Need some suggestions for moving a trailerphobic horse
   

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Need some suggestions for moving a trailerphobic horse

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    07-22-2011, 02:33 PM
  #1
Foal
Need some suggestions for moving a trailerphobic horse

Once upon a time my horse learned to load in and out of a trailer, that was over a year ago. But when we had her moved to bring her closer to home she had an accident where she was unfortunatly forced into a two horse straightload and she thought it was a good idea to attempt to climb out the window over the feedbox infront of her. The result was 35 stitches and a drain, a scratched cornea, and a scrape that barely missed her eye on the other side from her rearing up and trying to climb out. And it left her with a fear of going into trailers and other enclosed spaces. We've worked on her fear of enclosed spaces and she normally no longer has any problem with them. However she cannot bring herself to step up into the trailer. She knows very well what I'm asking her to do she just cannot seem to overcome her fear of stepping up into a trailer, I know she knows what I'm asking as she will try for me but its blatently obvious she is terrified. I've tried everything I can think of to get her in, Lunging her close to the trailer and trying to get her to rest inside. That turns into a full out battle with her trying to bolt away and kicking at me. Then trying to feed her inside is no use as she cannot bring herself to go inside. No pushing or waiting has helped either. The thing that has worked the most is keeping constant pressure on her halter and waiting till she steps closer then release then retry again. She'll get to the point where she attempts to step up but she knocks her front legs and quits trying as soon as she does.

She is to be moved closer to where I live next weekend and I need suggestions on what I can do to get her to relax and overcome her fear of stepping into a trailer. It will be an open two horse slant/stock type trailer. She is also the type of horse that does not take well to being forced into anything regardless of what it is. She will fight till she is absoultely exhausted or till someone gets hurt. She does much better if she's asked to do something and given the opportunity to figure it out on her own.

Thank you in advance for you advice.
     
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    07-22-2011, 02:50 PM
  #2
Weanling
Does she have a buddy horse? Maybe you can hold her near the trailer and have someone load her friend in. Feed the buddy horse and let your mare reason through it. Unload the horse, let your mare check out the buddy and see for herself that no harm came to it. Circle both, and lead both horses a bit closer to the trailer. Reload buddy horse and let your mare watch. Give buddy a treat. Unload, let your mare check him over again and circle both a bit closer to the trailer. Repeat. When she's comfortable standing right near the trailer, ask her to step up beside her buddy. If she hesitates, don't force it. Just circle her again and ask a second time. Be patient.

Just keep reinforcing to your mare that no harm will come from the trailer. Let her learn by example, with a horse that loads easily and safely into the trailer.
     
    07-22-2011, 10:50 PM
  #3
Yearling
If it is a possibilty, get your horse to step up onto something that isn't the trailer. My trainer has us send the horses through barrels, to get used to being squeezed in the trailer. Then she has a raised wooden platform that the horses step up onto. If you have those type of things available, that would be a great simmulation to get the horse used to the idea of a trailer. Then a trailer could become just like the obstacles that she practices with daily.

Other ideas would be the buddy horse, which someone already explained. If your horse is really herd oriented then that could work, or just the visual of a horse being safe and calm in the trailer.

Good luck to you. Horses are smart animals, and I'm sure after a while she will understand where you are coming from and overcome her fear.
     
    07-22-2011, 11:02 PM
  #4
Showing
I had a horse that was a very hard loader (after being scared to death on trailer). I tried 3 or 4 trainers and only the last one was able to get her on. What he did was yes, he worked her HARD next to the trailer. Not lunge around, but lunge half circle pass the trailer door, turn, lunge back pass the trailer door, turn, lunge again, etc. He only stopped when she stopped to look into the trailer. Then he asked her to get on, she refused, he lunged again.

Not the most "nice" method. But I tried basically EVERYTHING else and nothing worked with her.
     
    07-24-2011, 12:26 AM
  #5
Super Moderator
I am going to draw more than one naysayer here, but I just do not believe that horses have or show fears and phobias like people do or like people think they do.

I think they can and do 'panic' after really bad experiences and then they just plain decide they are going to say "No!" to anything similar.

I have re-habed a number of horses that have been in trailer wrecks. My old stallion I owned for many years became mine because he was in a bad trailer wreck and crippled. He had to be cut out of an over-tuned trailer and spent a year in a sling at the University of Mich where they saved his life. His left leg was almost severed at the knee with the joint capsule and all the ligaments severed or badly damaged.

The other horses that I have re-trained that had been in over-turned trailers but were not hurt as badly, all got over it and hauled regularly. One was a roping horse. After I re-trained him for his owner, they went right back to hauling him to ropings 2 or more times a week.

I have re-habed TB race horses that flipped in the starting gate, got up-side-down in it and had to be drug out by several men. Needles to say, starting gates, trailers and doctoring stocks were not on these horses' plates.

I had a horse arrive up-side-down in a 2 horse trailer at my training stable. We tied his body to a post and drove the trailer out from under him. He was in self-destruct mode and was going to kill himself if we did not get him out quickly. Two women were all that was anywhere around -- the trailer/ horse owner and myself. You do what you have to do.

I found out that you can over-think and over-compensate for a horse's past quite easily. I have found it best to establish a very strong respect bond and get these damaged horses VERY, VERY obedient. When you do, they will come to depend entirely on you and will not fight you. When you do, they are nervous when put into the situation they fear, but they get over it.

I have found that using a 'draw-halter' or a 'lip-string' to teach a horse to step forward when told will get ALL of them in the trailer or starting gate or stocks or other place that they fear. This is the ultimate 'pressure and release' mechanism that one can use to train a horse to do what it really does not want to do.

There are two main things that have to be adhered to:

1) You have to do everything with them in a calm and quiet manner. You have to make them uncomfortable when they do not step forward, but you never want to go far enough to actually hurt them. You absolutely HAVE to keep them in a 'thinking mode'. Hurting them will put them on the defense and make them react. A reacting horse shuts down all thinking and learning.

2) You have to recognize when a horse is 'thinking and responding' and when a horse is going into a reactive and non-thinking mode.

Absolutely no learning takes place when a horse is reacting and not responding.

So, the instant a horse has been pushed too far or too hard and it starts to blow up
Get mad
Sull up
Resist in any way
You need to back off and let the horse get back into a thinking mode. This is probably the most important thing I try to teach people when I attempt to teach them to 'read' a horse.

The secret to it working is to put them in and back them out BEFORE they 'blow up'. Do this many times - keeping them in for a longer period of time each time and they will get over it.

My old stallion, Doty's Socks Jr, learned to get back into a trailer this way and was hauled in a 2 horse from Indiana to Western Colorado when I bought him.

The horse in this post is 'reactive' and the owner is fighting the horse which makes it even more reactive.

I do not have time right now to put together an entire post that goes into minute detail on how to get a horse quietly into a trailer with this method. I have said quite a bit about it before, but I will try to put the exact details of how it works. I will say that in the last 45+ years that I have used this method, it has never failed to get a horse in a trailer -- usually within an hour and it will load repeatedly in any trailer -- day or night -- anywhere. It will go in the trailer for no reason other than you told it to and you have taught it that what you say is what it must do. It is not an 'or else' thing. It is a thing where the horse just wants to do it 'your way' -- like Burger King.
     
    07-24-2011, 02:02 PM
  #6
Foal
I agree with kitten_Val. Work the horse hard around the trailer and let the trailer be the rest area.
     
    07-24-2011, 02:53 PM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
I am going to draw more than one naysayer here, but I just do not believe that horses have or show fears and phobias like people do or like people think they do.

I think they can and do 'panic' after really bad experiences and then they just plain decide they are going to say "No!" to anything similar.

I have re-habed a number of horses that have been in trailer wrecks. My old stallion I owned for many years became mine because he was in a bad trailer wreck and crippled. He had to be cut out of an over-tuned trailer and spent a year in a sling at the University of Mich where they saved his life. His left leg was almost severed at the knee with the joint capsule and all the ligaments severed or badly damaged.

The other horses that I have re-trained that had been in over-turned trailers but were not hurt as badly, all got over it and hauled regularly. One was a roping horse. After I re-trained him for his owner, they went right back to hauling him to ropings 2 or more times a week.

I have re-habed TB race horses that flipped in the starting gate, got up-side-down in it and had to be drug out by several men. Needles to say, starting gates, trailers and doctoring stocks were not on these horses' plates.

I had a horse arrive up-side-down in a 2 horse trailer at my training stable. We tied his body to a post and drove the trailer out from under him. He was in self-destruct mode and was going to kill himself if we did not get him out quickly. Two women were all that was anywhere around -- the trailer/ horse owner and myself. You do what you have to do.

I found out that you can over-think and over-compensate for a horse's past quite easily. I have found it best to establish a very strong respect bond and get these damaged horses VERY, VERY obedient. When you do, they will come to depend entirely on you and will not fight you. When you do, they are nervous when put into the situation they fear, but they get over it.

I have found that using a 'draw-halter' or a 'lip-string' to teach a horse to step forward when told will get ALL of them in the trailer or starting gate or stocks or other place that they fear. This is the ultimate 'pressure and release' mechanism that one can use to train a horse to do what it really does not want to do.

There are two main things that have to be adhered to:

1) You have to do everything with them in a calm and quiet manner. You have to make them uncomfortable when they do not step forward, but you never want to go far enough to actually hurt them. You absolutely HAVE to keep them in a 'thinking mode'. Hurting them will put them on the defense and make them react. A reacting horse shuts down all thinking and learning.

2) You have to recognize when a horse is 'thinking and responding' and when a horse is going into a reactive and non-thinking mode.

Absolutely no learning takes place when a horse is reacting and not responding.

So, the instant a horse has been pushed too far or too hard and it starts to blow up
Get mad
Sull up
Resist in any way
You need to back off and let the horse get back into a thinking mode. This is probably the most important thing I try to teach people when I attempt to teach them to 'read' a horse.

The secret to it working is to put them in and back them out BEFORE they 'blow up'. Do this many times - keeping them in for a longer period of time each time and they will get over it.

My old stallion, Doty's Socks Jr, learned to get back into a trailer this way and was hauled in a 2 horse from Indiana to Western Colorado when I bought him.

The horse in this post is 'reactive' and the owner is fighting the horse which makes it even more reactive.

I do not have time right now to put together an entire post that goes into minute detail on how to get a horse quietly into a trailer with this method. I have said quite a bit about it before, but I will try to put the exact details of how it works. I will say that in the last 45+ years that I have used this method, it has never failed to get a horse in a trailer -- usually within an hour and it will load repeatedly in any trailer -- day or night -- anywhere. It will go in the trailer for no reason other than you told it to and you have taught it that what you say is what it must do. It is not an 'or else' thing. It is a thing where the horse just wants to do it 'your way' -- like Burger King.
Cherie, I really wish you were closer to me sometimes. I could learn a lot in a few lessons from you.
     
    07-24-2011, 03:04 PM
  #8
Trained
My horse was also in a trailer wreck. He now loads into an appropriately sized trailer with the lead over his neck.

Get a 7'6 trailer with a ramp and back it up to a chute so the horse has one option and make it simple. Don't pull on her face because that generates a fight or flight response. Use pressure from behind (ie flick your lead rope at her haunches while walking at her shoulder) if she stops and reward her responses to you. Use an appropriate amount of pressure and as said before if she's going to have a fit, get out of the way and let her get over it. Have patience and timing and make everything crystal clear to her.

Good luck!
Posted via Mobile Device
     
    07-24-2011, 03:09 PM
  #9
Banned
If its a stock trailer take out the median and run her in. Not really safe. But works. BTW what your doing will work fine if you have time. Your horse just needs to be taught to not fear the trailer. My oldest gelding had a trailering accident too. We taught him about the same as you- it took us a long time though. The only problem now is that he won't be the first one in the trailer Everybody else has to be in first. Trailering alone is sometimes a struggle but he always gets in. Good Luck
     
    07-25-2011, 09:55 AM
  #10
Foal
I am busy working with a horse that has almost killed a very experienced loader. He could not be loaded in a trailer or two box. I have managed to get him loaded into trailer no problem. We are still working on two box. He is now getting in about half way without the least fear. I think it takes a lot of hard work and patience to help a frightened horse get to a stage where he will box without any fear. All I can say is if you have to load him and don't have the time to work on this problem get someone with experience. I have seen what can happen when a horse refuse to load and the loader don't have the needed expertise. You or the horse can be killed.
     

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