Re training for rushing out of trailer
My horse had an event several years back in which he panicked and broke loose in the trailer, jammed himself in the bum with the bar, and traumatized himself. I was told he would not go into a straight haul, but when we bought him, we managed to load and unload. Its not pretty unloading - he runs out.
I don't have a trailer, I have to borrow my coach's. Given that THAT would be the best way to retrain, I am looking for other ways to control the way my horse exits. This is what I've been doing.
Get him comfortable with moving between and backing up in narrow spaces...using barrels in various places. Get him backing up straight on the ground, and asking/varying the number of steps forward or backward. Using a labyrinth (aka tellington method) and asking for forward/backward steps along the long sides. Asking to place one or two feet over a log, pole, walking forward and or back. In short, trying to control his feet and help his mind. He does back up nicely lowering his head, which I like. And he doesn't seem get to frazzled, even if he hits the pole and makes it move around.
I wish my coach didn't have a straight haul, but til the time comes when she's able to provide access to her trailer, I am doing this stuff above. He does load better now....it is just the unloading. The longer you 'fiddle' with un clipping him and opening the door, the worse his anxiety.
Often people don't train the horse to unload. There's an assumption the horse will just do it. I've spent a lot of time with fear laden horses just asking to step up, grooming them a bit like that. I will give the tail a tug and ask the horse to back out plus a few more steps then walk away. I might even put him away as that is a huge reward. Often times 10 min sessions accomplish more than numerous repetitions. Also, keep in mind you have a month. Too often people begin to feel rushed but telling your self you have 30 days can be calming.
Try a rump rope like you would for teaching a baby to lead. Be sure to get the horse used to the rope.
Start outside of the trailer. Ask for forward with the rope then progress to backing with the rope for your stop cue. step/stop/-repeat Timing is important.
When he does that well try at the trailer. One step up, then back using rope pressure to stop. Slow steps until he will go all the way in & out calmly.
I used this method on a long time trailer bolter & after one sesson he never did it again. I think he didn't know any other way than bolting.
I'd be seeing if you could walk him up half way, back him off rinse and repeat. Try 1 foot on then back off half in back off.
All good ideas. I need to bug my coach to hook up her trailer and just begin the process and not rush it. You're right, most people don't train control over the exit. The stepping backwards by command and going forward/reverse all do help as do the ground pole exercises. But nothing compares to the real thing.
Work him when he comes out. As soon as he rushes outward, get him working when he gets out there. Then, when he builds up a decent amount of sweat, taking him up and load him in again, pet him, give him a cookie, love on him, etc. Let him stand and catch his breath, then ask him to back out again. If he rushes, repeat the process. Eventually he will learn the trailer is where he wants to be and will be less happy to leave it. Why would he want to rush backwards if it just means he's going to have to work?
When he steps out calmly, pat him and put him away.
It worked with several horses who I have been around. Particularly Bailey, my old barrel horse, who would violently pull back every single time she was unloaded from a trailer to the point of flipping over backwards, rearing and hitting her head, falling out of the trailer, etc. I'm glad I had access to the escape door for THAT mess.
I know a lot of people want to tip toe around a horse that has had fear problems, but the more you tip toe the more fearful they are going to become. Make them forget about their problems by giving them another focus.
I've done the rump rope method when the horse decides it's not leaving the show grounds. No time to start training there when dark is approaching. Try to do things to build your horse's confidence in you.
Sounds like you've got the right idea.
I also don't mind Natasha's idea of a butt rope ***so long as it's not used to try to force the horse***
I don't recommend you just punish him by 'working' him when it happens though. I don't personally agree with that form of punishment - & I want my horses to enjoy 'work' - but I wouldn't punish a horse for a fear reaction anyway & don't think it is helpful.
I also think that working a horse with this particular problem may not be the way to go. I often use work to get horses who won't load to 1- gain respect and attention and 2-make them realize that the trailer is the easier place to be, so I understand the concept.
This horse, however, IMHO needs a quiet and relaxed enviornment where, as others have said, he can practice a step up, then a step out, then two steps up, and two steps out, and so on until he comes out nice and slow all the way in and out.
I don't know if this is a ramp or step up trailer, but when I was training my mare to back out of a straight load step up I would say "step" when her hooves would get near the drop off, and I still do because she can't see where it is, so she has learned to slow down a little and feel around with her hoof when I say "step".
My mare, Nikki, did the EXACT same thing.. She had a really bad trailer accident when she was younger. They didn't tie her close enough and as soon as they opened her slant she tried to back up, as soon as she stepped off with her back feet the lead tightened and she was stuck between the two. It stripped the hide off of both back legs and she has really bad scarring, to the point of not being able to wear support boots on her hind legs. When she was stuck and had scraped her legs she also collapsed on her front end..They had to climb in the stud door and cut her lead rope. When I bought her she would FLY off of the trailer, if you were in her way you were going to get ran over. She's MUCH better about it now..She loads and trailers like a champ, no problems what so ever.. Coming off she still rushes a little but nothing like she used to, I've worked on it with her and she's improved but she still doesn't fully trust it and I don't blame her at all. If I try the butt rope or pull on her to get her to slow down it makes the situation worse and she will rush back forward thinking her legs are going to slide again..So it's either let her shuffle off pretty quickly or stress both of us out and possibly get hurt. Once her back feet are on the ground she's good and will load right back on the trailer, she's just scared the trailer monster is going to eat her hind legs again..I also have a straight load that I use most of the time and she is able to turn around and get off of the trailer..She's a completely different horse this way and she's perfect with it.
I know I'm going to hear all about retraining my horse but it's MUCH less stressful for both of us and it's not causing a problem. If it works for her and there's no reason to make her change her behavior I'm going to let her keep doing her little shuffle off of the trailer.
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