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Trailering issues!

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  • Trailering issues!

    I need new ideas/help! My horse has always been a perfect loader, he doesn’t self load but he always willingly goes in after you. We have a small two-horse straight load trailer, no ramp unfortunately. I always walk on his left when loading so I walk up the second stall when he goes in the first. Last year we trailered about 1-2 per week all summer and he was just fine. About a month ago we took a small trip to visit a retirement home in our area and like always he was basically prancing to get in the trailer because he gets excited to go places. I’m starting to think that he hit his head or something during this trip because when we went to put him back in when we left he refused, he won’t go in even with another horse. My trainer was with me and after a half hour we got him inside. Flash forward to yesterday, me and a friend were going to go trail riding at her place but when I asked him to get in the trailer he refused. We tried for over 5 hours to get him in the trailer (had a few breaks). The best he will do is put his front legs against the end of the trailer and stick his neck in all the way to try to reach the treats. We tried physically putting one of his from legs onto the trailer and sometimes he just lifts it off, sometimes he looks like he’s leaning forward onto it and then freaks out off of the trailer. His legs are fine though. We tried backing trailer into hill so he wouldn’t need to step so much but that was not approved either. Today was the same thing, just sticks his neck in all the way, tried pawing at the trailer, put one foot in/takes it out. I then tried building a makeshift trailer to see what he’s afraid of, fine with walking on a wooden bridge with rails on each side, wasn’t until it had a “roof” aka a blanket that he freaked out. He would still go through that though and the trailer was “absolutely not”. Any ideas? It’s not like I can just take the roof off our trailer to show him it’s okay.

  • #2
    First, you should thoroughly check your trailer to be sure it has no issues that may have caused this behavior. For a horse that has always been a great loader to now refuse to go in the trailer, it is likely that something happened to him. How was he acting when you took him off the trailer when this behavior started? Was he sweaty or tense? Look for a wasp nest, weak flooring, electrical short that may have shocked him, etc. Then I suggest you look into the John Lyons trailer loading method. Many people have had success with that approach.


    • Original Poster

      Update: because he was afraid of the roof, we tried covering his eyes with a coat. He is just fine with being led around like this so we tried it. He went in the trailer! Took a little while but he came in all by himself! Just bribed with treats. After he was in we shut the door and then proceeded to give him a cornucopia of his favorite treats. Kept him occupied with eating for a while, then we let him out. I will have to see tomorrow if that made a difference, if he will go in now or if we will have to try the coat again. Our trailer is in tip top shape, I did check it out first, floor is fine, etc. Thinking about getting a head bumper, pretty sure he’s only worried about hitting his head.


      • #4
        Check also for something making a noise when travelling, make sure no wisps of hay are swirling around his eyes. Make sure the driving is slow and steady. Recheck that floor.
        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


        • #5
          The only time my seasoned-loads-himself- trail horse refused to load was the time the floor was bad, right at the back of the trailer.

          To be safe, check the trailer again. Check the frame and if you think the roof is the issue, check the seams to see if the rivets are loose. If someone could drive while you ride in the trailer, that would be better yet

          Also check, check, and check some for bee or spider nests in a dark corner


          • #6
            Originally posted by The Taco Equestrian View Post
            Our trailer is in tip top shape, I did check it out first, floor is fine, etc. Thinking about getting a head bumper, pretty sure he’s only worried about hitting his head.
            Did you go underneath to check the crossmembers/frame? How old is the trailer? In addition to a head bumper you may want to think about putting on a fly mask. Lots of dust and stuff flys around in the trailer and will protect his eyes. You may also want to have someone drive the trailer and you ride in the trailer if he is reluctant to load again.


            • #7
              Is the trailer tall enough? Agree something must have scared him probably a good idea to ride in the trailer yourself. Heard someone had a wasp nest in trailer, so check trailer.


              • #8
                If he is so worried about hitting his head it sounds like the trailer is too short for this horse.

                I will third (or fourth) the idea of looking for a bee's nest or such. The other quick way to make a horse that used to load not load well is to drive in a way that makes the ride not comfortable for the horse.