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

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  • #41
    I, too, am not a Monty Roberts ad, but I want to share that I saw him load a horse who refused to load by using reverse psychology: he just walked him up to trailer, & a second before the horse stopped, MR stopped the horse first, & backed him a few steps. Then repeat. Within moments, the horse asked, "Can't I just go in?" It was great! The horse was a big dapple grey. This was the first meeting between MR & this horse; he was brought to the clinic because he refused to load.

    Comment


    • #42
      Everyone has made some great suggestions. I think that it boils down to what works for your particular mare. My worst loader was a gelding that was basically forced on the trailer as a yearling when they brought him to us. The cowboys that brought him in were very proud of how they "made" him load. It involved running the rope through the front of the trailer and back around him. His back legs were all cut up because he pulled back and slid on the gravel and partially under the trailer (at least that's what they told me)

      Anyway, of course he would not get near a trailer. We let him settle in a few weeks and started some basic ground work. Then one sunny day I put a lounge line on him, grapped a soda and a magazine and walked him up to the trailer. I went in, sat down and relaxed. He stood there for a long time at the back of the trailer, looking in at me. Three hours to be exact. I held the line so he could not do anything but face me in the trailer. All dividers out, just a big open box. After three hours he loaded. Slowly, one foot on, off, etc. He was rewarded with food and turned out. The next day it took about an hour. After that he turned out to be an excellent loader.

      All of these suggestions are good. Sometimes you have to play around until you find what works for you. We have had some that need more time and some that are just fooling around and need three people around them to guide them in. Try and take your time. Better to teach her now then when you are in a hurry. JMO.

      Good luck.
      www.Somermistfarm.com
      Quality Hunter Ponies

      Comment


      • #43
        Originally posted by Somermist View Post
        Anyway, of course he would not get near a trailer. We let him settle in a few weeks and started some basic ground work. Then one sunny day I put a lounge line on him, grapped a soda and a magazine and walked him up to the trailer. I went in, sat down and relaxed. He stood there for a long time at the back of the trailer, looking in at me. Three hours to be exact. I held the line so he could not do anything but face me in the trailer. All dividers out, just a big open box. After three hours he loaded. Slowly, one foot on, off, etc. He was rewarded with food and turned out. The next day it took about an hour. After that he turned out to be an excellent loader.
        You know, I was just about to post saying that some people were just making it too hard. If you've ever watched a trailer loading guru at work (and I mean a GOOD one), they don't use most of the stuff people here are talking about. It IS mostly about good leading and no stress.

        But I have to say I love Somermist's method!

        BTW - I haven't seen him in years, but the best trailer loading guru I've ever watched in person was Red Revelle (sp?). He is/was in Virginia and worth every penny. He always managed to teach both the horse and the owner how to load. He does/did proselytize some though. But I've seen him get several seriously confirmed non-loaders on safely and easily within a couple hours of patient low stress work. He may be long retired by now though.

        Oh, wait! I just Googled him and found contact information. He's in Orange. Warning though, if you invite a crowd, he'll charge them an audit fee. Not that I blame him - plus, hoovering owners are enough of a distraction. He is money well spent on loading issues though. And I know of two Pros who've used him with great success as well as amateurs.

        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

        Comment


        • #44
          another approach

          my friend has an arab mare that's an impossible loader. after years of fighting, training, begging, and crying, she came upon this solution:

          get 2 pieces of plywood 2 feet by 2 feet or so. point the mare at the trailer and then have someone walk up behind her (on each side of you have 2 people helping you) holding the pieces of plywood roughly at the level of her rump. they should move slowly behind her as she moves forward never actually touching her with the plywood.

          i realize this sounds bizarre but i know of 2 people (my friend and another competitor in the area) who successfully use this approach.

          it works so well that friend's father made her 2 pieces of plywood with handles for this purpose alone.

          good luck!
          http://www.eponashoe.com/
          TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique

          Comment


          • #45
            Could she be claustrophobic?

            I have a mare that will easily get onto a stock trailer (we have a 3 horse slant step-up). She WILL NOT load onto a "regular" horse trailer (straight load), either with or without a ramp. Period. And she has been worked with professionally. She is truly scared to be in an enclosed space like that.
            Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles

            Comment


            • #46
              Not sure exactly where you're located, but I was in a similar situation several years ago with my "show horse" that wouldn't load on a trailer to get to a show. I received lots of good advice here, and ended up calling Leslie Gottesman (rec'd by several COTHer's). She was WONDERFUL. She's located in Lovettsville and will travel (she came to my place in MD and worked w/my trailer). She spent 2.5 hrs with my HUGE, stubborn, red headed mare. Leslie is a one-(wo)man show and works only with a halter, long lead rope, and dressage whip. Her focus is on establishing good ground work, but she wasn't a bully. She commanded respect and never once got frustrated with the horse. "Stubborn mare" now self loads and unloads like a champ, and is happy to stand on the trailer as long as I ask her to, alone or with a buddy. Best $ I ever spent. Her website is here: http://www.milesofsmilestraining.com/index.html If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

              There is certainly other good advice here, too. I just got to the point where I couldn't do the "wait-it-out approach" or risk someone getting hurt, as the mare was a bit flighty. Best of Luck to you- I know how frustrating it can be!
              Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground. - Author Unknown

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              • #47
                One more thought, how sturdy is the ramp? If the ramp is older with a plywood base, it might not be very sturdy, which is going to worry most horses. If it gives underneath her, she's not going to want to put her hooves on it to load. If that's the case, you're going to need to replace your ramp, or remove it and have doors installed.

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                • #48
                  I have a John Lyons video called "Leading and Loading" that I found very helpful. You might try to find a copy online.

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by Somermist View Post
                    Then one sunny day I put a lounge line on him, grapped a soda and a magazine and walked him up to the trailer. I went in, sat down and relaxed. He stood there for a long time at the back of the trailer, looking in at me. Three hours to be exact. Good luck.
                    this is what I did with a mare who would not load. She would not load without a whip and with a whip in hand hit the panic button and would run you over.

                    I picked a day when I had all day, a long line and a boring indoor. It took her about 20 minutes to come sniff inside the trailer. I rubbed her forehead, then backed up into the trailer further. Eventually one foot, then another, she made it inside. She was so nervous she kept touching me and blowing out her nose....like "I did it! Holy cow is this scary! But look we're here together, right?!". I never had another problem with that mare. Now the difference may be that she was truly frightened, not being a tough girl. The mare I have NOW is a tough girl. Clicker training worked with her. When we picked her up, it took 5 hours to get her loaded. Now, she's point and shoot. Toss the lead over her back and tell her "there ya go darlin'" and she's in.

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      Originally posted by LaLuna View Post
                      I absolutely have to stay calm or she'll start sweating and then get so worked up that she'll start rearing. I work on it with her until I absolutely can not stand to work with her anymore. As soon as I get frustrated and can't stay calm, we call it quits.
                      I think the boredom method wold work best with this one. Clear your calendar. Bring a book and your iPod and commit as long as necessary. The first time it might be several hours. Walk the horse towards the trailer. When she stops, you stop too. She can not go backwards or sideways, if she wants to go anywhere, it is forward only. No pressure at all as that will cause the sideways or backwards. Wait her out. No working, no talking to her, no petting, no grazing, no moving her feet, nothing. Boredom. Nice scrumptious hay and maybe breakfast on the trailer. If you get frustrated then have someone else do it.

                      Mares are so friggin smart. The worst one I had took almost three hours to get on using this method but once she was on the problem was solved. She was a solidly confirmed non-loader, drama, kicking, eye rolling - she had been running the show. Loaded her again right away, next time took 5 minutes, she seemed to see how it was going to go and got right on and was never a problem after.

                      Usually, I make sure to have several people loading the horse to use this method so they do not learn that it only happens with one handler.

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                      • #51
                        Late to this discussion but have some comments....
                        Do NOT use feeding/water as bribery to get the horse in....if she's ever in pain from colic or an injury or just off her feed she won't load. If it is ever an emergency such as a fire evacuation she won't load.

                        Do NOT use ropes, butt ropes, stud chains/shanks, war bridles, lip chains, or other coercive measures to try to get her loaded....they only work part of the time and most of the times they are used someone (horse or human) gets hurt.

                        Do NOT park the trailer somewhere unhitched and try to load using any method....if she's inside and panics you can have a huge wreck if the trailer sways on its jack.

                        Whatever her history is regarding bad loading, bad driving, wrecks, injuries, illnesses, too hot, too cold (or the one I really liked....a water drop landed on a horse's forehead from condensation so he was excused from loading ever again!)...you can't change that...it's done, over, in the past. Your job is to change her future.

                        Recognize that failure to load is a failure to lead....she's refusing your leadership.

                        Try making the thing you want her to do be the easiest thing in the world and anything else (the wrong things) be the hardest. Translated....make her work around the trailer (sweat will not kill her) and let her rest on/near the ramp/trailer.

                        Begin with training her better in leading....the idea is that YOU control her movement and YOU don't move your feet while she does. (The boss mare in a herd controls the movement of the horses in her herd without doing a lot of movement herself so horses understand this on an instinctive level). Work her at going between yourself and the wall of a round pen...make that space more and more narrow as she relaxes about it. Use a long (20 foot or so) lead and just point her through the space with one hand and encourage with a lunge whip with the other....when she gets through change direction and "lead" her through the space the other way by pointing with the hand on the leadrope and encouraging (if necessary) with the other hand. You want to see her slow to a walk with a lowered head and soft eye (and hopefully some chewing and licking of her lips) at each distance...more and more narrow to the point there's barely room for her to go between you and the fence.

                        Go to the trailer (hitched, parked, open, somewhere safe) and do the same exact exercise with her going between you and the ramp....when she's calm and soft at a wide distance move closer and narrow the distance. When she is ok with walking across the ramp without a fuss move to the side of the trailer and work her in half circles around you (she needs to learn that you control her movement even if she tries to duck around the side of the trailer...you won't always have a building/fence/tree or a hoard of people carrying plywood to make a block to keep her from going to the side of the trailer rather than load so teach her that ducking over there doesn't end the work). Do this on both sides of the trailer until she is calmly walking the half circles around you. Move to the corner of the trailer but several feet from it.. begin working the half circles again with a short enough lead that the half that brings her to the ramp doesn't allow her to go past the trailer and to the other side. Take ALL pressure off of her when she gets to the ramp and let her rest for a minute. Turn her and work again for several minutes...allow her to stop and rest ONLY AT THE RAMP. Ask her to step forward ONE step. If she does take any pressure off and reward her with a moment or two of rest and praise and then back her off, change direction and work her back and forth in those half circles a couple more times....repeat with more steps (ONE AT A TIME) onto the ramp, back up, work, rest and step further up each time. She's learning several things.....YOU are in control, ducking to the side doesn't get her out of working, she can rest AT the ramp or ON the ramp and nowhere else and it isn't killing her. Once she's got all four feet in back her out....repeat a dozen times or more until she WANTS to get in there. Now she's also learned that she's not trapped in there and she's learned to politely go in and out one step at a time.

                        Yep...this is one of those NH trainer things (Clinton Anderson) and no one gets hurt, angry, upset, no one gets bribed, rope burned, kicked, no heads get split open from fighting a lead/lunge/pullied rope trying to hold them in once they get in. It has taken me no more than about an hour or at most two to get confirmed non-loaders to quietly walk up to and load in and quietly unload as well. It's an easy step from this to self-loading.

                        Good luck.
                        Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                        www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
                        Northern NV

                        Comment


                        • #52
                          Originally posted by CobJockey View Post
                          We used this to get a rank, sour 2 year old that we worked with in college to finally trailer load. She was so bad that the people that brought her to us had blood on them (yeah, no idea) when they dropped her off. It's sort of like round penning with a trailer - if the horse doesn't want to do X (be with you, load in the trailer) his only other alternative is to run. Eventually they tire out and do what you ask and they are not asked to run anymore, so the trailer becomes a safe place rather than a scary place. We worked with her over a number of weeks, but this was the only thing that worked.

                          I like this technique because the horse has to be the one to rewire his own brain. He has to put two and two together and come to the conclusion that the trailer is a good thing. I feel like some other techniques teach toleration ("You will do this because I am the trainer and I say so.") rather than thinking.
                          This. I am not a natural horsemanship person but my friend saw this in a clinic, came home, tried it with her TB mare who took two hours to load the last time she attempted to trailer her and she got her on within 10 minutes. I SWEAR! My gelding was great loader until the last time I tried to take him somewhere and we fought with him for over two hours. My friend used this technique and, although it took longer with him that with her mare because he was not as upset about working as her mare was, it did work. I just put him on the trailer today for practice. Now I walk up to the trailer and he hops right on. It works. It really does.

                          If you live in SoCal, my friend could help you out.
                          ~Amy~ TrakehNERD clique
                          *Bugs 5/86-3/10 OTTB Mare* RIP lovely Lady, I miss you
                          *Frodo '03 Anglo Trakehner Gelding*
                          My Facebook

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                          • #53
                            Originally posted by coloredcowhorse View Post
                            Late to this discussion but have some comments....
                            Do NOT use feeding/water as bribery to get the horse in....if she's ever in pain from colic or an injury or just off her feed she won't load. If it is ever an emergency such as a fire evacuation she won't load.
                            I don't think anyone here is advocating using grain to load your horse ad infinitum. The idea of food is to first desensitize/countercondition the horse in to thinking that the trailer is a good place to be, eliminating any negative emotional associations like fear, then to reward wanted behavior (operant conditioning with positive reinforcement). Once you have eliminated fear and established the behavior, you can dramatically reduce the reward schedule and switch from high value food rewards to lower value rewards like praise or a haynet on the trailer; intermittent, unpredictable reinforcement makes a behavior MORE persistent than rewarding every time.
                            The plural of anecdote is not data.
                            Eventing Yahoo In Training

                            Comment


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                              The mare I have NOW is a tough girl. Clicker training worked with her. When we picked her up, it took 5 hours to get her loaded. Now, she's point and shoot. Toss the lead over her back and tell her "there ya go darlin'" and she's in.
                              I was going to suggest clicker training also, even though I'm not really a clicker training person (don't have the patience for it generally) because once you've 'primed' the click so the horse knows it means 'yes, that is what I wanted you to do' then you can communicate VERY clearly when she's making progress. Sometimes that helps animals that WANT to cooperate, but Just Aren't Getting It.

                              Since it seems like the ramp is a big part of the problem, I'd probably also stop worrying about getting her into the actual trailer right now, and focus on getting her on the ramp, off the ramp, past the ramp, one foot on, two feet on, like a tarp or groundwork obstacle, until it's No Big Deal. Once the ramp is no longer an Item Of Interest getting her INTO the trailer probably won't be nearly so much of a hassle, particularly if you can load another horse in with her to give her the idea that it's a cool place to hang out for a bit.

                              (The other thing about working so much on the ramp is I've heard plenty of stories of horses who REALLY don't like the ramp who are dangerous loaders or unloaders because they want to rush up/down it, or even sometimes kind of hop over it, and that's about a billion disasters waiting to happen. So she really needs to learn that the ramp is not hiding a scary troll or whatever her issue is with it.)

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by GatoGordo View Post
                                I don't think anyone here is advocating using grain to load your horse ad infinitum. The idea of food is to first desensitize/countercondition the horse in to thinking that the trailer is a good place to be, eliminating any negative emotional associations like fear, then to reward wanted behavior (operant conditioning with positive reinforcement). Once you have eliminated fear and established the behavior, you can dramatically reduce the reward schedule and switch from high value food rewards to lower value rewards like praise or a haynet on the trailer; intermittent, unpredictable reinforcement makes a behavior MORE persistent than rewarding every time.
                                Definitely this ^^. My mare was food motivated, so using treats and praise helped reinforce the message that forward movement was a good thing.

                                I used to think there was one good way, the only way, to do various tasks with horses, but that mare humbled me. She taught me that horses are like people. What worked with previous horses often didn't work with her, and what worked with her isn't necessary with my current gelding.

                                Horses are, to a large extent, similar, but they also have individual personalities. In the case of that mare, hers was a personality I'd be happy never to see again, but the woman who owns her now can't get enough of her.

                                Comment


                                • #56
                                  Originally posted by GatoGordo View Post
                                  I don't think anyone here is advocating using grain to load your horse ad infinitum. The idea of food is to first desensitize/countercondition the horse in to thinking that the trailer is a good place to be, eliminating any negative emotional associations like fear, then to reward wanted behavior (operant conditioning with positive reinforcement). Once you have eliminated fear and established the behavior, you can dramatically reduce the reward schedule and switch from high value food rewards to lower value rewards like praise or a haynet on the trailer; intermittent, unpredictable reinforcement makes a behavior MORE persistent than rewarding every time.
                                  www.Somermistfarm.com
                                  Quality Hunter Ponies

                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by GatoGordo View Post
                                    I don't think anyone here is advocating using grain to load your horse ad infinitum. The idea of food is to first desensitize/countercondition the horse in to thinking that the trailer is a good place to be, eliminating any negative emotional associations like fear, then to reward wanted behavior (operant conditioning with positive reinforcement). Once you have eliminated fear and established the behavior, you can dramatically reduce the reward schedule and switch from high value food rewards to lower value rewards like praise or a haynet on the trailer; intermittent, unpredictable reinforcement makes a behavior MORE persistent than rewarding every time.
                                    Food helps in a couple of ways. Chewing helps relax the horse and to stop him from focusing on his fear. It also begins to create a positive association with the trailer. If you just fed your horse everyday at the trailer he would soon think the trailer is a nice place to be. At least not a place where people get mad, shake plastic bags or hit him with whips at. How do you expect your horse to trust you if you hit or purposely scare him?

                                    I look at training a horse to load much like I train a horse to jump. You don't start with a three foot fence and scare or hit your horse until he jumps it. If you did you would scare him, he would lose confidence and trust in you. You start training a horse to jump by stepping them over a single pole on the ground. If you break the process down into parts that he can handle easily you will build trust and confidence.

                                    I work on leading first. Get the horse responding well there. Then I may check in with the trailer and see what kind of reaction I get there. If it is a bad one then I get out the plywood and supports and get the horse good with that. Sometimes I will go do the plastic "lane" and walk them under plastic. Often I just go to having a carrot party at the trailer without even working with the plastic and the horse will be much better. I may not even want them to get on the trailer that time and wait for another session. The next time it is very little trouble to get them on. The important thing is that they do it with out fear!!!

                                    That is what creates a good loader. One that doesn't have a problem with it, not one that is afraid of what will happen if it doesn't get on! That kind of fear and tension isn't good for the horse to carry all the time. Then, take your horse somewhere very pleasant and then come home. Start doing that and your horse will think going in the trailer is actually FUN!!:

                                    Works for me!!

                                    Comment


                                    • #58
                                      I agree with coloredcowhorse to not use gimicks or anything that will get the horse too excited (I am okay with using food if the horse is food motivated).

                                      DEFINITELY DO NOT BLINDFOLD - if the horse gets loose blindfolded you will have a tragedy on your hands (and I'm assuming the blindfold would not be tied on, but it can still get stuck on the halter).

                                      My neighbor is a retired trainer who does horse transport for a living. We are in TB country, so he deals with many young TBs who have never been loaded, or who have been pushed on. My husband, a 3rd generation TB trainer, used to just get them on, but after watching my neighbor and learning what he was doing, we only use his method. One key thing is to NOT let people stand behind or beside the trailer and pressure the horse (or even THINK about pressuring the horse).

                                      It's the same method many have mentioned here. We use a regual halter and lead, bt you can use a rope halter. Use a long whip (like a longe whip but just the shaft part) so that you can tap the horse on the hip. Make sure you can rub the whip all over the horse so that the horse is not afraid of it before startting any trailer work. Walk the horse up calmly. When the horse stops, stay calm and give the horse a moment. As long as the horse is facing the trailer and paying attention, let them investigate and figure it out. If they are inattentive, put some pressure on the shank and tap the hip. As soon as the horse shifts forward, release the pressure and stop tapping. It is okay if the horse swings from side to side as long as they are paying attention and facing the trailer. They can step in from the side of the ramp and be fine. We usually have the divider tied to the side or taken out for a bad loader. It's not magic, and I'm sure a really confirmed bad loader would need a pro like my neighbor so that things to do not escalate and because the pro has better timing. It's okay for the horse to back off of the ramp and the trailer as long as he comes forward again. It usually does not take long at all (under an hour in the many, many I have seen my husband and him do), and it is not a scary experience at all for the horse. I've loaded some toughies too in my time, but am lucky to have these 2 wonderful horseman most of the time, and also am lucky that my own personal horses all load easily.

                                      IMO and not to offend as some folks are happy with their methods, a lot of these methods are really dangerous (the plywood, the longe lines wrapped around part of the trailer, blindfolding, people pushing and pressuring from behind). I've seen all of those in action as well and now I just see no need to do any of those unless it is a true emergency where the horse has to be forced on NOW. I know they can work and many times do not result in injury, but with a truly panicked horse, they can still get tangled up with some of these things. I also would not take the ramp off - you may need to load with a ramp in an emergency. Most horses will load with either a ramp or a step up once they are calm about it.

                                      This is a good reminder that we are due to get our 2 TB fillies trained to load - it's that time of year!

                                      I would also say, once you do get her to load, keep it up - they can revert back over time.

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                                      • #59
                                        I too would like to say that in my suggestions of feeding hte horse in the trailer,it is not to be longterm thing at all- but certainly is designed to getthe horse comfortable wiht being in the trailer and relaxed. And it should also just be used to help the horse overcome initial fear/stubborn-ness about the trailer- the horse then should be worked with and loaded regularly so that when it does come time to deal wiht an emergency, the horse loads- period. An emergency is not the time to try to trailer train your horse- it is time to get the horse on. period.If it involves getting a little rough because poopsie decided not to get on the bus, then that is what happens..Either that or your horse is left behind. We have both a 2H straight load and a big slant trailer. All of our horses willingly load themselves into both wiht out any problems, because i have trained them to do so. A friend of ours teaches all of her yearling babies to self load by giving them their evening grain in the trailer. they walk on by themselves and get in their spot, she shuts the divider and they get their dinner.They also get regularly loaded wiht out dinner, but they are very comfortable wiht the trailer because it is part of their everyday routine, not just a once in awhile thing because they suddenly need to go somewhere.

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                                        • #60
                                          I remember reading somewhere (maybe here) about a woman trying to load her horse while her father was watching a golf match on his portable TV.

                                          From what I remember, she tried every trick in the book, her father finally took the lead rope and while still watching the TV, led the horse on. By the way, he had no experience with horses.

                                          Lack of confidence can be a deal breaker. Every time you attempt to teach them to load and they refuse and you give up in frustration (I'm not talking about the Monty Robert method, Monty is refusing, not the horse), you are teaching a lesson. And not the one you intend.

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