Need trailer training advice!

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Need trailer training advice!

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    03-15-2011, 05:54 PM
Question Need trailer training advice!

My family recently purchased a 3 horse slant load trailer, my QH gelding is having a lot of trouble with trailer training. It is a "big" horse trailer meant for warmbloods, and I moved all of the dividers to the side, so it is VERY roomy (well as roomy as horse trailer can be). Anyway, he has been trailed in the past, so I know he is capable of going into a trailer. Most of the trailers he has been have been bumper pulls, since I have owned him (6 years) he has been in one slant load.

At the beginning of training he would walk into the trailer fine then fly out backwards within seconds. Then I focused on getting him to turn around, and then walk out. I didn't want his "escape" out to being flying out backing up- instead I wanted him to turn around before walking out since there is enough room for him to be turned around. If he happens to brush himself up against a divider, or if the divider makes any bit of noise he FREAKS out and starts running out-he just seems freaked out to be inside. Obviously this is not safe. I am at a loss of what to do to get him to be calmer and to eventually be able to be closed into to the trailer. I have watched probably every trailer loading video on YouTube but no video really focuses on the horse actually in the trailer, the videos just show actually loading which he is fine with. He is very proficient with ground work, I have worked on that a lot before starting trailer training.

Does anyone have any tips for getting him to not get complete freaked out once inside the trailer?

Kudos if you read of all that!
Thank You!
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    03-15-2011, 09:55 PM
Load him untill he gets bored with it. He can only be afraid for so many times.
    03-15-2011, 10:35 PM
Super Moderator
Have you done the loading/unloading thingy.? I mean you bring him part way in, then YOU ask him to back out, before he makes that decision. You do it a lot, so that he knows that coming in and coming out are all part of the expereienc, and both happen with equal frequency and calmness.

To be honest, I have very little experience trailer loading, so I will be checking inot this thread to learn more.
    03-15-2011, 10:51 PM
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
Have you done the loading/unloading thingy.? I mean you bring him part way in, then YOU ask him to back out, before he makes that decision. You do it a lot, so that he knows that coming in and coming out are all part of the expereienc, and both happen with equal frequency and calmness.

To be honest, I have very little experience trailer loading, so I will be checking inot this thread to learn more.
Along these lines...put pressure on him with the end of the rope or a longing stick when he's not looking at, making progress, etc. When he looks into, steps into, sniffs, etc, take all pressure away. When he acts like he wants out, that's when you make backing out YOUR idea. Once he gets part way in, lots of love and encouragement, and as he he gets better, you make him wait a little longer.

After he's gotten comfortable, shut the divider.
    03-15-2011, 11:12 PM
Along with what the others have suggested, work him outside the lungeing, sending exercises, backing, etc...everything BUT going up to the trailer, but being near it. Stop him for a bit, and send him toward the trailer, to investigate...when he takes a few steps toward it, then take him away from the trailer. Resume some ground work, and return to the trailer, and do some sending exercises infront of the open trailer doors. Back and forth...when he is calm about going between you and the trailer, stop him and ask him to once again face the trailer, and sniff, or set a foot in...then walk away, and resume some work. Gradually asking him to set two feet in before backing him out and going away from it...eventually he will go in all the way, and again, you will back him out before he can panic, and do some more work. Gradually let him stand in the trailer longer and longer...then taking him out and resuming work. Teaching him this way teaches him that the trailer = his only rest, so it turns out to be a good thing, and almost "his" idea to want to be there.

To teach him to become used to the slant dividers, get him to go in, and just move the divider back and forth, but not really near him. Do this maybe once or twice the first time you start, and then back him out again. Gradually swing the door more, and more, getting closer, and closer, and rewarding him by backing him out WHILE he's calm...You have to really pay attention to his body language; you have to move him out before he tenses up and starts getting fidgity, so if you can only grab the gate the first couple times, fine...that's where you start. Work with his comfort level on the divider part. But since you will have worked with him to make loading his idea, he will likely be alot calmer by that point.

This will take more than a few sessions to sort through, unless he is one of those really smart horses who catches on quickly. Take your time, and do it right I would get him loading well in one session, and the next do some loading, and desensitization with the gate, etc.
    03-16-2011, 12:01 AM
Try bringing a bucket of oats in with you... once he stands in the trailer give him tons of praise and oats... once he figures out he gets lovin when he stays calm hell keep doing it
    03-16-2011, 12:13 AM
My horse had the same problem but with a straight load. What we did wasn't pretty..and really kind of scary lol, but we had tried the whole "being nice, and letting him take his time" thing. (over a course of a year actually) We spent one day. Probably 4 hours of letting him sniff, look in it, getting him halfway..all of that. Then the lady helping me got frustrated. We put a chain over his nose and when he would start to back, we would only let him go so far. It sounds cruel, but he didn't bleed and we didn't leave any marks on him. Once he got the idea that backing up meant "ouch" he decided to go on. We took him for a ride and made sure it was nice and gentle. Got back and unloaded. The next time we tried, he threw a fit, but it only took a few times of him backing up for him to realize what he needed to do. Now? He loads like a dream. No fuss, or anything. Backs off nice and slow, and doesn't move at all while on the road. I always use a chain just in case, but I haven't needed to use it for a long time. Sometimes you have to start out ugly, before you can make it pretty =/

And the best advice I can give you: NEVER EVER EVER, make them back up intentionally off of the trailer. If they try to fly off of it, don't follow that up with jerking on the lead, that will only encourage the behavior. Once they get the idea though, then you can practice loading, and then unloading WHEN you say so.
    03-16-2011, 12:43 AM
Sorry cosmo, but what you said in the last part makes absolutely NO sense.

Yes, if they try backing out hastily, you don't want to jerk them around...I instead put their butts to work.

But getting them to put one foot in, and backing them out intentionally, and calmly, teaches him that this is the correct way to do it...vs flying out. Especially if they are going to do it in a way, such as I have suggested with alternating work, with going up to, or putting a foot in, and backing out of trailer, followed by more work. The horse learns really quickly that he wants to be IN the trailer rather than outside of it. I have literally taught some of the nastiest loaders to self load in less than an hour session doing it with an 'approach and retreat' type way. And some of that time is often spent actually having to teach the horse to lunge, or send back and forth.

Bribing, or conning the horse usually won't work, since a horse has to be comfortable to eat or want to eat, and unfortunately using training devices like chains don't work very effectively very often either with a majority of horses...You HAVE to change the way the horse thinks about being in the trailer, not so much teach him to simply step on. I personally want my horses to want to be in the trailer, not have to rely on a chain, or 'be nice' halter, or any of the like. I can point at the trailer from 14 ft (length of my lead) and my mare will readily go in on her own.
    03-16-2011, 08:22 AM
Thank you such much everyone for your help! I will defiantly use these techniques next training session, I'm really hoping he'll catch on quickly he is very smart. I really appreciate your time and help!
    03-16-2011, 08:33 AM
In the 3-horse slant trailer we had the dividers were removable and not difficult for one person to take them out and put them back in place. Leave the dividers out just until you get your horse loading and unloading calmly and easily. Follow the advice already given in getting one front foot in the trailer and backing him out immediately. Do that with consistency and leaving the foot inside at longer intervals. Then ask him to put his other foot inside the trailer and back him out immediately. Follow-up in the same manner with the hind feet. Working your horse on a lunge line near the trailer is a good idea also.

The dividers can then be introduced to the training process. Once your horse feels safe and secure in the trailer the dividers shouldn't be a big deal to him, hopefully. I have at times when necessary taken the dividers out when I might have had a horse to haul that might get claustrophobic on me. However, never leave a loose horse in a "stock type" trailer. Trailer ties are an absolute must when hauling horses in any fashion.

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