Lack of respect or actual fear??? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Lack of respect or actual fear???

(Sorry, major essay)
While Alli was being backed, we (me + trainer) also tried to get her into a trailer. Don't know her history with trailers before this. To say it didn't go well is an understatment!!! She wouldn't step onto the ramp and when she did she would have a sniff then try to bolt backwards.

At this point it was a handling issue as she completly ignored us and refused to yield to pressure when she was near the trailer. (further back from the trailer she was better but still not as responsive as normal) She has always been a madam on the ground due to never being handled for 6 yrs of her life, but she had improved hugely with backing- pretty much perfect most of the time. 10 mins of groundwork later...

We managed to convince her in and lead her through. *loads of praise in trailer* Braught her back round to make sure it wasn't a fluke and she got almost all the way up the ramp then spun, smacking her head on the side of the trailer in the process. She obviously hurt herself. We got her front legs on the ramp again then called it a day.

2 days later we tried again and she was even worse. It was way too dangerous tbh and i was afraid she would do some serious damage to herself or me or the trainer. Tried everything- Ted (Alli's love of her life lol) in trailer already, channeling with cones etc, lunge whips. Nothing worked!!!! She was getting more and more worked up. Tried relaxing her but as soon as she saw the trailer she acted up again. Ended up doing 5 mins of lunging to calm her down and end on a positive note at the end.

So, did she figure out throwing her weight around got her out of the trailer work, or did she genuinly scare herself hitting her head? What do you guys think??

We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too ~Kristen Martz
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post #2 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 01:20 PM
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I don't know what other's would say but I'd think there are two approaches. Feed her on the ramp, up the ramp and in the trailer over a period of weeks.

Or, ignore the 'fright flight' instinct and just carry on like you did in the first session. Any progress you make, feet on the ramp etc call it a day. She's a baby in her head, and still needing to mature. So, call it a day when you've got her on a bit. Then work slowly to get more and more on. I was always taught NEVER look back at the horse, look forwards, apply pressure. If the horse backs off, back off with it and MAKE it back up more. When you're done, don't stop, just walk forwards. If he doesn't walk on straight away or resists, back him up then walk him on. I don't know if you've done ground work with a whip? I had an old dressage horse that had an accident in a trailer, and refused to load. He knew a whip tapping his bum means hind legs need to move forwards, and it worked wonders for him.
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post #3 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 01:26 PM
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"So, did she figure out throwing her weight around got her out of the trailer work, or did she genuinely scare herself hitting her head"

Both, I think. Now she needs to be desensitized to the trailer. Linda Tellington-Jones has some good exercises for that, or you can use the more standard techniques. I just hope you don't actually need to take her anywhere for a while, LOL.

While you're desensitizing her, you can work on general submissiveness and increasing her trust in you as a leader.
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post #4 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 02:05 PM
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im in the same boat with one of my geldings... goodluck i will be subbing to see some of the suggestions
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post #5 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 02:39 PM
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My self loading horse takes a TON of coaxing to step foot on a ramp.

Do you have access to a trailer without a ramp?
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post #6 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 02:56 PM
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Whether there was fear before or not, after she hit her head, there was/is fear associated with trailers now. "My head gets hit in trailer" is her thought.

It's not about the task; in this case, loading: it's about the relationship she has with you.

You focus on what's going on between the two of you instead of going direct-line to the trailer.

You get her comfortable with your leadership by asking her to do small things at the trailer, but not asking her to focus on it. She'll get excited & focus on it, & you'll see the whole history by that. Eventually, she'll relax as she sees you're not going task-oriented at trailer. You'll just ask her to walk by it, walk between you & it, eventually step on ramp as she walks by, etc.
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post #7 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 03:23 PM
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A trailor is a small, tight, claustrophobic place for a horse, and naturally these are the sort of places horses will want to avoid, so it's your job to show her in the right way how to accept this. It needs to be done with lots of release and good timing and reading her reactions when you give her direction. It should be introduced carefully in a way that the horse will not associate any negative influences towards it otherwise it will anticipate these happening again when you show the horse the same situation again. A horse is a reflection of you, so if you are doing it right, the horse does it right. If you are getting undesired responses, you are giving the horse wrong cues. You need to reflect on yourself as to why this is happening. I believe it is more of a fear issue that's been created (but not by her) and forcing her on with a whip will not help you at all here. JMO
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post #8 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 03:26 PM
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Sorry - just to add: If you haven't yet got a good trusting relationship with this horse yet, I would work on that before attempting loading again.
seeing spots likes this.
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post #9 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 04:37 PM
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I recently purchased a 7yr old mare who for the past 6 years of her life she was completely untouched by humans. The only contact she had was having food thrown to her once in a while up until about 6 months ago when a halter was put on her. She was still living on the property she was born at so she had never seen a trailer. Not only was this mare terrified of the trailer but of people too. what we did was let her aproach and back out of the trailer over and over. This lasted about 45 minutes then once she realized it wasnt going to trap her and eat her, she calmly walked right on and stood there. Give her time to figure it out, go slow. good luck! btw coaxing her with food is a great suggestion that worked with my 3yr old
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post #10 of 17 Old 12-29-2011, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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She is very good now at going where i tell her too and has way more respect for me now. She goes through tight spaces, up onto crates, over plastic bags etc. I have basically done loads of ground work and getting her to be exactly where i want her to be. Now I'm worried that once i face her with a trailer again she'll go "eh- no!" and my good work will go back. I don't have easy access to a trailer but i'll look into it so i can do what Northern said.

But i'm really not sure of the likelyhood of being able to have a trailer for a while. I can get access for a couple of hours or so but what kind of approach should I take? Don't really want to use food because I don't want her to associate recieving food instead of listening to me.

We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too ~Kristen Martz
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