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Most Frustrating Horse on the PLANET!

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  • Most Frustrating Horse on the PLANET!

    Okay I am just so freaking angry and frustrated. For over a year my mare had a loading issue. But we had it pretty much solved since last December. She is 99.9% at getting in the trailer at first presentation at home. And until yesterday she had been 80% at getting in within 20 minutes away from home.

    Yesterday I took the mare-beast to a baby schooling trial put on by our local pony club. It went fairly well, broke our streak of 40 somethings in dressage for a 37 in with our not so pretty canter transitions. She refused once in sj, and we had two stops on xc, one of which was totally my fault, the other was just a really scary fence.

    Then I went to put her back in the trailer. Nope, not going to happen. I argued with her for over 30 minutes before I gave up, my DH packed up the truck and trailer then followed us home as I walked the mare-beast the two miles home in the dark.

    So, advice and hopefully other stories of woa?
    Eventing at Midnight Blog

    Rodan and Fields, Ask Me About it
    A Measure of Grace Blog

  • #2
    I feel your pain. My guy didn't want to get on the trailer after taking him hound walking on Thursday. I think he felt there were still too many interesting things to look at. Fortunately I had 4 friends there to help me, and a backup trailer if necessary (he does better loading into my friend's slant). But it only took us about 10 min. Back to basics for us....


    • #3
      How are you trying to get her on the trailer? When she refuses to get on how are you dealing with it?

      Here's what I do with my mare:
      1) walk up to the ramp acting like she is going to get on. If she gets on, great ! If not, then:
      2) back her up at a good clip. If she ignores me, tap her on the chest with a crop until she does back up.
      3) stop, then proceed forward
      4) walk back to the trailer and up the ramp. If she starts to get on but hesitates then wait for her to go forward. Sometimes at this point she will load herself. If she backs off the ramp then go back to 2) and repeat.

      The idea is to make it uncomfortable when she out and out refuses to get on, so she will make the choice to eventually go forward and on the trailer of her own accord. This seems to work with my mare on the standard trailers. On a stock trailer she usually hops right on.

      A friend of mine who has a very large (17hh) and stubborn gelding tried longing him immediately after he refused to load. He learned quickly that it was less work to just get on the trailer.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
        How are you trying to get her on the trailer? When she refuses to get on how are you dealing with it?

        Here's what I do with my mare:
        1) walk up to the ramp acting like she is going to get on. If she gets on, great ! If not, then:
        2) back her up at a good clip. If she ignores me, tap her on the chest with a crop until she does back up.
        3) stop, then proceed forward
        4) walk back to the trailer and up the ramp. If she starts to get on but hesitates then wait for her to go forward. Sometimes at this point she will load herself. If she backs off the ramp then go back to 2) and repeat.
        At home if she doesn't get on at first presentation(it's been a really long while since she's refused at home, at least six months) She gets a hard yank on the chain over her nose, and if she gives me any resistance after that I hold the presssure on her nose until she comes forward. Usually she only refuses once then goes forward hops on like the trailer is the best place to be.

        If we're away it takes a few more episodes of this to convince her, except for yesterday. I don't know what was going on in her head, but nothing good.

        I'll give your tactics a try and see how it works. May load her and go to a friends to try this out as at home she's fine. But I'm willing to try anything that will cure this "I don wanna go home itis)
        Eventing at Midnight Blog

        Rodan and Fields, Ask Me About it
        A Measure of Grace Blog


        • #5
          There are tons and tons of local NH people that deal with stuff like getting the horses to self-loading. (I am not into NH however some of the older guys seem to really know their stuff when it comes to loading.)

          Maybe she just needs someone to look at the problem with a second set of eyes to help?

          Also, my mom had a mare that was awful to load, esp. coming back from a show. Once we had to leave her there overnight. (And she was a track horse!) Turns out she was freaked out by 2-horse trailers. Get a roomy 4-horse and she would load herself every. single. time.

          We sold our trailer and just hired pro trailer companies or got a ride with a big group.
          A quick tutorial on interval training: Conditioning your horse for eventing


          • #6
            Try the backing up routine. It's always worked for me.

            Never lose your temper. This is very, very important.

            Just back up (more than just a few steps) and then try again.

            This is a groundwork issue. Your horse is not listening to you on the ground so you need to work on it every time you lead your horse.

            Does your horse march along at your shoulder when you lead? Does she stop immediately when you do? If I were you, I'd be spending part of every session with your horse getting her to listen to you on the ground. Stop, back, turn, every time you give a command you should get a crisp, polite response.
            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


            • #7
              What Bogie and Snickerfritz said... It's a simple and amazing technique... Works every time...
              Live, Laugh, Love


              • #8
                My guy I never yanked that just scared him more and made him back up and keep refusing. I always walked him him and let him look if he didn't get on then I'd turn him away not forcing him and re walk to the trailer he would get on doing this within 3 or 4 tries. At first when he wasn't going to load and put up a horrible fight I mad him work. I'd lunge in in a small circle when he refused for a minute or two at the trot so he finally realized it was easier just to get on and stand there then trot in a small circle. It always worked. Good luck
                Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                • #9
                  WHOA OP! You are setting yourself UP for a fight every time. I don't know where you are located but if you are close to me I'd be more than happy to come over and help.

                  I have loaded tons of horses and horses with issues and horses who have had past trailer accidents. I never ever force.

                  First LOSE THE CHAIN! Get a good fitting halter with the lead rope and start from there.

                  When I have a tough loader I always get the mind set that I have all the time in the world.

                  We walk up to the trailer, no matter which trailer and give the horse time to relax about what it being asked. I actually turn my back to the horse and use small amounts of pressure on the lead and say "step up".

                  Praise praise for movement forward.

                  Repeat and encourage the horse to follow, not force it will just make it worse. PM for more details if interested.


                  • #10
                    If your horse doesn't load each and every time you present to a trailer, then your horse isn't trained to load (or lead, for that matter). What are you going to do in a real emergency, when you need to get that horse home PRONTO? I suggest you put everything else on hold until you can guarantee everybody that your horse will load every. single. time. It always amazes me how many hours people will spend on getting canter transitions, jumps, etc., but don't do the same with trailer loading (not picking on you - just an observation and a pet peeve of mine). I've taught many horses how to load (and one of them was blind - ask KarenC!) and even though I'm definitely not the "natural horsemanship" type of person, I've found that John Lyon's method works the best for me. If you get/got the latest issue of Practical Horsemanship, it details the method pretty well. Better yet, get JL's Leading and Loading DVD/tape. I had to watch it many, many times until I was 100% sure of what I was doing. I don't like the backing method mentioned here because it can cause a horse to go up on its hind legs, which is never something that I like to teach, purposefully or inadvertently. HTH and good luck!

                    Btw, I agree with classicsporthorses - there is no point in setting up for a fight. I agree with losing the chain. If you have a horse that will tear away from you with a simple halter and long lead rope, use a rope halter. I have one with little knots tied in the nose part for the confirmed pullers/bullies. Usually, the pressure of the rope halter will keep them from ripping the lead out of your hands and leaving you with a nasty rope burn (I'd use a long, soft nylon or cotton lead, and WEAR GLOVES). And be prepared to take all day. Don't do this on a day where you have to get that horse somewhere, or you have to be somewhere. Have a poop scooper and a bucket ready, because they'll make a mess if they're truly nervous about the trailer.
                    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                    So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


                    • #11
                      All you have to do is teach a horse to obey your voice, This usually starts shortly after a horse is born, but you no longer have that option. So start away from the trailer and reward when she complies. Make her "walk on" through ditches, water, over things, through things, etc. Then add more complex tasks. (bakup, over,turn etc)When she is really snappy and correct with her responses, THEN move to the trailer. It's good to have a voice command associated with the horse entering her regular stall. ("In your stall" or similar). That way you use it for the trailer.

                      Most importantly don't get mad with a horse for your failure.
                      ... _. ._ .._. .._


                      • Original Poster

                        Let me give you guys a little background. Mare-beast is an OTTB and before 2yrs ago she was a confirmed no problem loader. Then there was about a year when for various reasons she didn't go anywhere or get loaded. (her injury, my deployment)

                        When I started trying to load her again after I got back, no go. Not in any trailer of any kind, under any cirumstance, with any technique. I tried every technique for over year, including ditching my old 2hrs straight load and getting an extra tall 3hrs slant. It was better with the 3hrs but she still wasn't consistent.

                        After getting a ground work/respect technique advice from an OTTB expert(in the racehorse/OTTB training/riding business for 30yrs at least) I found what worked which made her consistent at home. Chain over the nose, take her for a walk, make her walk(at whatever pace I set) stop when I ask, ect. Repeat as necessary. This works 99.9% at home and she's stopped resisting most of the time. Every once in awhile she'll get a wild hair.

                        Every time I ride or groom she gets tied to the trailer and after we work/groom she gets loaded and spends some time hanging out in the trailer. In fact for the week leading up to the HT I loaded her every day and the day before she sat in the trailer for over 30 minutes while I got her bath ready and did a couple of other things.

                        Yesterday was the first time since December that she just would not load. Usually at shows I load her by myself and shoo away any happy helpers who offer assistance. Yesterday I didn't and I think that might have been part of the issue including the respect issue. Too many people fussing with her just made her shut down. I also think she is in heat, which I don't think had any bearing on her loading issue, but who knows what goes on in the heads of mares.

                        So just looking to see who has tried what and what worked.
                        Eventing at Midnight Blog

                        Rodan and Fields, Ask Me About it
                        A Measure of Grace Blog


                        • #13
                          I'll second (or is it third at this point?) the backing technique- it worked wonders for my OTTB who wouldn't load when I got him- he self loads now, every time. The trick is to keep backing them until they don't want to back anymore, and then bring them forward again. Also making sure she is paying attention to you on the ground to begin with- that was the trick with a mare I worked with. She would be stubborn about loading unless you took just two minutes to do some walk-halt transitions on the lead, making her stop when I did and walk off immediately, and then she would load immediately, since we had already re-established the forward response on the ground and away from the trailer.

                          Yanking on the chain and keeping steady pressure on it are not going to help- you're just encouraging resistance.

                          Also, patience is a virtue. I worked with a pony once who had a bad experience his first time in a trailer (coming to my place), and was in no way going to load. We picked a day where we had all the time in the world and then took him out to load. We spent a few minutes with the backing, etc. until he knew he was supposed to get on the trailer but just didn't want to, and then we stood there. He had to stay facing the trailer, he was not allowed to graze, turn away, or move unless it was forward. It took an hour, but he finally walked up the ramp of his own accord. Lots of treats, praise, etc., backed him off and repeated. After that I could take him out and load him easily.


                          • #14
                            IMO I wouldn't leave a horse that hates the trailer in the trailer for no reason. I believe they are very smart. They know there is no reason to be standing in this box and makes them resistant to get back in because they dont know if they are going somewhere or going to be locked in there for no reason. Horses that don't mind or care about the trailer is one thing but a horse that hates it I wouldn't do it. Again like others said drop the chain it is not a good start causing pain and fear. She is not doing anything that bad to get her nose yanked off with a stud chain. Patience even though that can be tough to have with this but it is a virtue. It will happen. Make the trailer a good experience. When she gets is reward her with a treat or maybe have some special alfalfa in there or some carrots something. Teach her that it's harder outside the trailer because she will be asked to work than inside where she gets good food or treats
                            Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                            • #15
                              I've got a pony that was in a trailer accident before we got him. Trailer flipped and a lot of horses died. He loves the trailer now. I pull it up for the other horses he wants to jump in. Lol. He wants those treats
                              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                              • #16

                                OP, you do not have a trailer loading problem, you have a RESPECT problem. Your mare is telling you that she will do what she wants when she wants to do it. I recommend a good (John Lyons is very good) groundwork course with her. I think you are headed for more problems if you do not. The other thing I recommend is getting very particular with her. When you groom her, don't tie her. Teach her to stand still in the spot where you put her (NOT MOVING A SINGLE HOOF) without being tied. When you put her in her stall, teach her to stay in there with the door open until you kiss to her to come out. You can PM me if you want more recommendations, but basically, she needs a short course in who is in charge.



                                • #17
                                  My horse would not load. He would back off well but he didn't get on right away. I have a straight load step up because he plays with the ramp. I also hate that when you are on uneven ground it is not flat... My horse would approach the trailer. Then he would put two feet on. Then he would try to back up really fast and run off. This was his escape plan every time. I tried the backing up and im sorry but my horse has excellent ground manners. He just didn't want to go on the trailer. So my farrier(40 years of western training) suggested that i put a chain under his nose and teach him some respect. Well, it worked. My horse now might step up on the trailer and sniff for a little while until he gets on but he never tries running off to avoid getting on. When I put the chain on what I did was take a lounge line and lounge him around the back of the trailer for 15 minutes. Then I had him walk and halt and back up with the chain. Then if he tried to refuse getting on the trailer, we would go through the same respect process of lunging etc. He doesn't like being alone in small spaces where he can't see other horses. Thats most likely why he doesn't like being in there. Every time he got in and backed off on command I would give him a carrot or something to reward his behavior. I know I will get flamed for that but its really no different than giving your dog a treat in obedience! My horse now gets on and off within 5 minutes.


                                  • #18
                                    First LOSE THE CHAIN! Get a good fitting halter with the lead rope and start from there.

                                    Put it over her gums 1 time and she may well decided to load...

                                    Next time trot her a** all the way home and ask her to get back on trailer...ship her butt the 2 miles back to venue...hack for 10 minutes and see if she has the where with all to decide to ride home!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    I watched 2 gals one day not long ago go thru the same thing and they did all of the above suggestions, I politely asked after 40 minutes if they would be offended if I helped.
                                    They said have at it.
                                    I gave them 2 lunge whips and put the chain over horses gums (it was on his nose) told them NOT to hit him but let him know they were armed..Yes, he took 1 look felt pressure and walked on calm as could be. They left with plans to practice again there the next day...........his history by the way was almost identical to OP's.


                                    • #19
                                      If she's not getting on the trailer for the ride home it could be that the ride over was unpleasant for her. I've seen a few owners who are terrible trailer drivers (and completely clueless about it) struggle to get there horses loaded for the trip home consistently. Make sure you are giving her the smoothest kindest driving experience on the way to your destination, if you aren't sure get someone to follow you when you haul her to get a second opinion. Also consider that she might not like your trailer, some horses prefer slants, other prefer straight loads, a lot don't care but some have preferences. Not saying any of this is your problem just giving you something else to think about.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by judybigredpony View Post
                                        Put it over her gums 1 time and she may well decided to load...
                                        Or remember for along long time.

                                        I am of the camp tha says take your time. Lead up, stanbd wait, praise a foot forward, don't accept a step back. Yes, if need be back the horse, but always forward with.

                                        That fact that you use the term mare-beast means she's already in your head. She is a mare, she is scared to load and treat that with some respect.

                                        Some lady used the chain over the gums to get my mare on a trailer when she was going to her new home. Horrible experience in my book (and hers). It took 20 minutes to load, with help from my trainer, but we did it one step at a time. Now she loads with just a "walk on" and cluck.

                                        Watch Clinton Anderson or Buck on how to work a horse though their fear and please don't use chain on a gum.