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Horse scared of farrier and trailer

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  • Horse scared of farrier and trailer

    I got an ottb from a local ottb rescue and have had him for a month. He is 10 and he’s overall very sweet and well behaved. He needs work for sure, but isn’t hot or spooky and hasn’t done anything “naughty” or aggressive at all. He does tend to be nervous inside the barn/indoor arena, but that has gotten better. The problem is he was awful for the farrier. He was trembling with fear and kept yanking his feet away from the farrier. When I pick his feet, it is somewhat hit or miss. Some days he’ll pick his feet pretty easily and other days not so much, although he’s never as bad for me as he was for the farrier.

    I find that physical punishment like smacking them or popping the leadrope only escalates these type of scenarios, so I have just been rewarding him every time he picks up his feet and will work towards holding them up for longer periods and holding them as a farrier would. Good plan?

    As for the trailer, when I got him he loaded up great but was very nervous after a few minutes of sitting in the trailer and waiting. The rescue volunteer said she had hauled him with other horses just fine so maybe it was just being alone and in a strange trailer that bothered him. But I tried to haul him last week and he planted his feet and would not get in the trailer. Eventually I ran out of time and decided to leave him at home rather than try to force him. I really don’t know how to fix this though. My other horses have all been basically dogs that just hop on and off with no drama. I’ve seen lots of very harsh ways to force scared horses into trailers, but I want a kinder way that will make him feel safe and comfortable getting and staying in the trailer.

  • #2
    Call the rescue and see how he acted with their farrier. Some horses just don't like certain people. I had a new farrier that all 3 of my horses disliked from the first visit. I had them at home but worked at the barn this farrier trimmed/ shod for and I could see the horses there were quiet and happy with him.

    We made it through a year, I moved , got a new farrier that they stood for him perfectly from the first visit. I have no idea what the difference was? Anyways , keep working on him picking up and holding his feet. Hold him ( don't tie or cross tie) when the farrier comes and hopefully he will settle.

    Does the farrier smoke? I had my horse react violently to a new farrier who was in a car filled with cigarette smoke.

    Trailer loading is a learned thing and for many it must be taught like anything else. So many people are lucky that the horse just goes on --until the time they decide not to-- and then you have no tools for working through it.

    I suggest John Lyons trailer loading method . Google it.

    Comment


    • #3
      you can always sedate him for the farrier until he adjusts. Injectible ace may work. or dormosedan. if you don't give IV injections dormosedan comes in a gel. either way you will need to get from the vet.

      perhaps if he has some good experiences under sedation he will get accustomed to the farrier. of course it would be wise to handle him similarly between appointments. I have one that is terrified of the hot shoeing. I've owned him since birth, and he's never been in a fire. the sizzle and smoke is a NOPE NOPE NOPE. he used to be scared of the farrier period, but he has gotten better over time. I did sedate him from time to time so that he and the farrier were happier. He does ok with ace for the farrier.

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      • #4
        I have an OTTB who had similar fear of the farrier. I used sedatives, changed farriers, did training on my own to alleviate his stress but it turned out to be arthritis in his fetlock that was causing pain. It might be worth having a vet out to just rule out that your guy isn't in pain somewhere, these OTTBs (especially ones that end up at rescues) don't always have the best feet and there could be something as simple as thin soles that make shoeing painful/stressful for him. I liked using dorm gel for my guy while getting shod.

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        • #5
          On the farrier issue, yes work on picking up his feet. Try to hold them about where the farrier would. At first just ask for the horse to relax the hoof before putting it back down. Build up to tapping on the bottom of the hoof with a hoof pick so he can used to the sound and feeling of metal on metal. Again, as long as he stays relaxed, reward him by putting the hoof back down. I would not use any food reward since that will quickly backfire into the horse looking for a treat every time his hoof is released. Try to work the horse for a15 minutes or so before the farrier comes to get his legs/body loosened up. I know with my horse, he has trouble holding up his hind legs over a certain height. It helps greatly if I have his back and hind end all loosened up first. Pay attention to what the farrier is doing. Lots of horses will initially resist having their hinds picked up, and then relax after a few seconds. Make sure the farrier is giving the horse those few seconds. If he is instead yanking the leg back at the first sign of tension, either ask him to give him a few seconds or look for another farrier. I had one guy who used to yank the legs back to hard and high, my horse used to be lame for 3 days after the shoeing. Yes, a lot of this is on you to train your horse, but the farrier has a responsibility too.
          "Do what you can't do"

          Comment


          • #6
            My old (24) OTTB has occasional episodes where he will be difficult for the farrier. The last time occurred 3 trims ago. He had been good, so the BM had been holding him while the farrier was there. Evidently he pulled back against the cross ties (I'm not a fan myself, so it's basically my fault that he isn't good in them), ran backwards into the PortaPotty on site, reared, etc., etc. They evidently had to twitch him to trim him. Needless to say, all of a sudden he wouldn't go into the cross tie area, etc. I heard about all this when I was working him at the barn and the farrier coincidentally was due. He tried the same stuff again, but we got around that by letting him bury his face in a bucket of feed.

            So I got to work on clicker training. Since he was nervous about being in the barn aisle (24/7 turnout) that's where we groomed every time I was out. We worked on semi-cross tying and then cross tying in the same place. Feet were picked up and fussed over every time. Clicker every time I worked on feet, followed by treat. Wash, rinse, repeat. Practice and a lot of it makes perfect.

            Farrier came out two weeks ago. I was there and held him in the barn aisle. Had the clicker and treats. He was perfect. Farrier remarked on it. Moral of the story is to be aware of how horse is doing, and for me, to be there every time he is trimmed. Keep up the training.

            OP, perhaps your horse had a similar experience or a rough farrier in his past. Or perhaps some owner didn't work with him consistently (blush) and he got away with some bad habits. The clicker works, and I wouldn't be shy about handing out treats, either. Good luck. Also, try working really consistently with the trailer if you have your own. Practice a lot. Lots of goodies when he goes in. Some people have luck feeding in the trailer if the horse is a bad case.

            P.S. In thinking about past problems with my horse, I finally realized that he has absolutely NO sense of humor and is very reactive to time when I am nervous (such as times when I am expecting him to be bad for the farrier). Looking back, I can see that I would hold him a little short and tighter, be a bit stiffer body-wise, and he reacted to that. This last time I put 2 + 2 together, practiced with him ad nauseum, kept a loose hold on the lead rope, and was relaxed. I think that this also helped. So, OP, check and see how he reacts to your body language and try to keep it as calm as possible.

            Comment


            • #7
              The one thing you never want to do while loading a horse is give him time to park. He MUST move his feet at all times. If he's not moving toward the trailer he needs to be doing a BRISK walk/trot circle on a LOOSE lead. Can you power walk down the driveway with him trotting along beside you? Forward, forward, forward. No standing around resting or getting dragged along heavily in slow motion.

              When you get him BRISKLY trotting alongside you on a slack rope, then he is leading well enough to get on the trailer.

              Get him MOVING, put him on a long line, then aim him at the ramp while he's still at full steam and cluck. Voila.
              The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
              Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
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              The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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              • #8
                Farrier: try the sedative Dormosedan, prescribed by your vet. Gently taper the doses for each visit. Hopefully your horse will learn that farriers aren't a big deal. Or, maybe he's someone who will always need a half dose to keep the edge off. Or, maybe another farrier would gel better with your horse. My horse gets Dormosedan for shoeing, a half-dose. In the last shoeing by farrier asked to come an hour early, which negated by ability to give the drug, and my farrier had surgery and his assistant was shoeing. My horse stood very well. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

                The trailer issue: Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. When he's away from the trailer, put pressure on him with a long whip you use on the ground behind him or whatever. When he approaches the trailer, cease the pressure by stopping any whip action and turning away. Teach him that the trailer area is the respite area. Every time he goes elsewhere, put pressure on him to seek the trailer, take the pressure away when he does. Once he understands this, apply less pressure when he's seeking the trailer area when he's looking in the trailer and maybe putting a foot on. Stop pressure and look away. Then apply pressure when he's confident walking up to the trainer, looking in, and stepping the front feet in. Do this slowly and the horse will understand that the pressure is off when he steps into the trailer. The trailer is the comfort zone, the happy place. WORK AT YOUR HORSE'S PACE.

                A friend just taught a mustang to load today, happy to send you clips of his finished product with gives you an idea how he got the horse to load.

                Good luck!
                Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have to say I am concerned he doesn't have shivers as far as the farrier and foot picking is concerned. He shouldn't be terrified to pick up his feet for picking.... Maybe there is something else going on there? That was my first thought...

                  For the loading, I have a sort of similar issue. My horse will plant his feet sometimes going through door ways. He has also gone into the trailer, and then ran out backwards. My trainer yanked on his lead and chased him backwards. He went into the trailer without another issue. For doorways, it isn't always so successful. He is scared. I can see it in his eyes and he is on edge. I carry cookies and try to be patient and calm and positive. I'd try backing him when he plants his feet or circling him. Carry cookies to try and lure him in.

                  Good luck!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                    The one thing you never want to do while loading a horse is give him time to park. He MUST move his feet at all times. If he's not moving toward the trailer he needs to be doing a BRISK walk/trot circle on a LOOSE lead. Can you power walk down the driveway with him trotting along beside you? Forward, forward, forward. No standing around resting or getting dragged along heavily in slow motion.

                    When you get him BRISKLY trotting alongside you on a slack rope, then he is leading well enough to get on the trailer.

                    Get him MOVING, put him on a long line, then aim him at the ramp while he's still at full steam and cluck. Voila.
                    I sort of disagree.

                    You shouldn't give him time to PARK, but I have had great luck with teaching reluctant horses to load by letting them think about it for a few moments (or minutes if necessary).

                    To me, the nuance is that "parking" is a "NOPE" behavior. Feet planted, legs stiff, head up--probably. Whereas if you let them stand (relaxed, head down to sniff or neutral) and consider the options they will often decide it's okay and get on. Sometimes, if the stand is starting to feel obstinate, I will add some gentle pressure from behind--like another person standing there, *perhaps* with a whip/broom/something depending on the situation.

                    I don't like forcing them to keep their feet moving--to my mind it often just escalates the stress of the moment. That said, if a horse starts to back away from a trailer, I DO make them go backwards until I tell them to stop, then walk them forward again calmly. Often times that alone is enough to get them to walk on.

                    Occasionally, when a horse has been hovering between "i'm thinking" and "NOPE", I will increase the pressure from behind by tapping them on the butt repeatedly with the whip--just hard and consistently enough to be annoying and to suggest that moving forward will make the annoying thing stop. This can be tricky to do if you don't have someone to help, but is possible if you have a longe line run from their head through the trailer and have the other end in your hand so you have control of both ends of the horse, as it were. Make sure to stay out of the kick zone, too.

                    You don't mention what kind of trailer you have--slant vs straight--but you can also try to open up the trailer as much as possible to make it more inviting. I have a straight load and a somewhat claustrophobic mare that will not get in it if the divider is in place, but will practically load herself if it's swung to the opposite side to giver her more space. Then I close the divider and put up the butt bar and away we go.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I lean towards ecileh's and J-Lu's methods for trailer training. I would add to not work on this when you need to go somewhere. Decide on a time and place for sessions when you have no other pressures.

                      I'll differ slightly in that rather than backing up, I prefer to have them do some previously taught low key circles on a ten foot rope if they choose not to stand quietly and mull things over in the trailer zone.

                      Everything calm though, no chasing or madly waving things around. The idea is not to activate either flight or fight, but to help them understand that compliance to a reasonable request results in less pressure, even for the tiniest initial tries.

                      I will also have a hay bag of soaked alfalfa on board for a quick treat and won't keep them on long at all for the first few times.
                      One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
                      William Shakespeare

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                        The one thing you never want to do while loading a horse is give him time to park. He MUST move his feet at all times. If he's not moving toward the trailer he needs to be doing a BRISK walk/trot circle on a LOOSE lead. Can you power walk down the driveway with him trotting along beside you? Forward, forward, forward. No standing around resting or getting dragged along heavily in slow motion.

                        When you get him BRISKLY trotting alongside you on a slack rope, then he is leading well enough to get on the trailer.

                        Get him MOVING, put him on a long line, then aim him at the ramp while he's still at full steam and cluck. Voila.
                        I respectfully would have to offer kind of the opposite. The above just ramped my horse up. Also, she was perfectly happy to trot briskly or canter in tiny circles forever, without getting onto the trailer. So, I worked with a trainer who specializes in this (Cathie Hatrick Anderson, of Bobcat Farm in Massachusetts www.bobcatfarm.org), and she reliably fixed 18 years of bad trailer habits in, I don't know, 30 minutes? And she used a system that I could remember, so it was never an issue again. As in, never. If horse ever wanted to entertain herself by testing me, I had a toolkit and it was all done in seconds. I think my blood pressure goes down when I load a horse now, not up.

                        This video is similar to the way I learned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYH72FHhWZY

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have used dormosedan with scaed of the farrier horses. After 2 or 3 times, it was no longer necessary.

                          On trailer loading, I have used a 3 man technique on a day when no one had any where to go. It requires a knowledgeable person leading, with a properly applied chain shank. The other two people take up a position as wings with longe whips in their hands,

                          The leader leads. If the horse stops the wingmen commence to tap. That's TAP, not hit, just quietly tap-tap-tap. The lead person faces forward, applying gentle pressure. no one gets excited, depending on temperament most horsess find the procedure irritating enough that they give up rather quickly and go forward. A few make take as long as 1/2 hour. Once on, lots of praise and an appropriate treat. Horse is then backed off, and procedure repeated. By the third time, they are usually glad to load.

                          The procedure seldom has to be repeated.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SharonA View Post

                            I respectfully would have to offer kind of the opposite. The above just ramped my horse up. Also, she was perfectly happy to trot briskly or canter in tiny circles forever, without getting onto the trailer. So, I worked with a trainer who specializes in this (Cathie Hatrick Anderson, of Bobcat Farm in Massachusetts www.bobcatfarm.org), and she reliably fixed 18 years of bad trailer habits in, I don't know, 30 minutes? And she used a system that I could remember, so it was never an issue again. As in, never. If horse ever wanted to entertain herself by testing me, I had a toolkit and it was all done in seconds. I think my blood pressure goes down when I load a horse now, not up.

                            This video is similar to the way I learned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYH72FHhWZY
                            This video is me doing it.
                            https://youtu.be/gviC13Pc0hM

                            Have trained several horses to self load using this method.
                            Learned from a trainer who specializes, etc.

                            Where did I say canter in tiny circles forever? Not sure how you got that out of my post.
                            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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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                              I have used dormosedan with scaed of the farrier horses. After 2 or 3 times, it was no longer necessary.

                              On trailer loading, I have used a 3 man technique on a day when no one had any where to go. It requires a knowledgeable person leading, with a properly applied chain shank. The other two people take up a position as wings with longe whips in their hands,

                              The leader leads. If the horse stops the wingmen commence to tap. That's TAP, not hit, just quietly tap-tap-tap. The lead person faces forward, applying gentle pressure. no one gets excited, depending on temperament most horsess find the procedure irritating enough that they give up rather quickly and go forward. A few make take as long as 1/2 hour. Once on, lots of praise and an appropriate treat. Horse is then backed off, and procedure repeated. By the third time, they are usually glad to load.

                              The procedure seldom has to be repeated.
                              I'm sure there are many ways to skin a cat but one of my HARD AND FAST rules when trailer loading a horse is "No one else talks to the horse but me."

                              Nobody else clucks, nobody else says "good boy you can do it", nobody else pushes on its ass, nobody else stands in the front waving a treat, and nobody else mills about. The conversation is between me and the horse and he only has to pay attention to ONE set of instructions.

                              Getting the timing of pressure and release right with three people talking to the horse at once,and at different parts of his body... *I* would need a xanax to deal with this. 😂😂😂
                              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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