Trailer loading problems
I have had my horse for about 2 months and have had to use sweet grain to trick him into loading. A few weeks ago at a trail ride I had trouble loading him when several riders came over to 'help'. They slapped him, put ropes behind him, jerked his halter, etc. and now he is traumatized and won't load at all. I have been ground working and longeing him behind the trailer only giving him a break in front of the open trailer doors (following what it says in a horse training book), but still can't get him to load. Yesterday, I kept it up for 4 hours but only loaded the front legs. I have to drive 30 miles each way to see my horse, and I am just worn out and frustrated. My trailer is a new, white, tall 2H BP. I open all doors to make it less confining looking. How long does it normally take to train him to load? Would a trainer help?
This is a hot topic on here and I'm sure you will get lots of advice. I can tell you what I do and hope it helps.
I set my trailer up with the loading doors blocked in to my round pen and the rear end on jacks so it won't tip (thats if I don't keep the truck hooked up) You have to do this with a bp. For a week solid I feed my horse in the trailer. If they don't want to go in the trailer they don't eat. They still get hay just not anything else.
There are some very knowledgable folks on here and I have seen a post about this before I'll look and post it.
here it is: http://www.horseforum.com/viewtopic....800&highlight=
It should not take that long to train trailer loading. If you can find someone with good experience in your area that would be best since you are probably not quite up on reading the body language of your horse yet. Be sure you don't get someone who will try the rope/beat/drag method.
Here is a simplified version of loading. Yes you want to make the trailer the rest area, but don't let them spend too much time resting behind it. The goal is to rest inside. ;) Never slam the gate shut once your horse does go inside. You can allow the horse to come back out, and actually you should load and unload each foot so the horse learns to come out quietly as well. Make sense?
I use circling basically to load a problem horse. However sometimes you have to move away from the trailer and begin again. I try to walk up to and position my horse so that he knows i expect him to load, not beg him to get on while expecting him not to. Cuz then he won't. ;)
First and foremost your horse should go where you point him away from the trailer first. Teach him to circle around you and go finally between you and a solid fence/wall with little room for evasion. This is called the squeeze game in Parelli's 7 games, btw.. You should also teach your horse to step up and over and also to back off of some kind of platform ahead of time if there is any problem in this area.
Never let them stand too long at the rear of the trailer because they will think that's all you want. Allow a moment, then ask for more. I tap the butt with a whip or the end of my lead(I use a 12' lead w/popper on the end). If they object and back off then I will continue to cue for forward movement back towards the trailer doorway. Remember to release pressure if the horse moves toward the goal.. Only reapply when you see a stop. Reward any interest shown, but reapply when the mind says naaaa. You can shake feed up in front, but it's not necesssary as it doesn't always work as you have found out. I would rather reward with a pat, a good boy, or simply leave them be a moment. That usually works best.
I hope some of this helps and others hop in here and give you some more tips.. I'm sure I left something out anyway. ;)
My sister had the exact same thing happen to her with her horse....People who were trying to "help" her load ended up freaking the horse out so much she could no longer load him. She sent him to a natural horsemanship trainer who lead the horse up to the trailer facing in, and then used rhythmic pressure by whisking him softly in the rear with a soft rope over and over until he stepped forward at all, then he stopped pressure. It seemed to work okay.
Honestly, I like to simply train my horses to load nicely early on rather than having to fix problem loaders later. As said above, simply expecting them to load goes a long ways....don't expect them to fight...your attitude will be part of the influencing factor to whether a horse will load or not. Appyt and Vidaloco both had some advice worth trying.
My 6 year old used to have this problem also. He was never properly trained to load and everytime he had to load where he was at before the cowboys that had him just picked him up and put him on( funniest thing i have ever seen by the way). well I tryed everything possible. So one day me and my friend were up at the barn tryin to load him and we found that walking him up placing him right infront of it and giving him little consistant taps on the but with a lunge whip by one person and the other person standing to the side of the horse with the lead rope worked best. and as soon as he moved one foot on we would praise him with treats. and if he wanted to back up we let him. another method that we tryed that worked a few times is to pick each foot up and move it closer to the trailer and if you have a ramp trailer you put one foot at a time on the ramp and if he trys to move back just let him and try again.
Hope this helped.
Sometimes it seems to help if you can open all the windows and get as much light into the trailer as possible so they can see more of the interior. I don't really understand why most trailer makers insist on making mats and wall padding in matte black. Also the more of the outside they can see through the trailer, the more they seem to relax.
Other than that, I think everyone else has offered some good advice: one person at the head encouraging and one to the side applying gentle pressure with a soft rope or dressage whip has always worked for me. Incentives inside like food or mother helps. Just takes a lot of patience.
I have found a trailer loading method that has not failed me once and I have used it on dozens of horses. Best of all, you dont need anyone's help to do it!
Take a Lariat(a rope, lasso, what ever you want to call it) and put it around your horses butt, right above the hock and below the tail (there's a natural crease there) use the lead rope in one hand just to keep the horses head straight, not to pull them into the trailer, and the other hand with the lariat to do quick jerks then soft pressure, the horse may kick up a fight but if you keep its head towards the trailer they will realize the only way to get away from the rope is to go in the trailer. I had a horse that would take an hour and a half to get in the trailer, the first time I used the rope, 30 seconds, now I dont need to use the rope and I have used that technique on all my horses now.
Try it, I swear it works!
When I first got my horse, it took the guy who owned her 45 minutes to load her up himself. The reason she was so scared was because the trailer smelled like cows, and Jackie had never smelled a cow in her life. Is the trailer your horses regular one or is there something that might pass under your radar? I haven't trailered my horse since I got her a year and a half ago, but I tried loading her for fun. She was wary at first, but I would walk her in a circle then walk up to the trailer, let her check it out, then walk away before she lost interest. She eventually took a step in, then I immediately let her take a step out. We eventually got her all the way in, etc. etc. etc. without her freaking out once, which was a major accomplishment, considering our history. The only problem was, she didn't like waiting, and she immediately tried to back out. It wasn't so bad until I tied her and tried walking out of the stock trailer and she tried following me and almost flipped the trailer. My old trainer used the work vs. get in the trailer method, and altough it took a while, she didn't try backing out immediately and it ended up well enough. Also, don't wait for the last minute to work on trailer loading. Use short, succesful sessions, and end on a good note. Also, prepare your horse for the worst. My old trainer took a crop and banged it against the metal to make load noises and stuff like that. I don't know what your attitude towards your horse is, or if these methods will work for you, but that's my advice. HIH!
Okay, I'll admit, I just skimmed. So if I repeated anything, I apologize.
I had a horse, Buddy, that we believe was in a trailer accident. He was terribly afraid of trailering. Even if he was tied to the trailer, or anything else for that matter, he would try to rear or back up like a crazy.
I went to a 4-H Boot Camp with him and I looped his lead through the tie-ring of the trailer. He was playin with it while I groomed him. I guess something startled him because he immediately "floored" it backwards and drug my friend's two horse trailer at least six feet before I could un-knot the lead. After that he was traumatized the whole day. My poor baby.
We had a John Lyons trainer at Boot Camp. After the camp he helped us load Buddy to get home. He will only load in big stock trailers now and it still takes from 20min. to an hour. Here's what we tried and did:
Feeding in the trailer - didn't work at all :-(
Friend's brother and friend literally lifted his butt and pushed him into the trailer
Th eonly thing that really worked was when you had an hour, patience, and tons of ideas....
I know this probably didn't help but I had to tell the story. :oops:
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