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Trailer help

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  • Trailer help

    Hi everyone, sorry for the upcoming novel. Long story short, a friend got into a bad situation with her family and needed to sell her nice gelding and move to a different state. He’s the last of her homebreds, and while she has made him into a lovely riding horse, she didn’t work with him in the trailer.

    He’s used to being stuffed in there and the divider slammed shut, so now when he realizes he’s tied he panics and backs all the way out, not minding anyone or anything in his way (not to mention he is 17 hands of pure black Hanoverian hunk).

    I’ve decided to give him a soft landing at my place, and have resigned to the fact that he may just be my on-property personal riding horse with eventual retirement with my geldings.

    She has had this trailer problem with him for a while, and just decided to ride him over to my place (short ride- we live about 10 minutes away from each other).Any-who, I was wondering if anyone knew of a platform in which I could find a cowboy in my area to help work with him? Just throwing keywords to Google hasn’t yielded any fruit yet, as I’m mostly finding cowboy dating apps! I would like to give this boy a decent chance before throwing in the towel.

  • #2
    Giving your location would be helpful.
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

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


    • Original Poster

      Not to be a paranoid old lady, but I would prefer to PM such details like location. But we are on the west coast.


      • #4
        Ask in your feed store or tack store, and any other venues frequented by horse people.

        I found my trailer-loading magician when I was bemoaning my fate at lunch at a dressage clinic. The guy in the corner piped up saying he could teach my impossible horse to load, and two other people there gave him glowing references.

        Sure enough, he came to my barn and solved my problem in about 40 minutes, and I have referred him to many others. I'd never have known about him if I hadn't been whining.


        • #5
          Originally posted by SnappyAppy View Post
          He’s used to being stuffed in there and the divider slammed shut, so now when he realizes he’s tied he panics and backs all the way out, not minding anyone or anything in his way (not to mention he is 17 hands of pure black Hanoverian hunk). (...)
          I've always heard that you don't tie until the butt bar is secure.
          “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sparrowette View Post

            I've always heard that you don't tie until the butt bar is secure.
            Yup. Same with unloading. You untie and then undo the butt bar or divider. Anything else and you teach them to panic, break halter, flip over backwards and die. Etc.


            • Original Poster

              Friend said that she never did the butt bar up for fear that this horse would attempt to flip over it. I’ve never seen this horse loaded in person, but she has sent me some videos of her attempts of loading said horse that were recorded by her husband. Didn’t question her flipping concept (because her overall trailering concept isn’t working), but what she said she would do is load horse into slant load, tie, attempt to shut divider and be met with the rapidly exiting beast. May-haps if she shut the butt bar he would back into it a few times and learn he couldn’t get away that easily?

              I took atr’s advice and piped up about it when I got hay yesterday. To my surprise, I was given a phone number to a local trainer. Who would’ve thunk? Gave him a call and he said that he could start working with the horse in a few weeks when he gets back into town. The guy has got a pretty good reputation, and seemed pretty confident he could fix the horse. Problem solved- maybe? Thanks for all the replies.


              • #8
                Well make sure he solves the problem so that YOU can load him, too.


                • #9
                  Your friend sounds like a straight out disaster around trailers.

                  Often it is very useful to have two people help load. One *holds the horse* the other does up the back gate and then the first one ties the horse. You don't want to load a green or problem horse alone.


                  • #10
                    Well a few things.

                    you can work on this horses handling manners beforehand.

                    this is basics 101. You walk when I tell you and you stand where I put you until I tell you otherwise. You yield your hindquarters on command and until I tell you to stop.

                    a horse with respect for his handler will not run anyone over. He may be stressed and upset but he will not be bowling anyone over.

                    and never, ever tie before the horse is otherwise secured in the trailer. In fact, unless it’s necessary to keep horses from playing bitey face in the trailer, I don’t tie them at all.
                    Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                    you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the long as its in a conservative color.


                    • #11
                      I and my husband have done a lot of trailer training over the years. Patience and teaching the horse to load and stay in the trailer by himself. We use a long dressage whip to tap the top of the hip. Teach one foot in, one foot out, two feet in, two feet out, etc. Soloudinhere is right. It is a respect thing. You go where and when I ask you to. Good luck with your cowboy.


                      • #12
                        Yep solid solid ground work is what’s needed before you begin a trailer into the picture. We had a mare at our barn who was a similarily bad loader and did in fact flip over backwards when her owner was trying to just get her to approach the trailer never mind put a foot on it (ended up with some nasty cuts on her hind legs from the gravel driveway).

                        When it came time for maresy to be sold because owner was moving out of country her sales ad essentially came with the warning that she’d be difficult to load. Luckily, the lady who bought her came prepared to work for several hours on the day she was to pick up the horse. Did 3 hours of work in the arena just groundwork before doing the same exercises in front of the trailer and then finally loading, unloading, reloading, unloading, reloading.

                        i don’t think you need a cowboy persay - just someone with solid ability to train and enforce ground work.


                        • #13
                          A trailer with drop down windows has been a big help. My one OTTB loaded no problem. The other not so good, so
                          he got fed in the trailer. Want your grain in you go. He got so he would stand there dejected and as soon as you turned your back, you could hear him step up and in the trailer.

                          Both would go direct to the window, stick their heads out giving the loader time to secure the divider/door and then walk around and reach up and hook to trailer.

                          My first horse was a horrible loader and won't bore you with stories like taking two days to get him moved to a barn 2 miles away, We did finally figure out he loaded better if he went in second or third. And he would not ride in the
                          first position. He would literally sit down. So he always went second or last and things got better. If he was just needing the ride, put the divider aside and let him have the whole trailer.


                          • #14
                            Is this a straight load trailer? Slant? Stock?

                            I agree with everyone else’s post about going back to ground work 101.

                            My first horse I ever had took 3 hours to load in the trailer the day we bought her. Probably took another solid 2 years of basic work to get her to load competently.

                            My two hate my straight load. My one also won’t back out of it (bad horse mom on my part, so I took the divider and I just turn him around in there) buying a stock trailer solved my loading problems but if you have something that panics and doesn’t tie then there’s no point.


                            • #15
                              Some horses don't tie well, have difficulty accepting the confinement, for whatever reasons they may have internalized and related to the instincts of a prey animal- to flee from what they perceive as danger. Narrow trailer stalls increase the confinement issue, making it even less comfortable for this type of horse, and make escape and fleeing even more likely. Ground schooling may help, or may not. If the horse is truly "claustrophobic" about trailers and tying, many "training" techniques are not going to help him with this phobia. A "phobia" is an "irrational fear", so especially with a language barrier, explaining how you want him to get over it falls on deaf ears. Hopefully the cowboy you have located has some educated ideas about this... some do, some don't. Using a box stall trailer or stock trailer can make such a horse more relaxed, he is not as confined as he is in a slant or straight load, he can move around, and does not need to be tied. A side loading trailer, where he comes forward up the ramp, then turns and backs into a forward facing stall with a chest bar in front of him and solid wall behind him, with lots of room and air around him may make him a happier shipper too. With the right trailer, you can load into a box stall or stock trailer by yourself, lead him in, turn him around so that he is facing out (presuming he has enough manner to NOT bolt forward over the top of you- this is easier to deal with than running backwards), and you close a swinging door to close him into the stall. This "works around" his issues, rather than trying to force him to conform to riding in horse trailers where he doesn't like and doesn't feel comfortable in. You can't force a horse to be comfortable about things, and you can't force him to accept things that he finds unacceptable. You can manipulate his environment to make it something he already finds acceptable and is comfortable in. Then trailer loading and shipping becomes a "non event".


                              • Original Poster

                                I would love if I had the funds to get a side loading trailer or a 2+1 for him, but unfortunately I do not. My ol’ reliable four horse slant does the job nicely, and all of mine have eagerly walked in, even their first time in there. But, as I am a small scale breeder myself, I work with them from a young age and expect such manners and more. I feel over my head with him, considering the trauma he obviously has, and his massive size! How do you tall-horse riders do it? I prefer a 16 hander any day.

                                I’ve been working with him slowly; teaching him to yield to pressure. He tries to be a good guy; very obedient under saddle, and has “good” ground manners except for the tension he has when he recognizes he’s restrained. He has leadership issues, and when faced with a scary situation, prefers to save his skin by backing up. Surprisingly, he hasn’t tried this under saddle. Not even a hint of a thought about it. Will stand a moment, snort, then walk past scary object with minimal rib cage contortion. After that no fuss. I did have a vet check before taking him, thorough neuro and vision test. Passed both with flying colors.

                                He used to really book it backwards against the handler’s lead line pressure; I think due to his lackadaisical nature, previous handlers were surprised by a spook from him and gave him slack in the rope so that he could back up. But, I’ve been keeping steady gentle pressure during his backing-up-stunts, and immediately releasing it when he stops. Clever boy, now we’ve gotten to the point that if he backs up, it’s usually only a few steps and not all the way across the yard. Slow, steady progress. Good baby 10-year-old-horse, brave baby 10-year-old-horse. Thanks for the replies, they’re all very reassuring that one day he may be a hesitantly-okay boy in the trailer.