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Serious loading problem - HELP

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  • #21
    If he did load and now won't, it's your trailer. Something is scaring him. It could be out if balance wheels, loose or rotting floorboards, noises, uneven braking or it's not tracking straight behind the tow vehicle. Have heard of worn wiring creating mild shocks running thru the frame a couple of times Or, has anybody else ever driven him when you were not along? One panic stop will scare them and don't expect the driver to share that tidbit if there's no blood.

    Also....it's partially you. He's got your number now. It's OK, you can't fix things until you admit the problem and anybody who says they don't get frustrated and scared when big horses erratically throw themselves around is a liar. It's not your fault, you didn't start this but you aren't going to be able to completely finish it. Try enlisting some help, suggest they try loading him in their trailer see what happens. Probably best that you let them do that without being there at first.

    Anyway...IMO, he's gotten scared in that trailer somehow. Play detective and figure it out. When a horse knows how to do something then suddenly refuses, they are trying to tell you something. Track that down and fix it first then get some help with getting rid if the defensive bad manners his fear has created.

    BTW, pharmaceutical help is appropriate for some trailering issues but horses that used to load but now don't are scared of something and it won't cure that, only fixing whatever is scaring them will.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

    Comment


    • #22
      I 2nd it partly being the trailer.

      I have an older 2 horse straight load.

      Baby horse loves to go places, hates to leave. We went over to ride with an old school cowboy.. horse wouldn't load.. here I am "come on baby.." with cookies in my hand etc. He embarrassed me. Old cowboy had me run my lead trough the window and pull, horse loaded right up. Of course doesn't always work, especially with naughty horses that pull/flip over (I have one)

      Now my horse will not unload out of any trailer. I took the divier out of my 2 horse so I can cater to him.

      Husband went and used this horse to move cattle. When it came time to unload out of the stock trailer my horse decided to throw himself down on the floor, I now have the opposite problem.

      My first horse would not load in any trailer to save anyone's life.. we bought her and spent 5 hours trying to get her to load up to goto new home 10 minutes away..

      It took 2 years of constant work with that horse to get her comfortable in the trailer. We had lots and lots to help.
      https://www.instagram.com/streamlinesporthorses/

      Comment


      • #23
        First, be sure your trailer is safe and large enough, or tall enough for your horse to travel comfortably.

        Second, Many have given different ideas on how to go about the process, but all of them have a similar thread...you have to do it in a methodical process that doesn't result in a fight from your horse.

        This has worked for me. I like to do this over several days to a week ( or more time depending on how bad of a loader the horse is).

        1. Control how the horse approaches the trailer. Find the distance that begins to create tension and evasion. Approach the trailer again, but stop the horse before you get to the trigger distance. Ask the horse to back slowly away from the trailer. Halt. Turn away from the trailer and walk a quiet circle away from the stress. Provide praise. Do this several times.

        2. Approach the trailer stopping just before the tension begins. Ask for one step forward. Praise the one step. Ask the horse to back away slowly. Again walk a quiet circle away from the trailer to relieve the stress. Do this several times.

        3. Approach the trailer, stop for a moment. Ask for a step forward and then one more step forward. Back a couple of steps away and then walk a quiet circle. Repeat several times.

        4. Hopefully you are now able to get the horse up to the trailer. I begin by asking the horse to touch the trailer, and get their head inside of the trailer. Once this is achieved, we back away and walk a quiet circle praising the horse. Repeat several times.

        5. Once they will walk quietly up to the trailer and put their head in, I ask them to "step" forward and put a foot in. At first I'm happy if they put the foot in and the remove it quickly. Eventually I will expect them to leave the foot until I ask them to back a step.

        6. I ask them to "step" and put 2 feet in the trailer. Again at the beginning I'm ok with 2 on 2 off, but will work toward them standing with 2 feet until I ask them to back away.

        7. Next, I throw the lead over their neck and ask them to get in the trailer. Again, I'm ok if they come back out the first couple of times right away. I'll work toward them staying on the trailer until I ask them to back off. At first I back them off and do the quiet circle in between each loading effort. Once they seem not stressed about the loading I will ask them to reload on the trailer immediately after they back off.

        8. Once they are loading and standing and waiting for the cue to back off, I'll put up the butt bar. Leave them for a moment and then down it comes and I make them wait until I ask them to back off the trailer.

        9. Once they are good for the butt bar, I will close the door.

        10. Do this without going anywhere for several days.

        I try to always have the choicest hay in the trailer for them as their reward for loading on the trailer. Also I start the process by having all of the windows/escape doors open to make the trailer seem more inviting.


        If you only have 10-20 minutes each day to work on the trailer loading, I would try, at a minimum, to work with them 3 days a week. Break the process up into things you can do in that time frame and then the next day you should be able to move to the next step. You may find that once your horse doesn't feel pressured, he will relax and load fairly easily.

        Best of luck.

        Comment


        • #24
          I also have a big white bright straight load Trail-Et (terrible name btw) and I totally agree, it seems very inviting for them. All the horses that I regularly travel with hop right in.

          Comment


          • #25
            Another example of something wrong with the trailer - totally reliable self-loading mare gave me a bunch of lip one day, so we ended up putting her on the off side. Turned out the light fixture near her head (on the usual side) had shorted and melted.
            Got it fixed and she never gave me any trouble again. So do check everything if he used to load in this trailer and now won't.

            Comment


            • #26
              Been where you are, still there.

              Mine is an 18 hh draft/warmblood. My trailer is a warmblood height (extra tall) 2 horse straight-load with a ramp.

              When I bought my horse, it took me 3 hours to load him. The following week, when I tried to get him to a clinic, it took 4 hours. I had planned on trailering to and from the clinic each day, but ended up having to board him there for the weekend.

              Clinician tried to help, ended up using a tie-off ring from the front of the trailer to pull my horse in. He reared and went over backwards at one point. It was horrifying to watch. He completely destroyed the steel ramp on my trailer.

              Took 4 hours to get him in for the next clinic. (different clinician.) This clinician offered a different (more effective) approach. we had just done a day of groundwork, so my gelding was warmed up and we knew he understood what the pressure meant. we applied pressure behind the horse to drive him forward toward the trailer. We rewarded even 1/2 step with a release. he was allowed a break as long as his attention was on the trailer. if he turned away on his own, pressure returned. once he looked remotely relaxed, we turned him away from the trailer and took a little break before we asked him to approach again. we took our time. it took all night.

              I repeated this dozens of times at home in the next week or so. I never boxed him in or took him anywhere.

              He got better for a while, then suddenly we were at square one and he lost it.

              Sometimes he loads the first try now. Sometimes it is 4 hours. I can never tell what I am going to get. He is a pretty solid citizen otherwise.

              I try to spend a decent amount of time just working on this - low key, no expectations, no deadlines, no stress.

              He is so tall that he does not fit in any friend's trailers, and I don't have the money to buy a new/better trailer or the interest. I just fixed the one I have, had it professionally rebuilt. It is nice and I plan on keeping it. There is a decent amount of room for him to be comfortable. walls and chest bumper are all padded. He has never been in an accident or mistreated in/around the trailer. His old owner was a kind person and drove carefully with him. I don't get it, but its one of those things.

              Just gonna keep trying, and gonna have to be damn careful about it.

              Comment


              • #27
                Check the electric wiring. I heard of a horse that was getting zaps from faulty wiring and then refused to load. Good luck

                Comment


                • #28
                  I am sorry to hear about your trailer loading problems and the fact that your horse has been hurt. My biggest suggestion is to take a step back. I've been where you are, having a horse that used to load and travel perfect turning into one that cannot be shipped. She almost broke her wither flying out of the trailer under the butt bar.

                  First, like many others have said, check over your trailer. Pull the matts up and check the flooring. Check the condition of everything underneath the trailer (axles ect) Have someone tow the trailer while you are in it. See if there is anything that could bug him. Clean the trailer, maybe there is a smell he doesn't like, or some dust ect. If you know someone who has a different style of trailer, maybe try loading in that one, just to see if there is a difference.

                  Next, look at safety. What is your horse wearing when you are trying to load. He should be wearing items to protect him every time you try to load, not just when you want to go places. These things include: a good fitting halter, that doesn't pinch or rub, wraps or boots, a light sheet, head bumper, and gloves for the handler. You want to make everything as safe as possible to try to avoid any more injuries.

                  Aside from these 2 things, there isn't much help I can give without knowing more about your horse. I'll tell you what works with my mare, and if you decide to try it, hopefully it will help.

                  My mare is a typical mare. If she doesn't want to load, its a struggle now. She had always been so perfect, I was unprepared the first times she didn't want to load. I had my current trainer at the time work with us. My trainer was big on pulling and pushing and hearding the horse into the trailer. By the time my horse had gotten on the trailer she was sweaty and scared, then she was given grain to reward being on the trailer. It didn't take long before i fired the trainer.

                  Now, after just me working with her, she loads great. Maybe a little *do I have to* at the beginning but she gets on.
                  My first step was just plain ground work. I would carry a long dressage whip and would flick it (without hitting her) to apply pressure for her to go forward, as me pulling caused her to pull back in a losing game of tug-o-war. Next, to deal with her not wanting to go near the trailer, i would lunge beside it. We would slowly move the lunging circle closer to the ramp, (never close enough for her to touch or to trip) After that, we worked on stepping on the platform. We would walk to the ramp, if she paused i would flick with the whip, if she got too nervous, we would take a step back and lunge for 2 minutes. Then start again. Each time I only asked for one step. If she stated to pull, i wouldn't get into a power struggle, just walk away for a few mins to lunge, and reaffirm that i am the lead horse, you go where i go.

                  Once on, we worked on staying on. we would do stretches, 2 steps forward 2 steps back dance, and try to keep her mind focused on me, not getting scared. I allowed her to come flying off if she got too scared, but we started again.

                  Each training session ended on her doing what i said. If staying on was too much for the day, we would go half on, then i would choose to back her out and that was a good end.

                  The biggest thing i noticed with a few horses i have trained isn't the trailer, its what going on outside the trailer. I load with only 2 other people. No-one else is allowed near my loading area. I park at the end of the parking lot to have my privacy. My team knows they can move if they do not feel safe, but until then, they respect that i am the trainer and they are the helper.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Dionysus View Post
                    I sincerely hope someone can help....even if it is with a grain of advice. Or comfort. Here goes....long post, apologies in advance...

                    I have a 6 year old WB sport horse, whom I have owned since 2 years of age. Personality and temperament wise - a lap dog, labrador. But a leader, not a follower. A quirky, keen and very brave boy. Very talented. Loved by everyone at the yard, especially by the small kids. And spoiled by his mom, very. All he knows I taught him, the good and the bad. I backed him myself when he turned 4, had a year of fun, and then turned on the more serious-work-odometer when he turned 5....only dressage and english showing, no jumping yet as I am very careful bringing him on too quickly - daddy only matured at 8 years of age. Careful of those precious legs. Popped him over a cavaletti or two, and the ears prick and the bum bucks - he loves it. My goal is making an all-rounder of him, he's got it in his blood.

                    That is if I can get him in a trailer. To go to places where he, we, can have fun.

                    So, my problem. Long story short.... I trained him to load as a baby, and he loaded FINE. No problems, I could take him to shows and show him off. Cause he is a beaut. Then we went through the backing process, obviously laying off the outings. When the time came, we entered a few shows, so we could get out there, get show fit and give him some exposure (when I say "we" that is my steed, me, my hubby, 3yo son, family, friends, fellow competitors). He loaded perfectly....until one show day we entirely missed our show. Because special pony wouldn't get in the trailer. And then two other shows were paid for, and we never got there to compete. I was told that he has a "pull-push-back pressure" problem - the moment he sees the trailer closing (2-berth straight load) or ANY movement behind him, he charges out. With force. A danger to both himself and the people with him.

                    I went through an extensive 8 week training period with a loading expert with him, mainly using the Monty Roberts principles and tools (like the Dually halter), after which he loaded, got on, never quite relaxed, and we managed to get to exactly two shows. Thereafter, without warning, we had the same issue again. Not loading, missing shows, being very nervous. PLEASE NOTE: he travels alone, even loading my other horse (his "brother" which he stands with in a paddock during the day) or any other horse for that matter, makes a difference in him getting in. The trailer is spacious, without a stallion partition. I ALWAYS drive slow and carefully. And I always make sure he has the freshest and most luscious grass & lucern available to him while we travel. Not mentioning the treats and carrots. Which we run out of after a while.

                    So, after the expert's methods didn't work, I did a LOT of research in terms of videos, articles, methods etc - and began to apply them. Knowing him so well, I could determine quite quickly what was going to work and what not. So we tried. And tried - trail and error. These sessions took place at the yard, with the stationary trailer hooked onto my car, so we could practice. And during one of those sessions, we had such a power struggle, he became so dangerous and ended up injuring not only me, but himself. To such and extent that he had to undergo surgery to save his eye which he bumped so badly that he lacerated the cornea. Very VERY traumatic experience for both of us. I still cry. He came out of the trailer after the horrific event, out of the theatre, out of the hospital - a lap dog. No bad behavior. Not towards me, or any of the vet staff. Thanks to our good and gracious Lord, we are on the mend.

                    What to do? Where did it go wrong? I am unfortunately not in a position to truck or load him in a float. In our country, we each have our own 2-berth straight load trailer, hooked up to our cars, and that is how we get to shows. He is PERFECT, in every sense of the word. Except if I want to take him anywhere. He is as good as gold when he is in the trailer (eventually), travels quiet and very well. And when we stop and take him out, he backs out quietly with no issues. And when we get to the warm-up arena, he tells me "sit back Mom, I've got this". Mostly ending with the first place ribbon in all the classes.

                    I am at my wits end. He is my, and my family's absolute dream horse, in every sense of the word. Now the trucking ghost is an even bigger issue. I. Don't. Know. What. To. Do. HELP? Any advice?
                    OP, I'm sorry you and your horse were hurt and I am sorry you are at your wit's end.

                    I made it my mission to be an expert in trailer loading after I had to leave my horse at my farrier's place overnight because I couldn't get him loaded and was cow-kicked halfway across the yard in the process. Utterly embarrassing.

                    I do agree with the other suggestions on checking your trailer. Honestly, get a friend to drive you around while you are in the back of the trailer yourself. See what's going on. Also, have an electrician check the wiring (yes, horses have gotten shocked before). Yes, check the floor boards. Check the mats (are they slippery?). If you have hay or shavings, is it blowing around in your horse's face? (I like to have fly masks on my horses for that reason, with coverage over the ears and nose. ETC ETC ETC. There are numerous things that can bother a horse while traveling.

                    While I will say your horse might not be fond of the trailer, honestly as long as he actually fits, he should load into anything. Small little 2-horse straight trailers do seem to be the scariest for horses but there is no reason they can be trained to accept them. But, of course, if you want to find something different -- by all means. But ultimately, training is training.

                    I have been extremely sucessful using Clinton Anderson's trailer loading method. Now, let me say that I am NOT as aggressive as he is nor do I progress as quickly as he does. He'll go and load a horse in a hour at a clinic. That is not what I do, nor what the average person does at home. So work on it 5-10 minutes a day every day, and maybe make it your goal in a MONTH to finally load him all the way. Super small baby steps!!

                    I wrote this up on another forum so I am just going to copy/paste it here. But hang in there. Teach your horse to have GROUND WORK. Have utter control of his body on the ground at all times. If you can TRULY and HONESTLY control his body at any time, then the trailer just becomes another obstacle and it is no big deal. Don't make it a big deal, because it's not.

                    ---------

                    Prepare your horse.

                    You need to prepare your horse before you actually introduce the trailer. Ground work is key! Your horse should lead respectably beside you (not in front of you, and not behind you). Your horse should always respect your space and never crowd you. Your horse should move his hindquarters away from you (disengage) when you tap his hip and ask him to move over. He should also move his shoulders away from you when you tap his shoulders. And he should back up freely when you ask.

                    Teaching your horse proper ground manners will take weeks, or even months. This is not something that can be learned in one session. And it is something that you must always expect your horse do. Don’t ever “slack off” and let your horse get away with bad ground manners. Always expect perfection. And if the horse screws up, that’s okay! Correct them, and go on with what you are doing. Horses are like humans in that they will make mistakes. But that’s okay because that’s how the horse learns.

                    The best way to teach ground manners is to work specifically on it every single day for 10 to 15 minutes.

                    Also remember, when teaching your horse ground manners, you don’t need a death grip on the halter or lead. In fact, go ahead and give the horse a foot or two slack in the lead rope. This teaches the horse that they still have to behave and listen to you, even if you aren’t directly beside them. Ideally in the end, you should be able to move every part of your horse’s body (head, shoulders, hip, and all four feet) without your feet ever moving one step. THAT’S control. And that’s the level of ground manners you need from your horse before you can ever expect them to respect and trust you to load into a trailer.

                    I find it very useful to use a stick (about 4 feet in length) to act as an extension of your arm to move various body parts of the horse. However, as an end result, you should be able to move your horse’s body with your body language.

                    Key point: Your horse must respect you and trust you with excellent ground manners before you even introduce the trailer.

                    Introduce the trailer.

                    One mistake that most people make when introducing their horse to the trailer is that they must get the horse onto the trailer during one session. That is incorrect. The very last thing you should do is expect your horse to fully load. And I’ll explain more on that below.

                    When you introduce the trailer, it is simply going to be a mere obstacle for you to work around. Make sure your trailer is parked in an area with good footing and plenty of room. If you have a smaller bumper pull trailer, it is safest to have it hooked up to a pickup, or else appropriately blocked. You wouldn’t want the trailer to move if you horse puts weight in it. Larger gooseneck trailers are often heavy enough that it isn’t necessary to have a pickup hooked to it, but you should still block the wheels for safety reasons.

                    For the first couple of sessions, open up the trailer and just work your horse near it. Continue doing the same ground work exercises you did before. For example: You stand at the trailer opening. With a lunge line and “stick” ask your horse to move its body to the right in a half-circle. Then ask your horse to go the left. Change directions again. Etc. Basically, you are keeping your horse’s feet moving by asking the horse to move in various directions. Remember: The horse should be moving; not you! (If you did your ground work correctly.)

                    If you horse ever wants to stop and sniff/smell or otherwise investigate the trailer, allow them. It is okay for them to show curiosity toward the trailer, because that means they have their attention on it.

                    So for your first couple sessions (remember: we are working with our horse every day for 10 to 15 minutes), you are not even asking your horse to put one foot on the trailer. This is what most people don’t understand, because they think they *have* to get that horse in the trailer, which is incorrect.

                    Begin teaching the loading process.

                    Now that your horse has great ground manners, and can still uphold those ground manners when the trailer is present, you are ready to start teaching the horse how to load and unload from the trailer.

                    Some people will tell you to lure your horse onto the trailer with grain. That’s fine and dandy, but what will you do when your horse is not interested in treats? Giving your horse treats does not actually train the horse to load onto the trailer. It can be used as a reward/praise, but it should never be used to trick a horse into loading.

                    Some people will also tell you to park your trailer in the horse’s pen and put your horse’s food and water in the trailer. The idea here is that the horse will become so hungry and thirsty that they will get into the trailer to nourish themselves. This is not only animal cruelty, but it also does not train your horse to load because the handler isn’t even there! And there are some horses out there that would rather starve themselves instead of setting foot into the trailer.

                    So, we want to teach the horse to load when we ask it to. Not only when there is food present. And please note it does not matter what type of trailer you have (stock, 2-horse straight, ramp, etc). Yes, a wide open stock trailer will be easier to train, but you can train a horse to load into anything with patience.

                    We start the trailer loading process by asking the horse to load ONE front foot ONLY. Standing off to your horse’s left side, tap your horse’s hip to encourage him to go forward. Do not stop asking the horse to go forward until he does. But when he does comply, you must immediately stop asking him. You don’t need to coddle the horse every time he does something right, but you do need to remove the pressure (you tapping his hip to go forward) for the horse to get his release and reward. If your horse steps sideways instead of forward, that’s okay. Use your previous ground manners training to straighten him up again. He must face the trailer opening squarely in order to load, so you must keep his body square to it.

                    Again, if he sniffs or investigates the trailer, allow him to do so because he is showing interest in it.

                    Be patient. Keep on asking your horse to go forward until he places one foot into the trailer. Once he does so, allow him to keep it there and think about it. But you need to be aware of his body language. If you sense that he is about to take that foot off the trailer again, you need to beat him to the punch and ASK him to back up before he actually does it. That way, he thinks it was your idea to back up; not his. Then repeat! Ask him to load only one front foot and then unload it.

                    Remember to always end your daily sessions on a positive note. And remember that horses have bad days too. Maybe yesterday he loaded one foot just fine, and now today you are having issues. Instead of drilling him for 45 minutes to get that one foot on the trailer, go back to just plain working on ground manners because it is something that he can do correctly. End on a positive note, quit, and try to load one foot the next day.

                    After several sessions (and several days) of loading just the front foot when you horse is consistent, then you can start asking to load both front feet. Go through the same process you did before of asking your horse to move forward by tapping him on the hip, and releasing immediately when he moves forward correctly. Then asking him to back those feet off. This is an “approach – retreat” sort of method. You are telling the horse “Hey, I would like you to come forward.” and once he does you tell him “Oh wait, I changed my mind. I want you to back up.” By asking your horse to go forward and backward in a non-chalant manner, you are teaching him that trailer loading is no big deal and he is able to listen to you on where you want his feet to go.

                    On a side note, you as the handler have never yet set one foot into the trailer. Why? By staying outside of the trailer, you are slowly teaching your horse to self-load. Especially for slant load trailers, this is much safer staying outside of the trailer, and only entering the trailer to close the divider behind the horse.

                    After several session (and several days) of loading both the front feet, you can begin to ask the horse to load three feet. Do NOT allow your horse to load fully. He is not ready for that. Ask him to load and unload three feet over and over again in your daily sessions, using the approach-retreat method.

                    Key point: It should have taken you a couple weeks to get your horse to the point of loading three feet in and out of the trailer. This is not a process to be rushed. You must stay patient.

                    The final step: Loading your horse into the trailer.

                    When your horse is successfully loading three feet in and out of the trailer easily on command, you are finally ready to ask the horse to load fully. Use the exact same process you were doing before. You are just simply going to ask for all four feet to be in the trailer at the same time. And then you are going to ask the horse to back off the trailer.

                    This is why we’ve spent weeks (or even months) of preparation for this moment. We’ve perfected our horse’s ground manners. We’ve introduced the trailer as a non-scary object. We’ve got excellent control of all four feet and the horse’s whole body. This is what is needed to have a horse who loads into any trailer without question.

                    Just as we’ve done everything else in baby steps, you will NOT load your horse completely for the first time, slam the divider shut, and take off down the road. You will instead load and unload your horse several times over the period of several sessions. When your horse is comfortable with that, then you can close the divider (if your trailer has one) for a few minutes. Do that for a few sessions. When your horse is comfortable with that, you can completely close the trailer for a few sessions. When you horse is okay with that, then you can take them for an easy drive around the block for a few minutes. Often, this step is much more calm if you haul your horse with a buddy who travels well.

                    Conclusion

                    As you can see, to properly teach your horse to load (or to fix any bad habits) this is a long process over the course of weeks or months. It requires patience and it requires your horse to respect and trust you.

                    And remember: There is no shame in seeking the help of a trainer if you have a hard-to-load horse, no matter how old you are or how long you’ve owned horses. Everyone can always learn something from someone else.

                    I personally highly recommend Clinton Anderson’s trailer loading DVD. It goes through most everything I just talked about, and along with more details and video to see what is going on. I’ve had great success with this method with my horses.


                    It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      I can totally sympathise- x 3! My daughter's first pony was awful loading, and I really didn't know enough to properly deal with it. We had asked a neighbour to bring us back from Pony Club camp and it took over 3 hours- I was SO humiliated!! Everyone gave it a try and we were still there after everyone else had left. Finally pony gave a big sigh and walked on beautifully! We finally resorted to a rope halter and a long rope around the centre post of the (very sturdy) trailer. She would set back, feel the resistance and then walk on fine. Not recommended if the horse is truly frightened, tho.

                      Horse # 2 was a nut case and you never knew what would happen- sometimes loaded beautifully, sometimes all hell broke loose. We worked with an excellent trainer and we got to the point where she would self load 75% of the time but it was always a bit nerve racking.

                      Horse # 3- loaded fine until she fell in the trailer ( we were going 40 mph on a straight road and all of a sudden there was a bang and thumping. I think she fell asleep and fell!) After that, we never got her on a straight load- she would absolutely panic and became quite dangerous. Trainer suggested ? PTSD. We bought a slant load and never had another problem.

                      Horse # 4- difficult as a youngster but has since become a star self loader.

                      Only relating all this to give you comfort you are not alone!

                      I would just caution you about the backing up part- my bad mare used backing up REALLY fast as an evasion. The trainer recommended turning away when she balked rather than allowing her to go backwards.
                      Check your trailer, maybe try someone else's to see if horse is more willing in a different model. Then decide what method of training you are comfortable with, probably the one that worked in the past and stick with it. Everybody has their pet way of training, but the one that works best is the one you feel relaxed and confident using. Do NOT continue a training session if either of you starts to get upset- find a positive place to stop and try again when you are both calm. Lots of good advice here from other posters.

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                      • #31
                        I really like the way Tristan Tucker teaches loading. This video has Tristan working with the horse trailer loading when the owner could not get her back on the trailer to go home after coming in for ground work. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of his method of teaching the horse to manage itself
                        https://youtu.be/Mq1LXFlq78M
                        "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

                        "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x

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                        • #32
                          I read somewhere that for a horse to stand in a trailer while it is moving is physically exhausting for them since they have to use their muscles/body to balance. For some horses, if they load great when going somewhere but will not load after a show to go home, it might be because the horse is physically tired from riding.

                          Not sure if that is or was a problem for your horse in the past, but just an idea to keep in mind on why some horse's don't 100% load.

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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by beau159 View Post

                            OP, I'm sorry you and your horse were hurt and I am sorry you are at your wit's end.

                            I made it my mission to be an expert in trailer loading after I had to leave my horse at my farrier's place overnight because I couldn't get him loaded and was cow-kicked halfway across the yard in the process. Utterly embarrassing.

                            I do agree with the other suggestions on checking your trailer. Honestly, get a friend to drive you around while you are in the back of the trailer yourself. See what's going on. Also, have an electrician check the wiring (yes, horses have gotten shocked before). Yes, check the floor boards. Check the mats (are they slippery?). If you have hay or shavings, is it blowing around in your horse's face? (I like to have fly masks on my horses for that reason, with coverage over the ears and nose. ETC ETC ETC. There are numerous things that can bother a horse while traveling.

                            While I will say your horse might not be fond of the trailer, honestly as long as he actually fits, he should load into anything. Small little 2-horse straight trailers do seem to be the scariest for horses but there is no reason they can be trained to accept them. But, of course, if you want to find something different -- by all means. But ultimately, training is training.

                            I have been extremely sucessful using Clinton Anderson's trailer loading method. Now, let me say that I am NOT as aggressive as he is nor do I progress as quickly as he does. He'll go and load a horse in a hour at a clinic. That is not what I do, nor what the average person does at home. So work on it 5-10 minutes a day every day, and maybe make it your goal in a MONTH to finally load him all the way. Super small baby steps!!

                            I wrote this up on another forum so I am just going to copy/paste it here. But hang in there. Teach your horse to have GROUND WORK. Have utter control of his body on the ground at all times. If you can TRULY and HONESTLY control his body at any time, then the trailer just becomes another obstacle and it is no big deal. Don't make it a big deal, because it's not.

                            ---------

                            Prepare your horse.

                            You need to prepare your horse before you actually introduce the trailer. Ground work is key! Your horse should lead respectably beside you (not in front of you, and not behind you). Your horse should always respect your space and never crowd you. Your horse should move his hindquarters away from you (disengage) when you tap his hip and ask him to move over. He should also move his shoulders away from you when you tap his shoulders. And he should back up freely when you ask.

                            Teaching your horse proper ground manners will take weeks, or even months. This is not something that can be learned in one session. And it is something that you must always expect your horse do. Don’t ever “slack off” and let your horse get away with bad ground manners. Always expect perfection. And if the horse screws up, that’s okay! Correct them, and go on with what you are doing. Horses are like humans in that they will make mistakes. But that’s okay because that’s how the horse learns.

                            The best way to teach ground manners is to work specifically on it every single day for 10 to 15 minutes.

                            Also remember, when teaching your horse ground manners, you don’t need a death grip on the halter or lead. In fact, go ahead and give the horse a foot or two slack in the lead rope. This teaches the horse that they still have to behave and listen to you, even if you aren’t directly beside them. Ideally in the end, you should be able to move every part of your horse’s body (head, shoulders, hip, and all four feet) without your feet ever moving one step. THAT’S control. And that’s the level of ground manners you need from your horse before you can ever expect them to respect and trust you to load into a trailer.

                            I find it very useful to use a stick (about 4 feet in length) to act as an extension of your arm to move various body parts of the horse. However, as an end result, you should be able to move your horse’s body with your body language.

                            Key point: Your horse must respect you and trust you with excellent ground manners before you even introduce the trailer.

                            Introduce the trailer.

                            One mistake that most people make when introducing their horse to the trailer is that they must get the horse onto the trailer during one session. That is incorrect. The very last thing you should do is expect your horse to fully load. And I’ll explain more on that below.

                            When you introduce the trailer, it is simply going to be a mere obstacle for you to work around. Make sure your trailer is parked in an area with good footing and plenty of room. If you have a smaller bumper pull trailer, it is safest to have it hooked up to a pickup, or else appropriately blocked. You wouldn’t want the trailer to move if you horse puts weight in it. Larger gooseneck trailers are often heavy enough that it isn’t necessary to have a pickup hooked to it, but you should still block the wheels for safety reasons.

                            For the first couple of sessions, open up the trailer and just work your horse near it. Continue doing the same ground work exercises you did before. For example: You stand at the trailer opening. With a lunge line and “stick” ask your horse to move its body to the right in a half-circle. Then ask your horse to go the left. Change directions again. Etc. Basically, you are keeping your horse’s feet moving by asking the horse to move in various directions. Remember: The horse should be moving; not you! (If you did your ground work correctly.)

                            If you horse ever wants to stop and sniff/smell or otherwise investigate the trailer, allow them. It is okay for them to show curiosity toward the trailer, because that means they have their attention on it.

                            So for your first couple sessions (remember: we are working with our horse every day for 10 to 15 minutes), you are not even asking your horse to put one foot on the trailer. This is what most people don’t understand, because they think they *have* to get that horse in the trailer, which is incorrect.

                            Begin teaching the loading process.

                            Now that your horse has great ground manners, and can still uphold those ground manners when the trailer is present, you are ready to start teaching the horse how to load and unload from the trailer.

                            Some people will tell you to lure your horse onto the trailer with grain. That’s fine and dandy, but what will you do when your horse is not interested in treats? Giving your horse treats does not actually train the horse to load onto the trailer. It can be used as a reward/praise, but it should never be used to trick a horse into loading.

                            Some people will also tell you to park your trailer in the horse’s pen and put your horse’s food and water in the trailer. The idea here is that the horse will become so hungry and thirsty that they will get into the trailer to nourish themselves. This is not only animal cruelty, but it also does not train your horse to load because the handler isn’t even there! And there are some horses out there that would rather starve themselves instead of setting foot into the trailer.

                            So, we want to teach the horse to load when we ask it to. Not only when there is food present. And please note it does not matter what type of trailer you have (stock, 2-horse straight, ramp, etc). Yes, a wide open stock trailer will be easier to train, but you can train a horse to load into anything with patience.

                            We start the trailer loading process by asking the horse to load ONE front foot ONLY. Standing off to your horse’s left side, tap your horse’s hip to encourage him to go forward. Do not stop asking the horse to go forward until he does. But when he does comply, you must immediately stop asking him. You don’t need to coddle the horse every time he does something right, but you do need to remove the pressure (you tapping his hip to go forward) for the horse to get his release and reward. If your horse steps sideways instead of forward, that’s okay. Use your previous ground manners training to straighten him up again. He must face the trailer opening squarely in order to load, so you must keep his body square to it.

                            Again, if he sniffs or investigates the trailer, allow him to do so because he is showing interest in it.

                            Be patient. Keep on asking your horse to go forward until he places one foot into the trailer. Once he does so, allow him to keep it there and think about it. But you need to be aware of his body language. If you sense that he is about to take that foot off the trailer again, you need to beat him to the punch and ASK him to back up before he actually does it. That way, he thinks it was your idea to back up; not his. Then repeat! Ask him to load only one front foot and then unload it.

                            Remember to always end your daily sessions on a positive note. And remember that horses have bad days too. Maybe yesterday he loaded one foot just fine, and now today you are having issues. Instead of drilling him for 45 minutes to get that one foot on the trailer, go back to just plain working on ground manners because it is something that he can do correctly. End on a positive note, quit, and try to load one foot the next day.

                            After several sessions (and several days) of loading just the front foot when you horse is consistent, then you can start asking to load both front feet. Go through the same process you did before of asking your horse to move forward by tapping him on the hip, and releasing immediately when he moves forward correctly. Then asking him to back those feet off. This is an “approach – retreat” sort of method. You are telling the horse “Hey, I would like you to come forward.” and once he does you tell him “Oh wait, I changed my mind. I want you to back up.” By asking your horse to go forward and backward in a non-chalant manner, you are teaching him that trailer loading is no big deal and he is able to listen to you on where you want his feet to go.

                            On a side note, you as the handler have never yet set one foot into the trailer. Why? By staying outside of the trailer, you are slowly teaching your horse to self-load. Especially for slant load trailers, this is much safer staying outside of the trailer, and only entering the trailer to close the divider behind the horse.

                            After several session (and several days) of loading both the front feet, you can begin to ask the horse to load three feet. Do NOT allow your horse to load fully. He is not ready for that. Ask him to load and unload three feet over and over again in your daily sessions, using the approach-retreat method.

                            Key point: It should have taken you a couple weeks to get your horse to the point of loading three feet in and out of the trailer. This is not a process to be rushed. You must stay patient.

                            The final step: Loading your horse into the trailer.

                            When your horse is successfully loading three feet in and out of the trailer easily on command, you are finally ready to ask the horse to load fully. Use the exact same process you were doing before. You are just simply going to ask for all four feet to be in the trailer at the same time. And then you are going to ask the horse to back off the trailer.

                            This is why we’ve spent weeks (or even months) of preparation for this moment. We’ve perfected our horse’s ground manners. We’ve introduced the trailer as a non-scary object. We’ve got excellent control of all four feet and the horse’s whole body. This is what is needed to have a horse who loads into any trailer without question.

                            Just as we’ve done everything else in baby steps, you will NOT load your horse completely for the first time, slam the divider shut, and take off down the road. You will instead load and unload your horse several times over the period of several sessions. When your horse is comfortable with that, then you can close the divider (if your trailer has one) for a few minutes. Do that for a few sessions. When your horse is comfortable with that, you can completely close the trailer for a few sessions. When you horse is okay with that, then you can take them for an easy drive around the block for a few minutes. Often, this step is much more calm if you haul your horse with a buddy who travels well.

                            Conclusion

                            As you can see, to properly teach your horse to load (or to fix any bad habits) this is a long process over the course of weeks or months. It requires patience and it requires your horse to respect and trust you.

                            And remember: There is no shame in seeking the help of a trainer if you have a hard-to-load horse, no matter how old you are or how long you’ve owned horses. Everyone can always learn something from someone else.

                            I personally highly recommend Clinton Anderson’s trailer loading DVD. It goes through most everything I just talked about, and along with more details and video to see what is going on. I’ve had great success with this method with my horses.

                            Very similar to John Lyons trailer loading method. The one thing I would add to this is to have your horse learn the " go forward cue" which is when you tap the hip he will immediately move forward every time. You want him to know that as a signal to go forward before you introduce the trailer.

                            Yes, it takes patience and time to teach a horse to load this way but they will load in whatever you ask them to.

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