need advice on getting horse into trailer - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-27-2011, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Fallbrook, Ca.
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need advice on getting horse into trailer

Bought our horse awhile ago, she went in ok when we bought her, only a little work to get her in. We recently went to get a riding lesson at the stables and it took 5 of us an hour to coax her in. other than slowly enticing her with food, to get in trailer, any other tricks? I know we need to work her into the trailer slowly and we have been doing that for 2 weeks but she is still real leary. Doesn't like the ramp and when she does go in for a mouthful she wants to back right out. Any help will be appreciated.
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-27-2011, 10:57 AM
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I will take a dressage whip. When she faces the ramp, I ask for one step. If she gives it I praise mightily. I then pause and ask for nothing. Then, I ask for one more step. If they won't after a period of time, I take the dressage whip and GENTLY tap the haunch. Just tap tap tap in a nagging manner. The horse is not pressured, just nagged at. If they take a step forward, I praise and pause. If the horse steps back, I back the horse GENTLY without roughness, for about 10-15 feet, pause, and start again.

The idea is no major punishment, but praise. Allow the horse to take time to make the decision to step forward. BE PATIENT and don't wait for a time the horse must load. Do this on a daily basis until they will calmly walk in.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-27-2011, 12:14 PM
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A butt rope will work absolute wonders on some horses and cause others to panic. It's worth a try.

How wide is the back of your trailer? Do you have the windows open for light so it doesn't seem so dark and claustrophobic?
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-27-2011, 01:56 PM
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If she started out good and then stoped cooperating... you may want to check your driving. Are you taking turns too fast? Do you feel the pull of the seat belt when you stop, does the seat hug your back when you go foward? If you answered yes you may want to slow down a little. Start driving like you have dynamite strapped to your truck.
I'm a crazy driver until I have a horse trailer behind me... then I act like I'm driving on a winding road with a cayon on each side and no railing. All my horses started out the opposite. No way were they getting into the trailer to now where they all load easily.

To start open up the trailer. I simply work them slowly like you are doing, one step at a time. As soon as they get into the trailer, they are done for the day. Back to pasture. I do this daily and they hop in quicker knowing they will be hopping out. Once they are hopping in, I hold them in for a minute. Increase daily until they stand quietly.
Now if they are just standing there not moving getting a tired/ bored look in thier eyes I will take them away from the trailer and get them to work lunging around me. Once they are awake and focused on me again I start over. Also work on giving to pressure, slight pull but release as soon as the smallest step is taken. Also start away from the trailer where you know they'll come forward easily. Do not get into a tug of war, they are 10 times your size, you will lose.
Good luck on your endevor and I hope things work out well.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-27-2011, 03:33 PM
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Is the trailer the same one that was used when you first got her? Some horses will load easily in some trailers but not in others, especially if they are smaller or darker.

I use 2 different methods to load a horse. The first is like what Allison said. Except, instead of nagging the horse with the same pressure, I will increase the pressure or how hard I tap the horse, until there is forward movement, even if it's only one step. Then I stop and rub the horse with what I'm tapping with and let them rest for a few seconds. Then start again.

The second is to work the horse outside the trailer and let them rest in the trailer and repeat. This gets them to want to be in the trailer. Even if the horse is checking the trailer out or showing interest in the trailer, I will let them rest. Then back to working outside the trailer.

I don't like to use food to bribe the horse in, or try to pull or push the horse in the trailer. I also never want to be in the trailer when loading the horse. The horse should go in with me outside it.

I have seen another way that I would use as a last resort, as long as the horse stays calm and doesn't pull back and rear. Take a lead rope through the trailer, so the horse is similar to being tied in the trailer. Someone holds the rope which keeps pressure or tension on the horse unless the horse moves forward into the trailer. The idea is not to pull the horse forward but to hold the horse there. Start rocking the horse sideways to get the horse off-balanced. The horse will step to rebalance themself. When they step it usually ends up forward, too. Keep repeating until the horse goes in.

I agree with Crossover. It could be from the way you drive. The way I dirve when hauling is like I have a cup of water on the dash and not to spill it.

Everyone should be allowed at least one bad habit, and that's NOT owning a horse!

Mares RULE! Geldings drool!

Last edited by usandpets; 05-27-2011 at 03:36 PM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-27-2011, 04:44 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
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I tried the slow enticing with food and after 2 hours totally lost patience and gave up on that tactic. Pete was not afraid of the trailer, he just didn't want to go anywhere and was being stubborn. What worked great for us was to have one person holding the lead rope in the trailer and a second person with a butt rope attached to the side of the trailer and then walked behind him. The person upfront was just to make sure he went forward. Don't pull or they react and back up. You can't win that way. Once the butt rope even touched his back legs he went right on. We use it with him everytime, but most times now he just sees it and walks on. If your horse is really sensitive or panics with the rope I wouldn't use it, but this method worked well for me.

Also, some horses have a problem outside or when the trailer is dark and it is sunny out. The change in light is hard for them sometimes. If there is room inside the barn or in an indoor arena try loading in there and see if it makes a difference. Good luck!
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-27-2011, 10:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
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Park your trailer in a small up the doors....put food and water in there......nothing else around her to munch on....she will go in to eat.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-28-2011, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: southern Mississippi
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BUTT Rope and feeding in the trailer work great for me.

I think the butt rope is THE trick i use most often. I can't think of a time it has failed for me. also feeding in the trailer works wonders. that way they associate the trailer with good things.

IF you have a big horse and you are trying to load in a "standard" trailer you are asking for problems. I have a 17HH warmblood gelding and he simply does not fit in most horse trailers. i had to buy a specialized Thoroughbred walk-through trailer that is extra tall and extra wide and my big boy loads right up. when i borrowed a standard sized 3 horse slant he was really cramped and it 's a miracle he didn't refuse to load the last TIME I PUT HIM IN. He did stand there and look at me like : "Hey you see there is not enough room for me in there right?"

Get yourself the right sized trailer of you have a big horse. it will save you LOADS of headaches. I paid 2000. for a 2 horse extra tall and extra wide Thoroughbred trailer and it was $$ well spent. I PROMISE.
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-29-2011, 02:16 PM
Green Broke
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There are about 100 ways to go about this. Depends on the horse which works.

First, you could try the "trailer is my resting place" method. Work her outside the trailer (lunging and backing are usually winners). Move her as close to the trailer as you can and have her rest for a minute. Repeat, getting her closer to the trailer every time until she's in. Allow her to rest, back her out, work her, and put her back in.

An alternative is the "out here SUCKS" method. Set her up so she can easily get into the trailer. Have a group of friends put pressure on her from behind in the form of whips (not hitting her; twirling them around), plastic bags (SCARY), and other things that horses dislike. Every set she takes toward the trailer, momentarily stop the pressure. Step by step, she'll get in.

Butt ropes work about 50% of the time. Heavily depends on the horse. They can be used in combination with other methods for an extra touch of pressure that could tip the balance.

If pressure methods make her crazy or just don't work, bribing way be the way. Don't feed her grain in her stall-- just hay and water. Bring her onto the trailer (you said she'd go in for a bite of food), lock her up, and let her eat her grain. Repeat daily. Only feed her grain inside the trailer.

Last edited by Brighteyes; 05-29-2011 at 02:18 PM.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-29-2011, 04:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
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I do not like the 'butt rope' technique as you are forcing a horse into a position where they feel unsafe...that just opens up for more issues. Your horse has to trust you...once you have trust...a horse will follow you anywhere!
It all starts with groundwork and respect
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