New to trailers

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New to trailers

This is a discussion on New to trailers within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
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    04-10-2010, 01:37 PM
Question New to trailers

Ok so Red goes to the trainer in a month & the last time he was in a trailer he was probly too young to remeber it now. How would I get him used to trialers????
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    04-10-2010, 02:45 PM
If you have the capability in your pasture setup, park your trailer inside the pasture or in the entrance to your pasture, ramp open, so your horse can explore inside it without the pressure of people around to force him in it. Most importantly, when it comes time to learn to load, expect your horse to load without problems, and he will have more incentive to do what you ask. If you have no expectations of him, he won't go out of his way to load for you
    04-10-2010, 09:00 PM
I agree with being rather matter of fact with it, acting as if it's going to be a non event. But likely as not, it'll be a huge event for the horse & he may find trusting you to go into a trailer very hard. In that case, Lots of approach & retreat, gradually getting him confident & comfortable with small steps along the way is the best, IMO. Don't push him to do more than he's almost comfortable with, until he's fully comfortable & that comfort zone has stretched a bit further. That way, even if you run into trouble at some point, he's still really confident with prior steps, so you don't have to back up very far to overcome the rest.

I'd be doing it in lots of very short, easy sessions, with lots of negative reinforcement/stress free breaks in between. I also like to get them comfortable with the trailer as but one of many obstacles or tasks they learn, rather than focussing on it as the one important Job.

Another thing I've found is that much of the time going in is not the most scary thing, but backing out is. Therefore I also first make sure the horse is excellent at yielding to pressure & suggestion, especially backwards, and practice asking him to go in just a few steps then back, repeatedly.
    04-10-2010, 11:14 PM
Also, I've heard that feeding their hay near the trailer works. Start out putting it a few feet away from the ramp and gradually move it so it's in the trailer eventually
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    04-11-2010, 02:28 AM
Some one also suggested to lure him in w food. Im not so sure about it. Any thoughts on that one? Thank you for the suggestions by the way.
    04-11-2010, 10:54 AM
Eh.....with luring him in with feed, while that might show him the trailers okay, he won't have any incentive to load without the feed. At least that's what my thoughts are on that. If none of my suggestions work, watch Monty Roberts free online video about teaching a reluctant horse to load. Guarenteed you'll learn something from it
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    04-11-2010, 06:10 PM
Cool thanks!!
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    04-11-2010, 09:44 PM
Originally Posted by Red    
Some one also suggested to lure him in w food. Im not so sure about it. Any thoughts on that one? Thank you for the suggestions by the way.
I think it depends. Luring can be a good *initial* tactic in teaching things. But you have to be careful how you do it, and to 'fade out' the lure(bribe, before the behaviour you want) pretty quickly in favour of reinforcement(reward, at the time of the behaviour you want), so that the horse doesn't think the behaviour is only required when food is offered, and so they don't learn to do the absolute minimum to get the treat.

If the horse is pretty comfortable with the whole situation, luring & food reinforcements are helpful. But if the horse is nervous - or downright terrified - I don't think trying to bribe with food is helpful. I also think using food to attempt to reinforce behaviours is not the best option with a scared horse. It's not the no. 1 priority for the horse for one, may be ignored, or the horse associates it with their fear & becomes a nervous eater, which can rub off in other areas. I think the best reinforcement in this sort of situation is negative - ie removal of stress/pressure/discomfort when the horse does 'good'. Ie. You get him to walk half way onto the ramp - instantly reinforce this by asking him to walk away from the trailer, back to his comfort zone.

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