Trailer loading/unloading problems

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Trailer loading/unloading problems

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  • 1 Post By terry6970

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    08-29-2013, 05:05 PM
Trailer loading/unloading problems

HELP... We have had our horse for a year and he has always loaded/rode/unloaded fine until weekend before last. We took him back to the stable to drop him off and he flew backwards out of the trailer. He threw his head up and made a little cut on his eye on the way out. We figured he was just in a hurry to get with his pasture buddies. (realizing now we should have made him get back in and unload slowly) So last Thursday we took him to an arena for barrel practice an hour and a half away. We get there and crack open the back door to unlatch the butt bar and he tries to fly out again only this time he is still tied. So that led to him sitting down scrambling with us holding the door shut and him thrashing his head back and forth because he was still tied. That led to a huge gash on his eye, a bent trailer side door and him being stunned when he finally stumbled out for a few minutes. He was fine after a while and we still ran barrels with him because it was only a surface cut. So going to leave it took 4 of us coaxing him to load which he finally did. Rode fine all the way home and when we got there he was like a freight train coming out. Well it was dark, late and we didn't want to scare him more making him get back in. Next day we managed to get him loaded for a few minutes then it was out again. Now he wont get in at all even with food. I've been told to back the trailer up to a round pen and lunge him until he is too exhausted to refuse to load and if he comes out fast again make him work more until he can back up slow. He has always been respectful and a little needy until the last couple of weeks. He has become more confident in himself and a little cocky. However he truly has a fear of the trailer for whatever reason we do not understand and I don't know how to fix this issue. We have always had a soft hand with him and I have been told we have been too soft but he's never given us any problems. He has turned into a darn giraffe and he knows once that head is up we are out of any type of control. I want to put a tie down on him in the trailer so he can't get it up anymore but didnt know if that was dangerous. We have a straight load 2 horse and he has plenty of room. Any thoughts.
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    08-29-2013, 05:21 PM
My horse used to charge out backwards also.
Watch with how you are handling the lead - pulling on it as he speeds back WILL NOT help.
I used to think that if I put pressure on the lead then it would make him slow. It only made him a bit faster and more in a hurry. I figured out that if I don't put pressure on the lead as he backs, he feels better about it and has been slowly backing now. He is still a bit speedy, but he has slowed down A TON!!
SO make sure you aren't doing anything that might make him a bit more claustrophobic.
When he begins to back while still tied and you are next to him, keep your hand on the knot below his jaw so he knows he shouldn't back. If he starts to back before you get in there, then have someone help you. Have someone stand with the window open and the person just right next to the horse petting his face and holding his lead if he feels the need to back while you get in. This also helped my horse a bit too - he would get anxious and want out as soon as possible. But this year he has been almost perfect with trailer loading. SO maybe just give some of these a shot!!
    08-29-2013, 05:33 PM
This is how we have always unloaded our horses. Our other one we have had for 4 years trailers perfect and this one used to also until now. We don't rush to get them off when we get to a race. We make them wait patiently while we visit or sign up. Then we unhook their trailer ties and put the lead ropes on them, Throw the leads over their back and shut the front head doors, then we go to the back and open the doors, unhook butt bars and tug on their tails saying back. Its is a step down not a ramp. He has never bolted back like this before. We have never held a lead rope while unloading before.
    08-29-2013, 05:52 PM
Maybe he doesn't like the tugging of the tail? Try maybe pulling on the leadrop and saying back. Also try saying step when one of his hooves is going to step down. Our new horse was scared of that the first time - he had never been backed out before and was too afraid to step back. When we finally got one of his hooves out he got scared and came back him the trailer again. But now that we say step he is more confident
    08-29-2013, 06:05 PM
I have always trailered in slant loads (so no butt bar) but my understanding was that the butt bar should be strong enough and positioned such that the horse can't back out while it's up. You say you crack the door to unlatch the butt bar, but you should be able to open the doors completely, wait for the horses to settle (if they get excited by the door being opened), and then unlatch the butt bar when they're calm. Or is that what you're already doing, and he's calm up until he feels the butt bar go down?
    08-29-2013, 06:17 PM
The first time he tried flying out the trailer he waited until we said back and flew out. The second time we wanted to keep the door shut with the butt bar down because I have heard horror stories about the horses flipping over the bar trying to get out with the door open. I don't want him to come over backwards. So we keep the door shut until he calms down but he still wants out so fast that we can't stop him. I need to know how to make him comfortable in the trailer again. Do I do the run till they are exhausted approach or start slow and take months?
    08-29-2013, 07:24 PM
I would suggest going back to more basics again. It sounds like he has had a bad experience and remembers it. Load him in the trailer, unload him, load him, unload him and don't use the butt bar and don't shut the door for a few days, just work on these basics. Leave the trailer open and don't restrain his head either. Do this for several days. See if he'll stand there without any restraints until you ask him to back. Once he is to this point and he is taking the backing slower, use the butt bar/door, then open it up, let him stand there and then slowly back him up. Don't rush the process, use baby steps, let the positive backing times outweigh the bad experience and he will improve. When he's ready take him for a short ride around the block then back and see how he does.

Also, always untie his halter before opening the door, once you get to that point. Good luck!
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    08-30-2013, 12:14 AM
Its crazy how it has taken him a year to remember a bad incident from before if this is what it is. It just baffles me because he was doing so good and he was our new barrel guy in training. He ran 3 awesome patterns at the barn and was ready for more shows and now we can take him. So sad. So what are thoughts on keeping a tie down on him while being in the trailer so he can't throw his head up and knock himself silly again?
    08-30-2013, 12:30 AM
I don't use tie downs, & with the way he is reacting to pressure I don't think a tie down is the answer. He may panic with increased restraint. I have a trailer helmits for my horses, could you use those?

There is something he has been affected by & you may never know what it is, but I still think you go back to basics & build on it in little steps.
    08-30-2013, 12:46 AM
My one mare we couldn't back out of a trailer... Or even tie her facing forwards.

If I were you I would get a hold of someone with a stock trailer. It will be a lot easier and in my opinion safer to work in. Walk him in, stop then back him out right away. Walk in, stop, back out right away. Keep doing this. I would put some type of protection on his legs and head while doing this, just so he doesn't get hurt more.

barrel racing, tie down, trailer help

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