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Loading my horse by myself

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    #21
    I’m like Fritt - for horses that did not have a real issue but has never been taught to self load, I one day just loop the lead rope and let them do it. One I had watched my older horse self load a couple of times, and then did it himself. We never pressured him, and he went from a somewhat reluctant loader to walking on with one person at head and one gently tapping behind, to one person with a dressage whip (so you can tap the hq while leading at the head), to just holding the whip, to self loading after big brother did, to self loading by himself.
    Agree with everyone else that low stress and patience are key. Don’t rush the process or add any more drama than necessary, and you should get a horse that reliably self loads safely every time.
    The big man -- my lost prince

    The little brother, now my main man

    Comment


      #22
      To help transition to self-loading, you could try an in-hand whip (longer than a dressage whip and shorter than a longe whip, with no lash to get tangled in or stepped on). It essentially allows you to be your own “whip person” as you teach self-loading.
      Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com

      Comment


        #23
        Originally posted by Libby2563 View Post
        To help transition to self-loading, you could try an in-hand whip (longer than a dressage whip and shorter than a longe whip, with no lash to get tangled in or stepped on). It essentially allows you to be your own “whip person” as you teach self-loading.
        Sounds like a driving whip. Excellent suggestion. Check out Standardbred equipment sites. Not very expensive and a great length to help with loading encouragement.
        ~~Some days are a total waste of makeup.~~

        Comment


          #24
          They either need to stand still or you need to self load them.

          I just purchased a horse for a really good price because it doesn't load well. She was loading well for me then I put the butt bar up and GAME OVER! Then she'd load 99% and hang a leg out to prevent me from doing the bar up, or load all the way and then barrel out.

          The lunge line method works really well but is usually REALLY ugly the first couple times unless the horse already consistently follows you in. I would not try this unless you have an expert. With a problem loader it works well but they can be super dramatic about being pressured in from behind. You have to pressure hard and then know when to back away because it has to be really clear that on the trailer is relax time.

          I have also used a butt rope, but you still need the horse to stand still long enough to run around and do the bar up.
          http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

          Comment


            #25
            The trick is to teach your horse to go in to a small space before you try the trailer,. The stall will do. When you approach the door you stop and tell horsey to " go in your house' or "load up" or anything you like, throw the lead rope over their neck and release them into the stall/small space. After a time you back them away from the door and rely on your voice, and you keep testing until you are ready to try asking them to walk into the trailer. It is important that you maintain a very calm demeanor and use copious praise with carrots!
            ... _. ._ .._. .._

            Comment


              #26
              Originally posted by asterix View Post
              I’m like Fritt - for horses that did not have a real issue but has never been taught to self load, I one day just loop the lead rope and let them do it. One I had watched my older horse self load a couple of times, and then did it himself. We never pressured him, and he went from a somewhat reluctant loader to walking on with one person at head and one gently tapping behind, to one person with a dressage whip (so you can tap the hq while leading at the head), to just holding the whip, to self loading after big brother did, to self loading by himself.
              Agree with everyone else that low stress and patience are key. Don’t rush the process or add any more drama than necessary, and you should get a horse that reliably self loads safely every time.
              I should say, 10% of the time I have to have a little talk with him if he's distracted by the horses running around in the paddock behind him or someone's screaming at him as we walk to the trailer. Too many things going on for his TB brain.
              Blog
              Translation
              fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
              skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk

              Comment


                #27
                I have a trailer similar to yours, and have been using Tristan Tucker's method. The handler does not go in the trailer, but makes it the most comfortable place for the horse. I use a "carrot stick" or whatever the generic version of that is, without the lash attached. It's easiest if you're right handed to load into the left stall. Handler stands at the side of the ramp and taps the horse on the side to ask them to step on the ramp. The horse doesn't have to go in right away, but they have to look into the trailer. Try to decide to back the horse out before the horse decides on its own. Get the horse partway in, and then back out. Get the horse partway in and have them stand there. If the horse backs out on its own, it gets to work "the pattern" which is bending and stepping under to both directions, then backing and stepping away from the handler. This is done very matter-of-factly, not in a punitive way. Then horse is offered the opportunity to go to the "rest" place at the entry to the trailer. If you have a tall horse that can try to run you over at your position at the side of the trailer, the carrot stick goes up and they can what their head on it if they want (this is why the rigid stick is important, instead of a flexible whip). Horse is given a rest if it looks in and put its head in the trailer. The carrot stick is also used to tap the horse to remind it to stay in the trailer politely whether or not you decide to put the butt bar up.

                Comment


                  #28
                  Originally posted by tikkamasala View Post
                  I’m going to get her out and practice. She’s not bad by any means , just hesitant. And I need her to not need another horse as bait, I don’t take both horses every place every time. Luckily I own the rig so I can practice on my own time woot woot!

                  NancyM You are the first/only person I’ve met who has hated straight loads from a safety aspect. Both my coaches recommend a straight bc if a horse is getting stupid you don’t have to get in with them to lock them in, and the butt bar used correctly won’t let them fly out. They can’t turn around, you don’t get squished in the divider, etc. You are beyond welcome to your opinion (which I originally shared) but after logistics were explained and then shown to me by multiple people the straight when well maintained is actually quite safe.
                  Teach her to self load. It is the best gift you can give any horse and the best gift to your peace of mind. I would caution that you take it slowly, one step at a time being careful to be always able to halt, back, step forward however many steps you ask for. There is self-loading a calm horse that thoroughly understands the rules and there is cowboy self-loading where one day someone IS going to get hurt because someone decided that getting the horse to rush into the trailer by themselves was "self-loading". The horse MUST be absolutely comfortable to stand anywhere in/out/or part way in/out. Then your job is done.

                  I too hate slant loads. They are danger boxes imo. My horse also hates them so we make a good team since I bought her a giant straight
                  Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

                  Comment


                    #29
                    Originally posted by sascha View Post
                    I too hate slant loads. They are danger boxes imo. My horse also hates them so we make a good team since I bought her a giant straight
                    I'm all for self-loading and I never felt unsafe with my slant load since he'd hop in and I would just push the divider shut. With my new straight load however I DO NOT like dealing with the butt bar AT ALL. Aren't we taught never to stand behind a horse?! I have double full doors in the back and am thinking of using a hook so I can reach over and catch the butt bar to draw it towards me and then latch it in the middle. How do you handle it?
                    --
                    Wendy
                    ... with Patrick and Henry

                    Comment

                      Original Poster

                      #30
                      You pick it up and hold it against the pin THEN mess around with the pin. If they back up they hit the bar. Usually I’m quite close when aligning bar, not at that critical get smashed kick distance. While I’m mucking with the pin I usually stand off to the side. My horses are overall pretty good though

                      Comment


                        #31
                        When my new 3/rising 4 year old arrived in February I called the local "cowboy"--a great guy with a excellent reputation for starting young horses--and paid him to come out and teach my horse to load and teach me how to teach my horse and continue the process. In less than an hour he had a horse who was spooking at the sight of the ramp, marching in and out and standing quietly while the but bar was causally put in place AND me being the one to do it. Might have been the best $100 I've spent on horses in a long, long time.

                        Two concepts. 1) our horses are require to go forward when they are asked to go forward. As eventers we should particularly have appreciation for this concept. 2) pressure and release. First thing we established was that a minimal amount of pull on the lead rope (short lunge rope) was all that was need for the horse to follow it. It's a cue not a tool of force. Some ground work: moving in a small circle both directions, halting, backing up then sending forward again into the circle. Going onto the trailer was simply part of the "sending forward" thing. We started by walking him up to the ramp. halting, backing, then sending forward in a circle, then back to the ramp. We controlled the feet before the horse had and opportunity to decide differently. Step on the ramp, back off the ramp and repeat. Step on the ramp, stand on the ramp, back off the ramp. Ask a step further next time or maybe not if you weren't in full control. The goal is NOT to get the horse in the trailer...the goal is to put the horse where you want him and have him stay there until you tell him to back off. Lots of circles, halting, change direction backing off the end of the ramp. Don't be greedy--don't let him in the trailer even if he offers if you were only asking for two steps in. (I know! hard!) Once he starts understanding the program the pressure off the ramp can intensify if changes his willingness, but it is never a beating more like some uncomfortable work. I used a driving type whip flicked on his belly a few times while sending him forward in the circle when he came off the trailer unasked. But no anger or emotion other than praise when appropriate (and lots of places where its a appropriate!) and no muscle or force.

                        After the session with the cowboy we practiced several days in a row on our own and then I was confident enough to take him off the farm. There might have been a few times early on that I had to take a minute and run through the drill, but within a few months on he was the easiest loader ever.

                        Comment


                          #32
                          Originally posted by wsmoak View Post

                          I'm all for self-loading and I never felt unsafe with my slant load since he'd hop in and I would just push the divider shut. With my new straight load however I DO NOT like dealing with the butt bar AT ALL. Aren't we taught never to stand behind a horse?! I have double full doors in the back and am thinking of using a hook so I can reach over and catch the butt bar to draw it towards me and then latch it in the middle. How do you handle it?
                          I have a divider and am sure to always indo each butt bar from the frame side so they butt bar hangs down against the centre divider. That way when my pony is in I need only reach my arm across behind to grab the bar and do it up.

                          IMO, if you can't reach behind your horse without worrying they might pop back out or kick or whatever, then the horse is not yet trained properly and doesn't self-load properly.

                          I had a nasty accident involving a horse not trained to load properly, a longe line, and getting dragged by my leg. I am grateful that accident happened in my early 20s. It shaped the way I teach horses to load and my tolerance level (nil) for trailering uneducated beasties.
                          Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

                          Comment


                            #33
                            Originally posted by subk View Post
                            When my new 3/rising 4 year old arrived in February I called the local "cowboy"--a great guy with a excellent reputation for starting young horses--and paid him to come out and teach my horse to load and teach me how to teach my horse and continue the process. In less than an hour he had a horse who was spooking at the sight of the ramp, marching in and out and standing quietly while the but bar was causally put in place AND me being the one to do it. Might have been the best $100 I've spent on horses in a long, long time.

                            Two concepts. 1) our horses are require to go forward when they are asked to go forward. As eventers we should particularly have appreciation for this concept. 2) pressure and release. First thing we established was that a minimal amount of pull on the lead rope (short lunge rope) was all that was need for the horse to follow it. It's a cue not a tool of force. Some ground work: moving in a small circle both directions, halting, backing up then sending forward again into the circle. Going onto the trailer was simply part of the "sending forward" thing. We started by walking him up to the ramp. halting, backing, then sending forward in a circle, then back to the ramp. We controlled the feet before the horse had and opportunity to decide differently. Step on the ramp, back off the ramp and repeat. Step on the ramp, stand on the ramp, back off the ramp. Ask a step further next time or maybe not if you weren't in full control. The goal is NOT to get the horse in the trailer...the goal is to put the horse where you want him and have him stay there until you tell him to back off. Lots of circles, halting, change direction backing off the end of the ramp. Don't be greedy--don't let him in the trailer even if he offers if you were only asking for two steps in. (I know! hard!) Once he starts understanding the program the pressure off the ramp can intensify if changes his willingness, but it is never a beating more like some uncomfortable work. I used a driving type whip flicked on his belly a few times while sending him forward in the circle when he came off the trailer unasked. But no anger or emotion other than praise when appropriate (and lots of places where its a appropriate!) and no muscle or force.

                            After the session with the cowboy we practiced several days in a row on our own and then I was confident enough to take him off the farm. There might have been a few times early on that I had to take a minute and run through the drill, but within a few months on he was the easiest loader ever.
                            This! Particularly, "The goal is NOT to get the horse in the trailer...the goal is to put the horse where you want him and have him stay there until you tell him to back off"

                            This is my method but I don't use circles. I use an in hand whip to teach that lateral deviations of the hind end are not acceptable, and take the wait until told to get off thing even further - my goal is to be able to stop anywhere and then either continue in the same direction or change from forward to reverse or vice versa. Maybe 2 steps, maybe 5 steps, maybe all the way on or off. I want the horse comfortable with standing over every inch of that trailer floor and understanding that being asked for a step forward or back is nothing to get excited about.

                            If I reach a point (most recent "best $100 I ever spent" client horse) where the horse is willing but obviously nervous, we go for a little walk, then a little more ground work and then back to the point of stress. Usually that's all it takes to remove that point as a stress zone. If another walk/put brain back in head break is needed, so be it. I've got all day. Oh, I also have a LOT of peppermints. Every good try is rewarded.

                            This last horse I did went from a 2 hour load to confidently self loading in 1 session and was a record for me of 40 minutes. But, iit went that fast because I had the attitude of an all day thing if necessary and had the horse's owner cancel her day too If you have time constraints, horses feel that.

                            Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

                            Comment


                              #34
                              I have a divider and am sure to always indo each butt bar from the frame side so they butt bar hangs down against the centre divider. That way when my pony is in I need only reach my arm across behind to grab the bar and do it up.

                              IMO, if you can't reach behind your horse without worrying they might pop back out or kick or whatever, then the horse is not yet trained properly and doesn't self-load properly.
                              Really... I am not putting my face right behind even a well trained horse. Look what just happened to Buck from precisely this!
                              https://www.chronofhorse.com/article...ck-to-the-face

                              I don't suppose it matters which side the butt bar hangs down on... my arm is not long enough to reach. Here, it is hanging on the left, and would need to slide into the catch in the middle of the trailer.

                              200606_7186 by Wendy, on Flickr

                              I've never used a butt bar before, the slant load did not have one in the last stall, just the door. For the moment I have the divider swung to the opposite side as there's only one horse, so he can have more room. It has to be used with two horses though, or one of them can shift the divider over to squash the other.
                              --
                              Wendy
                              ... with Patrick and Henry

                              Comment


                                #35
                                Originally posted by wsmoak View Post

                                Really... I am not putting my face right behind even a well trained horse. Look what just happened to Buck from precisely this!
                                https://www.chronofhorse.com/article...ck-to-the-face

                                I don't suppose it matters which side the butt bar hangs down on... my arm is not long enough to reach. Here, it is hanging on the left, and would need to slide into the catch in the middle of the trailer.

                                200606_7186 by Wendy, on Flickr

                                I've never used a butt bar before, the slant load did not have one in the last stall, just the door. For the moment I have the divider swung to the opposite side as there's only one horse, so he can have more room. It has to be used with two horses though, or one of them can shift the divider over to squash the other.
                                My doors swing back flat and pin to the side of the trailer so I literally can reach across to grab the butt bar while standing on the ground where the ramp meets the trailer floor. Caveat - I am not short and have longish arms ... and horses I work with know they will die for kicking anywhere, any time when I am handling them.

                                ​​


                                Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.

                                Comment


                                  #36
                                  Originally posted by tikkamasala View Post
                                  I’m going to get her out and practice. She’s not bad by any means , just hesitant. And I need her to not need another horse as bait, I don’t take both horses every place every time. Luckily I own the rig so I can practice on my own time woot woot!

                                  NancyM You are the first/only person I’ve met who has hated straight loads from a safety aspect. Both my coaches recommend a straight bc if a horse is getting stupid you don’t have to get in with them to lock them in, and the butt bar used correctly won’t let them fly out. They can’t turn around, you don’t get squished in the divider, etc. You are beyond welcome to your opinion (which I originally shared) but after logistics were explained and then shown to me by multiple people the straight when well maintained is actually quite safe.
                                  Angle floats are a lot safer if travelling only one horse with only one person to load. That is if you are leaving the divider open so the one horse has more space. Then only the ramp is behind the horse. A horse cannot turn around while travelling in our angle float. There is no having to leave the horse before closing the divider. There is no possibility of the horse backing on to the ramp while it is being lowered.
                                  It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                                  Comment


                                    #37
                                    I "taught" my mare to self-load while teaching her to load. She's been a notoriously difficult loader for years and I finally brought out someone to help us. We set up her feed in the trailer and lunged her before loading so that she associated the trailer with good things (dinner) and not having to work. Self-loading came from me talking to the trainer after our first session and letting maresy graze next to the trailer. She decided the grass wasn't good enough and bounced onto the trailer to chill and check the bucket for scraps.

                                    Once we got her comfortable on the trailer I spent a few weeks feeding her on it. All meals in the trailer so that it was a safe and good place. Now that she's good I have to be careful not to have the ramp down and the butt bar hanging as she will hop onto it to see what's to snack on. Which is huge progress from the horse who would bolt as soon as the trailer was hooked up or ramp was down.

                                    Now I just open the ramp, walk her in a circle, and she'll bounce up the ramp to go get her snack. We have not perfected self-loading off my property yet but she has gotten so much better to load overall. No more trying to bolt away from the trailer or needing 3 people to get her on. Once they get that going onto the trailer means a reward getting that self-load will be a breeze. I did, from day 1 of this exercise, tell her to "load up" when getting onto the trailer so that she has a verbal cue to do it. Eventually I hope to be able to just tell her "load up" and have her step on without her circle. But if she has to circle before loading then it isn't a huge deal to me.

                                    If it matters my trailer is a straight load with an escape door at the head. I keep the trailer tie set up inside so once the butt bar is hooked and the ramp up all I need to do is clip her halter in, take her lead rope off and we're good to go.

                                    For lead ropes I use a 12 ft yacht line as it's long enough to hold onto in the event she decides to go backwards off the ramp. I'll flip the rope onto her back while I walk around to the escape door. I would strongly recommend teaching them it's ok to step on their ropes and ok to have the rope dragged across their backs when removing it. She has stepped on her own rope before and will either wait for me to tap her leg (chestnut area) as a signal it's safe for her to pick it up or will gently pick her hoof up herself and move it to a different spot.

                                    Comment


                                      #38
                                      I trailer by myself almost every time, and now often with small children in tow.

                                      My horse is a fairly hot OTTB who the professionals shippers remembered from taking him to the track.

                                      All of my horses are taught to self- load. Current OTTB above has been loaded many times one- handed while i carry a small child with my left arm. If you can send the horse past you into the trailer, then you are already at the back to close the butt bar. Mine pin on the side, not the middle, and I can pin it while standing on the bumper off to the side.

                                      I use an illegally long dressage whip. I attach nothing to the trailer in any way. I show the horse what I expect before we approach the trailer- I tap lightly, rhythmically, and annoyingly on the hip and expect the horse to go forward past me. Stop tapping as soon as he moves. I then lead the horse up to the trailer as close as they'll get willingly. Let them look. When they stop looking at the trailer, start tapping. As soon as the horse shows any forward inclination, stop tapping. If they stop or go back after you stop tapping, let them. Then ask them to go forward again. If they start to back up while you are tapping, keep tapping until they stop and at least lean forward again. When they do step forward, let them stand as long as they are looking at the trailer.

                                      At some point they often consider running out between you and the trailer, so be prepared to block that. I am perfectly willing to use the whip to defend my space if they try this. I am patient and understanding until you try to squish me, then all bets are off.

                                      Keep in your mind that the target behaviour is simply that they answer your tap with a move toward the trailer. Getting all the way in and staying there is the result of repeatedly giving this answer. Keep in mind also that standing on the ramp can be uncomfortable after a while, and that also can give the horse incentive to get in the rest of the way. Leaving a few treats in the front of the trailer can help reward the horse when he does get in, and encourage him to stay while the bar is closed.

                                      I see a lot of people actually teaching the horse to avoid the trailer because as soon as the horse thinks about getting on, they get all excited and start clucking and pressuring him to keep going all the way in. The horse learns that moving toward the trailer causes more pressure, and starts backing away. Then people start getting out the chains and brooms and longe lines and it all goes downhill from there. (Yes, all of these tools can be used with correct pressure and release, too, but in these scenarios they usually are not.)


                                      Comment

                                        Original Poster

                                        #39
                                        To whomever said to not worry about it and that it will come with time, you are the genius. Made a few trips this week and she was so freaking easy by myself every time. Ive been doing the stall door trick mentioned here too as part of groundwork stuff. She doesnt self load yet but I suspect that will happen within the next month or two. She is a nice horse both in this dept and otherwise!!

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                                          #40
                                          I have often loaded the harder horse to load on the off side (right), and walked next them on the left side, so you can tap them behind if needed but you still have control. I usually throw the lead rope over their neck if they are fairly quiet or not reactive. It is a good transition to self loading.
                                          "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"

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