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This is a discussion on Loading Up within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Are horses allowed to stick their heads out the trailer window
  • Teach horse to automatically load up

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    09-27-2012, 12:38 AM
  #1
Foal
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I apologize if this has already been asked somewhere... I couldn't find it! :P

How do you get a horse to "automatically" load into a trailer? I've heard of people doing this and I just wouldn't even know where to start. I think it's a great skill. Is it possible to do it in a slant load? Getting my horses to get in by themselves would be great, I'd love to see that kind of confidence in them.

Mind you, they get in perfectly with me leading them in. I'm just wondering if there is another step I can do to make them confident enough to get in themselves and "load up"?

Thank you!
     
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    09-27-2012, 12:44 AM
  #2
Yearling
Personally from my experience in getting my filly to load by walking her up to any trailer (specifically my very skinny and dark two horse straight load) I had to get her very familiar with being inside the trailer. So I would load her in reward her and often keep her in there for like 15-20 minutes to reinforce that it wasn't any different than if I had lead her into a stall and kept her in there so to speak. Now I stand her outside the trailer point and throw the lead over her back and she loads right in. Obviously this probably wouldn't work so well if your horse had a fear of trailering/loading.
     
    09-27-2012, 12:44 AM
  #3
Yearling
I just do like I would on a lunge line. I point in the direction of the trailer and say walk on. Where I point is the direction asked to go. I never really taught them specifically using the trailer its just part of my longing routine
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    09-27-2012, 12:57 AM
  #4
Yearling
Practice leading in many times until its easy and fluid then try it Just walk your horse up to the trailer, facing in, then drape the lead rope over the neck and cluck. If the horse turns away, just catch it and bring it back to facing. Try again and reward for any movement towards the trailer.

My mare was the worst about loading. She often needed to be lunged outside the trailer until she was ready. Then my friend said she thought my horse wanted to do it herself and got me to let her try. She did it the first try! And now that's how we do it. She is less anxious and never refuses anymore. Not sure why!
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    09-27-2012, 01:06 AM
  #5
Foal
Do you go in and tie your horses up or leave them be with the rope over their neck?

How about getting them back out? Tell them to back....?

Again, all of this must work with a slant load. (Though I can't really imagine it'd be that much different. Except there is more room to turn/move.)
     
    09-27-2012, 01:39 AM
  #6
Yearling
I never tie my horse because I never tie in my trailer as I use it w/o the divider so in a slant you're probably going to tie I would imagine.

When I first was having her load I would let her turn around since I was focusing more on the loading part. As the loading part was down pat I started making her back out but she is also trained via driving voice commands so I verbally and sternly told her to back until she was stepping out then I would praise her. Now she's very good and very confident in backing out to the point where she actually prefers to back out than turn around.

All this was done over the span of about two weeks of very gradual progression for instance I started out with the trailer all open and airy then progressed until the entire trailer was dark and closed exept for one door.
     
    09-27-2012, 02:46 AM
  #7
Foal
Any time one of our horses had trouble loading, we would do the usual, walk in a little further each time, rest for thirty secs, back out, rest again for thirty secs. Always give positive reinforcement for both. We also began to feed their grain once they were comfortable enough to stand fully in, we would feed them in the trailer for a week, standing closely nearby to monitor for safety. You can do this technique in either a straight-load or a slant. Have the food already at the front so they have to be fully in to eat it and then close the door or slant bars.
     
    09-27-2012, 09:25 AM
  #8
Super Moderator
One of the very first things we teach every horse is that a "smooch" means to move -- right now. Our body language or where we are standing tells a horse where to move to or from. For example, if I am saddling a horse tied to the arena fence and I want it to step over to make more room, as I stand even with its hip, I "smooch" and it steps over a step. Every horse I have will do this. If my hand is held out in front of the horse and I smooch, the horse will walk forward -- like through a gate.

So, When I first load a horse, I smooch as I lead a horse into a trailer. After the first few times that horse is loaded, I can hold my hand out (like I did with the gate), smooch and the horse will step right in. After a time or two, I can just head toward the trailer, toss the rope over his back and in he goes. They all automatically go to the front with their heads on the left side of the trailer, I reach in, grab the rope and tie the horse. It works with my show trailer with dividers and drop down windows or with the big stock trailer where I can tie 10 or 11 head along the left side.
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    09-27-2012, 09:48 AM
  #9
mls
Trained
All of our horses just do it. They enjoy doing things and they know getting in the trailer means fun. No kissing, no smooching. Most often it's a matter of making the horse wait their turn to get in!

We tie in the stock trailer as we typically only use that to haul more than 3. One person in the trailer, the person with the horse just flips the rope onto the neck and the horse pops in. With the slant load, we unclip the lead, horse hops in and we shut the divider behind them.
     
    09-27-2012, 10:18 AM
  #10
Green Broke
I taught my horse Red, and will be teaching my yearling, that when I throw the lead over his back and tap his hip with my hand and cluck, it means to load up. Now.

Right now I am using a bumper pull 3 horse slant with rear tack. Red will hop right into that 3rd and back stall no problem. I just give him his cue.

I taught this to him through lunging, but the main idea to convey is that when I tap his hip, it means to move forward. And you need to make sure your body language conveys where you want the horse to go. If you are too far in front of his shoulder, he'll go the opposite way from forward (because your body is "blocking" him) versus if you are standing behind his shoulder closer to the hip, which means go foward.

So I used lunging to teach him the "go forward" cue when I tap his hip. And then incorporated that "go forward" cue when I stand him at the door of the trailer, throw the lead over his back, and ask him to go forward into the trailer.

I always have all the drop down windows open on the trailer, so they can stick their head out. It gets them up into the stall farther and makes it easy to close the butt bar. Then its also easy to remove their lead rope, and clip on the trailer lead rope to tie.

When it's time to unload, I again open the windows so I can unhook the trailer tie. I always do that BEFORE opening the trailer and/or butt bar so they can't possibly fly backward and create a wreck while still tied.

Then I just pull backward on their halter (through the window for that back stall, because there's no room for a human) and say "back". And that's their cue to back out of the trailer. This you may need to teach by putting the horse in the front stall so that you have the room to walk up there with them to unload them, and back them off yourself, so they'll eventually know that's what you want them to do when you give them that cue in the back stall.
     

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