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  1. #61
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    Mar. 14, 2011
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    55

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    I really appreciate all of the advice, I have lots of notes written down for our session on saturday.

    For those of you who keep telling me to hire someone/ send him out /or pay a shipper. Frankly I can't afford it, I barely afford horse showing as it is, by breaking my budget every time I go to the horse show. I can't solve my problems by throwing money at them, I will barely be able to put gas in my car for the rest of the month let alone go out and buy a horse trailer to pull with the truck I don't have.

    Also on the topic of falling down; I'm not saying he puts one foot on the ramp and goes flailing to the pavement scraping up every limb on his body on the way down. Normally once during the session he falls down sometimes not even all the way to his knees. He's fallen down on the step up side of the trailer too. He also falls out of the raised enclosed wash rack in the barn just about every time he goes in no matter how delicately I extract him. But he still goes in without question, he's just dopey.

    We've tried the blindfold, he still won't budge and we tried the girth rope once but the pressure made him rear and rearing with the rope between their front legs is not a fun experience for anyone involved. The situation cannot be allowed to escalate because any crowding, pushing or pulling will make him check-out. Everything I do with him, from lunging, riding, grooming or just walking around is little to no pressure.

    So I'm looking at this a whole different way now. I'm just going to try to be more stubborn than he is on saturday. The lunge line through the trailer door of the two horse, a dressage whip, maybe some snacks for me and I'll just stand there all day until he goes in the box. Last saturday we weren't in a rush at all and we had him jumping in, walking out and running around the other side to do it again.

    (The two horse isn't ideal because it's not as cushy as the eight foot tall, extra wide stalls of the four horse. He fits in it just fine, I just prefer to take him places in the big trailer because he's spoiled like that... we're the kind of people that have sport horses who live in oversized stalls and ride in a trailer that comfortably accommodates draft horses because it's available to us)

    I've also only had him home with me for a year and a half and because of my tight budget he's gone to 4 horse shows in that time. This isn't a 3 hour event every weekend. He's trailered less than twenty times in his life so I'm trying to fix this now before we reach twenty so that in case I ever plan to sell him I know he'll be able to leave.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2008
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    2,942

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    I had a dog who checked out when he got too stressed and being very ho-hum-yawn about things combined with asking him to do something he knew how to do and rewarding him for it worked well. For the dog I just asked him to sit, but I wonder if there is some minor trick you can teach your horse that would work the same? It needs to be something he can do safely in a variety of environments, like make a face on cue or something of that nature.

    (The actual trick isn't important - what seemed to help with the dog is that part of why he'd check out was he WANTED to be good and if he didn't understand what you were asking he'd get himself all mentally worked up about it. If you asked him to do something he knew good and well how to do, it would break that cycle and seemed to give him some confidence "yes, I am awesome. I sit so well!" So then you could generally proceed with whatever you'd been trying to do to start with, though perhaps using a slightly different approach as necessary to help him understand what was going on.)

    I dunno if it'd work as well with horses, but just a thought. I imagine the "I am bored I can stand here all day" approach will also be usefully low excitement. If anyone who gets excited is around, make them go away though. (Even positive excitement. You want him to think nothing is exciting about the process. Nothing! Except maybe finally getting on the trailer and standing nicely and getting a treat or a scratch or something pleasant.)


    2 members found this post helpful.

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2005
    Location
    Sandy, Utah
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    6,743

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    I think you have a good idea, my experience over the years is that when you convey to the horse that 'I have all day and I will be here with you until you load' they do get the message. It's when you are in a hurry and the horse feeds off of those subtle stresses and anxieties in the human that things get sticky.

    Another approach if you haven't tried it, and if you do have the time, is to simply make them work- longe around you near the trailer- and then offer going in as a relief from the work. No fuss, no muss, just a matter of fact approach (but with a clear and consistent direction to load), as in 'oh, well, if you don't want to load, we'll just work some more.' I'm not talking full blown w/t/c longeing, the idea is not exhaustion, the idea is to get the horse to have the light bulb moment that hey, if I go in there, I can rest.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Nov. 28, 2006
    Location
    ON, Canada
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    1,060

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    Based on the above post, I really think you need to look into why your horse has such trouble with steps and ramps. Honestly, IME slipping and falling that often is not normal and this could really be the underlying cause of your trailering issues. Please don't take offence, I just think you should listen to warning signs. If it were my horse, I would definitely be exploring this to make sure neither of us got hurt.
    Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique


    6 members found this post helpful.

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Apr. 14, 2001
    Location
    Connecticut
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    21,124

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    Quote Originally Posted by MariaV View Post
    Also on the topic of falling down; I'm not saying he puts one foot on the ramp and goes flailing to the pavement scraping up every limb on his body on the way down. Normally once during the session he falls down sometimes not even all the way to his knees. He's fallen down on the step up side of the trailer too. He also falls out of the raised enclosed wash rack in the barn just about every time he goes in no matter how delicately I extract him. But he still goes in without question, he's just dopey.
    This is NOT NORMAL. This is a huge, gigantic red flag that you seem to be brushing off. I'd spend a whole lot more time and effort trying to get to the bottom of this. It sounds like the horse may not know where his feet are in space, which is really, really concerning.


    10 members found this post helpful.

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2004
    Location
    South Park
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    4,002

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    This is NOT NORMAL. This is a huge, gigantic red flag that you seem to be brushing off. I'd spend a whole lot more time and effort trying to get to the bottom of this. It sounds like the horse may not know where his feet are in space, which is really, really concerning.
    Agree 100% and I would be very leery of jumping said horse 4'!
    "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #67
    Join Date
    Jun. 22, 2012
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    3,715

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    I had a horse that would always fall off the ramp. Granted, it was a stumble and not a full-on fall, but that sounds like what the OP may be describing? My guy would be paying so much attention to not going on the trailer that he'd forget where his feet were. He had many, many many vet workups over the years I had him and had absolutely no contributing physical/neurological issues. Similarly, I had another one that was a dingbat about step-ups. Some of them just lack a little body awareness when they're faced with the trailer (or an enclosed wash rack.)

    If the OP's horse is randomly falling to his knees while standing or walking on the ramp that is a huge cause for concern. Clunking his feet because he doesn't want to get on the trailer? Not necessarily a huge deal.

    OP, is he "dopey" in any other circumstances? Under saddle? On the lunge line? In poor lighting? Coming in/out of his stall?



  8. #68
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2013
    Posts
    676

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    I think, if you checked around, you would find out it is not that expensive to hire a professional for this one task. You might skip a couple of lessons and save for that.

    They usually charge "per job," meaning, you only pay, if your horse is taught to load/unload (whatever time it takes).

    Sometimes, it is a lesson fee, but, in your case, I would go "per job."

    A well seasoned professional will also be able to evaluate, what the falling at the ramp can indicate.

    For instance, our horse was stiff and "locked" out of fear, which presented itself in banging the edge, while stepping up, so I had to work through that (getting him calm and loose). It went away. However, there could be a deeper issue in your case, as others pointed out (we seem to like to err on the safe side here at COTH).

    I really think that for doing it alone, you would need to have a truck and trailer at your place at disposal and practise daily. Any chance, a friend could lend you a set-up? I know, in the US, it might be hard because of the liability issues.

    If you decide to use longe line or a long rope, please, check some videos, where it is done, such as David Lee Archer's trailer loading videos on youtube.

    There are a lot of things that can go wrong and it is good to see some of them before they happen to you so that you know, how a professional deals with it.

    You will need a lot of feel and awareness. Set it up so that the line/rope glides (it is possible to set it up, so that it gets stuck). Keep watching out so that it does not get hung up on anything. You might be surprised about all the little places, ropes tend to get caught in, when it is least convenient (like when a horse is pulling back and you need to release).

    I like the method and use it, but it is not the first choice- most professionals I know use it as a last resort or for "emergency" loading.



  9. #69
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2005
    Location
    The Prairie
    Posts
    5,688

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    I too have had a lot of success with the "tap tap tap I am going to stand here all day and annoy you until you get in the trailer" method. But this frequent falling is a red flag for me too. I don't think he is just balky, he has a legitimate reason to be afraid. Just a thought...have you tried more light in the trailer? Hang a light (one of those emergency light things, with a hook, can't remember the correct name) in a way that it won't get in the way. I have one that also hates loading into a dark trailer. And he he panics and leaves the scene if you push him. I forgot about his little issue and over stayed at our coach's barn this week; by the time I was getting ready to leave it was dusk and even with the interior light on it was too dark for his liking . He bought himself an overnight stay at the coaches barn. I came back next day; he loaded no problem.



  10. #70
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2000
    Location
    Oregon, sitting on my couch looking out the window at a mountain
    Posts
    11,321

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    I have no words of wisdom on teaching trailer loading except that it takes a lot of patience and practice. With my mustang, I hired someone to come over and help me. He came out twice, it was $75 each time and I got some good tools and advice and he left me with enough success from my horse that I felt I could continue on my own. Along the way we hit some stumbling blocks, like he'd load fine for a while and then he wouldn't. That's where I needed to step back and see if I was doing something wrong (I was, with my body positioning), and decide when I needed to be a bit more aggressive in insisting that Mac get on. I had a situation leaving a local park after a trail ride where I needed help from someone else in the parking lot (all it took was a wave of the arms behind him). But that's when I decided that self-loading "most of the time" wasn't good enough, so I went home and we practiced every day. Mac now self-loads and is an excellent traveler.

    I worry that your horse is falling. If by falling you mean he steps awkwardly off the ramp, then that is one thing. If you mean the horse actually falls down (goes down to his knees or worse), then that is very concerning and I'd spend my money on a vet workup vs. going to shows. I'm sorry, but it is not normal for horses to be falling. Even my husband's neuro horse, who at the end was more than mildly ataxic, never fell down.

    So do you keep your horses at home but have no trailer? How does that work for lessons and showing, then? Does someone come pick you up each time?
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran



  11. #71
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2011
    Posts
    55

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    My horse lives at a boarding and training barn about 20 miles from my house. There are two trailers that live there, the four horse head to head and a two horse straight load. The trucks on the other hand are not always there when I am and I am not willing to load my horse into a trailer that is not hooked up to a truck, no matter how heavy and well braced the trailer. Also I don't have the time to practice every night after I've worked twelve hours and cleaned my stall and sometimes fed the horses I would be getting started between 8:30-9:30 pm with no food in my belly. That would not be a productive session at all.

    My mentor owns the barn and he only goes to horse shows that she is hauling out to. This year up to this point he has gone to three horse shows and he only has two left before next summer. I will have more time to play with the trailer once he has finished this season. And I can't feasibly skip a few lessons to pay for a trainer to come out since I haven't taken a lesson since June so I can afford to get him to his last two horse shows for the year.

    I understand everyone's concern about the falling. He does not fall on the lunge line, he does not fall or do odd things under saddle. He has a great rhythm, He can lengthen and shorten his stride, do a lead change, do upward and downward transitions easily, correct his hip if you pull his tail while he is walking, walk with his head held up or down a hill without searching for footing, uncross his feet when you cross them, lay down, roll all the way over and stand up easily. But he is dopey, when he walks around the farm he drags his feet lazily, he will trip on mats in his stall because he's too lazy to pick up his feet yet when you present him with an exercise of rails and jumps he can navigate it easily even when the exercise is changed.

    I've been riding him for almost five years and I know him inside and out, I have done the tests over and over and over because his health is my number one concern (he currently has a tiny amount of swelling on his ankle and is completely sound but I've been obsessively icing it, walking him and poulticing just in case) and he has proven time and time again that he is not a nuero horse. Just a stereotypical dumb-blood. Like I said he has trailered less than 20 times in his whole life and I have worked with him, around him and on him at least 700 days. I'm going to take those 700 days over the 11 times I've trailered him for a gauge on his health.



  12. #72
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2002
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    1,215

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    I just want to echo what somebody said about using the plastic bag at the end of a whip method--it can work amazingly well. My dumblood, long before he had sufficient brains to be hauling anywhere, got a good dose of the popper when he refused to cross water. And it later did the trick with trailer loading as well.

    My only rule with teaching to load is that I don't put up with the foot-planting. Forward movement is required. For the real bastards, build a chute of somewhat scary things--I use pallets, farm machinery, anything they won't want to run through--then have a helper giving the go forward orders while you lead the horse on. You really need a helper, and even the totally non-horsey can crack a lunge whip or shake the popper. Just make sure they know to stop applying pressure the second the horse makes any forward movement.
    \"Non-violence never solved anything.\" C. Montgomery Burns



    2 members found this post helpful.

  13. #73
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2013
    Posts
    10

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    Quote Originally Posted by MariaV View Post

    We have resorted to sedating him and pushing him up the ramp backward but we've done this several times and he has yet to learn from it.

    .

    I didn't read all the replies yet but this jumped out at me. If he is sedated, he is kind of "drunk", if you will. So he doesn't really remember what he did very well. So the next time you try "sober", he doesn't have those "good"
    associations of actually loading, because he may not really remember doing it.



  14. #74
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    Dec. 2, 2009
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    Maria, I tried to follow everything but may have missed it.

    A stubborn appy mare taught me the "little bit o'grain in a pan" trick. Horse stands before trailer (at whatever distance horse is comfortable on a slack lead) and is offered some grain in a pan. Pan is "backed up" to where horse needs to take a baby step forward (munch munch munch)...then backed up until it's on the ramp (munch munch munch) then a step further until they have stepped on the ramp. If they back up, no biggie, the pan is still there. Repeat for a few days and then pretty soon they are on the trailer with minimal reward.

    This was a mare that they were fighting with for hours, and it took less than 15 minutes to get her on this way. I did something similar with a stubborn Morgan gelding before as well.



  15. #75
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2009
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    I should add - put the pan on the ground/ramp/floor. They tend to be less suspicious of a pan on the ground. Also, when you move it a step, you have to kind of drag it slowly out of reach and when they show an inclination to move forward, that's where I stop (until they stop thinking they are going to be forced).

    These kinds of horses expect a battle. So you have to remove all "signs" of battle to be successful.



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