My horse will not back off a float/trailer?
 
 

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My horse will not back off a float/trailer?

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  • Backing horses off floats
  • Horse afraid to step down off trailer

 
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    04-09-2011, 07:38 PM
  #1
Started
My horse will not back off a float/trailer?

First off, I find this kind of funny, because I know most travelling problems are getting the horse into the mode of transport, not out.

Mitchell was a race horse, and was always trucked so he would turn around to come off. When I bought him I *floated him home, we had no problems getting him on and tied up. However he is a big horse and must have been either impatient or felt closed in, as we closed it up and talked to owners for a minute and he started jumping around and rocking the trailer... It was actually properly rocking. He was fine once we started moving though.

We knew he had always been trucked, even with them, and the owners were really nice in that when we arrived to pick him up, they had him in their horse float and were trying to teach him to back off for me. (They have both a truck and a float) He eventually did get off but I think he may have turned and squashed himself around so he could walk off forwards.

Anyway, We got him home and parked in the paddock incase he decided to rush off, we untied him, opened up the ramp, and he stood there. And stood there. And stood there. And stood there some more. We tried to push on his chest (he does back on the ground, not undersaddle though) and he would take a step back, then lean forwards until he was back against the chest bar. Then would look out the side door as if to say "i'm supposed to walk out that one forwards" so we shut that door hoping he would realise the only way he could get out was backwards.
-He stood in there for the good part of an hour and never figured it out. He did stand quite patiently though.
We ended up getting our neighbour (who's float we had borrowed) and he tried, even put the lead rope in his mouth and pushed backwards, and Mitch didn't budge. So he ended up being turned around and taken off forwards. -We were lucky the float was quite a big one because he is not a small horse and I was afraid he would get stuck turning around.

Any idea's on how to teach him to back off the float?

-My farrier suggested starve him for a day, take him for a ride in the float, then untie him and pull the ramp down and stand there outside the float with a bucket of feed because he will come to one. But to tell you the truth I would rather not try this method because I'm not keen on starving him just because he's confused on how to do something(seeing as he's not doing it to be naughty), and I know that the most likely event will result in Mitch trying to turn in the float to come out forwards, and either getting stuck, or freaking out because he is confused and doesn't know how to get out.

*Float = New Zealand term for horse trailer.
And P.S, sorry for the novel
     
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    04-09-2011, 08:22 PM
  #2
Weanling
Please do not starve him for a day. I always hate that when people suggest it. You know you can really do damage especially if this horse was say slightly insulin resistant. No big surprise to you - he is not confident about the trailer. Sometimes they won't go in and sometimes they won't come out. Really what you need to do is practice sending him in and making the trailer a place of rest and comfort. I would practice sending him into the trailer everyday or at least every time I play with him as part of your ground time. If he is really nervous just start by asking him to touch the trailer and walk around it. Gradually ask for more like say touching the inside of the trailer, then putting his front feet into the trailer and then getting into the trailer etc. Now as far as backing goes he has to be able to back with your command from behind him. You should practice backing at a fence first stand in front, then at the shoulder then at his side, then at his butt, then behind him. Then you could put plywood on the ground and repeat the lessons. Then I think you'll find it'll be way easier for him to do it in the trailer. Pat Parelli has a trailer loading video ... maybe someone else knows of a good one. I really prefer teaching them to go in ahead of me into the trailer and then backing out one leg at time etc...
     
    04-10-2011, 12:14 AM
  #3
Super Moderator
This is a very common problem, especially if the horse has been allowed to always turn around and go out forward.

We just put a lead-rope on each side and 2 people just simultaneously pull the horse out backwards. I have seen people do all kinds of other things, but a good part of the time they do not convince the horse that it is safe to back out. They just step 1 foot down and then jump right back in and barge all the way to the front of the trailer.

So, when all else fails, most horses just need to be pulled out. The second time is easier and one person can usually do it by the 3rd or 4th time. They find out it is OK and then they are fine with it. Just like they convince themselves that they should not do it, they can easily be taught in one lesson that it is OK.
     
    04-10-2011, 01:40 AM
  #4
Yearling
Cherie is absolutely right - we call it "driving them out". Just be sure that:

1. The halter is a flat/web halter NOT a rope halter - attach the lines to the side rings - use long lines - when some come out they fly, others are all over the place while others come out just fine.
2. The people pulling pull EVENLY and STRAIGHT back - you do NOT want the horse's head to be pulled to one side or the other
3. Keep the lines low and even along the sides of the horse - it will discourage rearing

It also helps if you have a person at the front of the horse pushing the horse back as well. If you don't have a 3rd person, close the escape door before driving a horse out - I've seen horses try to go/climb through the escape door, into the manger, etc. when in that "forward - I gotta get out" mind set. NOT pretty, not to mention dangerous.

Good luck!
     
    04-10-2011, 01:56 AM
  #5
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Horse Poor    
It also helps if you have a person at the front of the horse pushing the horse back as well. If you don't have a 3rd person, close the escape door before driving a horse out - I've seen horses try to go/climb through the escape door, into the manger, etc. when in that "forward - I gotta get out" mind set. NOT pretty, not to mention dangerous.
Just to add to this, it doesn't matter how small the opening is. I saw a horse climb out of a feed gate which was around 2ft by 3 1/2ft. His feed window for crying out loud!

Does the trailer/float have a ramp? I know that some horses don't like having to step down off of the ledge and a ramp can make it easier. And, with some horses, it can be the exact opposite.
     
    04-10-2011, 02:13 AM
  #6
Foal
My thought through all these posts is just to try EVERYTHING. Don't get stuck on one method until you find which one works the best. And also, if you find one that works, is safe, and he enjoys but take a little more time, DO IT. Don't pull the "But we don't have time" card. It won't turn out well if you rush him. Allow him to think about what you've just asked him. My biggest fear in the whole world is a horse freaking out in a trailer with a person in there. Even without, it's terrible.
-That's just my two cents of course :) I'm sure you're a responsible horse owner but it's never awful to be reminded. :P
     
    04-10-2011, 06:06 AM
  #7
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by LikeIke17    
My thought through all these posts is just to try EVERYTHING. Don't get stuck on one method until you find which one works the best. And also, if you find one that works, is safe, and he enjoys but take a little more time, DO IT. Don't pull the "But we don't have time" card. It won't turn out well if you rush him. Allow him to think about what you've just asked him. My biggest fear in the whole world is a horse freaking out in a trailer with a person in there. Even without, it's terrible.
-That's just my two cents of course :) I'm sure you're a responsible horse owner but it's never awful to be reminded. :P
I will be trying everything, I know a friend of mine had a horse the same and in the end she took him to a show and left him untied in the trailer with the ramp down and he eventually just backed out on his own when he got bored in there by that time it was time to go home though.

I definitely won't be pulling the "I don't have time" card, I have lots of spare time, which is usually spent with my horses anyway, the harder thing is though that I don't have a trailer, so I would be borrowing my neighbours one again.

-to the bold text, my thoughts exactly. I don't want him (or any other horse for that matter) freaking out with someone inside, or freaking out at all to be honest. I know someone who's horse freaked out in the trailer and broke the leadrope off his halter, then proceeded to turn himself around and actually try to jump out of the back door above the ramp, he succeeded in doing so on the main highway but got his legs stuck in the top of the door.
     
    04-10-2011, 06:09 AM
  #8
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLovedOne    
Please do not starve him for a day. I always hate that when people suggest it. You know you can really do damage especially if this horse was say slightly insulin resistant. No big surprise to you - he is not confident about the trailer. Sometimes they won't go in and sometimes they won't come out. Really what you need to do is practice sending him in and making the trailer a place of rest and comfort. I would practice sending him into the trailer everyday or at least every time I play with him as part of your ground time. If he is really nervous just start by asking him to touch the trailer and walk around it. Gradually ask for more like say touching the inside of the trailer, then putting his front feet into the trailer and then getting into the trailer etc. Now as far as backing goes he has to be able to back with your command from behind him. You should practice backing at a fence first stand in front, then at the shoulder then at his side, then at his butt, then behind him. Then you could put plywood on the ground and repeat the lessons. Then I think you'll find it'll be way easier for him to do it in the trailer. Pat Parelli has a trailer loading video ... maybe someone else knows of a good one. I really prefer teaching them to go in ahead of me into the trailer and then backing out one leg at time etc...
I am definitely not going to starve him, if my farrier wasn't a good one and the only one i'm able to get out, I think I may have slapped him for even suggest I starve my horse
I see it as unfair, possibly even abuse, to starve an animal for being confused. He hasn't done anything wrong, hasn't been naughty, he's just confused. -Would my parents starve me to teach me how to do something? I think not.

I think I may try this method, when I can get hold of a float again for a while, and I should be able to because there are a lot around here.
     
    04-10-2011, 06:17 AM
  #9
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
This is a very common problem, especially if the horse has been allowed to always turn around and go out forward.

We just put a lead-rope on each side and 2 people just simultaneously pull the horse out backwards. I have seen people do all kinds of other things, but a good part of the time they do not convince the horse that it is safe to back out. They just step 1 foot down and then jump right back in and barge all the way to the front of the trailer.

So, when all else fails, most horses just need to be pulled out. The second time is easier and one person can usually do it by the 3rd or 4th time. They find out it is OK and then they are fine with it. Just like they convince themselves that they should not do it, they can easily be taught in one lesson that it is OK.
It's not very common around here, the more common problem where I am is getting the horse into the float. I once saw a guy that lives close to me, fold up a lunge rope and BEAT his horse with the rope because the horse didn't want to get in the float This poor horse was 6yo and nervous about getting in the trailer! And he was being smacked so hard with the rope he was literally jumping off the ground, all four legs at once off the ground, he was petrified.

Quote:
Cherie is absolutely right - we call it "driving them out". Just be sure that:

1. The halter is a flat/web halter NOT a rope halter - attach the lines to the side rings - use long lines - when some come out they fly, others are all over the place while others come out just fine.
2. The people pulling pull EVENLY and STRAIGHT back - you do NOT want the horse's head to be pulled to one side or the other
3. Keep the lines low and even along the sides of the horse - it will discourage rearing

It also helps if you have a person at the front of the horse pushing the horse back as well. If you don't have a 3rd person, close the escape door before driving a horse out - I've seen horses try to go/climb through the escape door, into the manger, etc. when in that "forward - I gotta get out" mind set. NOT pretty, not to mention dangerous.

Good luck!
I've always been taught to travel horses in either leather halters or web halters anyway, I save my rope halters for around home .
I think this may be a thing I will try during my school holidays, with a friend of mine who rides the scariest of things.

-to the bold text, I've heard about one that tried (and partially suceeded) to jump out over top of the ramp one day. That would have been scary.
And I would rather keep things as safe os possible, Mitch is a big boy
     
    04-10-2011, 06:24 AM
  #10
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arksly    
Just to add to this, it doesn't matter how small the opening is. I saw a horse climb out of a feed gate which was around 2ft by 3 1/2ft. His feed window for crying out loud!

Does the trailer/float have a ramp? I know that some horses don't like having to step down off of the ledge and a ramp can make it easier. And, with some horses, it can be the exact opposite.
Oh blimey that would have been horrifying to watch .

Yeah and it was quite a... ****, brain fart... Not steep one.
     

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