trailering tips... had a bit of a scare
I'm not sure where this should go, I debated training but I'll put it here instead.
Today we took my gelding for a ride to the park (to use the arena and get him used to it, there's a show coming up next Sunday) and lets just say it wasn't a smooth ride. We ended up having to bribe him in with grain (only his third time in a trailer, he's new to this) and then all went well for that trip, but when we unloaded he slipped on the ramp and almost fell... he's 16 hh, not huge but A LOT bigger than my 5'0 self and that was a bit frightening... the worst came when we finally got home. I opened the side door to untie him and step in so that I could back him out, but before we could get the back ramp open he was trying to get out the side door. He was very determined to get back to the field, and me and my mum ended up using all of out weight to try and keep him in until my dad could come and help us... he ended up throwing me off the step of the side of the trailer (like I said 5 feet tall, not tall enough to reach easily from the ground) and I'm a wee bit sore from that... but it's sort of hit me now... if we hadn't gotten him out of that position (and it took a good 10/15 minutes to do so) he could have broken both his front legs not to mention his face and ME... we ended up taking out the divider and forcing him back through the OTHER door of the 2 horse straight hall.
Any tips would be appreciated! It was a terrifying, not to mention dangerous, situation... and we have to go back to the park twice next week. HELP!!
Is the trailer your trailer? If so, I'd hook it up and leave it in the pasture and feed him in there. Keep the back door open so he can go in or out as he feels comfortable. Don't open the side door. Let him start to realize he goes in the back door.
Maybe others will have some ideas for you as well.
Teaching a horse to trailer can be a very frustrating experience, very often because people don't devote the same time and patience that they do with other training....after all, it's natural that when we want to go, we just want to load and go, not train. Just some ideas...
Practice as much as you can without going somewhere. Start with just going in, going/backing out, then closing the ramp, etc. If this is a small, closed in horse trailer, many horses are pretty much OK until that last door/ramp is closed and they can't see the outside anymore.
Similarly, remain relaxed. I've seen many people get so happy that their horse was finally in that the first thing they do is run in a frenzy around putting up the ramp and slamming the doors closed...then their horse freaks out, trashing and kicking.
You still need to be the boss. A trailer is a scary place for a horse and it is a dangerous place to be in with a horse (as you know), but showing that fear will just make your horse more afraid. Try and use the same techniques you would use with groundwork...patience, praise, calm, and be assertive. Try and avoid starting off with the 'this is going to be a problem' mindset. You want to get to the point of being able to just lead your horse into the trailer and tying just like you would lead it to a post or into a stall.
Good luck and stay safe.
He's not afraid of it at all, I tack him up tied to the back and he walks most of the way in perfectly fine. I think it's a wee bit of a squeeze for him, but we took measurements and they said it was fine- and he loves equipment of all sorts, what a goof, if I left it out there I swear he'd try to play with it!
I'll have to get a lot more training done. Sadly, my mum is hard pressed to let me lunge without supervision and so I have to do it on her time, and considering she isn't a horsey person and doesn't seem to understand the work it takes, that may be a bit of a difficulty. Looking back on it, the mistake was our own. Instead of unloading in the drive, we took him back to the parking lot where he could see his pasture buddy (who was having a fit when he saw that we brought him back), and he wanted out NOW, he was not about to wait for us to open the ramp and apparently thought the people door was plenty big enough. HAH. Anyway, I'll start working with him a lot more and hopefully we will get over these problems!
Does he scramble? How do you guys drive with the float on? Not meaning to offend but he may be having a bad experience while travelling, and that is why he is only freaking out to get out.
Most horses float ok, but we've had one pony who had to go on the opposite side of the float than you would normally put a single horse or he would fall every right hand corner. Other horses need to be driven super slow around corners, or need the divider moved over for extra leg space.
Personally, I don't like the approach where you load/unload the horse a lot... I prefer my horses to realise they get on, go somewhere, then get off, and thats it. It's worked for all my horses.
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