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trailering issues

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  • trailering issues

    My big OTTB is a tough loader.
    No amount of force or coercion will get him on a trailer. He has to be comfortable with it and make up his own mind, but he still needs the support of a human for confidence. He's a big baby.
    I need him to be able to load on anyone's trailer.(don't have one at this point)

    Let the advice, questions, and suggestions begin, please! I'm pretty interested to hear anything! I want to have him loading nicely on at least a specific 4h by next weekend... he's going off to training...
    proud momma of an evil grey QH/Arab who can jump the moon... and he stole my heart

  • #2
    Originally posted by Emmas Hot Brass View Post
    My big OTTB is a tough loader.
    No amount of force or coercion will get him on a trailer. He has to be comfortable with it and make up his own mind, but he still needs the support of a human for confidence. He's a big baby.
    I need him to be able to load on anyone's trailer.(don't have one at this point)

    Let the advice, questions, and suggestions begin, please! I'm pretty interested to hear anything! I want to have him loading nicely on at least a specific 4h by next weekend... he's going off to training...
    http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum//s...d.php?t=290497
    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
    www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
    Northern NV

    Comment


    • #3
      Trailering Issues, PLEASE HELP!!!

      I have a big appendix gelding who refuses to get into the trailer. You could lunge him for two hours and he would still not get into the trailer. He doesn't respond to lunge ropes behind his butt, being "pulled" in, or trying to feed him in the trailer. He will go inside for food but once you put a halter on him, he refuses, he will only go inside if it is his idea. He is not afraid of the trailer, he will stand behind it and once you finally get him in he doesn't fly out. He is just incredibly stubborn! PLEASE HELP!!!

      Comment


      • #4
        I've helped my coach with a couple of tough loaders of late. She likes to use my trailer because of its unique setup. Side-loading/rear facing/ off-loading through the rear of trailer. Ramps both side and rear. Horses love this trailer.

        For the claustrophobic horse, we took out all the insides of the trailer so it was like a stock trailer with ramps. Load/unload. Rinse, repeat. Coach would gradually ask the horse to stand quietly for longer periods of time, like a "few seconds more". She did not allow this horse to become 'worried". She wanted it to be nothing but a positive, non-threatening experience. Over time we added the dividers back into the trailer, but tied back, so it seemed only a little smaller than before. Repeat the above. Gradually began closing the chest and butt bars, but were always ready to offload the horse if he showed signs of anxiety. As all this was going on, Horse became more relaxed about the trailer. The last phases involved closing the doors of the trailer (one at a time), and taking him for a short ride. This took a month or so of 1 or 2 times per week work with Horse. Then he went to his first show. Unfortunately, we got caught in a terrific downpour on the way and I'm sure his ride inside the trailer was noisy and scary. He gave Coach an argument about reloading for the ride home, but eventually got on and had an uneventful trip home. Owners purchased a trailer similar to mine because Horse would. Not. Load. in their slant.

        Next horse had been trailered in a variety of outfits and learned to hate trailering. Different trailers every time give a different, unpredictable ride that horses learn to dread. Handled his situation same as above -- slowly over several weeks. Coach figures this horse needs a few more rides in my outfit to make sure he's over his loathing of trailers.

        Trailers -- the bigger, the better. Horses don't like to feel trapped. Handlers need to take the time to habituate their horse to trailering. Get Horse used to ONE type of trailer first -- then future loading/trailering will be easier.

        When loading, do not face the horse. If you lead the horse onto the trailer, resist the urge to look back or turn back to face him. To a horse, that says "stop right there". In-hand work is valuable training prior to trailer-training. Be confident that YOU can direct your horse. Get professional help if you need it.

        Practice when you have plenty of time and nowhere to go. Horses for sure know when we're nervous, hurried, agitated, and they'll react accordingly.

        Comment


        • #5
          Load him and drive him around for a few minutes every day for 2 weeks, then every other day for another 2 weeks. Be prepared to spend 2-3 hours per day loading him. If he still won't go in, it is time to go off to a trainer. After an hour per day of flat work and jumping, he will probably be too tired to resist the trainer's efforts to load him.

          Comment


          • #6
            Boiled down to its essence, trailer loading is a matter of systematic training. There are a number of ways to go about it, but IME the best ways do not include any emotion, anthropomorphizing, over-thinking, or tricks. Just simple trust and obedience, which with many horses needs to start nowhere near a horse trailer.

            The minute the longe lines, whips, brooms, and buckets of food start to appear, the purpose is lost, IMO.
            Click here before you buy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by deltawave View Post
              Boiled down to its essence, trailer loading is a matter of systematic training. There are a number of ways to go about it, but IME the best ways do not include any emotion, anthropomorphizing, over-thinking, or tricks. Just simple trust and obedience, which with many horses needs to start nowhere near a horse trailer.

              The minute the longe lines, whips, brooms, and buckets of food start to appear, the purpose is lost, IMO.
              This! ^^^^

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree with Deltawave. My Victor, a TB, has loading issues. But he is so much better. He is smart so the rule is, if I ask him to load, we are loading. There is no other way. It took 2 hours and 15 min the first time in my huge 2-horse trailer that was new to him. There was always much less issue with my old stock trailer. Vic was Pirelli (sp?) broke so he knew a few rules. We stand at the back of the trailer and I use gentile but firm, constant pressure on his halter, remaining calm, never escalating my actions or voice. He would inch forward 3"! "Good boy!" Pressure released for 5 seconds, then pressure again until another 3". "Good boy!" Occasionally we have to start over as he backs up but I NEVER get mad, I NEVER yell or jerk his halter as it would compound the issue. He is, after all, a sensitive horse! haha We load now in less than 5 minutes but he never just walks in. Like you said, it has to be his idea. I feel your pain though. I remember those 2 hour loading sessions! Oh and another thing that doesn't work for a sensitive horse: help! Clucking from behind overloads him! He always runs backwards when someone cluck from behind. It has to be just he and I and we get it done.
                "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

                Comment


                • #9
                  My filly started to be more of a PITA to load and is better loading with a companion, but not always practical.

                  There are a lot of methods of loading, but for us, we have had success with something similar to the method that Julie Goodnight suggests.

                  Basically stop the horse before she stops. Put pressure on when she starts to back up and reward when she is facing the trailer, putting head in the trailer, or whatever. When she wiggles around or does something dumb, I go back and put pressure until she does a reward activity.
                  Semi Feral

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                  • #10
                    Three Figs,
                    I would love that trailer! I wanted to get one (Turnbow) but settled for a nice used standard 2H Straight load, for $7k less.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                      Boiled down to its essence, trailer loading is a matter of systematic training. There are a number of ways to go about it, but IME the best ways do not include any emotion, anthropomorphizing, over-thinking, or tricks. Just simple trust and obedience, which with many horses needs to start nowhere near a horse trailer.

                      The minute the longe lines, whips, brooms, and buckets of food start to appear, the purpose is lost, IMO.
                      I completely agree, but I also want to add that you need to identify if a horse is nervous or stubborn. The horse tht is afraid of the trailer needs to be treated very differently than the horse that is just being stubborn.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes, a horse that I know is *perfectly fine* with loading and trailering and who is just being a butthole on a given day gets a much less touchy-feely approach to loading. For a horse I don't know at all, I use the "benefit of the doubt" method, but I'm looking hard for clues as to whether the critter is actually anxious or just being a turd.
                        Click here before you buy.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by VTMorgan06 View Post
                          I completely agree, but I also want to add that you need to identify if a horse is nervous or stubborn. The horse tht is afraid of the trailer needs to be treated very differently than the horse that is just being stubborn.
                          My Vic is a combo of both. I find it better for him to cater to his nervousness because if you try to work on his stubbornness, his anxiety escalates to the point he can't think. OP, are you thinking he is 100% stubborn or is there anxiety involved?
                          "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would only label a horse as "stubborn" if it were an experienced, capable, sensible loader who happened to be behaving like an idiot on a given day. A horse with no experience trailering or who has had a bad experience, or one that I don't know, gets the "here is how we do this" plan.

                            I will start by leading such a horse up to the trailer, paying attention to its demeanor and seeing if it is actually listening to me and if it isn't, is it already anxious but still somewhat attentive, or purposely tuning me out? Is it really fearful? What does it do when I ask it to stop, to back up a step, to come forward? Will it try? Does it do something disproportionate and/or opposite to what I'm asking? Will it try again?

                            I don't mean to make it sound all horse-whisper-y because I'm not at all like that, really. But I think you can tell a lot about what a horse is going to do and how it's going to act by watching its reactions to the relatively simple set of questions posed by approaching and putting its feet in a trailer. If the reaction is panic, I know it's not going to happen in a hurry, and hopefully I would never, ever willingly be PUT into that situation with a horse!! The truly ignorant horse that's never been loaded, provided it has some good basic manners and trust, is much easier to load, even for the first time, than one who is truly scared or badly spoiled.
                            Click here before you buy.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My mare was unsure of trailering after a few iffy experiences. The best approach I found was to use only spacially-friendly trailers so that she never felt trapped or claustrophobic. Then, I would walk on confidently and really expecting her to follow. That attitude is helpful. It's not a big deal, we're just going on the trailer. Simple. My horse also as impeccable ground manners, as I use positive reinforcement, set boundaries, and never is she allowed to step over those. When I stop walking, she stops walking. When I turn, she turns, when I go, she goes. No rope pulling necessary. Consistency is key!!

                              If she stops and does that thing where she has to decide when it's her idea to get on, I let her take her time. I know this horse really just needs to smell the trailer, check for goblins. The biggest thing during this time is not to make a big deal out of it. Praise when she takes a step, but or the most part I found it most beneficial to literally talk to someone else during this time. When I pay no attention to my mare, she realizes that it's actually not a big deal and maybe she should stop being silly and just get on the trailer. Treats and praise, off we go!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I have owned my horse for over six years now and he loads quite well. Except for the second day of a clinic and then he will not load at all. Period.

                                I have now spent nearly every day over the last SEVEN MONTHS working at training him to load consistently with NO PRESSURE at all - no tack, no halter, no rope, nothing. I have consistently broken down each and every tiny little piece of the whole behavior into tinier and tinier bits.

                                I use clicker training and only clicker training at liberty to shape him to load, stand still, wait for the butt bar to go up, wait for the doors to close, and continue to wait. And do it all again in reverse: wait for the doors to open, wait for the butt bar to come down, wait for the cue to back off.

                                I can tell when some tiny, tiny change in the routine upsets him - new location of the trailer, rise in criteria, weather, distractions, noises, etc. If he poops on the trailer, especially if it's mushy poop, I know that he's stressed. Too stressed IMO.

                                And after all this time, I only moved him for the first time this morning and that was all of 50 feet.

                                A "stubborn" horse is a horse that is afraid or physically uncomfortable for some reason. Find out what that reason is. Go slowly, slowly, slowly. Go even more slowly. Slower still. Even slower. Break it down into the tiniest bits you can imagine and then break each of those bits into ten more. Then ten more.

                                Horses are not people and don't think like people. They don't care whether or not they're going to a show or a clinic or the vet. They don't like those rolling coffins. Make it worth their while. Make it fun and enjoyable. Make it tasty! Hitting, screaming, pulling, pushing, etc., do not make it fun and enjoyable for anyone. Horses only know "now" and is it comfortable mentally, physically, emotionally. Horses only think on par with a three-year-old child. Put yourself in your horse's feet. Think like a horse. And have you ever ridden in a trailer standing up with your hands in your pockets the whole time? How did you do or how would you do?

                                Always be kinder than necessary.
                                Laurie Higgins
                                www.coreconnexxions.com
                                ________________
                                "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  A "stubborn" horse is a horse that is afraid or physically uncomfortable for some reason.
                                  I must politely disagree. You left out "being an asshole today". Really, there are horses that simply want to not be cooperative sometimes. They are generally seeing how far they can yank one's chain, and if the answer is "not bloody far, pal" they roll their eyes and hop on. IME. YMMV. His name is Keebler.
                                  Click here before you buy.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    It makes such a difference to have a horse who loads well --- when my horse "had my number" and wasn't loading, it took so much of the fun away, as we have to trailer to good trails and also to my lessons. I always had to worry about whether she'd get on, who would help me, etc.

                                    There is a trailer-loading guru in my area, though (Massachusetts), who knows all and fixes all -- without ever raising her voice, losing her temper, etc. A couple sessions with her, and all is wonderful. Horse self-loads now. I keep a dressage whip handy as a cueing aid, never as a punishment -- the very sight of Mr. Pink (the whip is neon pink with a lovely glitter-encrusted handle) has my horse sighing and giving an "Oh fine; whatever. Jeez. I'll get on; what is your problem" expression on her face. The "longe your horse outside the trailer, back your horse up fast if he won't get on" approaches just made things worse for us, as my horse was perfectly happy to longe for hours in tiny circles, getting more and more "het up" rather than getting on her spacious, bright, clean, safe trailer. She is better with approaches that bore her death, frankly. First we did groundwork so that we both knew that she knew that being tapped on the hip means "step forward," and then it was just a matter of being kind but unemotional and absolutely consistent about tapping her hip with Mr. Pink until she moved forward. If she scooted backwards, that was fine but I would go with her and keep tapping her hip, while keeping my eyes and body headed toward the front of the trailer. If she moves forward or at least "tries," she gets rubbed all over with Mr. Pink, which she finds immensely soothing and reassuring. If she started getting all hoity toighty as we approached the trailer on a lead rope, we immediately -- right into it -- did some non-emotionally-escalating ground work. I do not get mad, I do not take anything personally. I just am very, very consistent with my cues of tapping to cue forward and rubbing to say "yes, that's the right thing." I don't let her sit at the bottom of the ramp contemplating the meaning of life. She has to be either going into the trailer or at least seriously considering it. Again, I learned this with a very experienced, very patient, very attuned trainer who helped amazingly with my timing and confidence -- it did take about two hours, and I needed a refresher a year later. Sooo worth it to really find a system that works for you and your horse, and know what the pieces of that system are so that you can go right back to the required basics when Horse is feeling, uh, resistant. :-)

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                                    • #19
                                      I used the john Lyons method. Tap on the butt means go forward. Both mine walk right on, just point them at the trailer.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The easiest way to get a bad loader to be a good loader is to involve a patient and experienced trainer. If you are anxious about loading, it isn't going to be a good experience. After the trainer teaches the horse, you just have to load them regularly and drive slowly and safely so the horse is comfortable. When I bought a 4 year old, I struggled to get him to load effortlessly. In 5 minutes, the BNT taught me how to self load him in seconds. Six years later, he still self loads every time.

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