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help! Self-loading issue (update 6/2012, p. 2)

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  • help! Self-loading issue (update 6/2012, p. 2)

    OK, my very smart mare, who is trained to self-load, has figured out a new trick... She's discovered that my hand is off the lead rope just before she goes into the trailer, and on Sunday -- for the first time -- she took off both times I loaded her! Very embarrassing to have one's horse flying around the dirt parking lot at the local state park until she finds the tasty grass to eat

    She was trained to self-load as a baby and was a consistently good loader until one bad incident about 3 years ago. Since then, I've re-installed self-load with help from her breeders, and while I won't say she's always perfect, she usually loads OK. She's no longer afraid of the trailer. The one missing piece is that she won't do it without someone (usually my husband, who she loves) in the front of the trailer with her grain bucket. Before I bought her she would load with the bucket just sitting on the trailer fender and wait until she was fully loaded, butt bar up, to get any grain.

    Her breeder suggested working on the "send" command on the ground until it's very thoroughly re-installed and then start trailer work again. Any other advice?
    Last edited by quietann; Jun. 5, 2012, 04:27 PM. Reason: update
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

    1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

  • #2
    Use a longer line so that your hand doesn't have to come off the rope.

    Just play it out until she gets to the front, do up the butt bar, and then unhook it from the front and then pull it out backwards.
    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
    Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

    Comment


    • #3
      Or do as I do (cuz I haz a Smart mare too)... I keep an old lunge line in the trailer.

      Before getting her, I leave the clip end of the lunge line at the back of the trailer @ the ramp wall and run the remaining length up inside the wall and then out the door and back down to me at the back of the trailer.

      When I lead her up, she gets 2 hooves on the ramp and I connect the lunge line and flip her lead over her neck. A brief tug and Git-Up and she walks in while I take up the slack on the lunge line. I do up the butt bar and close the ramp.

      Then I just go back up to the front and remove the lunge line and regular lead, which I hang for later use when unloading (I don't tie her since I have a straight load).

      To unload, I will put down the ramp and then go to her head, connect the regular lead and flip it over her neck. I return to the back of the trailer, undo the butt bar and tug on her tail, saying "Back." As she backs down, I grab the lead. Voila'!
      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thank you both. And I will add a lunge line to my trailer supplies; I should have done so before this.

        BTW, after I caught her the second time, I thought, "no more treats for you!" Led her past the open escape door of the trailer so she could see her grain and hay in there, and then went to the ramp and just stood there holding the lead rope. Didn't move, didn't let her move. She *really* wanted that food. After 15-20 minutes, she gave a big sigh ("OK, stupid monkey, I am bored and hungry.") and I led her in with no trouble (I didn't want to try self-loading lest she go off again!) A friend did up the butt bar and she was fine.

        In retrospect it was pretty funny. Being able to laugh is the one thing that's saved me with this clever horse.

        She's easy to unload, BTW... sometimes backs into the butt bar before it's down, but I just make her wait until she's quiet. "Back" and a tug on her tail if needed, and "careful careful" if she's backing off too fast does it, and (so far cross fingers) she's never taken off without me.
        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

        Comment


        • #5
          Yep, this is why I always load with a 12' lead rope (confirmed loader) or a lunge line (unknown loader) . Even the most well-trained ones will decide to do something odd one day, and IME if those guys get away with it they get really determined the next time - great game for them lol
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

          Comment


          • #6
            Once I have them trained, I throw the rope over the neck and they get in.
            Even in the beginning, there is NO treating for getting in the trailer. This is part of life, be obedient and get in the trailer 'cause I says so' and your punishment outside the trailer will cease! If you be disobedient--your life will be miserable!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Well, I am glad for you that you're so perfectly in charge that your horses don't ever do anything bad.

              (Horse was trained to the trailer with treats. It is the *only* thing she was trained to do with treats.)

              ETA: what I mean is that your comment is not helpful at all. Sure, I might someday be that much of a boss (though it's not likely, based on my experience so far), but that's not where I am *right this moment* with horses. Way, way more assertive than I used to be, though.

              ETA2: It was someone with the "you do what I say or ELSE" attitude that wrecked this horse's attitude toward trailers, about 3 years ago now. She went from a horse that would get in most trailers with little if any persuasion to a horse that would not get within 20 feet of any trailer. It was a Pyrrhic victory for the person who did not distinguish between genuine fear and brattiness, and left me in a tough spot. I spent a few months retraining her, with help, and incidentally training myself... as I had very little experience with trailering before I got back into horses about 5 years ago.
              Last edited by quietann; Nov. 22, 2011, 08:56 PM.
              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

              Comment


              • #8
                quietann: i don't think jcotton was trying to be disrespectful. I think she was just mentioning a different way of training.(ie: making the horse work outside the trailer and then being able to rest inside,therefore creating a "safe zone"

                your way also creates a comfort inside the trailer and a "relaxed zone"...just in a different way. neither way is incorrect.

                each horse is an individual.

                i'st the person that tries to RUSH the horse into the trailer and applies pressure at the wrong time and loses their patience that causes these problems. (like you said the person that started this problem did) that creates fear and/or builds on it.

                i've had this experiance several times with other people loading my horse. with is why now i never let someone "help " load unless i ask.(though sometimes you feel an imense amount of pressure from them )



                personally i'd love for my horse to self load ANY way!!
                *Member of the Quality Free-Choice Hay/Pasture Feeders Society* Member of the As Much Turnout as Possible Group* FEED by WEIGHT not VOLUME*

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by HoofHeartSoul View Post
                  quietann: i don't think jcotton was trying to be disrespectful. I think she was just mentioning a different way of training.(ie: making the horse work outside the trailer and then being able to rest inside,therefore creating a "safe zone"

                  your way also creates a comfort inside the trailer and a "relaxed zone"...just in a different way. neither way is incorrect.
                  ...
                  i've had this experiance several times with other people loading my horse. with is why now i never let someone "help " load unless i ask.(though sometimes you feel an imense amount of pressure from them )

                  personally i'd love for my horse to self load ANY way!!
                  I guess it's the way jcotton phrased it... not trying to be helpful, just bragging that her horses do what she says OR ELSE, 100% of the time.

                  In general, I no longer let the "OR ELSE" folks handle my horse, especially WRT something where she has lingering issues, like trailering. In general, I've found that the best I (and helpers) can do is to be more patient than she is stubborn. In general she is well-behaved but she does have these moments...

                  And you are right, there are different philosophies of training. I've known people who've refused to sell a horse to someone with a different philosophy, just as some people refuse to buy a horse trained by someone with a different philosophy (e.g. not buying a horse trained by Parelli methods.) I've leased a horse trained more traditionally by punishment, and while it did make my life easier in some ways, that horse seemed more like a machine and less like a horse.

                  Self-loading is *awesome* especially for those of us who hate being in the trailer with a horse.
                  You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                  1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jcotton View Post
                    Once I have them trained, I throw the rope over the neck and they get in.
                    Even in the beginning, there is NO treating for getting in the trailer. This is part of life, be obedient and get in the trailer 'cause I says so' and your punishment outside the trailer will cease! If you be disobedient--your life will be miserable!
                    Ok,.........

                    ...but positive reinforcement really works.

                    See for example these clicker trained guys:
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNivdVjLgrc


                    Is it really that important to you to never feed a treat when there is a way to make the horse perfectly happy to do what you would like, and also explain it to him in small, happy increments?

                    If the horse is saying, "eff no," I'd rather get a treat and use it to reward the first step forward, and then two steps forward, and then three steps forward and let him build on these small successes than, for example, escalating from chain over the nose to a broomstrick to a lip chain.

                    More succinctly, I'd rather treat 'em than beat 'em.

                    The pressure/release loading style is humane and very effective.
                    The clicker training style is humane and effective but it takes longer.
                    Combine the two and it is humane, more effective, and faster than either of the methods separately.
                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                    Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jcotton View Post
                      Even in the beginning, there is NO treating for getting in the trailer. This is part of life, be obedient and get in the trailer 'cause I says so' and your punishment outside the trailer will cease! If you be disobedient--your life will be miserable!
                      <laughing> Now I'm right the opposite. Do as I ask and good things follow.
                      If you are obedient your life will be good.
                      So far it's worked for me.
                      There have been two, my appy mare and my mule, who had to be put in the trailer (lunge line around the butt) the first few times but they quickly caught on to the fact that a treat was in the trailer and decided that was worth getting on in for.
                      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Quietann - I'd go with a longe line or longer lead rope (look for one geared toward NH folks - they tend to like longer ones) and do the send method your breeder recommended. That way there's a rope to contain her if she tries to take off, but you still don't have to get in the trailer with her. From what I've read about her here and on the E blog, it seems like she'd be smart enough not to panic and get stupid if she stepped on the lead. Mika doesn't really care if he steps on his lead so I just drop it while I'm shutting the divider.

                        My lead is long enough that Mika can get almost all the way up to the front stall of my 3h slant. I *do* have to get in with him if he's not the only horse going because I have to shut him in the divider.

                        If we're going somewhere alone, I let him ride loose in the whole trailer, so he hops in and then turns to face me while I pull the door shut. I unclip his rope when the door is most of the way shut. For unloading, I open the door a little and he puts his head where I can reach to clip his rope back up. Then I let the door swing open and he hops out.

                        Actually if he and my friend's Arab (Flying Cheeto from the E blog) are riding together, we just let them both ride loose. They're like long lost brothers and are much happier when they can spend the ride practically glued together.

                        From what I've read here and on the E blog about your mare, it seems like she's too smart for her own good. I'd just do what you normally do...with a longer rope. I think this is probably just a fun new game, not reverting back to a fear thing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Any time someone starts using the word "punishment" in the context of training, things are bound to take a very bad turn at some point.

                          Make the right thing easy, make the wrong thing hard, as many good trainers will say.

                          but "hard" is not at all equivalent to "punishment".
                          ______________________________
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pj View Post
                            <laughing> Now I'm right the opposite. Do as I ask and good things follow.
                            If you are obedient your life will be good.
                            So far it's worked for me.
                            There have been two, my appy mare and my mule, who had to be put in the trailer (lunge line around the butt) the first few times but they quickly caught on to the fact that a treat was in the trailer and decided that was worth getting on in for.
                            This method works fine if you have a horse that actually cares about getting treats. The quarter horse I had before my current guy, was a food-a-holic. He'd do ANYTHING for a treat! He was SO easy to get to do things, as long as you had a treat in your pocket.

                            My current guy, is picky, fearfull of new things, and under stress will.not.eat. Anything. Won't even graze. Treats do not work on him - at all. He is a self-loader now, but not because there's food in the trailer. There IS hay in the trailer, but he never eats any of it. 9 times out of 10, the flake is completely undisturbed.

                            Anyway, the point of my rambling post, is that you can't always reward good behavior when they offer it with food, etc. Not every horse is receptive to 'good things happen'.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Just more proof that horses are not uniform

                              Mine happens to be highly motivated by food. (Please see earlier about how I got her in the trailer, after she had her fun in the State Park parking lot. It took a while, but "the food's in there; you're out here" is a nice problem for her to solve.)

                              She was wrecked for trailering by someone escalating their insistence when she refused to get in. It ended up taking drugs to do it. I am now mortified that I allowed that person to put her on the trailer. I made lots of mistakes early on, and another one was that my first, cheap, used trailer had just about every characteristic known to make a horse scared of a trailer... not to mention I discovered, when I traded it in, that it was on the verge of structural failure. Two rides in that trailer, under the "care" of that person, was enough to make her scared of all trailers.

                              /waves hi to candysgirl, and yes, Miss F. is too smart for her own good. And she does not panic at all if she steps on a lead rope. (Stepping on reins is another thing entirely, but probably just because she has a bit in her mouth and that would be pretty painful!) And I don't think she's afraid of the trailer at all.
                              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Char View Post
                                Anyway, the point of my rambling post, is that you can't always reward good behavior when they offer it with food, etc. Not every horse is receptive to 'good things happen'.
                                I can understand why the "or else!" reasoning gets criticized, but I too rarely, RARELY, use treats to load my horses. When I was teaching Bailey to load, his reward was standing still and not having to work. Personally, I hate it when horses won't do anything unless you have treats handy. Now, I realize that everyone trains different, and this mare was trained using treats. I used to show a horse that would refuse to get in a trailer without a bucket of grain; and let me tell you, that gets real old in a hurry. Loading before feeding time, and you get a bucket of grain? Angry barn. Forget said bucket after you leave and horse won't load for thirty minutes? Angry rider.

                                Reward is lack of punishment, and punishment doesn't have to be a bad thing. I call having to move their feet, working over ground poles, flexing/bending/yielding/backing up when they refuse to load punishment. Am I beating them? No. Have I employed the help of a lunge whip? Yes. I used the running the lunge line up through the trailer and back to me every time I would load in my old 2H straightload, and if a horse needed extra persuasion would tap-tap-tap with a lunge whip. It wasn't cruel, it was a reminder that they needed to get in the trailer. Once they were loaded and calmed, they would get hay. But it always appeared afterwards.


                                This mare sounds like a smart lil' bugger. Lunge line method, and you're good to go.
                                runnjump86 Instagram

                                Horse Junkies United guest blogger

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by runNjump86 View Post
                                  Once they were loaded and calmed, they would get hay. But it always appeared afterwards.
                                  This is how clicker trainers use treats.
                                  The reward does not happen until AFTER the horse has demonstrated the behavior. So, no treat appears until AFTER the horse has taken a mini-step forward, and so on. First the smallest inkling of the desired behavior is rewarded (looking at the trailer -treat!), and gradually the horse has to display more and more behavior until the reward happens (look at trailer and step towards it -treat! Then, look at trailer, step towards it, and put foot on ramp -treat!)

                                  This is very different from using treats as a "lure", or "bribe."
                                  The horse is not following the grain bucket, he is offering a behavior and THEN a treat comes out of the pocket.


                                  It is the same thing as the release: when you pull on a rope, and the horse steps forward, he gets slack in the rope. Step forward = something more pleasant (slack in the rope). He is not following the slack in the rope as a bribe, because it didn't exist UNTIL he stepped forward.

                                  If you make the "something he wants" pot even sweeter, where he gets slack in the rope AND a treat (neither of which "existed" until he stepped forward), he will offer the behavior again more quickly, speed the process along and what you train will stick better.
                                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                  Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                                  • #18
                                    i second, third,..., fifth, longer lead line. i also loop mine over my mare's neck as she climbs on. she then turns around (we use a stock type trailer and she hauls loose) and i take the lead line off, hand over a treat, and close the door.
                                    http://www.eponashoe.com/
                                    TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Usually use a handful or two of grain in a bucket that is kept in the trailer, not interrupting anyone's feeding schedule or causing trouble with other horses. Mare sees the little red bucket, she knows it's time to get in. She *will* load without it, but it's not as easy.

                                      Pressure on the head from a longe/lead line is great when you're working with a horse that isn't scared.

                                      MPD, thanks for explaining how this works much better than I could.
                                      You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                      1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Another way to encourage the self loading,(along with a longer lead) is to use a dressage whip lightly in the hand that does not hold the lead, tap, tap, tap as you are walking up the ramp, to remind her to go forward, not stop and take off

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