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My bad loader has me at my wits end...

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  • #41
    Oh, man, do I feel ya, OP. I think there has been some great advice, especially on page one the person with the specifics about getting him moving beside you and away from you and following you and moving his feet where you tell him to put them. I just was reminded of my mare when I was a girl, big horse, would balk and refuse to load no matter what for a clear 1.5 hours, and then, always around that time, she would change her mind and just walk onto the trailer sweet as you please. But never, never, would she do it until she ahd first given us 1.5 hours of hell and frustration. Today I would train her differently, but didn't know enough then. Good luck.
    My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods


    • #42
      I'm sorry, I don't mean to make you mad, but my advice is the same as enjoytheride's. I think you need to get someone with experience to help you out. A fresh perspective and a new set of eyes can be a lot of help.

      I would look amongst the rope halter crowd for this -but not the ones with the big brass bullsnap attached (by this I mean Parelli, I've seen his loading videos and don't like his technique because it gets the horse too riled up). I think you'd do better with somebody who studies the Dorrance brothers' methods, or Ray Hunt or Buck Brannaman. All of whom are pretty much in the same school of thought.
      I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


      • #43
        Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
        I'm going to ditto the Lunge Line down the inside of the Trailer method since you have a ramp.

        It's how someone told me to train my "Nope, ain't gonna get on that thing" mare.

        I put on a leather halter, connect the lunge line and run it inside the trailer, then out the left side escape door and back down to where you are on the left side of the ramp. Hold a dressage whip by the skinny end.

        Apply a bit of tension of on the lunge line and gently, but persistently, tap the point of the hip. No emotion from you. No angst. No hurry. Just tap tap tap tap. At the TINIEST hint of forward, even a knee bend or a head drop, release the tension and stop tapping.

        Let them stand a minute and relax. Licking/chewing behavior is encouraging. Then repeat as loooooooooooong as necessary. There is no hurry. No pressure. You have allll day to load him.

        The first day, it took me 35 minutes to get her on the trailer. I didn't do up the butt bar. She just got to stand there, peek out the sides, eat the one treat in the manger bag. Then I tugged her tail and said Back.

        Day Two was 15 minutes.
        Day Three was 5 minutes.
        Self loading Day Four and thru today.

        For my new mare, who hadn't seen a trailer in 8 years (she's 10) and hadn't been touched in two years, I did the same thing. No hurry. We had allll day. Tension, tap tap tap. Took 30 minutes and she quietly loaded and hauled home. The lessons were repeated daily, both sides of the trailer and she 100% self loads, both sides.

        You need days with no plan, no witnesses, no angst. Just you, the horse, the trailer, whip & lunge line. You CAN do it.
        I logged on to post this method. It is quiet, drama-free and "ammie-proof."

        If they start to back up, let them. The idea isn't to fight. Give them some slack the lunge line and only correct them if they try to turn in another direction and walk off. They always end up halted facing the trailer so they never gain any ground.

        My horse was absolutely terrified of loading after an accident. He'd often get on but then become claustrophobic and fly off. I just let him and calmly put him back on. By the end of my time with him he was self loading and standing quietly on the trailer.
        Originally posted by BAC
        I don't think FF's post was rude (not this one at least).


        • #44
          I haven't read the whole thread, OP, but I have seen you take down some suggestions. Ultimately, this is up to you to solve. If you don't want to show badly enough to find a way to practice, then you don't really want to show that badly! If I can hire a shipper, I can hire a shipper to bring her trailer over for practice sessions. Or swallow my pride and beg my friends!
          Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.


          • #45
            I ended up doing something that worked for my mare. It may work for you. She was a bad loader and I was almost always by myself, as well as she got worse if you tapped her from behind.

            So, I kept tension on the lead line (I didn't use a chain). When she went flying backward, I kept the tension as best I could and kept it until she took a step. Then the tension relaxed for a minute or two. I would then ask her to move forward again by simply pulling on the lead rope - moving forward was the only way to release the tension. Initially, we would go backward 50 paces or so during a loading, but eventually we loaded fine.

            She was never a self-loader, but she would load without to much issue after a while. I didn't use any angry voice/correction (other than tension on the leadrope) and the only treat should would get was delivered once she was secured in the trailer.

            It may be worth it to try this.


            • #46
              Have you tried blind folding??
              I know it sounds like a bad idea...I would have never thought of it if I didn't see it happen with my own eyes.

              A spitfire of a TB was going to a new home, she would not load. NO grain whip or line or all 4 of those straping stable men could get her on past head in.

              The BO took her back to her stall, calmed her down by talking and rubbing (she had worked herself into a tizzy sweat mess), kindly put an old shirt over her eyes and tied in under her throat (not tight, just enough so it wouldn't slip)

              walked out of the barn and right into the trailer calm as ever.

              The whole time BO was talking sweetly to her and she was listening like a good little mare she normally is.

              If you have the trust, they will follow.

              just my 2cents
              if you havent fallen off a horse….then you havent been ridin long enough


              • #47
                Ditto the rope halter in the hands of a pro who is not emotionally involved. Mine balked for 2.5 hours one day - just would NOT get on. Of course we were at my trainer's barn trying to get home. GRRR. But, had my pro come work with him, and all has been great since then.

                I'm not sure where you are located, but if you are in the Maryland area, I have someone I could refer to you!


                • #48
                  Are you sure you haven't stolen my horse out of the pasture and are talking about him??

                  My situation:

                  Last year my (then 3, coming 4 yo) TB gelding would NOT load. We tried everything. Ramps, no ramps, Straight load, slant load. I, like you, did not own my own trailer, so parking the trailer in the field/barn/wherever was not an option. I had to BEG someone to hitch their trailer up so I could practice. I tried grain, lunge linges, whips, brooms, blindfolds, tranqs, EVERYTHING. He would load sometimes after a 5-10 minute struggle, sometimes I would battle him for over an hour before finally throwing in the towel (when headed to a show and I'm at the point of making other people late for their classes I have no other choice). He would also fall down getting in the trailer sometimes (he's lazy...kind of clumbsy....but vets out 100% no neuro issues)

                  My guy wasn't scared. He would just plant his feet and he would get this look on his face like "uhhhh. nope. not today." When pushed too hard he would kick out and rear sometimes. But typically he's very, very, very lazy, so this behavior was a little unusual. I was almost to the point where I contemplated consulting a professional.

                  But finally....one desperate day trying to load up go home from a trail ride, we had no whip with us (whoops!). We broke a tree branch off that had lots of rustly leaves and shook that at his hocks. 30 seconds later he was on the trailer.

                  To mimmick the same set-up without having to carry a branch with leaves on it everywhere we went ...I tied a plastic grocery bag to the end of a driving whip (it's a little shorter than a lunge whip, but I imagine anything would work). Basically I used the same principles that ChocoMare suggested, but with the plastic bag. I tried to the method without the bag many, many, many times. He could not have cared less. The bag though...its magic! And he's not scared of....just REALLY annoyed by it.

                  Fast forward to today...I own my own trailer now, but my horse self loads. He still has days where he debates not getting in. I pick up the whip with the plastic bag on the end...and in he goes. I have used this method to load several "problem horses" at shows... and in they go after just a minute or so.

                  I also found that most of the "problem loaders" I see at shows are only so because their handler lets them be that way. If your horse moves his head to the side and is no longer "lined up" with the trailer....don't worry about it. Let him be crooked it. Circling them around is only teaching them that when they get crooked they don't have to face the trailer, and essentially teaches them not to load. Not saying that's your problem at all...just an obvervation I've made.

                  Sorry for the story book I just wrote. But really I went from frustrated tears to a happily self-loading horse....all thanks to a dang grocery bag


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by lachelle View Post
                    The bag though...its magic! And he's not scared of....just REALLY annoyed by it.
                    I know a guy who can train a horse to self load with a big wooden cane in a manner of minutes. He points their heads in the trailer and then taps their rump with the cane until they go "alright mister, enough with the d---d cane!" Now if you have a fighter it's one thing, but the passive aggressive balkers... they give in when things get unpleasant.
                    ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::


                    • #50
                      I've been following this thread really carefully and I feel that I could have written a lot of the original post too. I'm struggling with a difficult loader. He's more or less been fine with step up stock trailers but not ramps (last 2 loading experiences were less than ideal but he needed to get to the vet hospital (and then home). So, when I purchased a trailer recently, I made sure I got a stock. My difficult loader will not load. He plants his feet, locks his knees, and that's that. Forcing him on doesn't work. I tried working him and offering the trailer as rest (but in the end, we were both exhausted and sweaty and horse was still not on trailer). I may need to try the lunge line method combined with tapping (with the plastic bag), though I'm open to other ideas and bringing in a professional (because of my set up, I can't part the trailer in the field). If anyone knows anyone in Chester/Southern Lancaster County, PA, please let me know.

                      I will say, once horse is on the trailer he's fine. Doesn't try and leave, just stands there patiently until he's told to leave.


                      • #51

                        I highly, highly recommend trying the lunge line method. It eliminates so many of the common pitfalls - having to go in before the horse and making the horse claustrophobic, getting mowed down if the horse tries to jump in, the horse setting back and running the lead line through your hands, lack of leverage, etc.

                        I had seen my horse shatter the glass window of the trailer all around him and go down so I was the epitome of the anxious owner - i.e. someone who should NOT be re-teaching their horse to load! And my horse was straight up panicky and unpredictable. It still worked! As long as you take care to wear gloves, give your horse a little room to back up if he wants and don't get tangled in the line it is completely calm and safe. Never allow any slack on the line - give him enough to back up without feeling totally constricted (aka likely to rear) but keep some light tension.

                        I have since tried this method on many other horses and it works for the stubborn "I don't wanna" ones as well as the freaked out ones - perhaps even better.
                        Originally posted by BAC
                        I don't think FF's post was rude (not this one at least).


                        • #52
                          ...he is now a perfect finished horse that just needs to learn how to trailer. ...

                          ...his tendency to shut down when the pressure gets to be too much. ...

                          ...I will also mention on fluke days he hops in within five minutes...
                          In my estimation, he is not a perfect finished horse, because he shuts down when the pressure gets to be too much. If you don't solve this problem with him...then something, somewhere, sometime (God hope it isn't when the vet REALLY MUST do something to/for him) he will shut down/freak out when the pressure gets too much.

                          He already KNOWS how to just get in the trailer.
                          Your problem is his shutting down under pressure.

                          I DO think solving this yourself (with some help) is well within the realm of your skill level, but you will have to learn something new.

                          I think many of the previous step-by-step instructions will work...but usually because they don't ever get the horse to the point that he shuts down.

                          Good news, is that learning about horses that shut down (or freak out) under pressure, will advance your horsemanship leaps and bounds in other areas.

                          Bad news, it takes some finding to get help from someone who can teach YOU through this, not just get the horse on the trailer. There are plenty of NH types who learned the 'right exercises' but use them to show a horse he doesn't have any other choice...instead of using them to show a horse that you will wait on him, that he can trust you, that he can make the choice to do that scary thing, and be OK with it. Big difference in the long run.

                          It might be expensive in the short run to get good help from one of these people...but if you do learn what is going on, not just have the clinician teach the horse to get on the trailer, it will be priceless to your horsemanship. Trying to learn these things is a bear if you're a real novice, but since you already have some serious skills at dealing with a troubled horse, I think you could come out of this really well.

                          Harry Whitney
                          Bryan Neubert
                          Ricky Quinn
                          Lee Smith
                          Buster McLaury
                          Tom Curtin
                          Melanie Smith-Taylor
                          Mindy Bower
                          Josh Nichol
                          Dr. Deb Bennett (better wear your big-girl panties for this one)
                          Buck Brannaman (harder to get into one of his clinics in the first place, I don't know if he does specific loading issues anymore)
                          There are a few others, but if they have any sort of TV show or presentation with lights/music, trademarked equipment I would pass. Those guys generally know the tricks, and would get your horse in the trailer but you wouldn't learn to solve the deeper 'he shuts down under pressure' issue.
                          The others will also be harder to find, because if they have really understood the whole Tom Dorrance/Ray Hunt philosophy they are not big into promoting themselves. If you see that someone in your region organizes clinics for more than one of these folks, that organizer will probably be able to put you in touch with someone local who can help you more one-on-one.


                          • #53
                            I haven't read all the comments so please forgive me if this was mentioned. We had a mare just like that. She never fought...just stood there. She didn't have to fight...when 1200 pounds won't move, you're stuck.

                            A blacksmith got his Aussie after her and she popped right in. After that, when I didn't have access to the dog, I would get behind her and yip just like the Aussie. She loaded every time and quickly!

                            Worth a try.
                            Ride like you mean it.


                            • #54
                              I'll reiterate this in case it got lost in my earlier post:

                              Most barns are set up so you are driving away from them when you leave. Your training sessions, no matter what method you use, will be more productive if the trailer is facing the barn. Some of it is just psychological, but you will remove a lot of the backward thinking of a balker if the place he really wants to be is not behind him. You can just see it in their demeanor as they stand there at the back of the trailer with the barn behind them...

                              but I'd rather be back there -->
                              <--not up there
                              ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::


                              • #55
                                Years ago I had an older Arab mare that had this exact problem. She was a rescue, but had come from solid background somewhere because she knew EVERYTHING about the good life and was amazingly well trained. Have no idea why someone put her into a rescue, she was terrific. My best guess is she got tired of being trailered to some kind of showing events and just decided she wouldn't load. When I got her the previous foster person had spend hours trying to get her to load to bring her to me (everything from John Lyons tap-tap-tap on the hocks to pool noodles). They finally sedated her to get her to me. Mare would load fine if another horse was on the trailer, just not when she was solo/first. She travelled quietly so, not afraid. Trusted me, led well, had no head/neck/back/vision issues. She would just have a 'moment' and be very stubborn about loading.

                                Our 'come to Jesus' moment arrived when I wanted to meet some friends for a trail ride and she flat out refused to load. Not scared, just rearing up and setting back. *I* tried the Lyons tricks, tried using a lunge line to apply pressure (and release when she stepped forward), tried bribing her on with grain. She took all the skin off my palms and fell down twice. I finally got scared that she might cold-cock herself on the roof of the trailer during a rear and called Red Revelle, who came over and fixed her in about an hour. He put a shank on her, asked her nicely and when she pulled back, he went with her and corrected her hard three times. I remember watching that mare's eyes pop open like 'wow -- guess I'm going to have to listen to this one.' He asked her nicely to load again, she half-heartedly refused and he popped her one more time. On the third ask, she got right on. All that took about 10 minutes. The rest of the hour he spend teaching her to load with the rope on her back and unload with a tug on the tail. I had that mare for years, gave her to a friend of mine who rode her for years more and she came out of retirement to teach a 7 year old kid to ride. Never had a problem loading again. I learned that day that you aren't going to kill a horse by correcting it and that sometimes you just need to make a point of asking like you mean it. Smart horses are a blessing and a curse.


                                • #56
                                  Why would you attempt to load this horse on a two horse trailer this weekend that you admit is too small for him? That is certainly not going to help the situation! Did I miss something here?
                                  "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


                                  • #57
                                    This is going to be blunt OP, but...

                                    If you can afford to horse show, you can afford to hire a shipper with a step up trailer. Somewhere out there, there is one that will come take you. No, it might not be the most convenient or the cheapest option, but some horses are just special cases. If your horse keeps "falling on the ramp almost every time", do him and yourself favour and stop making him go up a ramp. Obviously, ramps are a problem for him for whatever reason - physical or mental. Quit now before he hurts something. You're supposed to be a partnership, sounds like he's pulling his weight to make you happy - time for your to pull yours.
                                    Last edited by Spud&Saf; Aug. 20, 2014, 04:23 PM.
                                    Proud Member of the "Tidy Rabbit Tinfoil Hat Wearers" clique and the "I'm in my 30's and Hope to be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                                    • #58
                                      Everyone's thrown out just about everything I would have said so far except,
                                      one thing I became aware of over the years - if you have anyone standing around, arms folded, shaking their heads with the attitude "that's never going to work, he's never going to get on that trailer" - get rid of 'em! I swear the horses can pick up on negative vibes somehow even from people just standing watching! I once had 2 such people, not saying anything, but you just knew from their attitudes and talk before that they didn't believe horse would ever load. After they left, the remaining friend and I got horse on right away.

                                      Seems a silly little point but since then, I don't let anyone who isn't confident, or who loses their temper, hang around. Have only calm, positive, confident vibes flowing!


                                      • #59
                                        Sounds like you need to borrow or rent an appropriate trailer to train with if you are determined to do this yourself. In the meantime I would work on him with any kind of ramp you can. Make sure they have great traction and don't ever try to load him with questionable traction.

                                        One method I haven't seen mentioned worked with my stubborn-but-not-scared horse. First you use a girth line. Make a loop around the girth area tied with a bowline (non-tightening) or by tying a ring at the right spot and using a snap at that end of the rope. It should be snug and you might add a fleece girth cover if he is sensitive to rubs. the other end of the rope comes up between the front legs and through the underside of the halter (Some people throw a knot here to keep it from sliding back too much). Now you place a rope running from the base of the ramp to the front of the inside of the trailer, through a ring or strong pole and out the escape door.
                                        Give the horse a walk around to get used to the action of the girth line. Then walk him to the base of the ramp and hook his line to the trailer line. Back off sideways to the other end of the line which should be close by. Pick up your lunge whip or other encourager. Take the slack up in the rope and apply firm pressure. Gently encourage. Let him reduce the pressure by walking forward, but keep a bit. Make the pressure on the rope stronger if he stops - he should be uncomfortable. Be sure to reel in the rope if he goes in quickly.
                                        It is much easier if you have somebody else to help, but I have done it alone. I would never use it with a horse that panics, but for a resisting horse it seems to work. This setup discourages rearing and protects the neck while adding pressure in a different area. It is fiddly and requires you to get into the trailer and undo it. It convinced my horse that he was getting on the trailer and he eventually became a good loader. Since I never had my own trailer, this was my safety net while he was learning that he would load when my ride was ready at the end of the day!


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by Spud&Saf View Post
                                          This is going to be blunt OP, but...

                                          If you can afford to horse show, you can afford to hire a shipper with a step up trailer. Somewhere out there, there is one that will come take you. No, it might not be the most convenient or the cheapest option, but some horses are just special cases. If your horse keeps "falling on the ramp almost every time", do him and yourself favour and stop making him go up a ramp. Obviously, ramps are a problem for him for whatever reason - physical or mental. Quit now before he hurts something. You're supposed to be a partnership, sounds like he's pulling his weight to make you happy - time for your to pull yours.
                                          Yes! The responses on this thread really confuse me (but I guess people just didn't read the OP's post about the horse falling on the ramp). You are never going to be able to teach him to load if he keeps falling every time you try to load him. You need to either A) Figure out why he is falling on the ramp or B) Find another type of trailer.