Loading stubborn mare by myself. It's just not working!
Miss thing and I are beginning to prepare for our first show in a couple months (well..maybe..if she's sound...). I've been working on loading her, but she is being extraordinarily stubborn! I was able to get her to walk on twice the other day, then praised her and backed her out and we were done.
Today she was having none of it. I searched for other threads and tried some recommendations I found...I tried food, lunging when she wouldn't load, waiting patiently until she decided it was a good idea :P Unfortunately, I am doing this alone. The BO leaves the truck and trailer out for us to practice, but It's difficult to find a time when someone is available to help me. I also read to immediately take her somewhere when she loads, even around the block, but it's not my truck, so stay we must.
Any other ideas for loading by yourself? She marches right up and then plants herself and immediately cocks a foot, looking at me like I have GOT to be kidding. Sigh...I tried walking her on and trying to get her to go on alone. Here she is waiting for me to give up.. Posted via Mobile Device
I had this same problem a while back with a gelding I was working with for a friend with a trainer. It seemed like no matter what I tried he just stopped and stared at me like "Heh you're funny kid if you think I'm crawling on this metal death trap." I got really frustrated and almost gave up. One day I was drooling over Stacy Westfall and watching some old videos when these two videos about trailering popped up:
They really helped me understand a bit better what to do and after using what she suggested I was able to get that gelding up into the trailer without fuss over and over again.
Now I am no expert and still have a whole lot to learn and I am sure that there are tons of much more qualified people out there to help you with this, but this is what helped me so take what you want from it and leave the rest.
LOL, I feel your pain, I am also on my own teaching my guys to load, and it has been a struggle, mainly because once a horse has your number it is very difficult to change their minds, as you say she cocks a leg and looks at you and says "really" because you have tried and quit and now she has learned that if she holds out, you will give up. Don't worry I was in that place as well, and it is going to be a battle but you can turn it around again, but you must set aside a whole day if needed so you can work on it until you win.
Those videos that aerie posted are totally excellent, and definitely start with them. I started with getting my mare to move away from the tapping properly, and sending her in and out of a door way before even trying it at the trailer, one mare, this worked like a charm, and I always load her this way.
For Ben it worked a couple of times, then he learned to swing his butt away from me and resist, he is also so tall that he was making my arm ache keeping tapping him on the butt, so I progressed to a butt rope
That allowed me to control his back end, while still tapping, or I would get on the trailer and use the halter and the butt rope to bring him on after me.
Then that stopped working and a very nice cowboy took him off of me at the arena one day and did the whole lunging and sending on thing, it took him an hour, but it worked, and it continues to work again and again. I wasn't a believer before, but now I am!
Thank you both! Those videos were great. I will try that tomorrow. I have a feeling, though, that she will just swing her butt away instead of walking forward, which is my fault. In my quest to make her yield to pressure, she's gotten too good at it and now always wants to be facing me. But maybe if I'm persistent enough, it will work. I'm leery of trying a butt rope because with her, there's the possibility that she will blow up and I don't want any negativity or force associated with the trailer. Golden Horse, was Ben okay with having the rope behind him from the start? Posted via Mobile Device
This is similar to CA's Lunging for Respect. We had some trouble a few years ago with my 16'3hh gelding not loading well. We closed off all but the last stall in our 4-horse slant load step up (no ramp) trailer, and got him to "rest" in the trailer. After that I have NO trouble getting him to load by myself, when I take them all to the farrier, one hour's drive away.
ALSO, when I back my horses out, which you should always do, I watch their back feet first and I say, "and...down" when they are taking the step down. I repeat for the other three feet. I thought I was the only one who did this, then I found out that Lynn Palm also does this for her horses.
Any extra ropes like in the picture above can easily get caught on metal or chains in your trailer. Even my heavily traveled and excellent at trailering (15yo) mare panicked when she tried to turn around and get caught. Please don't use the butt rope.
No Ben never panicked with the butt rope, but then I am a first class uncoordinated klutz, so anyone joining our happy home quickly gets used to having ropes draped over under and around them, I don't want the first time they get tangled in a line to be when we are working and have a wreck.
I get everyone used to being lunged with two lines, so the feeling of pressure on the butt is not new to them, but it being used as a leading aid is. I have to say that the risk of getting caught with the butt rope is negligible, seeing as it isn't tied off anywhere, as long as a horse is used to ropes, you wont have any issue, and it is a great tool, definitely and positively keeping it in my box of tricks. Just to be clear though, it has to bee a proper lasso, and you just sling the noose part over their rear end, I have trimmed an old lariat to the right length, (read previous klutz comment) so it is the same length as my lead rope when I am up in front. You are not using it to pull a horse on, but to connect both ends together, and for Willow it was to keep her butt straight while I was tapping, as she would swing away.
I have to load a 16hh stubborn Thoroughbred on my own half the time.
There are 2 ways you could do it.
#1- Take a lunge line and loop it around something and bring it back to the end of the trailer. Get her as close as you can to the edge. Pull on it, whilegiving a que. I commonly use the 'snake sound', make like a hissing snake sound or a stern Yup-Yup. I do either. If she doesn't go, I would take a dressage whip and just start tapping her on the hindquarters while pulling her head forward. Just lightly tapping, not whipping. If she takes a step. Stop and praise like she just won the derby. And continue with each step. But make her stand in the trainer for a while. Don't let her just come out right away. Rub her down, give her hay, etc.. Make the trailer the greatest thing that ever existed!
#2- Run the lunge line through again, but also tie another one to the side of the trailer. Bring the one tied on the side right around her hindquarters, but don't let it get to low or she will start kicking. Do a come-and-release type of thing. Pull the line through the trailer and the butt rope at the same time with equal pressure and hold it. If she steps forward stop and praise. If she tries to resist and back up, release pressure on the line going in the front but keep some pressure on the butt rope. Doing it this way will also prevent or help with her if she decided to run backwards out of the trailer.
We do the 2nd method a lot with our stud. We get someone in the trailer keeping his head straight and then hook one of the side of the stock trailer. The feeling of it once it touches his hindquarters and he walks like a pro in. If we don't have it, we have a major rearing fit.
When training a horse to trailer, or working with those I already know don't load well... I set up my rig, take a mug of coffee, sometimes a book - and get the horse lined up, ask them to face the open doors/ramp and keep them facing it... And wait.
If the horse tries to leave or look elsewhere I will remind them to keep looking at the trailer by asking them to step forward or just increase pressure until they do... Then relax when they are once again staring into the "dark, metal horse eating death trap". It usually doesn't take too long before they come to the understanding that the "correct" way to respond is to enter the trailer... And will at least TRY. (To which they get rewarded by going for a short walk break, and then back up to the trailer to see if we can either get loaded or if they did get on, then do it faster. We have had tremendous luck with doing it this way and getting horses which are happy and comfortable loading and standing in the trailer. (Nothing worse than getting loaded only to realize the horse is nothing but tense in there and ready to blow apart)
I will use food rewards IN the trailer for some horses, but not always, and it actually seems to have little to do with how quicky they grasp the concept... Every one of the ones we have worked with have just decided that it is FAR more boring to stand there looking at the trailer than it is worth.