Two feet in
 
 

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Two feet in

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  • My horse gets half way in trailer then panics and backs out.
  • Horse on two feet

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  • 1 Post By AnalisaParalyzer

 
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    06-27-2012, 09:13 PM
  #1
Foal
Two feet in

I have a 5 year old half arab half warmblood that I got at the end of October. In training we have been doing really really well and my trainer decided to get us to our first show. But, he was never taken off the farm he was born on until we bought him. We got a vet check done and he passed with flying colors, but when his owner brought him to my barn, he had said that they gave him a little tranquilizer to make the trip easier. Yes I understand that it was not a good idea to buy a horse that we were not sure would load, but it happened.

Anyway, so our first show together was in a week and we wanted this horse to get into the trailer. So we hired a friend of my trainers who rescues mustangs and trains them to make them great horses. This guy could load my horse up in a snap if he needed to, and I could do it too when he was around. But when the show was here, we needed him in. It took me an hour to get him in that morning. The constant problem we keep having is him stopping half way in. He will put two feet, sometimes three in, but doesn't load all the way in. Its a two horse slant load trailer with lots of room for him to fit, so that is not the issue. But whenever someone adds pressure from behind, he backs out right away. The guy we hired has suggested lounging him in, or trying different things to get him to put in all four feet in, and it will work the first time, but the next time I try it, it doesn't work. When we got to the show it took us almost three hours to get that darn horse in the trailer. I tried EVERYTHING I could think of to get him in, and nothing worked. Eventually though, we were getting threatened because our trailer was parked on the grass instead of the cement (I know, its ridiculous) so we had to use a lounge line behind his butt to ultimately get him in. It's awful, and not the way I wanted to end that great day, but we had to do something.

So my question is, how can I avoid him backing out when pressure is added from behind to get all four feet in? If anyone has had similar stories like this, and knows how to help, please share!

Thank you so much for any advice (:
     
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    06-27-2012, 10:57 PM
  #2
Yearling
Don't add pressure from behind. To get my horse to load, I put her grain in her bucket, put a lead rope on her, and stood in the trailer shaking her feed. I had already taught her the "to me" command, and accompanied that with a little tug of the lead rope to let her know I wanted her in the trailer with me. I'd shake the food when she got to looking nervous, and she'd refocus and eventually learned that getting on the trailer meant she got her supper. Now if I put her bucket in there, she'll walk in like she owns the darn thing.

He can't see what's directly behind him, he already doesn't like trailers, fighting him and forcing him will only make it worse. Make the trailer a GOOD thing. Food, treats, scratches, even when it moves it needs to be a positive experience. Good luck :)
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    06-27-2012, 11:20 PM
  #3
Trained
After my horse had a trauma on a trailer, I spent several weeks making sure she was OK with trailers again.

The very first time to get her back in that trailer was a chore. It was an interesting session of deciding when she was over being scared and when she was just being disobedient. I started with putting her grain bucket on the floor of the trailer. She couldn't get it unless she stretched her neck right in to the bucket. One episode of that. Next day, she had to get two feet into the trailer. She was still really nervous so I did that for a couple of days. Then when I could see that wasn't a problem, it was time for her to get all four in. So the feed bucket went right to the front and she was expected to load. Didn't happen. Of course. She was nervous, no doubt, but not so nervous that she shouldn't have listened to me, so I set up the trailer in a small compound. She was expected to load. So long as she advanced no problem. The minute she pulled back and was out, I chased her silly in the compound and then offered the trailer to her again. I repeated that until she loaded. She absolutely knew what was expected of her, so it wasn't hard to convince her that running was too much dang work and loading was easy. That first time in, I got the butt bar up and let her stand there for a good 1/2 hr to settle down. Gave her some hay to munch on.

Once before when I had problems after the trauma, I didn't have a compound set up and instead of chasing her in a restricted area, I could only lunge her, but that didn't work as well. Lunging was too easy and every time I led her away from the trailer to safetly lunge her, IMO she saw that she was "winning." The compound allowed me to connect the pulling back with a direct, immediate consequence.


After that first time back in, I fed her every day in the trailer exclusively. I would sometimes let her stand for 15 minutes, sometimes an hour. Depended on the day. No more problems.

Even after months of not going in the trailer due to some circumstances here, the first time I asked her to go in, she walked right in. :)
     
    06-28-2012, 12:53 AM
  #4
Yearling
I use a completely different method. Using a carrot stick or other solid stick I ask the horse to walk in the trailer if he hesitates start bumping stick on his back/bum one step is enough for me to stop.

If he runs back keep his head facing into the trailer steady pressure but not pulling and keep bopping with the stick. Harder each time. If he continues to run back start circling him fast then allow him to stop at the trailer and return to asking him up. Pay a step at a time. Then ensure you can have him stand there still with the gate down. A tap on e bum with the stick if he starts to shift back. Make sure you're not rewarding his backing up by dropping the pressure. Keep yourself to the side/ in front.

Once you've got it mastered at home practice in different environments, a neighbours property or local park.

Also be aware of your driving when floating
     
    06-28-2012, 01:44 AM
  #5
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prinella    
I use a completely different method. Using a carrot stick or other solid stick I ask the horse to walk in the trailer if he hesitates start bumping stick on his back/bum one step is enough for me to stop.

If he runs back keep his head facing into the trailer steady pressure but not pulling and keep bopping with the stick. Harder each time. If he continues to run back start circling him fast then allow him to stop at the trailer and return to asking him up. Pay a step at a time. Then ensure you can have him stand there still with the gate down. A tap on e bum with the stick if he starts to shift back. Make sure you're not rewarding his backing up by dropping the pressure. Keep yourself to the side/ in front.

Once you've got it mastered at home practice in different environments, a neighbours property or local park.

Also be aware of your driving when floating
I use this method. So many horses are 'accidentally' trained to back into pressure from behind when float training. They go backwards into the pressure, handler panics and takes the pressure off - 1 point horse, 0 points handler. Horse has just learned that running back means removal of pressure.
I never allow the horse to turn away from the trailer. He can run back for km's if he wants, but I'll keep tapping away at his backside until he stops and takes a single step forward. Then the tapping stops immediately and he is comfortable again. Ask gently for him to walk forward with a light touch on his halter, if he doesn't move forward, threaten to tap him, and if he still doesn't move, start tapping again until he steps forward.

A pet peeve of mine is people using food rewards to bribe a horse into the trailer.
This is getting the horse to focus on the food, not on the trailer or the handler. It tends to end up with the horse running in, grabbing a mouthful, and running out again. Also dangerous and near impossible to do on a particularly difficult horse, with one person present. And then folks, what happens when you go to a show, over 2 hours from home, and you find you don't have any food bribes left at the end of the day, or the horse feels like it's not terribly hungry and wants to stay with his new show buddies?
I have to have a bit of a chuckle at the end of a show day, you are guaranteed to find some silly soul trying to convince 'old Neddy' to please come onto the trailer, shaking a little dish of pellets, pulling on the halter and standing in the middle of the bay of the trailer, while Old Neddy is happily leaning back in his halter, neighing to all his new friends. These people tend to be the ones left at the grounds after everyone has gone home, 3 hours after the competition finished, dark gathering, in tears begging the horse to come onto the trailer, with promises of 5kg bags of carrots, all the massages and grain that he wants if he'll just come home!

I NEVER enter the float with the horse, until the back is secured. One of our Para-Olympian's lost her mother in a horse trailering accident - she was in the trailer with the horse when it went ballistic and she got crushed to death.
Also remembering:
1) If you pull, the horse will pull back
2) We teach horses basic respect lessons - to NOT step into our space. So standing in front of the horse, on the ramp, pulling on it's head trying to drag it in will simply result in a horse leaning back into the pressure and thinking you are a crazy bafoon.
3) Please, for the love of god, do NOT tie the horse into the trailer before doing the back up. This is how horses panic and break their necks, backs, and legs. Very, very, very bad idea.

Safest way - driving a horse forward. If the horse respects that it will get tapped on the backside if it goes backwards, it will work out quick smart that its a heck of a lot more comfortable inside that trailer than outside. Then you have no need to go inside the trailer, the horse walks up the ramp on its own, and all you need to do is shut the breech gates behind it, lift up the ramp, and go around to tie their heads. Minimal risk ;)
     
    06-28-2012, 01:52 AM
  #6
Started
I am not a fan of food bribery or the person going first into the trailer. You need to make the trailer his relaxation place. When he is outside of the trailer keep him busy moving his feet....if he offers to go in the trailer reward by taking all of the pressure off for a few seconds. Keep asking for a little more puting pressure ever so slightly with a carrot stick or flag which should only be used as an extension of your arm. If he backs up, go with him and match his energy moving his feet. Pretty soon he will see that it is easier to go on the trailer. Never do this training when you are going to the show and rushed.
     
    06-29-2012, 07:06 AM
  #7
Trained
Hi,

And I have yet a different take again to above...

Firstly I'd be considerate that he's a horse with very little experience of trailering & is new to you too, so won't have learned to trust you yet. Trailers are scary, foreign things for horses to get trapped in. He is more than likely doing what he's learned you want, up to the point where he feels it's not safe to continue. You just have to prove to him it's - and you're - OK.

I think part of this is NOT to put pressure on him when he's afraid - especially if he doesn't know/trust you yet, that's just likely to reinforce the idea that there's something to worry about. They learn by association & you want to give him every chance to practice that it's no big deal, not practice fear in relation to the trailer.

Instead, I'd work out where the sticking point seems to extend to and *ask* him to back out before he gets there. Repetitions at that point will get him comfortable doing that, then you can 'stretch' the comfort zone a little further & do the same. If/when he pulls back in fear, I'd let him go, make it no big deal & just ask him in again. *Only after he's reasonably confident* then I would start using pressure/release to teach him no backing out until you ask.

And on the note of food & bribery, I think bribes/luring can be a valuable tool in your 'kit', in some situations with some horses. I certainly don't have a problem with it because the horse may be focussed on the food not trailer - who cares, if the Good Feelings associated with the treat become associated with the trailer?? But while bribery can be handy *to elicit* behaviour in the first place & to help create good associations, I do think it's a mistake & ineffective to continue using it - tends to encourage the horse to do less & less - the least he can to get the treat. On the other hand, positive reinforcement - that is a reward given *at the time of* the Good behaviour is a powerful teaching 'tool' to strengthen that 'Good' behaviour.
     

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