New Trailer: Horse Won't Load
We bought our first horse trailer at the Midwest Horse Fair yesterday and are very excited! It is a 2011 Eclipse 2 Horse Straight Load Bumper Pull. 6 ft 6 inch wide and 7 ft 6 inches tall. I love it :) My mare loves it too and went right on up without a problem. My husband's scardy cat gelding not so much. We tried with my mare already in, but then she started to get nervous with the fuss he was creating, so I pulled her off. The center divider swings over to give the first horse almost the entire area to load and we even tried that. He will willingly walk across the ramp. He will poke his head in. He will stand on the end of the ramp with the tips of his front hooves barely touching the trailer and go no further. We tried carrots. No go. We grabbed a bucket of grain and 2 hours later he finally got all 4 feet into it, but then backed off right away again. It is wide and tall and open enough so the size shouldn't be a problem. He is being a complete jerk about it. I even took him inside and lunged him to get some energy out and make him focus on me before trying again. We both finally lost patience at 2 hours and gave up. Please help!!
Congrats on trailer! That is awesome. I learned a trick about harder to load horses years ago and it has always been successful for us. You would be best suited to have 2 people. You need a lunge line or long lead and a lead rope. Get the horse as close to the trailer as you can with him acting calmly and where he will stand quietly. Have the lunge line/long line attached to his halter. The line needs to be going where you want the horse to go and the best result is to wrap it once around some part of the frame of the trailer, have one person hold this on the outside of the trailer but somewhere where they can see where the horse is. You should try to avoid any pressure from this line on his halter, it is only there to prevent any backward motion. The lack of pressure here means that he won't resist. Have other person ask the horse for forward motion in to the trailer. The closer he gets have the person on the long line take up the slack, but never allow pressure. So the closer he gets, the better and he never gets further away. If he pulls on the line, keep resistance so that he does not move back while the person beside him asks for forward motion and if necessary with light taps on his him/bottom for the knotted end of the lead line, do this until he stops resisting, be insistant that he move forward off the line and once he steps forward there is no pressure. If he is standing there and checking out the trailer and being cooperative, give him time, let him do this. But if he is not interested or is paying attention to something else, etc ask him to move forward with the pressure from the rear - light taps from lead rope, etc. Once he moves forward at all let him inspect again, until he gets bored, etc. I know that this sounds long and involved but it has never taken more than 30 minutes for us to get one loaded this way. I am sure that there are the equine exceptions though! Basically you want to pressure from behind, kindly and not from his head. If you give him time each time he moves forward - with praise and rest, it will be a lot easier the next time. Just remember to make sure he is paying attention and that the long line only has any pressure on it if he is hauling butt backwards, the key is to not allow backwards motion and always encourage forward motion, the long line person must be diligent in keeping out the slack. Best of luck!!! Hope this helps you!
Another method to use is to make away from the trailer a place where he doesn't want to be. Lead him toward the trailer and the instant that he refuses, put him to work. Lunge him back and forth between you and the trailer, lots of direction changes, make him breath hard. When he's sucking a bit of air and is focused on you, lead him toward the trailer again. So long as he is looking/investigating or coming forward just let him come and keep lightly encouraging him. If he is obviously scared and he wants to stop and look, give him plenty of time to do that, so long as he doesn't move away. The instant that he backs up or moves away from the trailer, put him to work again. Repetition will make him realize that being on the ramp or in the trailer is where he gets to rest and away from the trailer means he has to work. He should be loading up in no time.
a trick that i was told by Monty Roberts. Place your trailer somewhere possibly in their feild and make each on walk in and through the other side everytime you bring them in and out of the field. feed them in it if you have to, it takes time and patients but my mare walks straight in and out now.. JUST KEEP TRYING!! xx
Moving it to the "Training" forum and bumping up for OP.
Line through the front of the trailer is not a good idea with the ramp. Horse can and likely will drop off the side of the ramp.
Is the ramp stable? Some ramps have to much give an horses do not trust the footing.
There is also that new trailer smell. Chemicals and a horses sensitive nose.
mls - the ramp is very secure and barely moves when he walks on it. He didn't mind the ramp at all and would calmy stand on it and peek inside the trailer without a second thought. He just refused to take the extra step and go in the trailer. Maybe it is the smell because we have trailered him several times before in different trailers that we could bum from a friend and he never had an issue getting on. He wouldn't even load when my mare was in it.
A friend suggested that I put the trailer in the indoor arena and leave it open with his hay and grain in it for the night and let him figure it out. Do that for a few nights and he should walk right up. My question with this is how does it teach him to walk on when being led? We tied him to the side and let him chill and he never had a issue. he will walk right on up to it and go up the ramp, but no further. Would anyone suggest this idea?
I don't mind taking the time and effort to work with him, but don't want to spend hours and have him win in the end cuz that won't teach him anything good. Thanks everyone!
Skip his breakfast, try to load him before dinner time. Encourage him in with food. If he still won't go, oh well, he misses another meal and will be more hungry for the next attempt tomorrow morning.
Then feed him in the trailer as often as you can.
Are their windows or a side ramp or an escape door that can be opened so he is not going into such a tight closed space?
^ this is what I would impliment... make the right thing easy, the wrong thing difficult. In this way, you are also making loading into the trailer 'his' idea, since he will want to be in there after a while of having to work outside of it.
I don't like tactics that "pull" a horse into the trailer (using a long line around the butt), simply because if your horse is one of those that DOES decide to put up a fight, you could both be seriously hurt before you can even think about releasing the rope all the way.
Bribery usually will not work with a horse since he can simply choose not to eat; they are not so easily food motivated like dogs. Even when they are hungry, if they don't feel 'safe' with a situation, they will not eat...they are prey animals, so that makes them alot different than dogs; predators will usually eat at any time, a prey animal will forgo food, for safety if he has to. Something to think about, when using food, or "lack of food" to motivate a horse into any situation.
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