I went on a trail ride yesterday and Montana was difficult to get into the trailer. After about 20-30 min of trying to get him in, and lots of rearing and going off to the side, he would just walk on.
He is fine with going through small openings (door ways, into a stall, coming out of a gate) but for some reason he doesn't like the trailer (My friends and I suspect that he had a bad experience going into the trailer a few times, as they knew him before I got him and he would load like a dream)
We tried treats (as he is food motivated) but since he didn't like the treats, he didn't budge. Silly horse.
Though every step he did make, we praised him and didn't push him. and once he was in the trailer, he got lots of pets and loving.
I do not have access to a trailer, so I was wondering if there are any exercises I can do that can simulate a trailer.
the squeeze game...can't remember exactly what it's called - SonnyWimps would
it's where you ask them to go between you and an object (such as a fence, or tree, or jump standard, whatever you want)
the object is to have the horse squeeze through a small space without speeding up or slowing down.
I have started parelli with him, we haven't gotten up to that yet though.
I will try and get up to that game asap.
I think that for some horses it's not the small space but rather the sound of the big empty hollow. The sound that the trailer floor makes as they walk onto it. Do you have anything like a plank bridge around the stable where you can walk him over it to get used to the sound of the "empty ground" beneath him?
^^ good idea dumas!
That really is a great way to start them Dumas. We have wooden pallet/bridges that I started the babys walking on. The Parelli squeeze game or whatever its called is great too. Get him used to walking on all sorts of odd things. Tarps, cardboard even just a piece of plywood if you have some will help.
I took some pvc pipes about 5' long cemented into a couple of buckets. Put plastic bags on the tops of each pole and practiced walking between the 2 of them. Great practice for walking between 2 scary things if you don't have a trailer. Before we got our bridges built I just used a piece of old plywood. If you have a stall use that, just put a tarp or plywood down on the floor and get him to walk on it.
Good luck hope this helps.
Just as a side note, if a horse that has always loaded well doesn't want to go on there could be a very good reason.
Check for a wasp nests, has the trailer been closed up and it's too hot inside, have you checked the condition of the boards lately?
Thank you so much for the great ideas. I don't have a bridge there, but I can always build one. My BO does have cavelleti(sp?) poles that I'm sure I could make into a make-shift trailer.
Montana's old owner's husband wasn't the nicest horse guy out there. He rather use force than patience to get a horse to do something.
There was another horse than came with us, and he loaded up fine, and was just standing there waiting for Montana to load.
I personally feel that he had a couple bad experiences and he just got nervous and scared. I'm sure after a lot of work and everything, he'll start loading like a pro.
as for the condition of the trailer, it wasn't mine, but I can't see my friend getting a trailer that wasn't safe and sound for a horse.
Also all the doors were open and it was airy and light in there too.
Since your horse already knows how to trailer, this shouldn't be hard to fix.
Is this a straight load?
Walk up with him to back of the trailer--have the lead rope clipped on the side of his halter instead of the bottom for more control. Step into the stall opposite of the one you want him in, and urge him to enter his stall. If he doesn't move, just wait for a minute, then ask again. Wait and ask again. Wait and ask again. Hum, sing, look off in the distance, think of other things--maybe do the multiplication tables in your head or something. Wait for him--he has to know there's no choice, he has to give in. He'll get bored very quickly and load. Be calm, patient, don't be in a hurry--tell him you have all day, and mean it.
Don't back him up or circle him or anything else. Make him quietly stand there until he loads. If he gets halfway on and backs out--that's fine, let him--just stop him right when his front feet hit the ground.
The important thing is this, other than backing out of the trailer itself a time or two--there's no back or sideways, only forwards.
But don't force him, wait him out. After 10 or 15 minutes, he'll get bored, and he'll load. Every time thereafter, it'll be a shorter time, until he just jumps in.
Arrow did some half rears, too, and I just took a single dally around the back pole above the partition right in front of me at the back of the trailer so that I could tighten it quick--if he reared or pulled back, I could hold him because he was just pulling against the metal strut. Once he's quiet, you can loosen it again immediately. When he walks in the trailer, just let the lead follow him in and it'll slide off the pole.
It sounds like once he's in you're fine--but for anyone else reading this thread--make the horse stand quietly, when he's quiet, get out and put up the chain or butt bar or whatever, close the door, then go around front and tie his head. Never tie his head with the back door open--if he gets his back feet out with his head tied, you'll have trouble!
Try narrow bridges...most horses have a similar discomfort with the sound and containment.
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