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Walkamile 09-04-2009 09:17 PM

I'm Still Shaking!
Today, when I got home from work, I decided that I was going to load Walka and take him for a little ride in preparation for this weekends big trail ride. I have been working with him to get him in the trailer calmly and quietly and have felt quite good about our progress. Years ago, he was injured in the trailer and after that he wouldn't have anything to do with it. I even had a John Lyons certified trainer try, and he was actually worse for her.

Okay, so he's going in calmly and standing and backing out slowly. Great. Now it's time to put up the butt bar. I have a two horse straight load with a ramp. But bar goes up and BAM!! he EXPLODES! He is panicking and pushing so hard against the butt bar and his back legs are just scrambling to beat the band! I'm watching this in the next stall (yeah I know, stupid!) and I calmly tell hubby to go around the front of the trailer(didn't want him crossing behind in case the bar broke and Walka landed on him) and wait for my signal to undo the butt bar. After what seemed like minutes, although I realize it was seconds, Walka stops and I ask him very quietly to step forward and when he does I calmly tell hubby to undo the butt bar. Understand there was noting calm about this situation, but with a panicking horse, anything but calm tone and movements would have just worsened this moment and I realized this, thank goodness.

Walka stands a few more seconds just shaking like a leaf and then I calmly say "back". He does , just a hair faster then normal, but not rushing.

I took a deep breath, maybe several, and asked him to go forward into the trailer. He did but not all the way. He was very tense (who could blame him) and we worked calmly for another hour, until he let out a very deep breath while 1/2 way in. I knew that he wouldn't go any further that night. So that's where we ended , along with a few simple ground exercises in leading.

I know that this is out of my league. I will have to find a trainer to help me, but would like to hear from anyone that has experienced a similar situation and what did you do?

Understand, whatever you say, I will not go out and "try" it as I truly feel I need an experienced trainer in this situation. But I would feel better to know that someone out there has been through this, and got their horse through it and that there is hope.

Sorry for the novel... taking a deep breath now.

MIEventer 09-04-2009 09:33 PM

Have you considered trading your current trailer in for a 2 horse stock? I had a horse that would not go into a 2 horse strait haul, and if I did he would explode just as your horse did.

What my dad ended up doing was blow torching the wall that seperated between the two "stalls" in the trailer and made it a 1 horse stock. My horse would go in just fine after that.

The confinement is what gets some horses and the narrowness of the partition in the middle that makes each stall appear.


I had another horse, a TB who would only stand backwards, without being tied up while in the stock trailer.

I have a feeling, your horse needs a more open space, not to feel confined and the feeling of "being more free" while in the trailer.

How does he react to a stall?

I say get rid of your 2 horse strait haul, and get a 2 horse stock. Or take out that partition.

Walkamile 09-04-2009 09:49 PM

Hey MIEventer. Yeah I could take out the center partition, but than the only way to "keep" him in is to raise the ramp. After what I saw today, I have visions of him launching himself over it! :shock::lol:

I do agree with the claustrophobic factor. I have a friend with a step up stock trailer that has offered me the use of it. Again, I guess I need to get my nerve up. Prefer to have someone that has the experience with me for this.

As far as stalling goes, he isn't closed in one. He can come in and out as he pleased into the paddock. He will go anywhere I ask, not the trailer now, and is very good with leading ect...He did pull back when tied to the trailer a few years ago after a trail ride. After that I switched to a rope halter and got a blocker tie ring. He hasn't offered to do that since, but I often wondered if he got a little claustrophobic than.

Who knows, but thank you for the suggestions. We've come so far and I feel so deflated right now, but I will be working with him to regain some trust and hopefully find a trainer to help.

Nita 09-04-2009 09:55 PM

Well, we had a similar situation, a horse we got was tied in a trailer by the previous owners, and he was in the back stall of a slant... He tried to back out, and they just opened the butt bar and let him, even though he was tied. His back feet slipped under the trailer and his head was tied...... They just left him until the halter broke. *******S.

But anyway, he REFUSED to load in our horse trailer. He loaded fine in a stock. So I started just putting grain in the front of the horse trailer, and just letting him eat in there. At first he wouldn't even relax enough to eat it, but after a few weeks he would take some nervous bites. he would try to run out as soon as I let him turn around (it's a 5 horse slant) and so he just ate it facing forward. then I would let him turn around and make him WALK out. months and months later, he's our best horse to trailer, LOL. my dad took him out about 7 weeks after we got him, when he was still nervous about the trailer..... he just loaded him up, closed the divider, and took off. He was probably scared silly at first, but after he realized he was okay, he just.... was fine. his only problem now is that you can't tie him. that's okay though, you don't really need to tie in a trailer with dividers. maybe try just... taking him for a ride, showing him that it'll be okay. maybe you could just have your hubby drive a few circles while you're in the second stall, IF you think you're safe in there, and that way you can soothe him. Or, if you're not really safe, maybe just a short, easy ride in a trailer would help him see. I don't know though, every horse is different and I don't know what his accident was. But if you think he could handle it and it might help, it's worth a try. I don't know your horse, though, too. If you think that won't help, don't. Just what helped in my experience. =) GOOD LUCK!

Honeysuga 09-04-2009 09:56 PM

We had a small paso fino mare that had trailer phobia, i remembe rhwen they brought her home the first time, it took about an hour to get her out of the trailer safely, lordy knows how long it took to get her in. The second time we trailered her it was in a 2 horse straight with a removable chain partition, she went in ok, but hwen we glosed the door behind her she FREAKED! she tried backing out and even tried to go foreward over the manger and when she tried to go back she managed to jam the door so we had to open the opposite stall door to get to her to try to calm her down but aas soon as she saw the door open she went UNDER!!! the chain(it was just over belly height)
it happened so fast i still dont know how she did it. but happily after she went under the chain and came out the door she was ok except for a little scrape down her spine from the chain, needless to say we got a larger trailer...
she eventually calmed down toward trailers with a lot of short calm pressure and release sessions...

riccil0ve 09-05-2009 12:32 AM

I have a very scary story for you, and it does have a purpose. I've been taught to NEVER put the butt bar up first. And this is what drives that point home.

My friend knew of a horse who I think bolted back out of the trailer. Whether he got spooked or was new to loading, the owner had opened the door before releasing the butt bar, and when the door opened, that horse tried to back up rather quickly to get out. He managed to get his back UNDERNEATH the metal butt bar, and he screwed up his back so bad that he had to be put down.

I'm sorry, but yes, I do mean to scare you. Your horse freaked about the butt bar going up, but what if he had gotten underneath it? Even if it's a chain with the rubber coating, it can still do some SERIOUS damage, and if he managed to get away unscathed, it would move you back a lot in your training.

If the ramp going up is a problem for you, see if you can sell your trailer for one with two separate shutting doors, or even a slant load. If you can't get a new trailer, you can just put up the ramp while your still in the trailer with your horse. Just make sure you take the butt bar up AFTER the door is closed, and put if back DOWN before you open the door again.

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