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View Full Version : Trailering issues.......HELP!!!!



briddygirl
Sep. 6, 2009, 08:03 PM
Okay....I've really had it! Spent 1.5 hrs. today (again) trying to get Finale into the trailer.....I'm at my wits end. We know she has "issues" but this is getting ridiculous! I already spent over $300 over 1 year ago with a trailering expert......it worked for a while, but not lately. It all started out with a tire blow out 2 years ago....and ever since it has been horrible trying to get her onto a trailer......my poor daughter has missed the last 2 hunter shows b/c of this....we finally get her on and the show was already over!!! UGH We are not yellers, or beaters, and we really try to be calm, cool and collected but even my laid back daughter has become totally frustrated with her horse. She'll put 2 feet on and then back right out.....or get 2 onto the trailer and leave the other 2 on the ramp ......if we pull or push she just runs back out.....and believe me it's hard to stop a 1200 lb. animal who has no want to get on......I really don't want to spend more of my hard earned money for a trailer expert, so does anyone have ANY ideas.....my daughter wants to show!!!!! By the way, when we bought her, she just walked onto the trailer with no issues....so it's something that we did or something that happened while we have owned her......!

CBoylen
Sep. 6, 2009, 08:17 PM
There are a million things that you have probably tried, the lungeline, the arms linked lift, sticking it and loading it a bunch of days in a row, etc. I personally find most can be loaded with a combination of a lip chain and a good bristle-y broom. However, a friend of mine had a trick with a sponge and a bucket full of water, flicked at the rear end a few times so the water droplets landed on the butt and hind legs. That worked on some of them, for no apparent reason that I can determine. You probably have not tried that ;).

Bogie
Sep. 6, 2009, 08:37 PM
Many of us have been there! I'm not a huge fan of lunge lines, brooms and whips. For one thing, it's hard to do when you're on your own (I'm at a self care barn so help is not always available) and I've also seen horses get hurt when they panic.

My last few horses came to me with loading issues. Here are a few suggestions of things that have worked for me:


Work on this long before you need to trailer somewhere. I have a friend with a problem loader and she never practices at times when she doesn't need to go somewhere. She always asks someone to come and help her. I like to start about two weeks before I need the horse to load.
Start with reinforcing ground manners. Make sure your horse leads properly (with you at her shoulder) and drill her with walk-halt, walk-turn transitions. Not loading is a handling issue.
Don't expect to accomplish everything the first day.
March your horse up to the trailer. If she puts a foot on praise her, wait then back her up while it's still your idea. Work on going one foot at a time.
If she doesn't want to walk on the trailer, back her up about 25 feet. Then march forward, stop, back and walk forward again. Every time she won't step onto the trailer, back her up a considerable distance. This has worked with my difficult loaders because eventually they figure out that it's more unpleasant to back up than to get on the trailer.
Sometimes a little grain is very helpful. I'm not a big believer in bribery, but it definitely has it's place.Here are two posts from my blog that talk about my experiences. One of them has a link to a really good video from Monty Roberts with a loading demonstration.

Good luck! My horses always learned to load, even when I thought it would never happen.

Getting my problem horse to load (http://equineink.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/getting-my-problem-horse-to-load/)
Trailering Safely - Loading Tips (http://equineink.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/trailering-safely-loading-tips/)

Ty2003
Sep. 6, 2009, 08:43 PM
When my gelding was being difficult about trailering, we used a lunge whip...but this is how we used it. When he would stop moving forward, the person behind him with the whip would ver calmly start tapping lightly on his butt (with the handle end). They would very calmly tap, tap, tap a little firmer each time, and as soon as the horse took a step forward, they'd stop (it doesn't hurt to reward the horse at this point!). Then when the horse stops again, repeat with the tapping on the butt. I think it's more of an annoyance than anything, and the horse quickly realizes that the tapping stops when they step forward (it becomes a choice they can make - walk forward to get away from the tapping, or stand there and put up with it). It takes patience, and I'd practice it a lot before you actually have to go somewhere. You can even have the person leading the horse stand with a bucket of grain as enticement. My gelding quickly learned it was easier to just go on and now he self-loads which is great. Good luck!

SkipChange
Sep. 6, 2009, 08:44 PM
My heart goes out to you, I have been there. Went to pick up my brand new WB, so excited. After +2hrs it was dark and he still wasn't on the trailer. We had to leave without him. :( I cried all night. Horse was not ugly, just wouldn't put his back feet on the trailer. Would walk half way in and then just chill out. Came back the next day with strong guy who has no sense of self-preservation. Same routine. Tried lunge line under his butt. Lunge whip. 2 people behind him. Added a chain. Somewhere in here he got ugly and nearly kicked poor guy in the head.

We finally got him in by collapsing the rear tack compartment (I have a sundowner 2 horse slant) and opening the front escape door and windows all the way. It made the trailer way more open and inviting. Guy literally picked his feet up and but the goof ball on the trailer.

He was enrolled in trailer lessons with trainer. Still had the same problems, those dang back feet! It's like he doesn't know they are connected to his body. We always load him with a chain and there is always hay for him in the trailer. I always make sure the full escape door and windows are open (if I don't he is much more difficult to get on). I don't get abusive or mean with him but I am very firm with him. He is never allowed to invade my space, lean into me, or wiggle worm sideways.

I'm sure you've tried everything but I would definitely suggest a chain if you are experienced/capable of using one. Have you tried putting another horse on the trailer before you load him? Sometimes a buddy helps. Make sure all windows are open so he doesn't feel claustrophobic loading. If you have a slant load, collapse the rear tack so it's more open, this helps a lot. Whatever you do, do not feed him or offer him food rewards until all 4 feet are in and the butt bar is up or else he will just settle in for a picnic, trust me. I make sure to have him focused on me when we load. I walk him around and make him walk. halt. walk. turn. back up. walk. make sure he is focused and attentive. This is when he learns who is boss, a crucial element of loading.

There is hope! Dear WB loads like a pro now. Best of luck!

Riley0522
Sep. 6, 2009, 08:46 PM
I also have a problem loader. Some days he's much better than others. What works for me is staying calm and not getting angry, but still having the attitude that we are getting on the damn trailer no matter what. My guy likes to swing out to the sides, so lining the trailer up next to a fence or the barn really helps, because it blocks his most obvious exit. Then, I usually will encourage with food. I also always make sure to have someone behind encouraging, so that if he thinks of stopping, we can change his mind. I would give yourself LOTS of time, you know she's going to give you a problem, so don't expect her to load in 30 minutes. Try to make it as positive as possible. If she gets 2 feet on the ramp and does stop, let her have a brief snack, but just keep on going after that. Do not pull on her, she needs to go on her own, you are not going to win the pulling battle between you and 1200lbs and most horses want to move away from the pressure point, not into it!

Have you tried loading her with another horse (if that's an option for you)? This definitely helps my guy if there's a solid citizen on the trailer. I also would never use a lunge line around the legs or anything, I've never seen it work and it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Lisa Cook
Sep. 6, 2009, 09:18 PM
My friend sold a horse to some people and a year and half later, they called my friend up: the horse had become a "dangerous" loader. Rearing, striking out, running people over to get out of the way when she was led within 40 feet of the trailer. It was taking them 2+ hours to get the mare on the trailer, when they did get her to load. They were selling her because they couldn't/wouldn't deal with the loading issue any more, and my friend bought her back.

Here is a picture (http://yfrog.com/0yonbh0019j) of the same mare, loading one month after my friend bought her back. I ended up 1/2 leasing the mare, and I trailered her out quite a bit for lessons, by myself. Had no problems whatsoever.

I think part of it is attitude. My friend & I first loaded the mare when we had nowhere to go and we had all the time in the world. We must of loaded her & unloaded her 20 times before we actually took her anywhere for real, and when we did take her somewhere (for a lesson), we allowed lots of extra time.

We got her to load initially with a one-person lungeline technique. Before bringing the horse out to load, run a lungeline into the trailer, up & over the chest bar and back out. Lead the horse to the trailer, clip one end of lungeline to the halter and hold the other in your hands (wear gloves). Walk around the horse so the lungeline is around her butt, & pull. It is simulataneous pulling on her head and pushing on her butt. If she steps off the ramp, keep pulling, don't try to re-position. She'll reposition herself to relieve the pressure and then load. We only had to load her this way a handful of times - after that, she'd self-load.

Your mileage may vary, but this is what worked for a horse sold due to her dangerous loading behavior.

Anselcat
Sep. 6, 2009, 09:31 PM
Did the trailering expert work with you and the horse, or just the horse?

I know you don't want to spend more money on this, but honestly in the long run it may be cheaper to get someone to work with you just on this issue. Certainly it's cheaper than trying to sell a horse who won't load in order to buy a new horse.

Hunter DQ
Sep. 6, 2009, 09:48 PM
Do you own your own trailer? Or have daily access to one? My dad bought a mare that came with major trailer issues (has a gigantic scar on her forehead as proof). We have a two horse strait load with a manger in the front. We had lots of issues with her getting her front half in, and refusing to go the rest of the way. So, for 2 weeks, she ate every meal in the trailer. AM and PM. Eventually she got uncomfortable eating with her front end at a different height than her back end. Now, she'll walk right in, but we still usually remind her with a couple of meals in the trailer a few days out from when we're going to haul her again. Then follow up the day after a trailer trip with one more meal in the trailer.

Feeltheride
Sep. 6, 2009, 09:58 PM
I have a lot of problem horses brought to me for training along with teaching to load. First you said you have a ramp. During your blow out your trailer was moving unstable at that point. Bad memories, I come across a lot of horses that do not like ramps because they feel unstable under them....So I would put cinder blocks under the ramp and make it solid. Then get the horse to stand next to the solid ramp. Back him up then go forward to the trailer let him put his feet on the ramp to show that it is solid. Ask to go forward into the trailer, if he refuses back him up then proceed to lunge him in front of the trailer about 10x around. stop walk to the trailer. If he bulks again back up then lunge him keep doing this till he goes in which in my cases (about 18 horses) last about 20 min. Oh, have someone with whip or water hose with pressure to hit his butt as he is heading to trailer if he stops. Use a rope halter.
When the horse is in have grain waiting for him and let him stand and eat for 10min. then unload. Come back about 1 hour later do it again.
This would be part of my weekly training routine. Even if the horse starts to load up fine I still did it. there was food waiting for him. Then he be turned out or we did our riding work out.

Iride
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:48 PM
Came back the next day with strong guy who has no sense of self-preservation. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Does the horse have a buddy? Turnout buddy, or a horse in the barn who he knows or recognizes?

If yes, and they are an easy loader, take both horses out of the barn (not you holding the two horses - you and another person, lol)... graze them together for a few minutes. Have the other person hand walk the other horse around, with you and your horse behind them.

Then, have the other person/horse load right into the trailer. See if your horse will then follow and go into the trailer after he sees that his buddy went in happily and is standing quietly inside. It may take some moments for your horse to digest what is happening... let him think about it and look at the trailer. Patience is key. Hopefully he will load.

If so, after they're both in, take him out -- before the other horse is taken out. Let him graze and hang out and watch the other horse unload too (after him). Then put him away.

Try this again the next day. Repeat until he feels less anxious about it. I would also incorporate short rides together, since the moving trailer may be a source of his anxiety.

Then try it by himself one day, without the other horse.

If it turns out he does not load without the other horse, at least you know that in an emergency, you can get him on if his buddy gets on first. You can always then unload the buddy and take him where you need to go.

I agree with the other posters who have advised NOT trying to pull or yank him in. It won't work, and it will only make him associate loading with pressure.

I'm not a fan of the lip chain/broom method, but if you do end up trying it, only do so if you have experience with lip chains. I have seen horses gums violently damaged after being yanked on by someone who did not know how to handle a lip chain on a horse.

briddygirl
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:53 PM
thank you everyone for all your help....I think I'm going to continue working with her but on a daily basis....I rec'd a LOT of great ideas from everyone but the main idea from everyone was to work w/ them all the time and dont rush things....I'll try this week, daily and see what happens...I know she can load......eventually! I'll keep you posted!

fossiloverfences
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:56 PM
I second Hunter DQ's answer -- feed the horse in the trailer. I bought an OTTB that was 7, coming 8 and I assumed at that point in his life he would load like a pro. Well, he did walk right on, but proceeded to fly back out before I got the butt bar up. Just a couple of days having his meal in the trailer and he has walked on enthusiastically ever since. I stand at the rear while he self loads and then put up the butt bar ASAP.

shawneeAcres
Sep. 6, 2009, 11:32 PM
It is very hard to explain on a board like this, but I basically use the NH method to train to trailer and have taken MANY hard loaders and turned them into "self loaders" in no time. Make the outside of the trailer HARD WORK and the inside a "nice place". I start by lunging the horse on a SHROT LINE with a ROPE halter (this gives you more control over the head of the horse without getting the sometimes negative response from a chain). Then I "allow" the horse to head towards the trailer. They have an option, go on the trailer (with me OUTSIDE the trailer) or get more lunging. It also takes a LOT of understanding the body language of the horse, when they are ":ready" to go and when they aren't as well as using your body language to influenece the horse. I have taken many bad loaders and "trained" them for their owners, BUT the only thing that worked long term was to train not just the horse but the OWNER, who often is doing things counter productive to the horse loading. I think that may be what is happening in your case.

LH
Sep. 7, 2009, 12:00 AM
I was having loading issues and turned to this board for help. Here are the tips that I used to success, and loading is no longer an issue:

- loading is as much about the horse knowing they have to follow you when you move forward, as it is about anything else. I am usually loading quickly, with just barn help to put the back gate up, so I need this to be very safe and easy.

- get a dressage whip, put the chain over the nose. Walk around, and if the horse ever stops moving forward, you can "tap tap tap" the horse on the side behind you -- it's important that you remain looking and moving forward.

- then go to the trailer - do not turn around to look at the horse - always look where you want to go. If you can, move the divier over to give you and the horse a nice wide area to load into.

- walk forward up the ramp and into the trailer - if the horse stops going forward, use the dressage whip and do not stop doing the "tap tap tap" on the horse's side or haunch until it moves forward. It may take a few minutes for you to work out how to do this. If you have to, start over with the walk up to the ramp and into the trailer, and keep moving forward. Walk pretty quickly, look forward - do not turn around to "pull" the horse into the trailer.

- it may take you 10 minutes to get the horse in the first time, and then stand in the trailer, give a treat once the horse is in (do not put up the back gate), lots of positive words, pats.

- Back out of the trailer -- slowly, make a circle, and load up again. Lots of reinforcement when you get into the trailer -- just stand there and make sure the horse stays up with you - no backing out, but don't hook the horse up or put up the back gate. Do this 5 or 6 times - relax!!! You might find that after the first load or two, it will go better after that. use the momentum to keep loading and unloading - slowly, relaxed, happy, confident -- this will help give your horse confidence.

- Do this routine every couple or few days, and every now and then have someone get behind you to put the back gate up - have them put the ramp up too. You should stand at the horse's head with a treat and pats.

- Always unload slowly.

I only needed to do this a couple of sessions, and loading has been fine since then - good luck!

Iride
Sep. 7, 2009, 08:38 AM
That method is hard to apply if you have a horse who moves his body sideways so that he is perpendicular to the ramp. Many who figure out how to do that will not simply move their bodies over nicely with a tap tap of a dressage whip.

englishivy
Sep. 7, 2009, 09:48 AM
Don't know if others said it already, but make sure you aren't doing a "stare down" in the trailer. When people have asked for my help with a tough loader, I find that most end up turning and looking at their horse once those front feet are in and the back planted in the ground. That is an aggressive stance, so you gotta figure out how to encourage forward while not looking right at them (eyes and body) and playing tug-of-war.

I've got a mare that is complicated in that she loads fine, you just have to argue about it for 5 minutes. She will do the cha-cha with me: two in....back out...two in....back out. We've got me up front while another pushes, clucks, waves arms, etc. I usually end up cussing a word or two with a "I don't have time for this" statement, at which point she will just hop on with little to no encouragement with this look of "well, I'm ready to go now, hurry up servant and shut the door". Her mother was the SAME way. :lol:

slc2
Sep. 7, 2009, 09:52 AM
I think there are very few of the usual suggestions that really work with a hard loader.

What I have never seen work:

'make him walk in with you at his side, make him keep up with you! practice this and then walk right in the trailer!'

'make the back of the trailer a bad place so he wants to get in to get away from that' just makes the really bad loader hate trailering all the more. only works with a mild case. instead of thinking 'inside the trailer' is different from 'right out side the trailer', the really bad loader starts thinking, 'trailering is bad'.

feeding them in the trailer doesn't work if you can't get them IN the trailer. Leaving the trailer in a paddock or pasture full of food is too dangerous, and I've never seen a REALLY bad loader get in in that situation anyway. many who really are bad loaders will refuse food anywhere near the trailer, even as a reward.

hitting the horse with a whip to punish him for not getting in.

loading him up and taking him in and out over and over.

I would advise NEVER do that if the horse really has a problem. Again, only works in the milder cases.

these things above do NOT work with the really bad loader. they only work with very mild problems. If the horse really has a fundamental problem with going in the trailer, there are very few tricks that work consistently over time, and the problem comes back, or if the horse is really bad, never work even for a short time.

Below is what works for me. The description says 'do this' or 'don't do this' for this particular method. It is not saying you personally must do this, it is just describing what you would do in order to follow this particular method. You may not agree. That's ok. This is just describing the method.

With the very bad loader, be aware of his behavior. A horse LOOKS with his eyes for an escape route before he takes it. Beware of the horse's body language. Learn to read him. A horse tightens up before he explodes. A horse ALWAYS combines stubbornness with fear, he is rarely one or the other, but more often both. if you give him something specific enough and simple enough to do that is very straightforward, he will not be able to think about being stubborn OR afraid.

If you are good at training horses, you may be able to change this yourself, but if you aren't good at very quickly reading the horse's reaction and getting in there with a quick, effective correction almost before the horse starts actually reacting, right whenn he is just barely starting to shift his weight rather than move, and working almost intuitively, you're going to have a tough time changing this.

Too, it takes a certain amount of bravery and cool reactions. Most people don't react in the right way when the horse starts to react, they themselves back off. At the moment when the horse STARTS to resist, they may 'freeze' when the horse starts to respond in a frightening way, so the horse learns to act in what looks like a frightening way to make his trainer stop taking action. They have actually trained the horse to do the opposite they want.

Many people, for example, back off every time the horse throws his head up. They're afraid he will hit his head on the top of the trailer opening. They actually TRAIN the horse to toss his head up, and if then even for a second the training stops, the behavior is rewarded. It's a problem, because they hit their head, back up, and don't want to come back because they hit their head.

Often, the trailer is just too small for the horse, and he WILL hit his head. This is a difficult problem to deal with. One needs a trailer that isn't so short, first of all. If at all possible, all the training should take place in the trailer you plan to use, set up in exactly the same way every time, so yo uMAY be facing just buying a new trailer.

And one needs equipment. Such a horse needs a head bumper on his head, a good one that stays on firmly. In fact, during loading training, big thick pillow wraps, bell boots on all four legs under the wraps, a head bumper, a padded halter, and various lengths and types of whips, you need. Be sure that where you will need to use the whip on your horse, is not padded and wrapped. If you need to tap his lower leg, put on bell boots, and wrap so where you need to tap him is exposed.

I NEVER use a chain over the nose or under the chin, and NEVER try to do this with any auxilliary equipment other than a short whip (well, a long dressage whip or driving whip or ground schooling whip for dressage). NO longe whips. Too floppy and hard to control.

The main route to success is to NOT stop and put the horse in the barn. Take a block of six hours. The horse is going to get into the trailer. NEVER put them in the barn or tak ethem back to the barn until they get all the way on the trailer.

And NEVER EVER make the trailer or anywhere around it 'a bad place' or 'a place for hard work'. NEVER work the horse around the trailer. GRAZE him behind the trailer as a break, or feed him there but do NOT work him mthere. You are going to do EVERYTHING TO NOT GET HIM MOVING OIR WORKKING, and NOT get his adrenalin levels up. You are going to train, and train very, very quietly, persistently, patiently and absolutely robotically. Cue, response, correct. Cue, response correct. With an absolutely completely quiet, calm mind. HE can lose HIS temper, you are not going to.

Your 'I've HAD IT'? Forget that. Get that out of your mind, that is what defeats you. Right there, you're done. Stop thinking that way.

You have one job, and your horse has one job. That is to stand straight, looking in the trailer. That's it. Sounds simple, right?

Park your trailer so it is FACING THE BARN. The direction your horse is gooing to walk to get IN the trailer is the same direction as toward the barn, and on a route he knows. Do NOT park it way out in a field, ,yiou will raise the horse's adrenalin level. Park it near enough to the barn in a familiar place that the adrenalin levels are DOWN. This is very, very important for corrective training. Never forget it. How you position your trailer is very important. No branches hitting the trailer, no sunglare into the trailer so the horse can't see in, spray the area for flies, check for hornets and bees ahead of time, and hopefully, a shaded, quiet area. No loose horses running around, nothing distracting, quiet, quiet quiet. No, this is not how it has to be forever, this is how corrective training HAS to be though.

Do NOT pick a gravel area, a muddy area, a deep area, or a paved area. Hard packed clay is best. Never do thiis work on a less than ideal footiing.

The trailer must be hitched and blocked, and the ramp stable. Concrete blocks under a ramp make the ramp appear more noisy, not less, and can shift. They also lift the ramp up off the ground. Pick an area where the ramp can be almost flat, and is not at an extreme slant.

Send everyone else away. Make them go in the barn. No one is going to give you advice or tell you what to do. You and the horse are working this out between you two. This keeps YOUR adrenalin level down. You won't have help at a show or most times at your barn, so don't rely on it now. I've never met any help that reacts sufficiently quickly aanyway.

Pick a time when you have a MINIMUM OF SIX HOURS. YEP. No rushing to get anywhere, no deadline, no rush rush rush. YOU HAVE SIX HOURS.

Put on your riding helmet, good supple well fitting gloves(VERY important), and steel toe well fitting lace up shoes that support your ankles and you NEVER trip while wearing. Yep. Not because you need them, but because you need to feel safe and keep your adrenalin levels down.

Do NOT put a chain shank on the horse. A plain leather lead. Double the chain thru the lower halter ring, do not wrap it over the nose. Or the horse will 'punish himself' when he runs backward. And that will make a bad loader run back MORE, not less.

Cut up about a million carrots or applies in SMALL pieces. Let him smell it on you. If he gets too pushy, jerk on the lead and say NO. He has to wait for a treat. Establish that first. However long it takes.

Get your short whip, and walk toward the trailer. His job is to stand straight behind the trailer and look in.

If he pivots his hind quarters away from straight, tap him with as little pressure as necessary til he is straight. If he shifts the other way, correct that. If he shifts his hind quarters 100 times, correct it in the same way.

If he shifts his shoulders (Front end) so he is not in a position where he could walk up the ramp safely, correct it in the same way. Continue to tap lightly, as kind of a mild annoyance, and tap only as hard as you need to. If there is no response, tap a little harder. The SECOND he starts to give way and react as you want, give him a treat. Pat him quietly, stroke him and say 'good boy'. Stand quietly and wait for himm to shift. Correct again.

when he stands straight, give him an apple piece. Wait. See if he shifts his hind quarters. Wait. correct any shifting. give him a piece of treat again. Keep his head facing in the trailer with corrections of the lead shank when need be. Give him a treat when he is standing correctly, straight, looking in the trailer.

Take a break. Let him eat grass very near the trailer back end. Breathe. look out across the field. Do NOT think of all the things you need to do.

Now put him back, straight, facing in. You will bring him back to this position at least 3 times, and have him three times,, stand straight, looking in the trailer, for a few minutes, without moving. Every time, treat him as he stands there looking in. Every break, graze him.

Now you will work on his legs.

Take your whip, and tap on the BACK of his foreleg. Keep tapping. When he moves his foreleg forward, no matter how he does it, treat him. Do this three times with each leg. If he moves it 1/4 inch, treat him. He moved it forwarad. Do the same with the hind legs. If he shifts to one side or swings hind quarters away, correct it, ,QUICKLY. Make sure he lelarns to put his leg forward to a tap on the BACK of that cannon. He does not need to get in the trailer now.

yiou have taught the horse two things. One. stand straight looking in. Two. Move a foot forward when commanded.

Now you take a break again. More grazing. Graze graze graze. No thinking about other work you must do. Graze graze graze. Adrenalin levels go down when horses eat. Graze graze graze. it wouldn't be too bad if you ate a shake and a burger right now either. Do some grazing of your own. After all, you have SIX HOURS.

Now is where it gets hard. Yolu have to keep a balance between straight and moving legs. You have to keep him straight first, and moving his legs, second. He ONLY moves his legs when you tap him.

You have to JUDGE how much pressure to keepp on the lead shank. SOME pressure helps keep SOME horses from backing up or helps them figure out to step forward. You have to have a 'conversation' with the horse about what amount of pressure helps him get through this. This is not a substitute for teaching your horse to move his feet up the ramp, and pressure on the lead shank often is only going to help temporarily.

Horses can withstand an immense amount of pressure on the lead shank and stand there and not move a muscle (if you put a lot of pressure on a control halter with a bad loader, the usual reaction is a total freak out and someone hurt). Sometimes pressure has to be combined with taps of the whip on the legs for tthe horse to 'get' moving forward. But it has to be very carefully read how the horse reacts, and it often makes a really bad loader stand there for a while and resist, ,and then suddenly run back with all his might while you fly through the air on the end of the lead shank.

Remember, this is ALL a conversation. You are talking to each other. The question is, 'how can I help you learn this'. It might take pressure or it might not. The more nervous and sensitive horses, people usually want to use no pressure, ,that doesn't usually work - the more laid back, less sensitive horses, people tend to ASSUME more pressure is better - it isn't always.

Don't EVER assume your horse will load best with you walking beside him and 'urging him up' to stay up with you. The number of bad loaders that works with is VERY small. Quite a few horses work far better if you go and stand up in the trailer or stand in front of them, YES, very counter intuitive and makes no sense AND Seems wrong to many.

Don't stand directly in front of their chest, stand to one side, but having someone IN the trailer makes some horses more confident about getting in. They see you in there not getting destroyed by goblins and they need a lot of tiime to think it through, rather than hurry in.

MANY horses become bad loaders just because people don't give them time to think about it and follow them in - SOME because they are given too MUCH time (leeway in their behavior).

When you stand a little forward of him to one side, you can work the short whip on his legs and correct his position far better than you can when standing at his shoulder. You can reach your whip around to either of his haunches and all of his feet. you can keep him straight and keep tapping on his legs. You MAY occasionally need to tap harder on his leg to get a reaction (keep in mind that KICKING is a 'reaction' that you can shape into what you want, as long as you are not on the receiving end, ,so don't stand where you cna get kicked).

By being very unemotional, persistent and calm, you are TEACHING your horse in a place where he refused to be taught before. You need to change his mentition. This isn't a place where you have a fight and struggle. This is a place where you get told to do ONE very simple thing at a time. Something you can do, and get rewarded for.

DO NOT let your horse 'stretch out' so his hind feet are way behind him and his front feet are slanted forward ahead of him.

This is the mistake people make, a horse will NEVER get into a trailer if he's a bad loader and he's stretched out. He has no INTENTION of getting in from an unbalanced position. Make him face it in a balanced position every inch of the way. Tuck his hind feet up under him, do NOT get his forelegs slanted out in front of him.

Make him take SMALL steps with each foot, and keep his hind legs under him by tapping his front legs forward only a tiny bit, then moving his hind feet forward. Inch him up the ramp. Inch by inch. Tap tap tap, ,treat treat treat.

If he suddenly runs backwards, go back to ONE, which is stand in front of the trailer looking in. Get him QUICKLY back into his positiuon, and immediately start working again on each foot. IMMEDIATELY. Running back should get him no break, or as little break as possible. Rinse, repeat. If he backs up or runs back 100 times, quickly bring him forward (DO NOT HIT HIM ON THE FRONT OF HIM WITH THE WHIP WHEN HE GOES BACK).

If he hsi getting hysterical, stop and graze. And then start again.

Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse repeat.

if yiou need an assiistant to put up the butt chain or shut the door, have one, but don't have him move a muscle otherwise. Do NOT 'gang up' on the horse. Have yiour person do up the butt bar and shut the ramp and tail doors.

Give the horse a treat. Have all sorts of amazing stuff in the trailer. Alfalfa, grain, apples, carrots. He stands in there and eats. Nothing else. Pat him, praise him, he's the best horse. NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TOOK OR HOW MANY TIMES HE RAN BACK.

NOW TAKE HIM OFF THE TRAILER AND PUT HIM AWAY. Feed him. HE HAS DONE HIS JOB - DO NOT I REPEAT NOT, LOAD HIM AGAIN THAT DAY.

Go Fish
Sep. 7, 2009, 01:50 PM
It is very hard to explain on a board like this, but I basically use the NH method to train to trailer and have taken MANY hard loaders and turned them into "self loaders" in no time. Make the outside of the trailer HARD WORK and the inside a "nice place". I start by lunging the horse on a SHROT LINE with a ROPE halter (this gives you more control over the head of the horse without getting the sometimes negative response from a chain). Then I "allow" the horse to head towards the trailer. They have an option, go on the trailer (with me OUTSIDE the trailer) or get more lunging. It also takes a LOT of understanding the body language of the horse, when they are ":ready" to go and when they aren't as well as using your body language to influenece the horse. I have taken many bad loaders and "trained" them for their owners, BUT the only thing that worked long term was to train not just the horse but the OWNER, who often is doing things counter productive to the horse loading. I think that may be what is happening in your case.

This method is fool-proof. It works every time. The horse needs to understand that it's hard work away from the trailer and they get to rest at the trailer. To add to the comments, after the hard lunge, bring the horse to the trailer, let it rest for a few minutes, then ask it to come forward onto the trailer. If it won't budge or raises a fuss, immediately back to the lunging. It takes a lot of patience and time, but it works.

slc2
Sep. 7, 2009, 02:55 PM
It doesn't work 'every time'. In fact, from what I've seen, it only works with relatively mild cases.

buck22
Sep. 7, 2009, 03:21 PM
there are many many many roads to rome on this one, but as it happens I just this morning did a trailer loading session with my boy who is extremely skeptical of trailers. he aced his test :D

the fastest way, imho, to get a horse confident about loading is to teach them how to unload. Generally, thats all I do and thats all that needs to be done, generally. I walk them up, stop them just before they want to stop on their own, and then 'unload' backwards, calmly. Keeping this up, stopping them before they stop, and 'unloading' them. Each approach I try to inch closer but never go further than they would on their own. Takes the pressure off, and I can constantly reward small efforts, which relaxes the whole situation and makes it more fun for all. After a while, this red light green light, the horse gets bored or curious and generally is happy to walk on.

My own horse used to get extremely jumpy - to the point of being a danger to himself - so before teaching unloading today, I just took him with me to muck the trailer. I just walked around the trailer, fiddling and mucking it it out, walking away to dump the muck, back again, back and forth, in and out, and never once asked him to line up or get on or anything, his only job was to 'supervise' :lol:

As I was reaching in for a rolling road apple, I heard ka-thump thump behind me and there he was - quivering with nostrils flaired - standing on the ramp following me in. He did this completely of his own accord, and thats exactly what I was after. I praised, 'unloaded' him, and then began to teach him how to unload.

He can be excitable and want to bounce all over like a ping-pong ball, he also when pushed, will try to go through things, so for me, it was in our very best interests to teach him how to unload properly and with confidence, because he could easily turn into one of those explosive ones that shoot off backwards like a cannon.

It was a very good morning, and I'm so grateful to the trailer owner for allowing me the practice time.

By the end of the hour he was very nearly self loading.

Fairview Horse Center
Sep. 7, 2009, 03:47 PM
For those not experienced with loading, or good at reading body language, this is a good method that will usually work for a bad loader, but it takes 3 people. One person stands in the trailer holding horse with a long lead. Rope is fine, unless the horse is getting really rude. The person in the trailer's job is to keep the horse's head & focus "aimed" in the trailer.

The other 2 people each have long whips - prefer driving, but lunge whips will usually do fine - one on each side of the ramp. Goal is to keep the feet moving, going from side to side is fine, so whip handler on one side will work to "ask" the horse to go forward. When the horse goes off to the other side, the whip handler on that side tries to send them forward from there. The horse is "passed" back and forth 20/50/100 times. Keep the pressure on for them to move, move, move. When the horse begins to get upset, you are VERY close to having them give up and load.

If they go on and run back out, that is fine, but immediately, keep their feet moving again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I have used this method with just 2 people, but you have to park the trailer so the ramp is very close along a fence line, as in not enough room for the horse to swing around to that side (6 to 12")

eventergirl97
Sep. 7, 2009, 04:27 PM
If I were you, I would pick out a day for just loading and unloading. I would bring lots of treats and reward. You need to take it very slow and show her that the trailer is not a scary place. Then, after you get her in I would reward the crap out of her, then take her on a short 10 min. trailer ride going very slow not slamming on brakes or anything. Hope she gets better!!!

Go Fish
Sep. 7, 2009, 07:55 PM
It doesn't work 'every time'. In fact, from what I've seen, it only works with relatively mild cases.

Then you're not doing it right. I've taught well over a 100 horses to load this way and never had it fail once.

slc2
Sep. 7, 2009, 09:13 PM
Shoulda been there when the pro did this and after several hours said the horse was 'insane' and left all black and blue with a couple busted toes and a busted finger, and the horse not in the trailer.

He said EXACTLY the same sentence as you did except he said he'd done THOUSANDS of horses that way and it had never failed.

Sorry. I know you're very proud of your skills.

But...fact is...It just doesn't always work. My experience has been that it works when the horse isn't very determined not to go in and isn't very big or physical, and is fairly easy to intimidate and to work down and put them in. I also have never seen any of the 'magikal trainers' work a really bad horse with their methods. And I'd bet that just about every horse they have 'never touched' that they demo with, they have worked with a lot and hand picked one that responds as they want for the clinic.

Most mild cases will load if you just do something different - just about anything. Really bad loaders are not like that. I watched someone do your 'never fails' method for HOURS with my horse as well.

It did not work. And they were NOT 'doing it wrong'. That is ALWAYS the excuse, 'well then yiou were doing it wrong'.

LOL.

NOTHING ALWAYS WORKS. And with a LOT of horses, NOTHING KEEPS WORKING, and you have to change it up from time to time.

And you may change your method six, ten, twenty times with a really bad loader, and if the horse hates hauling, you will STILL have problems. Horses have specific things they are afraid of. It isn't always possible to change that by force.

And when the method described above with two people was used on my horse, my otherwise very quiet gelding, he got worse and worse and worse, every single time they did it, and the people who did it were a nationally ranked trainer with 30 years of experience who had done many, many green tough horses and adult horses that had never been touched, handled a lot of really rank, big stallions, and horses no one else would touch, and his partner was another guy who was a professional breaker at the race track for a very long time and had handled every rough problem horse in the area practically.

To this day, that poor old horse still gets a wild look in his eye whenever anyone walks past the back of the trailer.

They INSISTED it 'always works' too. And they KEPT insisting, til he got to the point where I figured he was going to kill himself and take a couple people along with him, and they were 'sending him back and forth' for hours, in which he got more and more insane until he was just crashing blindly into things. And they were not 'doing it wrong' either. It just did not work with that horse.

And when they saw what I did with the horse, the one of them said he had never seen anything like it in his life.

Not because I'm so great, egon. Because I kept trying til I found something that worked, instead of keeping going with something that didn't work.

My rule of thumb is to make sure the equipment and the setup is very good, ask people if you're using a given method right, and if it's not working and you're doing it right, try a different method. With a really bad loader, you're going to run thru 'em all ANYWAY, LOL, might as well accept that, LOL!

fourmares
Sep. 8, 2009, 02:43 AM
You could try clicker training.

RyuEquestrian
Sep. 8, 2009, 02:48 AM
We've had GREAT success by feeding the horses on the trailer for a few days at a time. Park your trailer in the field, set it up for loading and feed them on it and allow them to get in and out as they please until they feel comfortable enough to get on and stay on to eat. Then I also allowing them to eat a bit (but not finish), push them off so that they psychologically WANT to be on the trailer to finish their food. So far so good from everything from foals-horses we've purchased older that don't load well. Goodluck- I know what a pain it can be!

Addison
Sep. 8, 2009, 08:57 AM
We have a pony that is shipped out to another barn for lessons. All you had to do to load her was throw the lead over her neck and she would auto load. She is a fussy shipper and will kick the walls sometimes when the trailer is not moving.

One day she decided she was not going anywhere. Three hours later she finally got on the trailer after trying every method known to us.

The owner came back the next day to try what has become a fail proof method which is as follows. Lead the pony to the trailer ramp to load. If she stops, gently but firmly, back her up 4 or 5 steps and ask her to load again. If she does not, then repeat. Do not circle, lose your temper, or change your approach, just back up straight away from the ramp and lead her forward to load. It took about ten times but she loaded in less than 15 minutes.

Next day, just to practice, she followed the same proceedure. The pony refused two times, was backed up twice and loaded.

She has been fine since with the occasional need to back her up once or twice. That sure beats three hours worth of lunge lines, brooms, bribery......

Good luck with your horse. It certainly is a frustrating problem but I hope you try this method. I think the horse just gets bored with the whole situation and decides to load.

unclewiggly
Sep. 8, 2009, 10:24 AM
Ok I know I will get fried n incinerated here...I ship 99% of the time alone, load alone and frequently take 2yr olds and stallions by myself.
They HAVE to load its just not a question but a fact.
I try to back my Hawke so the ramp is @ the threshold of stable aisle. If they walk in great if they want to run back I can slide barn doors shut so they are faced w/ ramp n trailer all open wide inviting w/ best alfalfa in hay bags.
Or I park along barn so they can not step off side of ramp I need to lead on.
Lip chain yes, great tool and if all else fails we get extra help on non shipping days and practice. Do not be afraid to go use tranqualizer, to make it so much easier on everyone to get a calm horse in and go for a ride. Super Market my favorite destination, horse can chill while I get milk n bread. Go home feed horse in trailer, unload and repeat next day and next until no Ace is needed. Nice trips w/ no destinations just a cruise w/ feed before we unload.
A no nonsense attitude and the fact that your will is great helps, plus just making sure horse has YOUR respect before this all starts by some real basic ground leding routines helps.
I know someone who got her lower jaw kicked off trying to load a seriously reluctant horse. No I am not making that up. Wired jaw, teeth, dentist, scars, plastic surgery.
And its way better to start hours early and sit @ a show than be late or miss the class.

JWB
Sep. 8, 2009, 10:43 AM
You have a private message. I generally don't believe in applying dog training principles to horses but I did very successfully target train a pony who was a notorious problem loader.

It takes a long time and a lot of patience - You can't even worry about the trailer for a few weeks while the horse is learning to target properly but that pony is a champ with the target these days and will load, come in from the field, or generally go anywhere his target is placed.

I do want to stress that I always used a small feed bowl for dispensing treats because I've seen some clicker trained horses get really nippy - This is the reason I don't like to clicker train horses in general - but if you avoid dispensing treats from your hand, it can work VERY well if you are consistent and work at it.

Here's an old study on it....
http://www.equinescienceupdate.co.uk/loading.htm

Fairview Horse Center
Sep. 8, 2009, 11:54 AM
The big issue I have seen again and again with horses that don't want to load, is that many will lose their interest in treats or grain as soon as they get close to the trailer. At that point, they won't eat anything, so it definitely does not become incentive to load, or go somewhere they have decided not to go.

JWB
Sep. 8, 2009, 12:07 PM
The big issue I have seen again and again with horses that don't want to load, is that many will lose their interest in treats or grain as soon as they get close to the trailer. At that point, they won't eat anything, so it definitely does not become incentive to load, or go somewhere they have decided not to go.

Which is why a simple lure does not usually work... If it did, wouldn't we all have our bags of treats/grain and just lure the horses up instead of having to resort to brooms, lunge lines, whips, chains, etc??

The target training on the other hand redirects the horse's attention. You don't begin the target training trying to get the horse on the trailer. You start the target training in the barn/ring and only introduce the trailer after the horse understands the "target" behavior. And then, you might not even load... Just touch the target at the trailer, just inside the trailer, etc.

Emotional animals can't learn so pushing an upset horse onto a trailer may get the job done but the horse is not going to learn anything if they are truly emotional and upset about the whole thing. Exhausting them and having them run on to the trailer out of sheer fatigue and frustration works really well if you want to tire out the horse every time you need it to get on a trailer. The horse has to be calm and think about what it is you want it to do, and make a conscious decision to do it for real learning to happen.

ChocoMare
Sep. 8, 2009, 12:13 PM
See your PMs ;)

cowgurl1985
Sep. 8, 2009, 01:42 PM
I have a horse who was absolutely the WORST loader EVER and we tried everything and I do mean everything from blindfolding him sending him to a trainer for 30 days LITERALLy everything. One day I took a big sturdy rope ran it threw a d ring in the trailer hooked on end on him and the other end another person held on too. We led him up to the trailer and he would stop and try to back up we put tension on the rope so he knew he had no where to go but forward and after a few minutes he went right in the trailer we did that a few times and now he gets right in. May sound crazy but it actually has worked and he seriously was the WORST loader ever. Every once in awhile he wont get in and i jus tap him on the butt and he goes right in.

sptraining
Sep. 8, 2009, 02:01 PM
First off, if she was okay at loading before and has just recently encountered a problem, check your trailer. Make sure there isn't something rattling around in there that might freak her out when you get going (sqeaky hitch, rattling door, etc). I'm sure the flat tire probably scared her a bit but that was a while ago and now she needs to get over it. Also when I have trouble with horses loading, I try to see what the trailer looks like from their point of view to see if there's anything I can change to make the trailer more inviting.

Now for the fun part. I agree, there are a million ways to teach a horse how to load and I'm just going to share my experiences from several incredibly stubborn and willful horses. One very food oriented horse got fed her lunch in the trailer every day until she didn't care anymore. After that, we didn't have a problem loading her (and before it was the 4 hour marathon with the drugs and the whips and the lunge lines and the ten people telling us all how it should be done).

Another method I've used is the natural horsemanship method with the whip and tapping them on the hip until they move forward, then take the pressure off. This one I'm not such a fan of because I'm not that coordinated with the whip. But it has worked on ocassion.

My absolute favorite method is with a stallion halter (or rope halter or chain, anything your horse respects). Before you get to the trailer, work on leading, halting and backing. Your horse should do all of these things well without running past you or giving you a problem. Then onto the trailer. Ask the horse to walk forward, if she doesn't, back her up firmly but nicely. Ask her to move forward again. Reward her if she comes closer to the trailer or onto the ramp, but don't push it. If she balks, back her up again. Keep repeating calmly until the horse is on the trailer. Then ask her to back out. Don't slam the gate shut and don't worry if she gets nervous and backs out on her own (if she does this, make her back up and pretend it was your idea). She has to learn that the trailer is an okay place to be and that you won't go running around slamming things behind her when she's in. I've seen this method work quite a bit, and used it on a mare that was flipping herself over not wanting to get in the trailer. Using this method, this mare who wouldn't get on had all four feet in the trailer in twenty minutes.

It will take a lot of time but it will be worth it. I've tried the drugs, lunge lines, whips, etc and found that they really are only a temporary help. In one case, the drugs actually made the horse harder to load because she lost any sort of will power to move her legs.

It is one of the most frustrating things in the world, especially if you have somewhere to be. Good luck!

Iride
Sep. 8, 2009, 04:38 PM
Make sure there isn't something rattling around in there that might freak her out when you get going (sqeaky hitch, rattling door, etc).



I agree with this, but I have yet to meet a trailer (especially commercial rigs) whose parts didn't clank and rattle.

It amazes me that horse trailer manufacturers can't (or simply haven't) figured out a way to make the trailer parts NOT clank and rattle so jarringly. I'm sure there are some nice goosenecks out there that are more sound proof but again, I can't think of any offhand where the "audio" wasn't part of the problem! :(

Prima Donna
Sep. 8, 2009, 09:52 PM
1. How big is your horse? The trailer may not be tall enough or wide enough. For example, I have a 16.3 TB mare that takes a very long time to load in a 7' trailer but hops right on a 7'6" trailer.

2. Work with her on her stopping and going ground manners. Whenever she hesitates to go forward, quickly back her up several steps and ask her to go forward again.

3. If the trailer has a ramp, back her onto the trailer and feed her in it that way. For some reason, my mare was more willing to back on then to walk forward onto the smaller trailer. Once she realized that the trailer wasn't going to eat her, she walked on the smaller trailer a little better.

4. Try loading just before or after feeding time so your horse really wants some grain.

I tried the lunge whip, lunge line, people pushing, etc. and none of it worked except a bigger trailer and getting her to walk forward when I wanted her too. Good luck!

smay
Sep. 9, 2009, 11:21 AM
Good point Prima Dona. I was having a devil of a time loading my huge Standardbred, who was nearly 17 hands and also LONG bodied. He would load and unload and stand quietly UNTIL we moved the center divider over to hook up the butt bar... He basically didn't like being wedged in by the divider and butt bar, which were both touching and somewhat squeezing him when hoooked up. So my accommodation for His Bigness was to tie the divider over securely, load him up, close the ramp and upper doors, THEN tie his head, and let him ride in a somewhat slant position in my two-horse straight load. He was very happy to do this. So my two-horse was a one-horse when he was going somewhere, but that worked for me.

Iride
Sep. 9, 2009, 02:53 PM
Good point Prima Dona. I was having a devil of a time loading my huge Standardbred, who was nearly 17 hands and also LONG bodied. He would load and unload and stand quietly UNTIL we moved the center divider over to hook up the butt bar... He basically didn't like being wedged in by the divider and butt bar, which were both touching and somewhat squeezing him when hoooked up. So my accommodation for His Bigness was to tie the divider over securely, load him up, close the ramp and upper doors, THEN tie his head, and let him ride in a somewhat slant position in my two-horse straight load. He was very happy to do this. So my two-horse was a one-horse when he was going somewhere, but that worked for me.

Yes - many horses are claustrophobic and claustrophobia is pretty common among horses. It can be the cause of various issues in addition to loading difficulties - such as getting cast, spookiness, stall weaving/cribbing, even reluctance/laziness about working in a ring as opposed to fields or fenceless rings.

H/J Anonymous
Sep. 9, 2009, 03:24 PM
I think the current problem is the loading. However, if you did create this problem, please make sure to address what caused the problem in the first place. Normally, a tire blowing is not enough to create such a distress to the trail. Make sure you are a good driver...keep in mind trailers are loud...drive slow....make the trailer comforting once they get in (food!)...

While bribery is not always the best, I do not believe that loading in a closed compartment with a horse is the time to reinforce good behavior versus bad behavior. Which is why I love treats for loading and unloading. Horses are not too far from humans and while food offers comfort to us, it does to our horses as well. They should get a treat, so they can relax and know a good job was done.

Keep practicing!

Fairview Horse Center
Sep. 9, 2009, 03:34 PM
I definitely always treat them once they are in the trailer. Also, I keep their nose in a bucket while a newby is waiting to unload.

Dakotawyatt
Sep. 13, 2009, 02:23 PM
We got her to load initially with a one-person lungeline technique. Before bringing the horse out to load, run a lungeline into the trailer, up & over the chest bar and back out. Lead the horse to the trailer, clip one end of lungeline to the halter and hold the other in your hands (wear gloves). Walk around the horse so the lungeline is around her butt, & pull. It is simulataneous pulling on her head and pushing on her butt. If she steps off the ramp, keep pulling, don't try to re-position. She'll reposition herself to relieve the pressure and then load. We only had to load her this way a handful of times - after that, she'd self-load.

Your mileage may vary, but this is what worked for a horse sold due to her dangerous loading behavior.

Lisa, THANK YOU for this post! My horse isn't exactly a "problem" loader, but does require the use of a longe line behind the butt to get on. In a slant, it's easy and quick. Tie the end of the line to the trailer, grab the end in my hand, climb in the trailer, tug lead line, tug longe line, horse is on, no problem. However, I've been borrowing a straight load trailer lately, and that doesn't work at ALL because I have to get around to do the butt bar, and by then he's backed off again. So, I used half your advice and ran the longe line over the chest bar, to his halter, and stood beside him and pulled the line until he went all the way in, then I did up the butt bar. I'd worked with him to the point that he would step in about half way, but he wouldn't go ALL the way in, so that pull with the longe was the rest of the incentive needed. Don't know why I couldn't come up with that on my own, but just wanted to say THANKS for the tip!:yes:

briddygirl
Sep. 13, 2009, 02:45 PM
Thanks for all the advise....the day after the "difficult" trailering incident I worked with my horse loading....I was not in a hurry and I didn't tug or pull on her.....I just let her take her time and after 15 mins. she loaded....we didn't throw up the butt bar right away, but let her eat some hay and then we quietly and slowly put up the bar......after letting her stay in for a while, we unhooked the butt bar thinking that she'd bolt backwards and she didn't....we actually had to guide her out of the trailer! Now if that worked everytime, I'd be a happy camper! :0 I think the key is to work w/ her a few days before the show so she'll be more acceptable of the trailer....thanks for everyone's great input and ideas! I really appreciate the time you took to help! :)))

LH
Sep. 13, 2009, 03:01 PM
briddygirl - excellent!

I would suggest that you repeat your practice as often as possible - especially when you are not in a hurry! In fact, try loading and unloading a couple of times, put the ramp up, and go for a ride around the block - like 10 minutes. Lots of hay in the trailer - throw some carrots in the hay bag/net.


I know it takes time to hook up the trailer, etc., but this is important training, and as much as you can do this with you pressure, and you're not signaling to your horse "we're going to the horse show NOW!" the better. Good luck!

MintHillFarm
Sep. 14, 2009, 12:46 AM
When my gelding was being difficult about trailering, we used a lunge whip...but this is how we used it. When he would stop moving forward, the person behind him with the whip would ver calmly start tapping lightly on his butt (with the handle end). They would very calmly tap, tap, tap a little firmer each time, and as soon as the horse took a step forward, they'd stop (it doesn't hurt to reward the horse at this point!). Then when the horse stops again, repeat with the tapping on the butt. I think it's more of an annoyance than anything, and the horse quickly realizes that the tapping stops when they step forward (it becomes a choice they can make - walk forward to get away from the tapping, or stand there and put up with it). It takes patience, and I'd practice it a lot before you actually have to go somewhere. You can even have the person leading the horse stand with a bucket of grain as enticement. My gelding quickly learned it was easier to just go on and now he self-loads which is great. Good luck!


I had one very difficult horse years ago that responded so well to this method, in fact I was able to load and unload him myself for years.

I have one now that it did not work with so I am at the 50% success rate.

I would still definitly try it, I am a believer in the logic of it, unfortunately I am not able to report that it worked with both of my stubborn horses.

Pally
Sep. 14, 2009, 02:02 AM
I think all of the main methods have been covered here. But my #1 piece of advice in trailer loading, is no matter what method you choose, clear out all the "help". It's amazing how, the second a horse's feet even hesitate outside a trailer door, everyone on the farm that day is right there to offer you a hand (and advice to boot, yay!). Even worse, if you are at the show trying to come home, everyone on the grounds flocks over. Generous of them, but way too stressful for the horse (and often you!). I think it's better to keep it quiet and low key.....if you need a hand, keep one good partner (one who will listen and work with you, not start arguing while one leg is in and 3 are out), and kindly ask the mob to vamoose for a moment. Most likely, when they return the horse is loaded and they think you are some kind a miracle worker :P

It sounds like you have made some progress already with following what would be my #2 advice.....practice when you've got nowhere to be. This way your stress and frustration doesn't get to the horse.

Keep up the relaxed practice everyday, and then treat show day like just another day, and I bet things will go smoother. Good luck.

LH
Sep. 14, 2009, 10:04 AM
I think all of the main methods have been covered here. But my #1 piece of advice in trailer loading, is no matter what method you choose, clear out all the "help". It's amazing how, the second a horse's feet even hesitate outside a trailer door, everyone on the farm that day is right there to offer you a hand (and advice to boot, yay!). Even worse, if you are at the show trying to come home, everyone on the grounds flocks over. Generous of them, but way too stressful for the horse (and often you!). I think it's better to keep it quiet and low key.

I completely agree with this comment. Also, you need to work out the loading issues yourself with the horse, since it's usually just you loading up the horse (maybe with just one calm, knowledgeable person at the back to put up the butt bar). I think all of the extra "help" with more people around triggers the horse's anxiety about the whole situation.

Iride
Sep. 14, 2009, 10:39 AM
I think all of the extra "help" with more people around triggers the horse's anxiety about the whole situation.

Yes, and why is that people think that they can rush over, put their hands on a horse's butt and PUSH them in? :lol: :lol: :lol:

MintHillFarm
Sep. 14, 2009, 10:52 AM
That method is hard to apply if you have a horse who moves his body sideways so that he is perpendicular to the ramp. Many who figure out how to do that will not simply move their bodies over nicely with a tap tap of a dressage whip.

Unfortunatley it's true...my 17.3 hh TB has mastered this among other evasions...the last time I tried to load him it was 4 hrs and we did not succeed. I pronounced him retired, at age 15, from leaving the property again. I have a 6 yr old that loads great and he is happy and willing to go anytime...so much nicer!!

rraven326
Sep. 25, 2009, 10:34 PM
I have a 17.2h TB who would climb half way in the trailer then run backwards usually throwing his head up and hitting it on the roof which created a whole new issue. I by trial and error found something that has worked for EVERY horse I have had trouble laoding.
Make sure you have a tall and wide trailer if you have a big horse.

#1 chain or rope over his nose ( but don't try to use it to pull him onto the trailer thiswill never work)This to to get his attention if he is acting a fool ( rearing, running back wards)
#2 We walk confidently up the ramp. If the horse stops he has a few seconds to think about going forward. If he wont go forward I chase him backwards away from the trailer in a straight line. we then stop backing when I decide.
#3 Again, walk confidently forward dont look at the horse, don't crawl, walk on. If he stops we back again.
A few notes.....Don't get angry, keep other people away to decrease distraction, don't let him hang out on the ramp if he is not thinking forward. Never let him get all twisted and parked sideways(dangerous and non productive)
It can take a little while the first time( 2 hours for my big guy) but before you know it he decides that forward is a much better option and he is sure it's his idea.
Be prepared to have plenty of time to get him on the trailer. You will lose the war if you stop in the middle and put him back in his stall. This works like a charm for everything I have had to load. lunge lines, ropes, crops, food, never did.

ponyhunter62
Sep. 25, 2009, 10:36 PM
is your trailer tall enough? does your horse feel clostrophobic in it?

Hollendrew
Sep. 25, 2009, 11:44 PM
Put on your riding helmet, good supple well fitting gloves(VERY important), and steel toe well fitting lace up shoes that support your ankles and you NEVER trip while wearing. Yep. Not because you need them, but because you need to feel safe and keep your adrenalin levels down.

Do NOT put a chain shank on the horse. A plain leather lead. Double the chain thru the lower halter ring, do not wrap it over the nose. Or the horse will 'punish himself' when he runs backward. And that will make a bad loader run back MORE, not less.

.

I am glad to see these nice, calm patient suggestions. I have had horses jump over the breast bar and hang for an hour, get stuck under the butt bar, flip over in the trailer, and fly off, rear, flip over and literally die. I'm not saying this to scare you into NOT loading, but to always remain calm and practice a lot. It just isn't worth getting upset.

And I am not meaning to pick on anyone, but steel toe shoes and horses don't mix. The metal CAN be bent and get stuck in your foot. I've broken my toes...it isn't that bad!

Also, don't ever loop a chain thru the ring under the halter. A horse can stick a foot in it. I've seen that happen too. Oh the things we learn the hard way! I personally prefer a chain over the nose. Expect the unexpected was the first thing I learned about horses, and I would rather shank him to back him off me if I need to than get run over. It doesn't matter how quiet or well trained he is. He is still an animal!

Fairview Horse Center
Sep. 25, 2009, 11:53 PM
Also, don't ever loop a chain thru the ring under the halter. A horse can stick a foot in it. I've seen that happen too. Oh the things we learn the hard way! I personally prefer a chain over the nose. Expect the unexpected was the first thing I learned about horses, and I would rather shank him to back him off me if I need to than get run over. It doesn't matter how quiet or well trained he is. He is still an animal!

I would agree with this except, recommending the chain over the nose. Those seeking advice, are probably not experienced enough to use a chain without causing more problems. Those that are good with a chain, will be quick to use it as a tool, but they already know how and when to use it.

Hollendrew
Sep. 25, 2009, 11:56 PM
I would agree with this except, recommending the chain over the nose. Those seeking advice, are probably not experienced enough to use a chain without causing more problems. Those that are good with a chain, will be quick to use it as a tool, but they already know how and when to use it.

A wise horseman. Great advice!