Trailer Loading Problem!
When i got my mare "Bug" last year she loaded just fine. Never fought me to get in. Then she started resisting a little bit earlier this year. Now she won't even go near the back of the trailer. I spent 2 hours today trying to get her in. She also won't load unless i walk in with her. The only way she will get in is if some one shakes the whip behind while i walk her in. My mom has even had to leave work and drive 20 miles out to help me load her so i wouldnt be late to the farrier. I just recently got rid of her pasture buddy, so i dont know if that could be a reason that she doesnt want to get in it. I think she might be nervous to leave her pasture or something. Other than this she is a great horse. I am at my wits end with this. I even tried to bribe her with feed in the trailer and she still didn't even try to get in. What can i do to help her get in?
**WARNING LONG POST** (sorry)
Listen, you will undoubtedly get a million and one responses on the right way to trailer your horse. I've been in your situation and I assure you I understand that nothing is more frustrating than loading an unwilling horse. Add onto that the frustration of everyone and their mother coming up to you with their suggestions which usually tend to freak out your horse even more due to unknown handlers testing their limits with brooms, lounge lines, blindfolds and other antics. Im not saying that they don't work for some, but this is what I did for my horse:
I backed the trailer into a naturally made corner that gave me about he same space as 1/2 a round pen to work in. (If you don't have fencing or landmarks that make this possible, create your own circle with temp fencing or wheelbarrows as long as the horse doesn't refuse violently in which case these things could hurt him/her if they chose to bolt) I turned on some music that I now keeps me calm, because patience is of the essence and I'm known to run low on such things. Then I grabbed my horse and got her in the "semi circle" and continually asked for her to walk onto the trailer. If she balked, standing firm and not making an attempt to listen, I would spend some time by the trailer but not necessarily loading onto it, reminding her to only back, walk forward, or stand on my cues. To do this I just ask, with as little pressure as possible for her to back, whoa, walk forward, whoa. when she does it with 0 resistance and is essentially following my movements rather than any pressure on the halter/lead, then we return to the trailer. AT NO TIME does she get to just stand and hang out. Once she takes a few steps on the ramp/into the trailer, she is praised and asked to back out, even if she is willing to move forward further. Eventually you will find you have to "let" your horse come all the way on to the trailer. Day 1 took 3 hours. Day 2 took 2 hrs. Day 3 took half and hour. Day four I as able to load her perfectly fine on the first try and then throw the leadline over her neck and allow her to self load several times before letting her be done for the day. Please note, we never went anywhere. It was simply a loading lesson, a few days later she self loaded and we went on a trail ride, no big deal.
A few things to be aware of
1. I never use food or treats. Cats and dogs are carnivorous/omnivorous and therefore must chase food naturally, therefore food is a reward. Grass never ran from a horse, therefore it is a poor reward as they never have to work for it naturally. Not to mention my horse is not food motivated anyway. However, many people find success in feeding the horses daily feed on the trailer to desensitize them.
2. I do these lessons often to keep my horse on her toes. If I don't for a few months, sometimes I'm treated to a frustratingly long session of loading (usually with me running late)
3. The goal is to have your horse WANT to load. Pulling, bribing and kicking them up the ramp is a quick fix and will only make it that much more difficult when its time to load again.
Hope this helps! I understand your pain for sure! Also, maybe look into a farrier and vet that travel to you-- those visits arent always positive for a horse and if they're trailered off the farm often enough for them, then the trailer seems very ominous to them, making it a sure bet they wont be happy/willing to load.
Thanks for the help. I will try this as soon as i can. So probablly tomorrow.
My gelding was the same i got him and he was in a slant load but loaded in fine in my for the vet. on the way there got sick and wouldnt load again there were 5 guys and me trying to get thie big boy in. after 20 minutes he finally loaded but didnt like it. we got him and my QH home and the next day i tryed to load him he wouldnt. so i had him eat near the back with the doors open, while my QH ate inside, then everyday i moved it up. he would get in then back out get in back out while eatting finilly he went in all the way and the next, he let me shut it all up and now he loads again.
so maybe try feeding her oats in it and just let her go for them without help from you and with in a week or two she should load.
it could be from you getting rid of your other horse i know my horse wouldnt load unless we had 2 people and a rope behind his butt after we gave my TWH gelding that was leader out of my two. it took him a long time to load like he does now which is put some oats in the feeder and open the door he walks right in and waits.
if that doesnt work maybe get a friend to bring a horse over and load that one and load yours unload over and over and when she will take that horse out lead yours in and out a few times and just try that way.
make the trailer the safe/rest place, outside he has to work like lunging. lunge in a circle which would lead to the trailer. outside the trailer he has to work release pressure by the trailer. he will learn that the trailer is a good place to be not a scary bad place
This is brilliant, however it needs to be noted if you don't do groundwork with your horse, that needs to be the basics, so she puts her feet where you want her to.
As for using a whip, some people may or may not agree with me. If you ride with a whip, or carry a whip, the horse knows what its for, its used for impulsion, especially from the hind end. My dad's mare was a nightmare, rearing up, bolting, planting.. everything. Nightmare loader. I took her, carried a long dressage whip, walked on, when she stopped, I flicked my wrist and tapped a hind leg, which she then moved forward off. Now, it she loads fine.
If she did load OK and now doesn't I would start by having someone inspect the trailer. Horse can "feel" if there are weak spots in the floor - so that may be the problem, plus it never hurts top inspect the trailer before use - at least yearly.
not sure if anyone mentioned it but get her eyes checked. maybe something is going on you might have missed. it happened to my horse one day he was loading the following week he wouldnt go in he was having another moonblindness attack and it offically took his eye sight. so he just gets extremely nervous with the actual load and unload part since he is completely trusting me.
The entire thing. Does it make a lot of noise? Is the exhaust from the tow vehicle blowing directing in?
Not to mention the driver! Most cases of horses suddenly not wanting to load are linked to a bad trip.
We used to have problems loading Hunter and tried all sorts of things, ropes etc. He is really good now, most of the time but there are occasions when he refuses to load and I find all I need to do is lunge him on the spot (On rocks or whatever) and he will usually walk right on after a minute or two. Much easier to load than work lol
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