it as a threat, due to the fact that they can't quickly focus, they run first and focus later. Especially things coming from behind. To take away the natural instincts of a Horse through removal of view out of a 'Tin Can' is to build therefore and I submit, highly unfair.

After 10 years of testing on trips up to 1,000k and a life time of floating around 25,000 Horses, I can categorically say that the window configuration on all Horse Floats is incorrect and is stress positive.  Testing on hundreds of problem Horses and thousands of normal horses have shown the benefits to be incredible and many. Too many for me to describe here. I will write a paper on it when I retire :)

  • Stress levels markedly down
  • Happier Horses in travel
  • More willing to load.
  • Problem Horses that people cannot get into Floats will walk into my test Float.
  • Horses arrive fresher, more relaxed and far more able to athletically perform because they have not been tormented via lack of view, have not been cramped throughout the trip and are ready to perform far better than other Horses due to their overall happiness and lack of muscle soreness and stiffness.
  • Happier competition Horses than others as they are not pre configured into a bad mood before arrival. (pawing)
  • Horses not having to screw their head and neck around to struggle for a glimpse of a view to allay their fears because their field of vision and window positions don't allow them to see. Imagine the frustration?
  • Able to choose their own head and neck height, limit directional problems, relax, nod off, or go to a heightened awareness with head up high like in their paddock. Happiness once more.
  • Veterinary reasons such as digestion and choke.

How would you like me to put you in a mechanics Pit that was too small for you and leave you there for 7 hours??....and they wonder why Horses sweat in Horse Floats?. That would quickly produce physical problems as it does with Veterinary problems.

HOW TO FIX THEM
 

  • Remove the centre division and allow the horse to find it's own position in the float. Normally on the angle. Horses need something to lean against, in order to get to climbing the walls.
     
  • Sack your driver as the horse must have completely successful trips form now on. Success makes repair and over time, the horse will be fixed....or
     
  • Travel the horse in an open horse float for a few trips and that will fix it. No division but with my safety belt system on the horse.

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  • Travel the horse in a 3 horse float, both divisions in but put the horse in the centre bay. NOT if the divisions extend down any more than 300mm from the top however.
     
  • Travel the horse in a Truck, amongst other horses and preferably with no divisions or chains.
     
  • Build bunk beds that drop down and double as outside wall padding. That will make them wider than normal. That will get the feet of the Horse away from the wall and give you a nice place to sleep at an Event :)

'Scramblers' or 'Wall Climbers' are deeply psychologically distressed horses and ruined by people, normally their loving owners. If one doesn't take every step to help them, serious injuries will occur and in the end, the horse will never be able to be floated again. That normally means death to the horse.

Hypothetically, we can drive horses as fast as we like and have done so. 160k attempting to beat another car to the punt at Berri as we were running late for the first race for which we were entered. :) It has no affect upon them. The bends are your major danger. Go here and read this:

 

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/horse_problems_australia_on_safe.htm

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/problem_horse_or_problem_horse_f.htm

 

Best of Luck

 

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