Refusing to back out of trailer - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Refusing to back out of trailer

My mare used to back out just fine from a stock trailer. Then we were trailering with other people in a much larger, and taller, stock trailer.

When she went to back out, the larger drop of startled her, and she jumped back into the trailer. Since we had other folks waiting on us, and it was a big trailer, we just turned around and lead out. No problem.

A few weeks later we again were trailering with other folk in the first trailer, which she has backed out of fine before. She was freaked about backing out. again, we had folks waiting on us so we turned around and lead out.

I decided to try to work on this in a different context, since I didn't have trailer access. There is a small (8-10") step near the barn which I lead her over regularly. I tried to back her down this, and she freaked about it. We spent quite a bit of time on this, and finally ended up with the compromise of leading her front feet up, stopping, and backing her front feet off. That was the good note to leave on.

I now have access to a new trailer she has never been on, so I'm hoping to set up for success and not carry any issues over. this is a narrower trailer than before, a two horse slant. I'm looking for ideas to have her be relaxed about backing out, as I don't want to start any new trailering issues.

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post #2 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 06:51 PM
Green Broke
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Regardless of having people waiting on you, it is more beneficial to you - and your horse - to take the time it takes to do it right (as an aside, imo, any decent horse person would realize this and not be irritated by being made to wait an extra few minutes as you work through it with your horse). What you have done is train the horse not to back off.
The easiest and most effective way to get the horse to relax is to get yourself to relax. Load her up at a time when you have the time to take the time - then start working on it. You have two feet, now ask for three. From three, go to four.
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post #3 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 07:13 PM
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I don't like backing horses out of trailers, my horse chiro said it is better to walk them out and I notice it's less stressful on the horse, no doubt you noticed that too, huh?
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 08:27 PM
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We back EVERY horse out of EVERY trailer -- no exceptions.

For us, it is a simple matter of obedience and necessity. Many of the aged geldings we buy have never backed out of a trailer because ranch horses and stock horses are usually hauled loose and always hop out front first. It is always a matter of training every one to do it our way.

I will give them one chance to get along on it. I will spend an hour or so making sure they have good respect for me and for backing up on the ground. Then, when I first load them, I have them only step their front feet in and then back out. You can almost always get that done -- even when one has gotten pretty spoiled about turning around instead of backing out.

Then, they get one chance to back all the way out of one of our stock trailers. [I always have two people around when I do it for the first time.]

I get them to the back of the trailer and have a second person behind the trailer hold a second lead-rope and keep it tight enough that the horse cannot jump back in -- which they almost always do. If they refuse, we simply use a lead-rope and a person on each side and pull them out -- period. We have found that when you get it over with, it is done. The second time we still use 2 people but there is very little pressure needed that second time. By the third time, I can do it by myself -- arthritic hands and bad back and all.

By the time I have hauled one 5 or 6 times, I do not even have to get in the stock trailer to back him out. I just hold the lead-rope through the slats on the left side of the trailer and say "Back!" and they step back one step at a time, stop if I want them to and quietly step out. I have 2 stock trailers -- one hauls 7 saddled horses and the other hauls 8. I keep shoes on 20 - 25 head. I haul them to the horse shoeing school in Ardmore. I never get in with them to lead them into the trailer and they all back out the same way.

The home-breds that we start and train all back out the same way.

So, this way must work very well. We also have a Sooner Aluminum 6 horse slant with dividers. It is too narrow for a horse to turn around in, so they have to back out of that one, too. The Dividers do not swing far enough back, so every horse has to back out. We just do not consider anything as reasonable as asking a horse to back out of a trailer to be optional.
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post #5 of 14 Old 06-29-2012, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by waresbear View Post
I don't like backing horses out of trailers, my horse chiro said it is better to walk them out and I notice it's less stressful on the horse, no doubt you noticed that too, huh?
Hmm, that may be the case with a nice wide stock crate, but generally IME chiro's would get heaps more business having horses getting jammed turning in the float!

Agree with Cherie, that even if it wasn't a necessity, I'd teach it anyway. It's just one of those basic things - I teach them to go forward, backwards, right, left and over stuff on cue, because well, even if you can't put a purpose to it when you're training, one day out on the trail you may find you need those specific lessons known.

I would teach her with pateince & consideration that she is frightened about it though(not at all saying you don't BTW Cherie, but 'giving one chance' sounds a bit abrupt IMO).

I do it in a similar manner to what Cherie describes, but if there are steps involved, I do what you did Tully & start by getting them confident doing it outside the trailer first, and when in the trailer, I give them a number of goes practicing half in, half out before getting them all the way in. I also don't generally have the luxury of a helper, so in order to get them to back out & not turn, I have them on a halter with very long lead, looped through a tie ring at the front of the float. Then I can just let it slide without pressure when they're doing Right, but put pressure on & block them when they try to turn. With only one of us, I don't have the liberty of pulling a horse out, but having put the preparation in, I don't find they take long to work it out.
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post #6 of 14 Old 06-29-2012, 05:04 AM
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NB. I just realised I wrote 'one of us' - I meant me! I'm not bipolar or a Gemini!!

...Tho I think you're all a bit jealous, because the voices only talk to me!
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post #7 of 14 Old 06-29-2012, 05:26 AM
Green Broke
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Just like everything else, there are pros and cons to backing out of the trailer vs letting them turn around. Personally, I have them back out.

One of ours wouldn't for her life. It took loading her one hoof and back out. Then two and backing out. Three and out. Once she got all four in, she had no problem backing out.
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-29-2012, 09:58 AM
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We have a little 4 year old mare that we got as a yearling. She would trailer great but we couldn't get her to back out for anything. We would work and work and she would spin around and go head first (2 horse straight load bumper pull). We started backing her on the ground, a LOT, backed her through the gate, over ground poles, you name it. The last time we trailered her, it took about 30-40 minutes but she backed out. It was a milestone!!

The outside of a horse is good for the inside of man.........unknown
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-29-2012, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by waresbear View Post
I don't like backing horses out of trailers, my horse chiro said it is better to walk them out and I notice it's less stressful on the horse, no doubt you noticed that too, huh?
Horses have backed out of trailers for years.

If you think about it - stepping down forward or backing out, the same motion with their back.
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-29-2012, 12:01 PM
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I have backed horses out of trailers forever. Back in the 50s and 60s, only straight-load trailers were available and no horse ever turned around.

I have seen far more horse 'jump' out of stock trailers and have their hind feet slide back hard, so much so that they landed on their stifles and fronts of their fetlocks and come out lame, particularly if the rubber mats or wood floor is wet. They can back much more carefully and prudently when they step back and down.

Back in the old days, I had a pickup truck with stock racks and all my horses jumped up and in without a chute or bank and they all stepped back 2 - 2 1/2 feet down out of the truck bed. Never had a problem.

I think it is like our trail horses that go anywhere. We have always 'used' horses to get a bigger and more important job done. We have always expected our horses to do just what we asked them to do and they are happy as clams doing it. I think they are a lot happier than the coddled and babied horses that people take days to do what needs to be done in 10 minutes. These coddled horses are certainly no happier for all the time taken trying to teach them something. If anything, they are more neurotic and fearful and sure spend a lot more time mad or unhappy. Obedient horses are always more happy -- I've watched them for years. Horses are like spoiled, coddled tantrum throwing children -- have you ever seen a happy one?
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