I need to teach my horse to self-load. He's generally a good sport about getting on the trailer, but our efforts at self loading could benefit from a few pointers.
So...I've heard John Lyons mentioned several times. But WHICH Lyons book or video? Anyone else?
I have a basic idea of the tools needed, and this is a reasonably experienced horse who knows how to load and lead. But he'll only get halfway on by himself...then backs out.
hate to say this bt your better off being in control of the horse at all times when loading - as self loading can teach the horse to do what hes doing and god forbid when your putting the ramp up that your not injured or he is when hes thinking he can come back out as easily as he got in
ps always put a haynet in the trialer and tie a bit of bailing twine on the fixture for your horse so hes not tied to the actual fixture then tie hi with a short rope and quick release knot,
Thanks for the tip. I always have hay in the trailer and tie properly with safe trailer ties. That wasn't my question.
When alone, its more dangerous to lead the horse in, and then run around to the back and do up the butt bar. Hence, the need to teach self-load. I realize that what he's doing isn't right...he needs to walk all the way up and stand. Which is why I'm asking for help.
I read the chapter on loading in John Lyons' book (I think it was John Lyons On Horses?) on the floor at Books A Million. I'm not a big NH fan, but I was desperate... I went home and trained my old REALLY difficult loader to load in two brief lessons. Then, I trained all my other beasties to self-load. I almost always load & haul alone and let me tell you, it's a whole lot safer!!
*flame suit donned* but I use Parelli techniques and all my horses self-load. They will even go so far as to step in and position themselves at the appropriate angle so as to fit additional horses in (as in the photos below). They all step up in and stand quietly and wait until I say it is ok to back out, regardless of whether or not the door is open (they might politely ask if it is time to back out, but if I say no or they realise the answer is going to be no, they wait). I always feel in much more danger when I have to load a horse who does not self-load and especially if the horse is not quiet.
Here are three of ours in our two-horse angle coming home from a ranch I had them on (with me):
Hard to tell, but there are three (untied) horses in there: Here
In the second close-up you can see better the faint outline of the palomino Paint at the front and the dark bay Thoroughbred in the middle. And here
Obviously they stand well enough for me to have loaded the second then third horses in without the first and second trying to get out, and they all stood quietly and waited for permission to get out while I stood back and took this photo
Parelli has a specific trailer-loading DVD, Trouble-Free Trailer Loading, though I do not see it on their site after a quick peek. It is on Amazon though. Might not be your cup of tea, but the trailer-loading part might help? Jonathan Field is the instructor I learned from who was great also, however I cannot find a specific trailer-loading DVD from him... Here is John Lyons' trailer-loading DVD...
Anyways, hope that helps!
....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.
Mine are taught "step", "whoa", "back" "stand". Works great for loading, unloading, mounting from regular and improvised mounting blocks, and for moving the horse around for the farrier, the vet, or one's own convenience. Clicker training and peppermints have been my tools. Try enlisting a confederate to encourage the horse to stay put while you are inside with him with praise and peppermints or other rewards. step, praise, whoa, praise, back, praise, stand, praise and so on. Increase the time interval between command and reward and it should happen fairly quickly that you find you have plenty of time to get that butt bar up.
I also think self-loading is the way to go. Every horse I've owned has learned self-loading, including Satanic Sadie, who took two sessions and two people and tons of peppermints before she would get in a trailer and stay in (for more than two seconds before flying out).
With her, we called it a day the first session when she finally got her front end into the trailer. The next time, we got her on the ramp, in halfway, out, on, in all the way, out, on, in all the way, butt bar up, hugs kisses and tons of peppermints, out, back in, butt bar up, more hugs and kisses, then declared victory and let her out and didnt try to load again for at least a couple of weeks. The next time, she loaded and hauled.
She had learned to be obedient while being led first and really wanted to trust me that the trailer wasnt some horrible trap but she is by nature extremely cautious. She is very good at loading herself now. Neither of my horses gets hauled very often, but when its time to go they are both good.
My little gelding learned how to stand like a rock for mounting and not to move one muscle until he got his reward and/or I tell him to get moving. He doesnt always get the treat but he knows he wont get one for farting around while I get on him (or when I ask him to self-load) so he plays the percentages.
The John Lyons method iircc is basically asking the horse to go forward, letting off pressure when they make the slightest little try, taking your time, building on incremental progress. You can cue with a rope, a whip, your hand, whatever. Some horses dont need anything but the lead thrown over their shoulder and they are in there. Some need a tap or even more with a whip. Sadie is terrifed of longe whips so I used a crop or a dressage whip to cue her when we were working on this, but persuasion and treats are what works best for her.
Me, i use bribes because they are quick, they seem to produce lasting results, and both the horses and I enjoy peppermint candy. To each his own.
I 3rd John Lyons. I have a step up trailer and it teaches the horse to gradually load, so the horse learns where the step is. Every horse I've ever taught learns to feel for the step and to quietly put one foot down before the other back foot. None of my horses scare themselves when backing off an unfamiliar trailer or when the height of the drop off changes based on where I'm parked.
Once taught, none of my horses have tried to exit the trailer before they were told to "back up". That's part of the training process. And if they were to start to back out, I'd just grab the lead rope, let them back out and send them right back in.
4th vote for John Lyons - I've used his method to teach several horses to load. It worked so well with my QH that several times when I had the trailer open and was cleaning or loading it, he just loaded himself up as if to say, "let's go!"
I like his philosophy that it should be safe for you and the horse, and that the horse should be quieter at the end of the lesson than when you started (though he should be quiet when you start) no need for brooms, ropes, yelling, etc like so many people resort to get a horse loaded.
It's always safer for the horse to load into a stall without you leading him and with many trailers, there isn't room for both of you in the stall at the same time.
You need to start in the barn and send him into his stall ahead of you and say something like "go in your house" or "load up" every day, then gradually doing it from further away. Then send him in to other places, using the same words. Eventually you send him into the trailer.
Last edited by Equibrit; Sep. 3, 2010 at 04:07 PM.
I fifth or 8th John Lyons, Leading and Loading Safely (I have the VHS if you have a VCR and want to borrow it). I used it initally for my impossible to load gelding and turned him into a great self loader. Also used the same techniques with my two yearlings as they came along and they both load awesome.
I also like the John Lyons method. However, with a sullen horse I like the CA method of lunging and working the horse then sending them toward the trailer. I don't like how CA is so loose with his line, he just lets it drag on the ground. I like to stand at the horse's shoulder with the lead rope over the wither per the JL method and then have a long dressage whip or whatever you perfer to drive the horse's hind end forward. But if they refuse to move forward at all, back to the lunging. I have had great results with no fighting in 10-20 min.
With little babies, I like the clicker training because is is a very positive thing to take away any fear and you just can do this a bit everyday when they are young. So by the time you actually take them someplace, they are not afraid of the trailer.
Self loading is the way to go. It is safest and you cannot always have help or someone putting the butt bar up for you, never safe to tie and them run behid them to close up the back end.
John Lyons Leading and Loading is great. I got a copy on eBay petty cheaply (VHS.) I'm not sure how different it is from the 2010 DVD. Chris Cox also has a DVD on self loading that's pretty good but John Lyons has the edge for me. Good luck!
hmmm, horse wont just step on? If he's goin in with you leading him (All the way to the front...) that repatition should be enuf for horse to learn self loading.
What is the john lyons method?
and yes, i think its much safer to have a horse self-load when you're on ur own now teaching them to back out on their own is a 2-person training job! It's always a heart thumper to un-load on my own. Untie horse, take ramp down, undo butt-bar and hope they stay in till you get to the front!
i miss the old horse that would unload with a mere pat on the bum and little tug on the tail lol made life so easy!
without the self loading method it was always heart thumping to tell horse 'woah' and hope they stay in till you get at least the butt-bar up then go back up front and tie horse for travel.
what kind of trailer do you have? my straight load has chest bars (makes it easy to lead a horse in if needed) and a big door that stays open for loading/unloading. Horse is usually more than happy to step up and poke his nose out to see the world whilst eating outta the hay bag...
i'm curious on the training methods too... it was just always teh next step in trailering.
OK, so my mare has driven me to desperation in terms of trailering. I taught her to load when she was two months old. At four months I hauled her across the country (WA to NH!). She's been showing since she was a yearling. In other words, she's had a WHOLE LOT of trailering experience under her belt (girth?). She has NEVER had a bad experience; I know this because I have been present every. single. time. she has been hauled (I've driven many of those times, but even the times someone else was driving I was there - not because I'm paranoid; it's just worked out that way!).
A couple of years ago, she decided she did NOT like trailers anymore. Period. I worked with her many times; it would take upwards of 2 hours to get her to load ONCE. I thought I had it beat this winter, planned to go to a show (our first in awhile - due to other issues, not the trailering thing), and when I got to the barn to load her in the morning we were back to square one. I had allowed THREE HOURS to get her on (because I firmly subscribe to "act like you have all the time in the world"). After about FOUR hours, I gave up, because I was starting to understand why people get so desperate that they tie the horse to the trailer and start driving. I literally sat in the cab of the truck and cried, not because of missing the show but because I was SO frustrated (and that is NOT like me, I hasten to add!).
I have worked with many problem loaders who I eventually got through the issue (my TB was AWFUL when I got him and took a couple of years to really come around; he now self-loads and will even get on of his own accord. He ground ties normally, but if I try to ground tie him outside the trailer he'll just hop on instead!). This girl is The Worst.
The John Lyons thing never really made sense to me, as it defied my notion that FORWARD is the Way, the Truth, and the Light at all times, but it remained the one method I hadn't tried (well, that and Parelli, but that's not even an option because I wish to preserve my self-respect - and don't wish to teach my horse to behave the way Parellified horses behave!). So yesterday afternoon I went for it. In the space of an hour (less, probably, but I didn't actually look at my watch when I started, just when I arrived at the barn) I had her on and off at least ten times. I am thinking of sending John Lyons a bouquet.
I'm not declaring it a SUCCESS until we've done it another several hundred times, but it's surely a MUCH better start than I've had since the issue emerged!
FWIW, I've never seen the DVD. I read the book years ago, have read a couple of magazine articles, and did a Google search on "john lyons trailer loading" (or something like that) to get a brief refresher of anything I'd forgotten since the last time I read about it. If you don't want to get the video (and are the type who can learn by just reading), just check the book out of your local library. Much cheaper!
For the price of a DVD or book, in my opinion your best resource is to simply get with a good local trainer who can show you what you need to do in about 10 minutes.
Mine go in (2 horse bumper pull with ramp), stand quietly while I get the butt bars up and then go and attach the head. On the other end, they are untied and then stand quietly until I tap them on the butt and tell them they can back out now. That is some time AFTER the butt bar comes down- nothing worse than a horse that blasts out as soon as he perceives movement of the butt bar.
Generally, my experience has been, it's the calm but firm leadership of the human as well as the quality of the trailer ride more than the load/unload practicing that dictates how well horses go in and out.
well, that and Parelli, but that's not even an option because I wish to preserve my self-respect - and don't wish to teach my horse to behave the way Parellified horses behave!
Did you check out the photos I posted above, of three of my own horses loaded, untied, door still open? Yeah, DEFINITELY wouldn't want that type of behaviour in my barn!! Phew, good thing you dodged that bullet Btw, the horse at the front is a 7yo Paint who was severely abused, the dark bay in the middle is a 6yo 'problem horse' OTTB, and the one on the end is my 16yo Quarab (please excuse their winter coats!). Oh, and they are all 'Parellified' - hence their standing so quietly in said 2-horse bumper pull Just sayin!
It depends on the person, not the method, so maybe don't be so quick to judge
....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.