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I'm at my wit's end trying to get her on the trailer...

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  • #21
    I recommend using Lieselotte's method, it has worked for me with my horses.
    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

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    • #22
      Originally posted by dacasodivine View Post
      Are you releasing the pressure when she gives any forward movement, even a shift forward? I have seen a lot of people that continue to pull and never let up, then the horse starts to fight. Give them a release to let them know they are doing what you want. That is a reward. It might take a long time at first, but it can be done without a fight and will get easier.

      If she doesn't lead well, you need to work on that first.
      this. It really comes down to basics.
      2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com

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      • #23
        Originally posted by PRS View Post
        My tried and true method that has NEVER failed: If you really need to load her in a trailer you will need at least two people for the first time. Get a long nylon lunge line, replace the little snap that comes on it with a stronger bull snap. Attach it to her halter along with a separate lead rope. Run the other end of the lunge line into the trailer and wrap (not tie) it around one of the supports (I have a stock type trailer). Make sure what ever you wrap it around is good and strong. Then walk the mare up to the trailer and allow her to look a make up her own mind. Have the other person take up the slack on the lunge line but not pull on it. Gently pull on the lead rope encouraging the horse to move forward. Because of the lunge line she will be unable to move backwards or pull you back out of the trailer. She will only be rewarded by moving forward by the release of pressure. As soon as she does come forward, have the person holding the lunge line take up the slack again (again not putting pressure with the lunge line) and continue until the horse is in the trailer. This has worked for me many times no matter how stubborn the horse. However, should a horse seriously panic and is in danger of hurting itself the lunge line can be released easily.

        I used this method on my gelding who one day decided he didn't need to get on the trailer anymore. He still tries me sometimes and as soon as I break out the "magic red lunge tape" he gives up and walks onto the trailer like a good boy.

        ETA:

        This is very true for my gelding as well, butt ropes, whips, people standing behind him waving their arms only made him worse. The lunge rope method I used for him took all the pressure off, he had to decide on his own that the only way to go was forward into the trailer. There is no "one size fits all" approach to anything to do with horses. My method has worked well for all horses I've tried it on so far but I'm sure there are those out there that it won't work on.
        Same here. One of my last geldings was a beast of an animal-17.3h and athletic as hell. He HATED loading. He was dangerous. I learned that the above method-no pulling, just having the lunge preventing him from going backwards-was the ONLY way he'd get on. I've seen it work w/ dozens. It takes the excitement out of it for all the ones I've seen. I also had to UNload him this way-w/ lunge line across the back before the butt bar is unhooked as he would fly backwards and hit the bar when he heard the ramp let down. He eventually learned to load very quietly but I never trusted him to not use the lunge line.

        He had also tried to climb out of the trailer, jump out of the trailer, and wouldn't cross-tie when I first got him. Having that lunge behind him was crucial to even begin teaching him that trailers weren't the death of him.

        I agree that there is no doubt a horse out there for whom it won't work, but I've never seen the broom/whip/bag approach work, and generally someone gets kicked, the horse gets freaked out, and the trailer gets damaged.

        I also always have a shank on hand. If you don't have to use it, there's no difference, but if you realize you need it and you don't have it...you're SOL. I've had 5 horses so far, 3 of them needed shanks as "reminders". I personally back my horses when they don't load. I've seen too many people (myself included) kicked when using brooms/whips/etc.

        I really don't like trailering, and am a total nazi about behavior and safety. People can get seriously hurt by a horse that doesn't trailer well.
        True Bearing Equestrian
        St. Helena Island, SC

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        • #24
          Ask 20 people and you'll get 20 different answers....but hopefully you'll find one that'll work for you!

          I've used a similar method to PRS's, except instead of lunge rope, I have a good stout 30 foot poly rope with a heavy duty pulley that can be hooked onto the trailer. If the horse starts to act up dangerously, I can get out of the way and yet still have some control of the horse.

          I had one older horse that I bought because he had loading problems. He'd had a very bad, frightening experience in the trailer and got to where he was downright impossible to load. Otherwise he had a super, sweet willing temperment. I used the "pulley" rope on him with a lot of patience...releasing for any forward movement (he absolutely would not tolerate any pulling on his head), lots of praise etc.

          For nine months, every time I loaded him, I hooked him to the pulley rope. Before the first month was over, he was loading in the trailer without me taking up the slack at all. At nine months he loaded up in the trailer by himself before I could hook up the rope. After that, it was just throw the rope over his back and tell him to "get in".

          Just another suggestion...and I've used this on two horses and it worked well for them...practice the ground work and work with leading into and out of narrow, darker looking spaces. If you have a barn, arena etc, set up poles to mimic a narrow space and practice first leading the horse through it, then stopping and standing and backing up. I found this helped a lot.

          Good luck. I hope you find a method that works for you!
          A poorly fitted saddle hampers both horse and rider.
          https://www.facebook.com/Talley-Ho-Saddle-Services

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          • #25
            The last time I had to load a reluctant horse I was in a hurry. My solution that day was grabbing another horse- a been-there-done-that QH. I don't even think I put a halter on the QH. The yearling followed the QH right on the trailer (slant with all the dividers tied back), then I backed the QH off and turned the colt loose (and gave the QH treats for being such a good boy!).

            When I train a colt to load, I do it when I have literally all day because if I lead a horse up to a trailer, they ARE going on. I back the trailer up to the barn doors so there's no open space around the trailer and (hopefully) lead him on. I have a step up- I think it's easier to get a baby on a step up than up a ramp. I usually use a chain shank so I have more control of the head if they act like total buttheads, and always have help. I have a buggy whip or broom handy to tap a butt if need be for a little forward encouragement, but you can't force a scared horse. I just take my time and keep asking for forward- at least once I've drank a beer or two and ate a sandwich waiting for a colt to decide that getting on the trailer is easier than being annoyed by people.

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            • #26
              I rarely need much more than a bag of carrots or some grain and lots of time. I do not ask them to load. I get them relaxed and happy hanging out at the trailer having a carrot party. I have a trailer with a ramp and I can take all the partitions out. After working on their leading work so they go forward when I ask and I can easily lower their head. I reward them for touching and sniffing the trailer. I get them interested in the food inside. I keep them calm and relaxed. Sometimes I let them watch another horse get on and off (while eating carrots.)

              Works for me!

              I have good info on my website.

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                LookmaNoHands - since you're in my state, you should just come and help :P

                I tried last night, her boyfriend went right in without a tug or care in the world, which was not the case with him last year. So, at least I have one show horse this year. She was less nervous about the trailer with him on, and I even got two feet on the ramp without her freaking out! She just stood there. So we ended on a good note while she was still calm. I'm going to try again today, if I can get some help maybe I can try with a butt rope.
                http://www.facebook.com/orphanisabel

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                • #28
                  I had a mare who had been a great loader and then had a bad experience on the trailer. It was very frustrating, but we used a combination of the butt rope (i.e. lunge line around the butt), treats and quasi-natural horsemanship junk. It took three people and a ton of patience.

                  Here's what we did: We set up the rope around her butt and threaded it through the trailer. One person stood at the head of the trailer and manned that rope. Another person stood near her face to be able to give her treats and praise. A third person stood at her hip with a dressage whip (at a safe distance) to apply steady psychological pressure as needed. We applied physical pressure with the rope and gentle, steady psychological pressure at the hip (at most lifting the whip gently to remind her that moving forward was ideal). Meanwhile, the person at her face (my husband who this mare crushed on) was talking to her and stroking her.

                  Every time she would make a move toward the trailer, no matter how tiny (even a single hoof lifted and set down slightly forward), the pressure on the butt rope would let up, and she would get a treat and lots of praise. When we finally got her to put a foot on the trailer, she got a ton of treats and praise, and then we unhooked her and walked her away from the trailer. Her expression was priceless the first time we did that because I think she assumed we were going to try to force her to get on.

                  When we brought her back for round two, she walked right up to the trailer and started sniffing it. It took a few minutes of pressure to get her to put both feet on. Then, pressure off, big treats and loves, walk away. We progressed, and then we made her get on and off a few times--no butt bar, no trailer ties, nothing. Then, we got her on, and we tied her and put the butt bar up. She had a pile of hay and a bit of grain to enjoy on the trailer.

                  We followed up the desensitization process with the regular use of the butt rope while loading. Eventually she became a decent loader again, and I could load her without a butt rope at all. She was always tentative about it, and I always had to give her a treat of some kind after she loaded (grass, handful of grain, actual treat, etc.). It wasn't ideal, but she would get on the trailer.

                  It's so frustrating, though, when your horse won't load. You have my sympathy!

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    So you had progress with her front feet on the ramp without a fuss. Expect that today when you work with her and her hind feet closer to the ramp, if not on the ramp, would be even better.
                    Make a big deal for her work last night and a big deal for tonight's work.
                    The big deal does not have to be treats, if she is treat aggressive so give her loads of voice praises and pats.

                    And you will need to do this everyday for a while until she believes that this is now part of the daily routine.

                    You need to make her believe that you are the alpha mare!!! And you will be the alpha mare Forever!!!

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by saddlebum122 View Post
                      I prefer a good old butt rope and a little patience for tough loaders. It hasn't failed me yet.
                      DITTO! It just takes patience. They won't flip if you are patient and don't try to force it.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Look, at this point it might save you a lot of time and frustration to just call a Pro - someone who specializes in problem loaders.

                        First they fix the horse, then they should train you. They should also guarantee results.

                        Right now, your history with this horse is probably working against you.

                        SCFarm
                        The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

                        www.southern-cross-farm.com

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                        • #32
                          I'm kind of suprised no one's said this one, so I'll throw it out there.

                          I had an impossible to load mare for a long time. I tried everything to get her to load. The people pushing, the longe line around the butt, the feeding in the trailer, the patience, the butt tap, the strong men, different trailers.... everytime it was a horrible struggle.

                          What did work - my dad bought me the Monty Roberts loading halter and video. I watched the video, and tried it with my mare. It was incredible. It took one 1 hour intial session, and then she loaded like a dream after that. If there was any day she was slightly hesitant, I put the loading halter on her, and she'd go right up.

                          It also worked on my friend's horses. We'd all trailer together somewhere, and their horse would decide they didn't want to get back on the trailer. I'd pull out my halter, and their horse would learn quickly to get on the trailer.

                          My current horse refused to go in the dark scary washstall. So I pulled out the halter, and using the same techniques, she's now going into the wash stall with no problems.

                          The premise of it is basically what someone said before about the pressure and release. The timing is so important. It's also about loading them up, letting them sniff around, then pulling them right back out, so so they don't feel like getting on the trailer automatically means they will be trapped in there.

                          I don't want to seem like an ad for monty roberts, but it really did work for me! I'd highly recommend getting the video and the halter.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by LaLuna View Post
                            LookmaNoHands - since you're in my state, you should just come and help :P

                            I tried last night, her boyfriend went right in without a tug or care in the world, which was not the case with him last year. So, at least I have one show horse this year. She was less nervous about the trailer with him on, and I even got two feet on the ramp without her freaking out! She just stood there. So we ended on a good note while she was still calm. I'm going to try again today, if I can get some help maybe I can try with a butt rope.
                            I had to run feed my horses. What I didn't get a chance to say is that is important that they lose their fear--hence the carrot parties. Also, I do trailer loading preparation which involves a 3/4 inch thick sheet of plywood and four 4x4s to fit under it. Start with getting you horse to walk on and off, stand and back off the plywood. Let them eat grain off of it if necessary. When they are comfortable with that. Put it up on the supports and repeat.

                            This is Linda Tellington-Jones' work. She has all of this in her book, "The Ultimate Horse Behavior and Training Book." Then you can work between and under sheets of plastic if you have helpers. It is all VERY effective! That said, I often don't have to do even that. The carrot parties are very effective!

                            If you want help you can PM me. Have plywood, will travel--just did!

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              My suggestion would be to make the trailer where she gets her grain from now on, ast least for a little while. Load boyfriend, feed boyfreind some grain in the trailer...offer mare 1 handfull of grain for each step she gets on the trailer. no steps...no grain. PUt her back in her stall wiht a little hay and try again at dinner time...some horses figure out real quick there is no point in going on the trailer for grain when they have grain waiting for them in their stall... Having her BF in the trailer quietly munching away should help convince her that the trailer isn't all that bad...

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                              • #35
                                I second the get a pro post! They can react instantly when your horse does something. This is not a skill that you can get reading a book, it takes practice to get instant reaction and correction skills.

                                I for one am a person who does not have days and weeks to teach a horse to load properly.

                                One session with a good pro will fix it and you can move on to something else, like actually riding!

                                Your horse has your number now, best to go to someone to help. It will probably cost less than a hundred bucks to have someone come to your place and get her loaded and loading well. Money well spent. Fixing a trailer or a trip to the emergency room or a vet call are far more expensive.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  And getting in the trailer should not have anything to do with feed. You need a horse to load reliably at any time in any situation withought coaxing with food. In an emergency situation like a fire you can't baby them in. I know this is an extreme case, but it can happen.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    You have a gazillion different, great ideas here so not much more needs to be said about getting a horse to load. But you may have to go back and try to figure out why the horse won't load. Did it have a bad experience last time? Were you driving too fast, taking turns to sharp, trailer not ventilated enough and horse got uncomfortable in there? Check to make sure the trailer is safe and nothing is rubbing the horse while in there. Also, did the horse have a bad experience while being unloaded or have something bad happen at the venue you went to. All these things stick in your horses brain.

                                    Once you get your horse to load without hesitations, close up the trailer like you normally would, and don't move it. Let the horse just sit in there calmly and relax. Then unload it and let it be. Do that a few times. Then just take the horse for a nice little trip around the block and back home again. Again, do that a few times before going to the show, vet or clinic. You want everything about the trailer to be a good experience, it doesn't just stop at loading.
                                    R.I.P Vanny 26 yr QH Stallion 4/11/82 - 5/8/08, Scout 28 yr Paint Cross Gelding, Glistening 11 yr Arab/Saddlebred Mare

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      YOU NEED A ROPE HALTER!!!

                                      Get the heavy duty kind with the long cotton rope and a heavy buckle attachment......best investment I ever made and I have been training horses for over 30 years!!....I didn't need it until about 7 years ago....for a VERY difficult trailer loader.
                                      Your mare is dominant! You need absolute control over her head and her body strightness. If you have this control you DON"T need anyone else to help you except someone to put the ramp up. In fact keep everyone away....work on the ground first....her eye should never be in front or behind your shoulder when leading. Her eye should NEVER wander or look around when you are leading her....you stop, she stops, you go, she goes.....period! (without you tugging at her)....her head should also be low if you have total control.
                                      She will need you to speak very loudly to her.....back up fast and far......turn her away from you in a tight circle....move her feet when she is not submissive to you.....timing is everything.....she will lick her lips and drop her head when you have her submission. Reward her when she conforms with a kind word only.....treats when she is in the trailer only!!!
                                      I assume you can get to the ramp? If so stop her yourself before she stops....outsmart her....turn away (to the right and come again)....this time when she stops....back her immediately!!!! far and fast.....make her stand, ask her to come forward....reward.......at this next point if you have her head totally straight (and body)...she may put a foot or two on the ramp.....you stop her and reward, you back her off easy.....if she starts the back off.....make her go fast and far......keep doing this with utmost patience and it will work!!!

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I'll suggest clicker training. yes, it involves food rewards, but more importantly, it involves the horse participating in problem solving, and the rewards can be faded out over time. You start with targeting--requiring the horse to touch an object with her nose. Then you move the object into the trailer gradually. Honestly, it doesnt take long, and its low stress for you and the horse because each try is rewarded and there's no punishment.

                                        Sadie is a big Safety Horse and was deeply suspicious of my riding buddy's new trailer. She'd been on my place for a couple of years and hadnt been trailered anywhere. She didnt like the ramp. No problem, the first time we let her look, sniff, put a hoof on it, back off etc, rewarding every iota of increased time on the ramp and eventually distance into the trailer. She got two thirds in, got a peppermint and tons of praise, that was it for that day. A couple weeks later she showed much less hesitancy, and with a couple of peppermints she was in, out, back in, ramp up, ramp down, back out, back in, ramp up and off we went. She has not hesitated to load since. I consider it a bad day when she has to be led on, as I prefer my horses to load themselves. I had a terrible loader once who needed butt ropes and such often but even she eventually got so all you had to do what show her the butt rope and she'd cave. I had another horse who was the best self-loader ever despite the fact that he hated being in the trailer and always was a sweaty mess when he got out. I had another horse who was always overjoyed at the sight of a trailer--first time i met her she very politely shoved me out of the way to show me how well she loaded (and, yeah, i bought her).

                                        I think training the owner to be patient and firm and to set goals and stick to them is important. The goal needs to be realistic, doable, and specific--Today we will put two feet on the ramp and stand quietly for 15 seconds. Tomorrow we will do the same and not move backwards until directed to do so. Day after tomorrow 4 feet on the ramp, if only for a nanosecond. And reward, reward, reward. If you have to be absolutely rigid about NEVER 'bribing" the horse, at least give her a scritch and a pat and an atta girl and then leave her the hell alone. But I dont think at all that food rewards are inherently evil, especially now when they work. Horses are creatures of habit and if they develop a habit of loading, trust me, they are not going to balk when the forest is on fire.

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                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by LaLuna View Post
                                          She definitely prefers step loads, versus the ramp - but this is the only trailer I have access too. We move the divider so that it's open all the way, but I don't know what else to do.

                                          Can you remove the ramp? All of my horses are easy loaders. So easy they sometimes do not want to wait their turn! Even so, they do not like ramps.

                                          It sounds as though she doesn't trust the ramp.

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