Trailer-training…? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-27-2011, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Gallant, Alabama
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I've been working on loading my mare into a two horse trailer lately. Two days ago, she would get in and out very well… she only had a bit of trouble/panic backing out, because it's a step-up trailer and is a little higher than most trailers, but she did it fine. My cousins were helping me, and at first we had to tap her on the bum to get her to step up, but by then end of our session, Gypsie was loading by herself just fine.

I left her alone yesterday and got her and Dakota back out today to load them again. Whereas two days ago they both loaded fine, it took about fifteen minutes to get Dakota in the trailer today (it wasn't too hard, he just kept chickening out on the step up… but he finally got in fine).

Gypsie, on the other hand… at first, she refused to get within twenty feet of our trailer. I had Dakota tied inside it and he was fine, so I just left him inside. Using feed as a bribe, I got her close enough that I could tie Gyps to the side of the trailer, but when it came to loading, she'd lock her legs, jerk her head, roll her eyes, and then fly backwards.

I got so annoyed with her… I finally had to grab a lunge line and whip and lunge her behind the trailer. I worked the snot outta her and let her rest beside the trailer and after a while she caught on that "Trailer = Rest Zone"… and she got to where she'd stop there and rest.

But she still wouldn't load.

So I had to work her more. When she wanted to stop again, I made he keep going and let her stop on my terms beside the trailer, and she got to rest when she got a little closer to it. Finally she started stepping up into the trailer, but would back off very quickly.

We worked some more.

I had to lunge her for about an hour and a half total at a trot before she finally got in the trailer. She was dripping sweat and breathing so hard, but she finally got in. I still had to push her, though… I had to keep pressure at her with the whip to get to her to go in (I had to pop her on the bum several times at a steady pace with the whip… I wasn't using a lunge whip, but a smaller riding crop).

After she got inside the trailer, I tied her like I had Dakota (poor boy stood inside the trailer the entire time I was trying to get Gypsie in) and left them in there for about fifteen minutes while I got a little feed for them (I left them there to enhance the idea that "Trailer = Rest Zone").

Upon unloading, they both got a little bit of feed and I let them go. After all the trouble it was to get Gypsie into the trailer, I figured that might be best, since she did get in it in the end…

Did I do the right thing? Am I doing the right thing?

For the record, all of my horses will load in a 4-horse stock trailer just fine… and I haven't even started working with Jaxxon on loading into the two horse trailer… that's gonna be fun when I do, though… he's terrified of it…

Really though, right now I'm focusing on my mare… so… help!?

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-27-2011, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: NSW, Australia
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Sometimes horses just need time. You might like allow hours of time for loading her into the trailer, its what I did with my horse after a bad floating experience (please please please always be the one to load your horse...dont let anyone else do it)
In theory the "trailer = rest, away from trailer = uncomfortable" thing works, but my horse absolutely freaked out with that method, it was horrible to watch.
When I tried floating him a week later, I went with a slow approach, praising for every tiny step he took towards the float, and onto the ramp. Definitely use food as a lure! I didnt feed my horse before floating so he would be more interested in the food. Give lots of praise and pats, try not to get annoyed and stay calm. Your horse will be much more comfortable if you are calm too! :)
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-27-2011, 11:18 PM
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Your logic is good. The only thing I would suggest is to make the work time more productive. Instead of the goal being to make her tired, make the goal that she knows you can move her feet. Yield her hind quarters, send her between you and the trailer and back her up. Just keep chipping away at it. Sure it took awhile this time. Next time it will be slightly less time and eventually she will go in if you are consistent in your methods. Just make sure you don't get angry at her. I know it's frustrating, but try to be assertive without being aggressive. Make sure to let the pressure off anytime she steps in the direction you want to go.

I went through this exact same thing this past spring. Within the span of 3 weeks, the time to load went from 2 hours to nothing. I schooled him every other day near the trailer until it was completely out of his head to resist. He now loads like a champ.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-27-2011, 11:34 PM
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post #5 of 12 Old 10-28-2011, 08:35 AM
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It sounds like you didn't take your time teaching her to unload as well as load. When you feel anger or annoyance it's time to quit as it's not helping the horse. Re the Monty Roberts vid, he pulls but never yanks on the lead. His dually halter works very similar to a lariat or war bridle which works on more nerves than a regular knotted halter.

Last edited by Saddlebag; 10-28-2011 at 08:41 AM.
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post #6 of 12 Old 10-28-2011, 09:50 AM
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I like to feed my horse in the trailer. For the first few days I feed next to the open door, then put it on the very edge where he had to stick his nose in, and a little farther every couple of days until he will hop right in to eat.

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post #7 of 12 Old 10-28-2011, 04:17 PM
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just take your time... my chestnut gelding did the same reaction... just keep his feet moving...
when walking to the trailer make sure your not nervous. then proceed to the trailer if you think for one second she will stop... turn her into tight circles around you, as you slowly bring her closer. eventually you should be near the trailer. let her smell it. have hay and feed and treats in there already so she can get used to it there and start to munch asap-will help calm her. when you finish letting her smell, back her away from the trailer. then move forward. then back up like the monty video above. until she goes in it took me about 5 mintues the first time and 3 hours the second time but once he went in after all the work he was fine. i locked/tied him in and then i brought an easy loading horse in right after. and let them relax in there. i kept my guy in for about 45 minutes. thats how long it took for him to calm down. but ever since then he goes in and out no problem. but make sure she keeps moving thats the only way for success. so i think you handled it good.
just remember any movement is good as long as you are asking for it.
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-28-2011, 05:46 PM
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Could she see your other horse who (at first) hesitated to load? I wouldn't advise lunging for an hour and a half. its very intense for even fit horses and the circles are very stressful on the body. you dont want to get to a point where every time she sees the trailer she associated it with whipping and hard work. ahe'll just panic before she gets there. it should be enjoyable to be near it. only feed her near the trailer for a few days. tie her hay net on the side of the trailer if you can. eventually feed her on the ramp. keep it calm. she can back away if she wants (but dont give her anymore feed) once she's hungry enough it'll come. if its the only place shes fed she'll soon be trotting up there. I once left my trailer open in a muddy field with my colts feed in it. he'd been in to eat it and after a few days of only being able to eat in the trailer he soon went straight up
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-29-2011, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, she could see Dakota. He was in the trailer.

I tried loading her without him in there, but she absolutely refused... it seemed like once he got in, she was a bit calming, but still not much, obviously.

I've got until Monday to work with her on loading into this trailer... on Monday we may have to give pony rides at a church, and if we do, then she'll have to load... and after that, we prolly won't be taking her anywhere in this trailer ever again.

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-29-2011, 11:08 AM
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I got so annoyed with her… I finally had to grab a lunge line and whip and lunge her behind the trailer. I worked the snot outta her
But she still wouldn't load.

Well without seeing you in action , herein probably lies part of the problem.

Try putting up a hay net in the trailer.
Try putting some treats in your pocket & sweet talking the horse into the trailer
Try building a ramp out of a sheet of timber and a few concrete blocks
Try parking the trailer on a downhill slope
Try first walking around leading the horse in hand.
Try borrowing someone else's horse, who will enter the trailer and putting them in first.

- then - well I've run out of ideas - you think of some.
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