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emshofk 08-30-2009 03:46 PM

Trailer problem
I have a relatively new (to me) 8+ year old quarter gilding. He is in most respects a well mannered fellow. He's young and Iexpect to have some training left to do. He has one problem that I would like some advice to get past. I must preface my story and tell you that i recently got the person who i bought him from to admit that the injury on his eye and the scars on his legs are from a trailering accident. he fell and since then is a bit nervous about trailers. If i wait at the door for a moment he will usually go in without much hoopla but at times it really takes some persuasion. Another horsr inside makes all the difference. Once in he is a little nervous but all in all takes the ride without issue. However, when it's time to get out he will NOT back out. he will instead turn around and leap out front first and you had just better get out of the way! I worked with him yesterday in a way that made sense to me but i am a 50 year old novice rider and who knows, I may be doing it all wrong. so here goes. first i took him to the trailer with the doors open. like usual he stopped about three feet out and did not want to go further. Today he didn't want to go at all. so i tapped on the back of his front legs with the whip until inch by inch he moved forward. stopping and stroking him with every step he took. Good boy good boy and such. Finally after about 20 minutes of this he was less than an inch away from the door. I was inside coaxing him and tapping. he finally stepped in and stepped right on my foot! Well of course i jerked my foot out from underneath him, His fears were confirmed and he backed up three feet. We had to start all over. after another 20 minutes i got a bit frustrated and started tapping him on the butt with the whip. Then i got more frustrated and smacked him once on the butt. In he went! Well i had wanted to stop him at front feet only but it happened so fast i missed. I tried to coax him to back (with snaffle bit and halter lead rope both) and at one point he did put one back leg down then immediately stepped back in and walked all the way to the front. I could not get him to try again. We tried using driving reins but he just turned around and leaped out. I tried again and this time i was able to without much coaxing get him to step in. I stopped him and had him stand front feet only inside for a moment while i told him what a good boy he was, then backed him out. I did this about 6 more times and he got one up on me and walked all the way in and to the front. He would back up to about 3 feet from the door but no further. So i eventually let him turn around and go out. this time i was able to stop him before leaping and he stood there for a moment. then out he came nice and gentle. We repeated the front feet only process a half dozen more times and then ended the day. When i took him back to the cross ties i got the idea of trying to walk him in and back him out of the cross ties. he would not back any further than the end of the concrete. When riding him and under most other conditions he backs up fine. I'm afraid that if i let him win the battle in backing out of the trailer and walk out forward i am only prolonging the length of time it will take to teach him to back out. I don't want to be mean, I would rather teach him that it's OK to do and it will not hurt him. What do you think? any other ideas?

Nita 08-30-2009 04:31 PM

I think that what you've been doing is pretty good. Instead of pushing him to back up until he refuses, though, try just asking him for a step. Then praise, then turn him around, SLOWLY, pause before exiting trailer, and take him out. Then again. Only next time, ask for two steps. then turn him around, SLOWLY, pause before exiting trailer, take him out. Repeat, this time with three steps backing. Then be done for the day.

Slowly but surely. I once had a horse that did almost the same exact things yours does, but mine had been tied in a trailer too tightly, and when he went to back out of the last stall, tired of holding his head up the whole time, his back feet made it, and slipped under the trailer, but his front couldn't go back anymore, and he was stuck. They left him until his rope eventually broke. GRRR, I just do not understand people like that. But anyway, he loads the best of all mine now, just took a little time to show him I wouldn't ever do that to him.

But anyway, time, patience, and understanding. Sounds like you're doing pretty good so far. Just a little bit at a time. You're not losing the battle if you only ask him for a little, and not asking until he refuses, because then YOU tell him when it's okay to turn around. Try using commands. I always say Back, back, back... And then when they get to the step down, I let go of all pressure and just say down, down, down... If they don't take the last step down then I just give them a tiny bit of pressure and keep saying down. To load, I just say Come on, get in. LOL. I think what you're doing so far is pretty much what you should be doing, but don't ask for it all at the same time. Good luck!


emshofk 08-30-2009 05:17 PM

Thanks Shelby. Glad to know that I am at least on the right track. I'll take it a bit slower and see how it goes. By the way...i noticed i misspelled Gelding. What a moron! anyway. Montana eh? Undoubtedly the most beautiful place i have ever been. I used to visit there a few times a year for wrk. Butte, Billings, Bozeman. If i ever get the chance i will leave this crazy state behind and move there in a hot second. Thanks again for the advice.

Nita 08-30-2009 06:05 PM


Originally Posted by emshofk (Post 391643)
Thanks Shelby. Glad to know that I am at least on the right track.

LOL yup you're doing awesome.

I'll take it a bit slower and see how it goes. By the way...i noticed i misspelled Gelding. What a moron!

No, just a typo. haha.

anyway. Montana eh? Undoubtedly the most beautiful place i have ever been.

yeah, it's pretty gorgeous. I think other people appreciate it more than I do, though. Since I live here I forget how pretty it is. :D

I used to visit there a few times a year for wrk. Butte, Billings, Bozeman.

I live 3 hours from butte, to the south. I'm pretty much as close to idaho as you can be without actually being IN idaho, lol.

If i ever get the chance i will leave this crazy state behind and move there in a hot second.

Ha that's so funny, because I would give so much to be in Cali when it's cold here. =) It's like perfect right now though.

Thanks again for the advice.

yeah, anytime.

My replies in bold.

emshofk 08-30-2009 06:35 PM

Teens tend to get bored and restless wherever they live. Always longing to see what's on the other side. It's not unusual for you to forget the beauty and freedom you live around. Living in Cal is very crowded and expensive and they just made it even more so. It's almost impossible to be able to afford to live in cal anymore and be comfortable. The winters are mild but the summers...whew. it hovers around 105 or so for months at a time and goes over 110 fairly commonly. Its always been that way. No matter what they say...IT'S NOT GLOBAL WARMING!!! Someone in Montana told me once when i was dreaming about living there that if newcomers last thought their first winter they usually stay but most bail before the winter ends. I just sent my daughter off to Florida for College. Some day you will probably leave too. but after you have seen the world i would be willing to bet that you long for home again and return when you can. I used to take care of computer systems all over that area. Idaho Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon. I was always on the road. One of my favorite places in Idaho was Twin Falls. I wanted to move there at one time but ended up having to move back to cal. Good talking to you.

Nita 09-01-2009 02:14 PM

Lol yeah. Pretty much. I actually hate how cold it is though. So I want to live somewhere like AZ or CA maybe FL. I love the heat, and when it's like 110 degrees out, it's like perfect for me. It's always too cold here, brrrrrr. Seriously, I was born in the wrong place haha. Even when it's like 80 degrees, and it's really hot for montana, I'm cold. Like... Wearing jeans and a hoodie cold lol. I have a weird body temp. =P

mom2pride 09-01-2009 05:54 PM

I was born and raised in MN, and now I am in AZ...we are in an area that isn't 'extreme' when it comes to the heat, but I can't wait until I can move back to my home state; I love winter, and riding horse on a warm snowy night... Even in 20 below weather, if I wanna ride, I ride...Lol! Course, who knows what AZ will do to me...I might turn into a pansy, and not enjoy winter weather any more!

emshofk 09-03-2009 08:34 PM

I had a job in Scottsdale one summer. I remember it was so hot tha if i stood still on the blacktop for too log I would walk right out of my tennis shoes. I started wearing my boots and had the re soled with neoprene soles because the leather soles were so hot. I had to have 3 sets of heals put on in one summer because they kept melting to the blacktop. Then a dust storm practically swallowed the entire city one afternoon. it was wild. It is a pretty area though. Lots of cool old west history if your in to that sort of thing. it all resembles the grand canyon. red and rocky. The night life was great. what a party town. with all the college students there was always something going on.

SavvyHorseman 09-03-2009 09:10 PM

One of the things you might consider is to be sure that he fully understands your cues for backing up. I would begin while outside the trailer and see if you can get him to back up in the open.

If that works I would then try to see if you can get him to back up across a pole on the ground.

If that works then I would see if I could back him through a gate.

The key here is that if he is stressed in the trailer and stressed over your cues then he will simply shut down or bolt. Either way he may not be getting what you want from him.

Try to get him fully confident with backing all over the place before you go to the trailer.

Hope that helps.

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