Let me preface this post by saying this: Everyone is going to be 100% okay.
Yesterday, we had a trailer accident. Driving down the highway, we hit a patch of black ice. The horses in the back (two of them), must have shifted in the trailer because it started to fishtail. The icy roads caused the whole situation to escalate quickly. Truck and trailer fishtailed all over the highway for approximately 600 yards. Several times I thought I had us straightened out, only to lose the trailer again. The roads had no traction to speak of. Finally, the trailer jackknifed hard into the truck bumper, popped off the hitch, and flipped onto its side.
Until I heard the loud boom of the trailer flipping behind me, everything was in slow motion. After the bang, my mind is a complete blank. Somehow the truck stopped, and my traveling companion and I got out. The truck and trailer were sideways, blocking the entire highway.
I wish I had the words to express what I felt when I looked into the back of that trailer. I think hopelessness is as close as I can get. After asking my companion to call 911, I remember saying out loud "I can't do this. I don't know how to do this."
The inside of the trailer was just a jumble of bodies and legs. The way the trailer had fallen, my companion's horse was on the bottom, but propped up halfway by the roof of the trailer. His legs were mostly free, but one was in between the slats of my trailer. I was afraid to open the trailer doors, in case he decided to back out and twist it. Guinness was on his side completely, his halter and breakaway lead still attached to the trailer. His head was twisted up, and his neck at a 30 degree angle against the front of the trailer. Both horses were breathing heavily, and their eyes were wide. Neither was panicking or moving, which was a miracle.
I must have simply stood at the back of the trailer, staring inside helpless, for a few minutes before a group of local men and volunteer fire fighters started to assemble. They blocked the highway with an astounding number of pickup trucks and came right over to help. These guys were absolutely phenomenal. They jumped to help me, and took every direction I gave. Even though they clearly had just as little experience with this situation as me, they were quick to leap in with ideas as well as brute strength. I know for a fact that at least two men had to stand the entire time with the weight of the left trailer door held over their heads. I don't know how they did it, but they were amazing.
My companion's horse was the first big issue. With his leg between the slats, and his other back leg precariously balanced on the edge of another slat, we had to be careful he didn't kick or back out. Three of us carefully extricated him from the divider (knocked free in the flip). Guinness helped us a little here by thrashing around a little. While terrifying, Pig's kicking actually pushed him into the other horse, helping that horse stand up a little more and get into the position to climb out.
The other horse carefully looked around, gathered himself, and somehow managed to step over Guinness' body as he turned around and walked out of the trailer. My companion caught her horse, whose halter had popped off during the flip, wrapped a lead rope around his neck, and lead him into the adjacent bean field. He walked off completely sound.
Guinness was still down in the trailer, and starting to panic. He kept starting to kick and thrash, which was moving him further into the front of the trailer. While he would stop kicking and thrashing when I would yell at him, he ended up curled into the fetal position on his side with three legs stuck in the manger portion of my trailer.
Having no idea how we were going to get him out, I crawled on top of the trailer, to hopefully find a halter for my companion's horse. I had spare halters in the tack area of the trailer, but wasn't sure I could get to them the way the trailer was flipped. My fears were confirmed, the halters were at the bottom of everything, and I couldn't reach them without crawling all the way in. I asked a man to see if he could get them out for her. Then, I dropped down into the top manger window and into the manger above Guinness.
From here, I pet his nose and tried to calm him. I stripped the Velcro from his trailer tie, releasing his head but leaving on his halter. He had kicked off one of his shipping boots but was still wearing the other three. He also still had on his Dover turnout sheet, and head bumper. I pulled off the head bumper. It was getting in his eyes, and I was afraid it would pull his halter off.
I asked the firemen if anyone had anything to help me pull Pig out. One guy had a tow strap, and he ran to get it. While he was gone, I gave the firemen a run down of the plan. We would wrap the strap around Pig's left stifle, then they would pull him back slowly while I reached down and untangled his legs from the side of the manger.
This process took forever, and I was constantly crawling in and out of the manger, as the divider wasn't very strong and I didn't want to fall into the trailer while Pig was thrashing. In a surreal moment, I was on top of the trailer while the firemen pulled on Guinness, and watched as the man I asked to help my companion was helping her bridle her horse. All he'd been able to get out of the tack area was her bridle.
After we pulled his back legs free, Guinness kicked a couple of times and then sort of went into shock. He was breathing hard, and his eyes were open but glassy. It was obvious he was just sort of frozen, and not going to move.
The way he'd rotated when we'd pulled him back made continuing to pull from his stifle useless. With his body laying prone, I couldn't get the rope under him anywhere. So, I ended up crawling out onto his body and ran the tow strap through his turnout sheet, threading it under from butt to shoulder and passing both ends back to the firemen at the back of the trailer. They pulled, and like a miracle the turnout sheet held as his body slid 2/3 of the way out of the trailer.
As Guinness' body rotated, the sheet finally gave, ripping straight down the middle. I'm astounded it was so strong. I don't know that we would have gotten him out without having it to pull with.
From here, I was able to stick the tow rope under Pig's shoulder and into one of the slats. A man crawled under the trailer where the wheels were holding it up. He was able to grab the end of the strap and guide it back and around the rest of Pig's shoulder, handing it back to the firemen. Pulling this way, Pig's body rotated the rest of the way around and his head was sticking out of the trailer. He still wasn't moving, and was breathing hard. I jumped down off the top of the trailer and came around.
I grabbed his lead rope, trying to get him to snap out of it and try to stand up, but he completely catatonic. The firemen wanted to give him a break here for a minute, but I asked them to keep pulling him out. I didn't like how quiet he was. They pulled him a little more, and his front legs touched the ground. The moment his feet made contact, he snapped into motion, standing up and pulling himself out.
While the firemen untangled the tow line, I grabbed his lead rope and walked him into the field. He followed me without appearing to be in much pain. Out in the field, a man with some horse experience held Guinness while I stripped him of his boots and checked his legs obsessively. Other than a few cuts where he kicked himself, they were just fine. The helpful man stuck around, walking Pig while I ran to get his cooler out of the truck and threw it on him. He kept walking him and letting him eat while I dealt with the cops, helped the firemen transfer our belongings, watched the trailer get pulled upright and get carted off, and thanked everyone who had helped us.
At this point, things start getting a little more fragmented in my memory.
I remember a man grabbing my hand and saying "I was driving behind you on that hill, and I don't know how you kept that rig on the road like you did. I thought you guys were goners. I can't believe you got out alive."
I tried to call my husband to let him know what was happening. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay on the phone, there was too much commotion. He tried texting me to ask if anything was wrong, and I couldn't manage to type out what was wrong. I sent him a photo of Guinness being pulled out of the trailer. In my haste, I didn't give any clarification to the photo. He thought Guinness was dead. He has since threatened to kill me if I send him another photo of one of our animals looking dead. I can't blame him.
A local vet had been called to the scene, in case we needed to give sedatives. He offered to give Pig a 10cc shot of Banamine. I gratefully accepted the offer.
While I had been working with the firemen to get Pig untangled, my companion had been busy phoning everyone to let them know what happened. Her calls set us up to be off the highway faster than we otherwise would have. Our BOs immediately jumped out the door to come pick us up, and the fire chief showed up with his stock trailer, still hooked up from hauling cattle that morning, offering to give us a ride to his farm to wait for the BOs to arrive with their trailer.
Amazingly, both horses leapt right into the cattle trailer. We tied them in and followed the trailer down the road to the chief's farm. I can't thank him enough for this. He brought us hay and a bucket of water, which both horses gratefully set into. He opened up his equipment barn to us so we could get out of the wind, and he let us walk the horses all over his lawn to keep them from getting too stiff.
It was here that Pig started to really come out of his shell. He finally started acting like himself, licking my hands, and sniffing my pockets for the mallowcreme pumpkins I'd hidden there that morning. I checked over his legs again, finding that the scary looking cuts on the backs of his back legs were actually pretty superficial.
Eventually the BOs arrived with their trailer, and we loaded both horses in and headed back home, where the vet was waiting to give both horses a look. She proclaimed us the luckiest group of people and horses alive, and said both horse's looked to make a 100% recovery.
My companion's horse was in much better shape than Guinness, just having a couple of cuts on him and having not gone into shock. Guinness has a few significant bruises on his front right knee and is taking turns favoring each back leg. We don't think there's anything significant going on, just bruising and stinging from the cuts. He's very stiff and sore, and that's only going to get worse for a day or two.
I doctored up his cuts and turned him out. Keeping moving is the best medicine for him right now. We're planning to keep him on bute for a few days while his injuries settle down.
|Banged up, but going to be okay|
The BO called last night and this morning with an updates, and I checked on him this afternoon. While his back left leg is a little swollen, he's walking alright and is cheerful and curious. I'm anticipating the swelling will get less severe over the next few days, but I have to admit it's making me a little nervous.
Photos (Warning! Some are graphic.)
|The picture I sent to my poor husband. I swear to god! He's not dead! Just exhausted and in shock.|
|At the fire chief's farm.|
|One of his leg cuts from kicking himself.|
|One of the cuts in my shipping boots. So glad he was wearing these. They are life savers.|
|The rip in the blanket we used to pull Guinness out of the trailer. The Dover people aren't kidding around when they say these blankets are tough!|
|Napping in the sun today. The best sight ever.|