Would like suggestions please!

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Would like suggestions please!

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    02-27-2013, 12:21 PM
Would like suggestions please!

Hi! Thank you in advance.

My mare is a pretty good mare, still a bit green, but has most of the basics down. There are 2 main issues that I have with her that I can't seem to over come, and other people haven't been able to overcome (She has seen a couple of professional trainers, and they haven't been able to get anywhere with these things either).

She's and Arabian X, about 6 now. She has no physical issues, is perfectly healthy.

FYI- I've tried various things, but I try to make them consistent. So, whatever I try, I try until I know it's going nowhere and then try something else, since I don't want to confused her with several different ways.

1) I can't loosen up her front end. She's very stiff, and doesn't flex very well (she turns her head to look at you, but her neck barely moves) When it comes to yielding her front end, it's more like falling sideways a little bit. Her back end is fine- she pivots decently, though not perfectly. She side passes decently (again, not perfectly, she broke my ankle and its just now getting to the point where I have the ability to work hard on my feet again, so she hasn't been worked with in awhile, so this stuff is relatively new to her). With this stiffness, she's resistant to steering, puts pressure on the bit. I ride with a long rein, relatively heavy so I can transfer my movements better to her before actually putting pressure on the bit (my reins are set up much like mecate reins).

I've tried the Clint Anderson approach with it, direct pressure only, tapping, having her "follow" me and "trick" her into it by following my motions (this way has worked the best, but still hasn't gotten me anywhere when I try to translate that), etc.

2) Back out of a step up trailer.

She won't do it, or anything else you have to "step down" from, backwards. She will back out of ramp trailer. (But I don't have one, and I'd rather her back out of any trailer).

She backs on the ground, and under saddle fine, she knows the command and does it willingly. I've had her back up over obstacles (little timbers to make her pick up her feet and feel where they are being planted) and she's fine. She has no problem going into any trailer- she's calm, not rushed, not hesitant. Will will leave in the same manner, just forward only. I've tried taking the trailer out of the equation, and have tried to back off an open, solid, platform about 6" off the ground, no go.

I can get her to back out with 3 feet in (front legs, one back leg) and that's good. No problem. As soon as that 4th leg gets off the ground (I have tried backing her mid-stride before the last back leg was planted) its like a switch goes off and she doesn't budge.

I've tried driving her out with long reins. I have even put her in a strait load trailer and secured it so her only option was to back out, figuring eventually shed get hungry and figure it out for herself. Nope, she stayed in there, for about 10 hours- until I was tired and went to bed. I've tried getting her to the edge and physically picking up her back feet and trying to set them on the ground.

The only time she ever got anywhere close to leaving a trailer backwards was when she decided to flip backwards, but even with that her front end was out before her back end (believe it or not, that incident did not seem to affect how she felt about trailers, she had no problem going back in) The only reason that happened was her back leg slipped (I thought breifly we may have had a breakthrough if that foot would have ever hit the ground, but instead her whole body came screaming out instead, she didn't give her back hoof the option of touching the ground). I have also tried using a different horse that backs out well, and try to get both of them to back out together. Nope.

I have tried the typical pushing and pulling, etc, as well (they never work, but I figured.. Hey, may as well give it a go, right?)

I've never had this much trouble, and I'm out of ideas.

I'm more concerned with the backing thing, as there seems to be a complete mental block- no try, no willingness, no trust, nothing. At least with the front end there seems to be a little bit of give, I just can't get it to progress beyond a seemingly accidental awkward step sideways on occasion.

So, any ideas?
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    02-27-2013, 03:14 PM
Green Broke
Has she been thoroughly examined by a equine vet? That means one that can do the tests to rule out spinal problems, or whatever it takes to see what is going on.

I would say there is something physically wrong with this horse that needs to be addressed before anything else.

Hope I'm wrong, but that would be what I'd do first.
    02-27-2013, 03:28 PM
She has been examined, and hasn't had any injuries. Aside from the backing, I've seen and watched her "give" her front end on her own (messing about with pasture mates and such) so I don't believe it's a physical issue, and there's nothing a vet has found. So far as backing, she'll back down ramps and small steps (a few inches) and relatively steep hills. I'm just dumbfounded as to what the problem is.
    02-27-2013, 03:44 PM
Super Moderator
The problem is very simple. Do not over-think it. She got scared the first time she set a foot down off of the back of a trailer and she jumped back in. At this point, her handler just let her turn around --- soooo, she made a 'thing' out of it and refuses to back out where she has to step down This is really, really common.

Since we live where most people have stock trailers and their horses have room to turn around, probably 75% of the horses we see are like this. Some will lunge forward and run over you, charging all the way to the front of the trailer. They try to back them out, fail, and the horse develops an aversion to backing down that step.

Just do as my post below recommends. It works every time.
smrobs and Corporal like this.
    02-27-2013, 03:50 PM
Super Moderator
First -- here is a recent post I wrote for this exact same problems.
Originally Posted by Cherie    
This is a really common problem with an awful lot of horses. We have tried the backing on the ground and found that most of these horses back just fine on the ground. It is only a trailer thing.

We have tried the one foot in and back out. Then two feet in and back out. [And about that time, many of them will just barge in and charge all the way to the front of the trailer.]

We have tried a chain over a horse's nose and most of them just bang their heads repeatedly on the roof.

When I had a two horse, I tried leaving one in the trailer, parked in the arena. The next morning, he was still in there. Looked like a gutted snake, but was still there.

That is when I recruited a helper, put a long rope on each side running them out the back of the trailer and the two of us just pulled him out. Took about 2 or 3 minutes. Gave him a drink, loaded him back up and did it again. The time it only took a little pull. Third time I could back him out by myself.

So, this is what we have done ever since. It has never failed and no horse has ever been hurt. We did it 2 weeks ago with a big, 1250# 10 year old App gelding that I bought at the last local horse sale. [The night I bought him, I hauled him home loose, not knowing how he tied. He met me at the back of trailer so he unloaded the way he was used to. I know better than to start something I can no longer finish.]

The next day we tied him solid and found him OK with that. We sacked him out and he was OK with everything. So we loaded him to see how he tied and backed out of a trailer. He not only would not back out of the stock trailer, but would try to bulldoze right over you when you got him to back 1 or 2 steps inside the trailer. He would plow right over you and charge all the way back to the front.

My arthritis and degenerative back is so bad that I cannot pull of push at all any more, so husband got a guy to help him and they pulled him out with two 20 foot ropes. He tried so hard to go forward that they had to take turns taking a wrap around the side bars on the trailer and take him back a little at a time on each side until they got him to the back. He finally stepped out. I took about 10 minutes. He tried a lot harder to go forward than most.

Husband reloaded him 3 or 4 times until he backed out very nicely. He took him on a trail ride a few days later and he backed out of the trailer without a problem. He had to go into the trailer to back him out, but he never hesitated.

All of our other horses back out without anyone even getting into the trailer to get them. We untie each one, one at a time, from the left side of the trailer, tell them to "Back up!" and they carefully back out one step at a time. One of our trailers hauls 10 head and they all load without anyone leading them and they all back out one at a time the same way. The App will, too, after a few times of hauling him.
It works every single time -- no exceptions
    02-27-2013, 04:11 PM
That's fairly well what I was doing when she flipped, and tried some more but didn't budge backward while we were trying again. But, I haven't tried recently and she's gotten better sense since then, so I may try again and see what happens.
    02-27-2013, 04:56 PM
Originally Posted by wausuaw    
That's fairly well what I was doing when she flipped, and tried some more but didn't budge backward while we were trying again. But, I haven't tried recently and she's gotten better sense since then, so I may try again and see what happens.
Note: After she flipped out she did NOT try flipping again (she boinked her head pretty good, so I don't think she'd try that again, if I thought she would hurt herself I wouldn't try, like I said, she seems to have settled and gotten more common sense now)

I also have stronger helpers now. She's not that big but she can plant those feet real well!
    02-27-2013, 05:46 PM
Super Moderator
If you keep the two ropes lower (about mid-rib level), they don't go up. They usually fold op their necks until their chin is on their chest and then you literally pull them out.

If you think she needs more protection, they make 'head bumpers' that protect the top of a horse's head. I know quite a few people that use them to haul every time, especially on nervous or tall horses. You can also use leg wraps or protective boots. Just DO NOT pad the noseband of the halter.
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    02-27-2013, 06:09 PM
I forgot about the head bumpers, that is a good idea for the first initial panic. I think she'll be fine if she gets one of her back hooves on solid ground, it's just that first step. But, I may try it first on my little platform, where there's not a way for her to hit anything. Since I like horses to "stay off" the halter, I've never used padding aside from if there's some kind of injury on their face.
    02-27-2013, 06:38 PM
Super Moderator
No she won't. With one foot on the ground, she will still try to lunge forward and jump back in. They usually do not 'give it up' until their front feet are ready to step down.

Use one of the flat nylon halter and not a rope halter. You are not trying to hurt her or skin the hair off of her nose. This one of the few times that you are actually trying to 'out-muscle' a horse. [FWIW, mules are stronger, more determined and a lot harder to force back out of a trailer. Been there -- done that -- wasn't easy -- but it only took once.]
wausuaw likes this.

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