Owner’s safety-check warning after horse found upside-down in trailer

  • The owner of a broodmare who got stuck upside-down over a trailer breast bar has urged others to ensure their quick-release mechanisms are correctly in place.

    Lorna Madden’s mare Grace escaped with barely a scratch after the terrifying incident on 4 August but Lorna said had the breast bar not been fitted the right way round – so it could be disconnected to free the mare – the outcome could have been a broken neck or back.

    “It was really strange,” Lorna told H&H. “I’d seen something about it on TikTok that morning and thought I’d better check mine, and one was the wrong way round. It was like fate; it could have been a different story.”

    Lorna said Grace, who had a successful British Showjumping career and competed at the Horse of the Year Show as a working hunter, is now 21 and has bred four foals. She is dry this year and Grace had planned to take her to stud that day.

    “I think she’s going to retire fully now,” said Lorna. “She was accompanying a two-year-old who was going to new grass; my partner was in the car while I unloaded the other one. She stamped and whinnied, then was silent.

    “I walked past and thought I could hear her breathing funny. I looked in and said to my partner: ‘Luke. She’s upside-down’.”

    Grace had tried to jump the breast bar and tipped up over it. Lorna freed her from the quick-release “bungee” securing her in the trailer, then she and her partner unscrewed the pins holding the breast bar so it dropped to allow the mare out.

    “The L-shaped hook with the pin going through it has to be attached to the outer wall,” she said. “If it’s the curved end on the wall, it won’t let the bar drop. [Because it was the right way round] it dropped and she was free, she stood up and was fine, not bothered, casual as anything. She was so good.”

    Lorna also urged others to ensure the bolts on the outside are not over-tightened to ensure they can be released when needed, and to avoid tying horses to them, something she has seen people do, as it could bend them.

    “It’s a safety feature and you wouldn’t know until you needed it,” she said.

    “Thank you to Ifor Williams, for safety at its finest.”

    Ifor Williams Trailers sales manager Lois Wynne told H&H: “We’re glad to hear that the safety release mechanism worked and that everything was fine in the end.

    “The safety and comfort of horses is always our uppermost concern when designing our horseboxes and we are pleased that Lorna has recognised this.

    “We’d like to wish ‘Crazy Grace’ a long and happy retirement.”

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