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more on loading into a trailer

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  • more on loading into a trailer

    i don't wish to hijack the other post about trailering, so i'll ask my own question here.
    my eleven year old haflinger (whom i've had since she was a weanling) loads just fine onto the side ramp of my trailer, but flatly refuses to load from the rear. mostly it's ok, but there are occasions when i need to get her cooperation on the end of my trailer or someone else's trailer.
    she was my first baby, and i spoiled her badly. thankgod i found great help and she has turned into a very good riding pony, though she can be pushy on the ground. i work a lot on manners, fully understanding that i taught her she could be pushy when she was a cute little foal. now of course she weighs 1000 lbs, and it's not so cute!
    still, i know she had one bad experience being loaded onto my trailer when a farm hand went to pick her up without me. he told me he had to beat her onto the trailer, after galloping her up and down the road to tire her out. needless to say i was furious, as she had never had any issues at all loading, either from the rear or side. in fact, before i knew better she had a trailer parked in her paddock which she and the goats used to chase each other in and out of--great fun and she had no issues at all about trailers until that day with him. knowing her, i suspect she disliked him and was disobedient just because. she had never encountered anyone who hit her, let alone beat her. (yes, i fired him).
    this was five years ago and the pony still refuses to load from behind.
    tapping her gets her very wound up and she gets very defensive. even bringing out a whip will make her nuts, though i can and do ride with a dressage whip. it's the combo of attempting to load her on the rear and the whip which makes her pretty nuts.
    what next, other than let her always have the side ramp?
    tia.

  • #2
    Trailer loading is a form of leading. Refusal to load is a disobediance. Look up John Lyons "leading and loading."

    Comment


    • #3
      One suggestion....take your time and figure you'll be there till she loads.

      Find a nice stock trainer, a step up if you can and just work your girl patiently. You don't need the bag on a stick or whooping with broom on the hocks...just patience. Take your time, which means don't practice this the morning of the show.

      I'd put the trailer back in her paddock, close the side ramp and feed/water her in the trailer...hay too! She'll load herself.

      Good luck
      "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by suz View Post
        this was five years ago and the pony still refuses to load from behind.
        tapping her gets her very wound up and she gets very defensive. even bringing out a whip will make her nuts, though i can and do ride with a dressage whip. it's the combo of attempting to load her on the rear and the whip which makes her pretty nuts.
        I'm sorry, this mare is totally playing you; totally yanking your chain. The other posters are right -- leading/loading is all about leadership, plain and simple.

        I've known horses who were in trailer accidents when the whole rig turned over, slid on it's side -- some were trapped in that trailer (one with a dying horse jammed on top of him) for several hours. They were wounded badly.

        Guess what -- they obediently stepped on the next trailer they were pointed at with no issues. So give up the idea she is suffering from some sort of PTSD from 5 years ago.

        What you mare is doing when she gets "all wound up," is having a equine temper tantrum, that's all. She gets squirrely, you take the whip away and stop -- she wins. Great lesson.

        She has you trained. Not to offend, but that's the truth. Have someone who knows what they are doing in terms of trailer loading (ala John Lyons or Buck Brannaman, not some yahoo who thinks you should run a rope behind them or something); once your mare is solid, have them teach YOU.

        If I sound irate, it's because refusal to load is one of my BIG pet peeves and I absolutely do NOT allow a "no" when it comes to this task. I'm not bragging, but I have NEVER met a horse I could not get in a trailer -- some took "only" 5 minutes, some only 2 hrs. -- but I don't think I've ever met one who took longer.

        You need to become a leader. There really is no other way.

        There are LOTS of videos on trailer loading -- Buck Brannaman, John Lyons, CLint Anderson, Clint Black, Parelli -- almost every horse clinician has one, because it's a very common problem. And most of them have alot in common. It's well worth your while to purchase one and follow the instructions exactly.

        Things I often see people doing wrong:

        1. Not rewarding very bit of forward movement with a cessation of tapping. Even if they LEAN forward, reward.
        2. if the horse wants to back away from the trailer, let her back -- MAKE her back -- about 50 ft. She will get tired of backing.
        3. Make sure you are solid in terms of your "pre-loading" ground work -- she is light in the hand, she moves forward to the (light) tap of a whip on her hindquarter, she backs and whoas when asked. If you can't lead her (or back her) on a light lead between cones, you aren't ready to load.
        4. Don't try to get her in then slam the door. BIG NO-NO!! If she puts one foot in, rest, back her out, take her away 20ft or so and let her rest a minute or two. Ditto 2 feet & three feet. You are teaching her, not to load, BUT TO FOLLOW YOUR DIRECTIONS IN TERMS OF LEADING (backing is also leading - it's just leading backwards).
        5. Never, EVER rush. Do all of this on a day you don't have to go anywhere and have lots & lots of time. Like HOURS.
        6. Load/unload at least 3-4 times before you close the door. If she is food driven, let her take 5 minutes or so in munch some hay or grain in the trailer. Trailer is REST. Trailer is GOOD.
        7. Be consistant. Don't EVER let her not load. EVER. There is no reason for a refusal. Zero. Well, 2 broken legs is a reason, but that's the only one I can think of....

        Be warned, your mare will fuss and fight and act like she is going to have a total meltdown. She will roll her eyes, do a half-rear, try to run over you -- these tactics have worked in the past, so she expects them to work again. Don't let that happen. As with a child having a temper tantrum, ignore the behavior, stay calm and keeping repeating your request.

        I really do advise having a trainer work with her first, because she totally has your number and every time she "trumps" you, it's going to get worse.

        Good luck. It really isn't a hard thing to teach, but you have to be more determined than the horse, that's all.

        Comment


        • #5
          "She has you trained. Not to offend, but that's the truth. Have someone who knows what they are doing in terms of trailer loading (ala John Lyons or Buck Brannaman, not some yahoo who thinks you should run a rope behind them or something); once your mare is solid, have them teach YOU."


          This is an unfair statement saying a person that uses a rope is a YAHOO. Get a grip, it is a tool just like tapping.

          Not all horses have been trained to move forward like they should, and not all horses can tolerate tapping of ANY kind. Then a butt rope is invaluable. Especially on a draftie that is big enough to drag you without trying, especially when frightened.

          A long trailer rope can be the safest way to load for both handler and horse..especially when tapping isn't going to cut it.

          Not all horses being upset over loading or whatever is a TANTRUM. Sometimes it is what it is....FEAR and the tapping may cause it to escalate.

          It may mean tapping and the butt rope is the answer, you have the leverage on the horse and the motive to move forward.

          Tools are tools, everyone should have more than one to do a job. Every tool won't work on every horse.

          I have only seen tapping work maybe 50% of the time, the trailer rope (of course a horse should have had experience with a lunge line, etc before using) works the rest.

          I do use tapping, but it is usually clear in a very short time whether it is going to work well for that particular horse.

          Use what works for you and your horse.

          Comment


          • #6
            I only trailered my morgan mare a few times before she passed away. But when I first tried it I found that tap tapping or whooshing a whip to encourage her got her very worried and she would start going into donkey position. What worked better was having a person at her left haunch rest their hand on her rump, and gently pat pat with their hand while clucking, while the person inside did a really exaggerated ask and release with the lead rope, with lots of praise and resting for each step forward.

            We got it good enough with a week of practice that I was able to haul her in a two-horse to a couple hunter paces last summer and load her on the truck to the hospital when she fell ill at the end of last year.

            I know when they shipped her back from the hospital they didn't use my technique and it took three hours to load her, poor thing. I wish they'd called to ask or I'd thought to anticipate that problem!

            With more time she probably would have been reliable to load in any situation.

            She did load suspiciously but promptly into stock trailers.

            Comment


            • #7
              My answer would be exactly the same as what I posted on the other trailering thread. Please check it out there.

              ANY kind of gadgets/shortcuts, i.e., brooms, whips, butt ropes, would be unnecessary if the horse had enough trust in the handler to simple follow where led, or go where driven. It's really that simple.

              A trailering problem is a leading/trust issue. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the horse trailer unless the horse has had an accident or particularly awful experience.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Kyzteke View Post
                7. Be consistant. Don't EVER let her not load. EVER. There is no reason for a refusal. Zero. Well, 2 broken legs is a reason, but that's the only one I can think of....
                so just one broken leg won't stop ya, huh?

                all kidding aside, great post! I agree, I've had to deal with a couple non-loaders who became self-loaders within a few weeks of gentle persuasion. I think the key is to work on it when you have NOWHERE to go, and NO time contraints. Like, start at 8 a.m. on a day you have off.

                Also, a bad experience *could* be part of it, but you might also want to look at the differences between loading on the side or in back. Is the step-up different? Angle? Visually, what does the horse see? Where are you in relation to the horse in each situation? Something might appear different to your horse that is making him apply the brakes. Or, like the other posters said, he's just playing you cuz he figured out he doesn't have to load in that door.

                Good luck!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I never knew any different...butt ropes, tap on the butt with a whip, etc. You learn from friends or other boarders or whomever else you are around. The horses (mine and the ones I would see loaded with these methods) were never consistent loaders and I had seen some battles. Namely, about 20 years ago when my horseshoer SWORE he could load anything. He blindfolded the mare. She jumped in and landed on the divider and almost killed herself...then

                  About 12 years ago I learned of "natural horsemanship". I had a trainer tell me for $150 and another $75 for a "special halter and lead rope" she would guarantee my horse would load. I thought that's absolutely crazy. I had never heard of a $75 halter before...oh wait, that's not it. Seriously, I thought, heck, I'll do it. Sounds like a deal. She got the horse in and I practiced her method everyday for a week. The horse loaded the same everytime. And if he didn't, I had the tools to get him in without butt ropes and whips.

                  The latest natural horsemanship trainer I used trained under Buck Brannaman for many years. He had my problem loader (different horse than the aforementioned) loading into the back of the trailer while he (the trainer) sat in the driver's seat of my truck. Yes, he sat like he was going to drive the truck and then sent the horse to go load up. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

                  I haven't used a tool since other than the natural principles I was shown. Made a believer out of me!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Take heart, from a fellow Haffie owner - you will overcome, but on "Haffie time". Our 2 (mare and gelding) both load, but in their own way (and both were taught NH techniques).

                    The mare will self load every time, no question. She even unhooked the ramp once and loaded herself! (Unfortunately the ramp cut her leg...)

                    The gelding wants to be led into the trailer by his human. He trailers 2-3 times per week, but still insists on being walked in (it's safe -we have a 2 horse straight w/ big escape doors). If you try to self load he simply will not do it! He also will hesitate to re-load to come home if he has been somewhere and had fun We finally figured out that it's just a "fifteen minutes of fame" thing and he is letting us know he had a great time and doesn't want to go.

                    Remember, with Haffies it takes gentle, but determined training and sometimes takes longer than other horses. Patience and a cool temper are key. They think they are smarter than us (and all other equids) and we have to continually prove them wrong.


                    On a more techincal note, the best advice I can give you is this: when you are ready to load the trailer becomes the safe haven (praise, pets, and treats) and outside of the trailer is not a happy place. If she will not load then TAKE CHARGE of her feet and make her move (it doesn't matter where or how fast, but if you say MOVE she moves). The idea being that she will not enjoy being outside the trailer, but will once inside, and you will reinforce the idea that you are actually the boss.

                    GOOD LUCK and have patience!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by craz4crtrs View Post
                      "She has you trained. Not to offend, but that's the truth. Have someone who knows what they are doing in terms of trailer loading (ala John Lyons or Buck Brannaman, not some yahoo who thinks you should run a rope behind them or something); once your mare is solid, have them teach YOU."


                      This is an unfair statement saying a person that uses a rope is a YAHOO. Get a grip, it is a tool just like tapping.

                      Not all horses have been trained to move forward like they should, and not all horses can tolerate tapping of ANY kind. Then a butt rope is invaluable. Especially on a draftie that is big enough to drag you without trying, especially when frightened.

                      A long trailer rope can be the safest way to load for both handler and horse..especially when tapping isn't going to cut it.

                      Not all horses being upset over loading or whatever is a TANTRUM. Sometimes it is what it is....FEAR and the tapping may cause it to escalate.

                      It may mean tapping and the butt rope is the answer, you have the leverage on the horse and the motive to move forward.

                      Tools are tools, everyone should have more than one to do a job. Every tool won't work on every horse.

                      I have only seen tapping work maybe 50% of the time, the trailer rope (of course a horse should have had experience with a lunge line, etc before using) works the rest.

                      I do use tapping, but it is usually clear in a very short time whether it is going to work well for that particular horse.

                      Use what works for you and your horse.
                      Sorry -- totally disagree. Butt ropes are dangerous for humans and horses. All you are doing is trying to PUSH the horse into a trailer -- that's not "training", that's force. And any horse who is determined can blow right through them unless you have two 300lb muscle men on the other side....so if you always have these guys going with you every time you want to load your horse, then feel free.

                      Sure, not every horse has been trained...obviously the OP's horse has not REALLY been trained...that's what we are talking about here.

                      I've loaded literally dozens & dozens of horses -- NONE of them were "trained" to load the way I suggested (except the ones I've bred), but they got trained. Many of them (I was told by the owners) were very bad about loading. All went on using the same method...because it works. If you do it right, it is successful 100% of the time.

                      If a horse responds badly to "tapping" by a whip, you are either, 1) hitting too hard with an aggressive energy (it's meant more to be a signal, and if they don't respond, more of an annoyance to the horse) or 2) you haven't done your homework in terms of desensitizing the horse in the first place. The whip is an extension of your arm, that's all. 3) if your horse is TRULY afraid of YOU, you've done something very wrong right from the start. The whole point is to establish trust in your leadership.

                      Buck B. & others don't use a whip -- they use the end of their rope -- but I find a whip easier to manuever ('cause I'm not a cowboy...).

                      I do have to take back something I mentioned in the other post -- learning to re-train a difficult loader IS easy in theory, but it's better to learn from watching/working with someone who is good at it first, because it's important to be able to read the horse's energy and reward those tries....and THIS is where many people make mistakes. THey don't "see" the try and keep whapping on the horse's butt (and I don't tap the butt anyway...the taps are aimed at the area about 4-5" above the hock). It is SO important to reward.

                      Anyway, people can take any advice they want...that's up to them.

                      All my horses (from age 4 weeks to 23 years) load on the trailer, mostly without issue, 100% of the time. And I do it all by myself, alone, using only what I've learned about horses and my aging, chubby,arthritic body (complete with one fake hip and needin' another)....so maybe it's not such bad advice?

                      Edited to add: I didn't invent this method -- it's basically straight from John Lyons with alittle modification. I'm sure the video/dvd is still out there...I think my library even has it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by oldpony66 View Post
                        so just one broken leg won't stop ya, huh?
                        Heck no!! How are you going to get 'em to the vet if you can't get them in the trailer?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kyzteke View Post
                          Sorry -- totally disagree. Butt ropes are dangerous for humans and horses. All you are doing is trying to PUSH the horse into a trailer -- that's not "training", that's force. And any horse who is determined can blow right through them unless you have two 300lb muscle men on the other side....so if you always have these guys going with you every time you want to load your horse, then feel free.

                          Sure, not every horse has been trained...obviously the OP's horse has not REALLY been trained...that's what we are talking about here.

                          I've loaded literally dozens & dozens of horses -- NONE of them were "trained" to load the way I suggested (except the ones I've bred), but they got trained. Many of them (I was told by the owners) were very bad about loading. All went on using the same method...because it works. If you do it right, it is successful 100% of the time.

                          If a horse responds badly to "tapping" by a whip, you are either, 1) hitting too hard with an aggressive energy (it's meant more to be a signal, and if they don't respond, more of an annoyance to the horse) or 2) you haven't done your homework in terms of desensitizing the horse in the first place. The whip is an extension of your arm, that's all. 3) if your horse is TRULY afraid of YOU, you've done something very wrong right from the start. The whole point is to establish trust in your leadership.

                          Buck B. & others don't use a whip -- they use the end of their rope -- but I find a whip easier to manuever ('cause I'm not a cowboy...).

                          I do have to take back something I mentioned in the other post -- learning to re-train a difficult loader IS easy in theory, but it's better to learn from watching/working with someone who is good at it first, because it's important to be able to read the horse's energy and reward those tries....and THIS is where many people make mistakes. THey don't "see" the try and keep whapping on the horse's butt (and I don't tap the butt anyway...the taps are aimed at the area about 4-5" above the hock). It is SO important to reward.

                          Anyway, people can take any advice they want...that's up to them.

                          All my horses (from age 4 weeks to 23 years) load on the trailer, mostly without issue, 100% of the time. And I do it all by myself, alone, using only what I've learned about horses and my aging, chubby,arthritic body (complete with one fake hip and needin' another)....so maybe it's not such bad advice?

                          Edited to add: I didn't invent this method -- it's basically straight from John Lyons with alittle modification. I'm sure the video/dvd is still out there...I think my library even has it.
                          My horses certainly aren't scared of me. I am a huge proponent of groundwork. My daughter's youngster had too little and too harsh of groundwork. So his way out is backward. Getting that confidence back and getting the horse to bond and trust you is tough. This is a horse that will never tolerate tapping of any kind. The rope, for me and a lot of other people, is safer for both of us.

                          My fjordieX was also scared from incorrect/too aggressive groundwork. 8 years later he is great, but being a draftie he can stop and not want to move. I have a big slant load trailer without a ramp. My friend was hauling today for a trailride. Her trailer has a ramp and is a straightload. He was being stubborn, not scared, so I did get the whip out and did some tapping. VERY LITTLE, he immediately gets very nervous of the whip, but he is smart and knows his groundwork. He loaded with minimal encouragement.

                          He is not scared of me, but he doesn't like that whip. Going home loaded him first and moved the partition over for more room. Jumped right in. So, the reason he wasn't loading as usual wasn't stubbornness at all....but being unsure if he would "fit" in the straight load. Next time, it won't be a problem because he does trust me. Even when I hold the whip, he just doesn't like that whip. He has been desensitized of the whip, but he does not like being tapped.

                          Re-training is really the issue for most of us. We all don't have the luxury of having a blank slate to start with, instead we have horses that someone else has done things to scare, aggravate or whatever. That's why some NH techniques work and some don't. Every horse is an individual like people. My horses all respond to a light touch and are easy to get a long with. Be harsh or too aggressive, then the flight or fight instinct is triggered. My old qh reacts just text book to tapping etc. My drafties do not.

                          I disagree when you say I am trying to push the horse in the trailer with the butt rope. I am not. I am telling the horse, you have to stay here where I want you. I am giving you one option...forward, but preventing the horse from leaving.

                          Granted, I am NOT going to use this technique on a rearer. But tapping might cause a rearer to escalate, also.

                          I am old enough and had enough horses the last 40 some years to know that the same training technique does not work the same on all horses.

                          We will just have to agree to disagree on this.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hay

                            Previous poster said: "Not all horses being upset over loading or whatever is a TANTRUM."

                            And this is VERY, VERY important statement.

                            A great trainer knows the difference between fear and a tantrum and trains accordingly.

                            A so-so trainer can ruin a horse when he does not know the difference and scares the fearful horse or coddles the horse with the tantrum.
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                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by craz4crtrs View Post
                              Granted, I am NOT going to use this technique on a rearer. But tapping might cause a rearer to escalate, also.

                              I am old enough and had enough horses the last 40 some years to know that the same training technique does not work the same on all horses.

                              We will just have to agree to disagree on this.
                              Actually, good trainers DO use the same "technique" on all horses. They might vary the timing or the energy, but people that I admire and who have had unbelievable success with seriously crazy horses DO use the very same method with each & every horse. Over and over and over again.

                              They don't use a butt rope on one and tapping on another, etc. They start each horse from the same place, period. Again, it is only the timing & energy that differs.

                              For a truly paniced horse, a butt rope will not hold. If a horse is freaking out over being "driven" forward after being desensitized, it's being done wrong.

                              All I can say is I've never had the modified John Lyons methods fail and I guarantee you one year's salary it wouldn't fail on either of your horses either -- but I guess we'll never know, right?

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by pines4equines View Post
                                Previous poster said: "Not all horses being upset over loading or whatever is a TANTRUM."

                                And this is VERY, VERY important statement.

                                A great trainer knows the difference between fear and a tantrum and trains accordingly.

                                A so-so trainer can ruin a horse when he does not know the difference and scares the fearful horse or coddles the horse with the tantrum.
                                Totally agree. I never said EVERY horse who is behaving badly is having a tantrum, but I bet my bottom dollar the OP's is, which is my point.

                                Again, the method of training doesn't have to differ -- the ENERGY which is applied has to. Horses respond to physical energy; they understand it, respect it and respond to it. It is their language and social structure, so it is always imperative for the trainer to use his/her energy to the best effect.

                                You use YOUR energy as a leader (alpha) to move the horse's body in which ever direction you want. And in turn, the horse accepts the promise you will not put him in harm's way.

                                I use the whip simply because it's easier for me to manipulate, but I guess if I called it "a long, slender signaling device" nobody would think their horse would be afraid of it....

                                For me, if I find a "method" that works 100% of the time I have used it, with a variety of horses, I'm not going to go looking for an alternative. When (and if) I find a horse it DOESN'T work with, then we'll see.

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                                • #17
                                  Hay

                                  "a long, slender signaling device"


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                                  • #18
                                    Per this thread, there is an article in this month's Practical Horseman on "stress free" trailer loading.

                                    It is (surprise), basically a modified version of the method I explained, the one I picked up from John Lyons. Again, it stresses that refusal to load is ALWAYS a leading/leadership issue.

                                    All my life, even when I was working professionally with horses, the people I choose to learn from were the top trainers. Folks who had proved over and over again they had their equine 'chops' down solid. They were at the top of their game, either in terms of ground work sort of training, or eventing or jumping or dressage.

                                    I KNEW these guys had it right, and so they were the ones I tried to emulate when I had a horse training problem. Of course, it didn't ALWAYS work, because usually I wasn't as talented as these folks, but at least I knew the failure was with ME, not the method.

                                    Advise is usually freely given and given with good intentions. But I think it's very important to keep in mind the background and ability of those giving the advice. That's where BB boards can get you in serious trouble.

                                    So it's always best to ferret out the advice of world class trainers, and these days there is loads of opportunity out there -- not only in books, but dvds, videos, etc.

                                    And I think it bears pointing out that I have never seen or read a world class trainer recommending stuff like butt ropes, whipping in, self-loading (like parking a trailer and letting the horse do it himself...although that's fine for a foal, a grown horse can get himself hurt and it just makes things worse), and offering food bribes as the main motivation to load. And that's because they are not a consistant, safe, 100% reliable method of training a horse to load.

                                    Anyway, for those that are interested, I know PH is on newstands now.

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