Horse won't unload!? Help!
 
 

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Horse won't unload!? Help!

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  • Unload a horse facing the doors
  • How to unload horse from trailer who doesn't want to

 
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    05-31-2010, 08:11 PM
  #1
Foal
Horse won't unload!? Help!

Hello everyone!

I recently purchased a 6 year old thoroughbred mare. We went to pick her up and she loaded perfectly, walked right in. We have a step up trailer. When we unloaded her at home, she LEAPED out of the trailer after a few seconds of sniffing the air. I had untied her, turned her around, and stepped out expecting her to follow nicely. I just figured she was so excited to be there, new smells and sounds etc. I also wondered that maybe she hadnt been unloaded without a ramp before. Since then, everytime we load her, she is perfect. When we unload and turn around to walk out, she gets very nervous, will stand in the trailer and pull back slightly on the lead, and eventually jump (this means a real jump) out of the trailer. The last time we went to unload, we decided to teach her to back out. First, she would start to back out, but only with her back legs, and her front legs locked. This would result in her back legs on the ground outside the trailer, and her front legs nearly parallel with the trailer floor, slipping back as she walked out. This would cause her to jump back in the trailer as fast as she could, and then not back up at all, just stand there. We tried countless times to get her whole motion backwards, so we could unload her (all legs) in one smooth motion. This was impossible. SO we turned her around and she leaped out like usual. Then when we tried to load her again a few minutes later, she was more reluctant, but she did. I am looking for any advice at all on this. I want the trailer to be a happy place for her to be, so I don't want to scare her into unloading, but I am at a loss on how to handle it. Please help!
     
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    05-31-2010, 09:23 PM
  #2
Trained
Hi,

Yep, unloading can be the hardest part of trailer training for a horse, particularly if there's no ramp.

I would first teach her to yield really well & reliably in all sorts of ways on the ground without the trailer to begin with. Then I'd get her going over, around, through other obstacles that she hasn't learned to stress about.

Do it in a non-confrontational way, using 'approach & retreat' tactics rather than trying to force her into stuff she's not yet ready for. The more she 'practices' stressing about something, such as backing out of the trailer, the stronger that association/attitude/behaviour becomes. So it's important to do it in easy enough steps to avoid, or at least minimise her stress & allow her to practice getting it Right.

I'd get her to the point of easily being able to yield individual steps forward & backwards over/off some different obstacles before I'd start again with the trailer. Considering the above, about practicing stressing, I'd be inclined to go ultra slow & ensure she was truly confident with each step before asking for a little more. I'd also do it in very short sessions with stress-free breaks in between, both to negatively reinforce whatever she gives you and to offload any stress so that you don't get that 'final straw' syndrome from low but unending stress.

I'd also consider putting a ramp up to the tailgate, to make it easier for her to begin with. Then baby steps again, I'd ask her to walk up to the float and put one foot on the tailgate/ramp only. Repeat the process over & again until she's confident & relaxed about putting one or both front feet on there, before asking for a little more....
     
    06-01-2010, 12:17 PM
  #3
Yearling
It sounds like your already out of the trailer when you ask her to come off, this can encourage them to leap off.

What we do in our hauling business is make them stand at the threshold until they are calm, even if that means standing for several minutes. Then let out the lead rope and let them go off the trailer while we are still standing in the door way. When they hit the end of the lead rope you spin them around so they are facing you. We don't have time to "train" people's horse's for them, so this is the safest way to unload the anxious ones.

The problem is their depth perception, that "little" step can look to be a long way down for some. Lots of loading and unloading out of the same trailer and she'll get the hang of it.

I wouldn't be trying to back her off, just make sure your safe and standing firm in the trrailer and ready to pull her around.
     
    06-01-2010, 12:25 PM
  #4
mls
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by G and K's Mom    
It sounds like your already out of the trailer when you ask her to come off, this can encourage them to leap off.

What we do in our hauling business is make them stand at the threshold until they are calm, even if that means standing for several minutes. Then let out the lead rope and let them go off the trailer while we are still standing in the door way. When they hit the end of the lead rope you spin them around so they are facing you. We don't have time to "train" people's horse's for them, so this is the safest way to unload the anxious ones.

The problem is their depth perception, that "little" step can look to be a long way down for some. Lots of loading and unloading out of the same trailer and she'll get the hang of it.

I wouldn't be trying to back her off, just make sure your safe and standing firm in the trrailer and ready to pull her around.
Sorry - I have to disagree.

If we have a horse turn around - we step down before them. If they jump down they have the momentum to pull a person face first out of the trailer. The leverage is also enough they can jump and take off and then would be loose. We step down, to the side and so the horse sees us standing quietly, the majority step down also. Some give a little leap but we are on the same level to handle the abruptness.

As far as backing out - our trailers have rubber bumpers. The horse doesn't scrape it's legs. OP - you can back the trailer towards a slight incline. It will not be so far for the horse to step down. We teach them to back slowly, step by step.
     
    06-01-2010, 12:25 PM
  #5
Trained
Alot of horses don't know how to move when they are on a trailer. When you get her loaded lead her to the front and then back her a few steps and lead her forward again. Repeat this several times and then work on yielding her hindquarters a step each direction. Then when you back her out and she gets her hind feet on the ground lead her forward and back her half out again. Do this until the horse can do it easily then back the rest of the way out.
     
    06-01-2010, 12:44 PM
  #6
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by mls    
Sorry - I have to disagree.

If we have a horse turn around - we step down before them. If they jump down they have the momentum to pull a person face first out of the trailer. The leverage is also enough they can jump and take off and then would be loose. We step down, to the side and so the horse sees us standing quietly, the majority step down also. Some give a little leap but we are on the same level to handle the abruptness.

I respect your opinion, really I do...... The problem with really anxious ones is the action of you stepping off before them and not making them stand on the threshold adds to the nervousness.

I agree if your not ready and planted firmly the horse could pull you, that can happen if your standing on the ground as well. That's why you make them stand quietly before letting them step off. Your prepared and your encouraging them to be calm. We haul 1000's of horses a year and have found this keeps us safe. If hubby's hurt were not making any money......

It's what works for us.........
     
    06-01-2010, 12:48 PM
  #7
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by G and K's Mom    
I respect your opinion, really I do...... The problem with really anxious ones is the action of you stepping off before them and not making them stand on the threshold adds to the nervousness.
Why does getting off before them have to mean you are not making them pause at the end of the trailer before getting off?


I unload how MLS described. Walk the horse to the end of the trailer. Stand there for a second. Then I step down and the horse steps down.

Stepping down first and pausing are not mutually exclusive.
     
    06-01-2010, 01:30 PM
  #8
Weanling
One thing you can do is park the trailer (HITCHED UP) in her field. Feed her in there EVERY day and let her figure out by herself how to load and unload. She has to unload then at least twice a day and this will get her used to the trailer without you having to get into that danger zone.

I hope this helps!
     
    06-01-2010, 04:28 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by mls    
Sorry - I have to disagree.

If we have a horse turn around - we step down before them. If they jump down they have the momentum to pull a person face first out of the trailer. The leverage is also enough they can jump and take off and then would be loose. We step down, to the side and so the horse sees us standing quietly, the majority step down also. Some give a little leap but we are on the same level to handle the abruptness.

As far as backing out - our trailers have rubber bumpers. The horse doesn't scrape it's legs. OP - you can back the trailer towards a slight incline. It will not be so far for the horse to step down. We teach them to back slowly, step by step.
Thanks for all your suggestions. Whether I step out of the trailer first, or stand beside inside, I always pause until they are calm and then proceed. The problem is, if I do not ask her to lead out (when turned around) she would honestly stay at the threshold all day. She would probably fall asleep there. Same goes for backing...even if I am asking her to back, she will stand there, not moving, head low, falling asleep after the first few minutes.

The problem with backing her out step by step, which is how we were trying to teach her, was that she would not step with her front legs. They would stay put, thus causing a spook/slip issue.
     
    06-01-2010, 04:31 PM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
Alot of horses don't know how to move when they are on a trailer. When you get her loaded lead her to the front and then back her a few steps and lead her forward again. Repeat this several times and then work on yielding her hindquarters a step each direction. Then when you back her out and she gets her hind feet on the ground lead her forward and back her half out again. Do this until the horse can do it easily then back the rest of the way out.
Thanks! I do believe that some of her problem is simply not understanding how to unload..maybe due to only unloading with a ramp? I will try this. Whenever she does get her hind end out, she will leap back in so quickly...any suggestions on how to get her relaxed enough to focus on just walking? Like I mentioned before, she will not walk back with her front legs enough.
     

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