FIVE POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN DEALING WITH A CRITICAL FLOATING ACCIDENT:This text is copied from the Equiluxe Face Book page but has been edited to include the many other practical suggestions made by readers who had experienced a similar event. So I thank the many readers who I do not know, for helping to create a more thorough article than my own observations after my own horrendous experience.
When the worst happens and your horse is cast, entangled or panicking in your float, here are some tips to remember that can save your horse’s life and reduce the risk of injury. This is based on my own experience recently with my 17hh warmblood who panicked in my float and tried to jump the front angle load divider toward the front window.
1. The first phone call you should make is to the nearest vet. If you are away from home, a great iphone App is “Near- Me”. Your primary concern is to stabilise your horse to ensure he doesn’t panic further. He is likely to initially be in shock and whilst quiet initially, he may start thrashing around again.
2. Do not enter the float! As tempting as it may be, wait until the vet arrives to sedate your horse.
3. Call Triple Zero and ask for Large Animal Rescue Services. Explain that you are in danger from oncoming traffic and that there is risk to human safety.
4. Once the vet arrives and sedates the horse, allow Large Animal Rescue (trained Police, SES, Emergency Personnel) to take control of the scene. A panicking owner is not helpful to the rescue of your horse. The Vet and Emergency Personnel will know what to do.
If you have remove-able dividers in your float, thank your lucky stars. The fact that my float has swingable and remove-able dividers saved my horse’s life. He had got himself in such a position that he was choking over the head divider. Being able to unclip the head divider and swing it over to the left allowed him to breath again. Once he was sedated, we were able to remove the stall dividers around him slowly so he could regain all four feet on the floor. We then moved the dividers back around him and re-attached them and drove him home. Always carry a sharp knife in your float. If he is hanging, you may need to cut him out of his halter.
5. Yes this is illegal, but in my case, I travelled home with my horse in the float with him. This decision was made carefully in consultation from his vet who attended the scene. Despite being sedated, he became quite distressed when I was out of eye-sight so the decision was made for me to stay with him and comfort him on the ride home. I was in mobile phone contact with the driver in my car so I could relay how my horse was coping with being sedated and a little wobbly whilst in transit. I have a particularly good bond with this horse and each time I left the float he became more distressed….so that told me he didn’t want me to leave him after this ordeal. The trip home was relatively uneventful but each time I moved away from him he neighed and become quite distressed. This confirmed my decision to stay with him in the float.
Moral of the story – Horses are unpredictable but they do tell us in subtle ways when they are unhappy about something. Take notice before an explosive episode occurs.
Consider the design of your float and how this can assist you in an emergency. My float has a huge amount of space which helped us manoeuvre him. All of your structures in your float such as dividers and head dividers should be remove-able. Dividers secured by pins can be difficult to remove however a rubber mallet or hammer removes these easily even when under the load of a large horse.
If you are a straight load owner, invest in our Emergency drop-down chest bars. These enable you to release the chest bar from the outside of the float, allowing the horse to slide off him self
99 times out of 100, our float trips are uneventful. But if an accident occurs, I hope these tips might help you stay calm and focus on achieving the best outcome for your horse.
These tips are purely based on my own experience and my learnings from the day. For well researched reading and preparation, I would encourage all horse owners to read and be well versed from the following book. Further reading and book purchase can be found at this site: http://www.equineer.com/