Loading Problems - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-28-2020, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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Loading Problems

Hi there
I am new to this so hope I donít babble! I have owned my horse for almost 3 years he came to me as a self loader. That was fine until our honeymoon period ended and the challenges began. At first I couldnít get him to load at all but after trying pressure release food sending on and a dually halter he is able to load at home quite happily. However if I take him ANYWHERE even to the chiropractor he refuses to get back on the float without a fight, especially if we have been out with other horses. He becomes a horse that acts like he seeing the float for the first time. It make going out to enjoy horses with friends a nightmare! A lot of people say he making a fool out of me and I agree but no one has any suggestions on how to overcome this. Does anyone have any thoughts that might help? Thank you so much.

Last edited by loosie; 09-28-2020 at 03:52 PM.
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-28-2020, 12:48 PM
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Welcome to the Forum...

So, your issue...
Does your horse lead and lead well?
Loading is part of leading...and respecting, trusting you enough to do as asked.
If your horse not trust you to keep him safe, not to challenge your direction than that is where you must start.
Astride the horse respecting your asking him to do is different.
A horse does not carry through compliance from ground-work to astride work..
Each needs to be a earned position of trust in you to lead him safely to a destination..
...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....

Last edited by horselovinguy; 09-28-2020 at 05:25 PM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-28-2020, 04:36 PM
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Hi & welcome,

Firstly, not sure if you meant it like that but the horse is not making a fool of you on purpose - horses don't think like that. He is either afraid, or saying 'you & who's army??'. Without more info, can't say which, but I sus it might be the second. Although if it's always a fight, that can cause it to soon become fear related too.

I'm guessing you're not all that experienced? Can you enlist a trainer or experienced friend to help you?

So, you've had him for 3 years. He came to you a 'self loader', guessing pretty well trained all round? He may have been confident & well trained for his old owner but he didn't trust you, you didn't *earn* his respect as a good leader, &/or perhaps you were doing lots wrong too, so inadvertently training him NOT to load.

So how long has it been that he wouldn't load at all? Did you try those things you mention one after the other, not succeed so try another thing, or...? And does he now load willingly at home, or only because you make him? Is he a confident horse or gets worried about stuff? What other issues do you have with him? Does he yield to pressure softly, etc?
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-28-2020, 06:56 PM
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To me it seems fairly simple. Your horse used to think of loading as positive. Now he thinks of it as negative. You need to spend the time it takes to make it positive for him again.

Your emotions contribute to the problem. You need to trailer the horse a few times in situations where you can be completely neutral. First, you should load the horse and unload without going anywhere. I would not drive the horse until he can load relaxed, have a treat and then get turned back out. This does not mean drilling, but short sessions that end positive with no time frames.

Once the horse is loading happily, drive him a couple miles and then back home. Don't make him get back in after. Make it easy and positive.

After that, do a very short drive within walking distance of home just to unload and let him relax, then get back in. If he does not want to load up away from home, don't get stressed, just wait and take the time until he can get in relaxed. If he can't, don't resort to pressure tactics. He has to keep feeling positive. If he doesn't load, walk him home and try another day.

Depending on his past experiences, he may change quickly or slowly. But he needs to reassociate trailer loading with low stress and easy situations.
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-28-2020, 07:02 PM
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Also make sure the horse is having a pleasant trip. Are you driving very carefully? Is the trailer an inviting, safe place with room and no difficult entry or exit?
Is the footing good so he doesn't feel like he is slipping or insecure? Is there good ventilation so he can breathe and not get hot? Are you giving him hay so he can eat and relax?
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post #6 of 6 Old 10-01-2020, 08:42 AM
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As Loosie stated, I'm guessing that you are somewhat green as a rider/handler still and this boils down to more of a leadership issue than anything else.
I'd address it in two ways. First off, you are dealing with a pattern here and horses can be incredibly specific regarding seemingly minor details that "take them" down a different emotional/mental path. This different path (not wanting to load) seems to be triggered by being away from home. When they take the wrong path it is up to a good leader to not respond emotionally, but to be the rock that keeps them tethered.
I'd start by finishing the next dozen rides by loading up your horse. By this I mean find a good place to stop in your ride and IMMEDIATELY dismount and lead him to the trailer and load him. Once he is loaded and standing quietly in the trailer, loosen the girth and lead him back for untacking. The first time may take 10 minutes. The last time he'll be leading you to the trailer. I try to stay away from the descriptions of positive and negative because of the confusion regarding operant conditioning terms. So, we'll just say that we are forming a pleasant and motivating association with loading in the trailer. Step 1 completed.
Now, we must deal with the problematic trigger of not loading away from home, step 2. I'd pick a day when you have all day. I'd load up ole Thunder and haul him to your vet's office. It can be a Sunday when nobody is there. Let him eat some grass for 5 minutes and load him back up. As in step 1, maybe that takes you 30 minutes this time around. Who cares? You have all day. Next, take him to your local riding arena where shows may be held. Unload. Graze. Load 'em up again. This time it only takes 15 minutes. Next, we go to the grocery store and park far away from the cars. You keep repeating and can even go back and revisit the vet's office and local arena again. Heck go to the vet, unload, reload, then go back to the arena, unload, reload, and just repeat that pattern 4 times. All of this craziness is breaking the old trigger up, dealing with it, and installing a new, more beneficial pattern. It's important each time you load him that you see calming signals from him like licking and chewing, lowering the head, deep breath, etc.
If you take the time to do this a couple of hours a couple of days, I think your loading issues will melt away and you'll have leadership points to burn. I hope that helps.
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