Re training Trailer Loading After Trailer Accident - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-18-2014, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Re training Trailer Loading After Trailer Accident

I've been getting baby steps in re training my gelding to load. Its interesting that he loaded in my coach's over wide over tall straight haul, and that he was willing to walk into my friend's big Trail West angle haul, but my new trailer is shorter in length but as wide. He was able to turn around in the TrailsWest trailer and walk out but seems a bit long for the first partition in my trailer, which is why I'm asking him to back out.

I took out the partition to make it appear more inviting, as well, opened the windows. We are at the place where he is putting two feet in and starting to stay longer, without rushing out. He'll step back slowly and I ask again. If he gets anxious he'll begin to walk backwards but if I avoid pulling on his face he will walk forward immediately.

Yesterday he walked right into the trailer and began eating his pan of treats. Unfortunately for me I thought the trailer door was secure and it began to swing closed...he backed out quickly, spooked in place and I was able to run out and get the door in time! BAD mother. So, poor guy, it took him another five minutes or so to get confident again to get into the trailer.

However, when he got in again and began to eat, I asked him to stop, and slowly backup. This time he was backing a little faster than I would like him to, though it wasn't rushing. We repeated this again, and while he was good backing out, he wasn't quite relaxed. I am hoping to get to the place where being all the way in the trailer can be relaxing for him. He's been rushed into trailers before and I want to make the trailering experience a non issue.

If I get stuck I'd likely ask the local guru to help out but am hoping to re train him myself.
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-18-2014, 09:31 AM
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I had to deal with the same thing after a bad trailer loading experience with a previous trainer (it was HORRENDOUS).

My horses are very food motivated, so all I did was end up feeding them both meals in the trailer. I started with each of them separately and then gradually loaded them together to eat. First I just let them stand in there, no pressure. Then I would clsoe the back door, tie them up, and let them finish eating.

I also took the middle divider out as it does make the trailer much more inviting!

Before I knew it I could get both horses to self load! It was one of the proudest moments I've had with them :)

It sounds like you are doing the right thing and that he is being responsive. There are so many different ways to get horses to get in the trailer peacefully, but I am in total agreeance with you that the trailer should be a hapyp and relaxing place! And that you should teach your horse to get in because of those reasons and not because he is afraid of being whipped all the way in - because that method is EXACTLY what ruined mine.

Best of luck!
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-18-2014, 05:43 PM
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it should not be any different than teaching a young scared colt to load. Go at it with good horsemanship, not emotions. Emotions are human problems, not horse issues. Forget about the accident and train your horse.

good luck
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-18-2014, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. His previous owner was unloading another horse first, when Ed got upset, broke his halter, flew under the butt bar, got really torn up, needed stitches - I'm guessing on his hind. Ever since then he flies out the trailer backwards.

This horse is trying so hard to please. I know its not about the trailer, its about leadership, trust and confidence.

I've made certain he is light and responsive for walk on, whoa, backup commands as well as leading well. He's been very good backing up and navigating in tight spaces around barrels, etc. He'll yield his hind just with me pointing, or back up with my index finger wiggling at him. Today he got into the trailer, all the way in, 3 times, and no poops!

He's got an anxious side to him, because even if you ask lightly, he'll rush his hind quarters over when asked to yield. So I'd like him to relax and slow down. I believe we'll get there, its just going to take some time.

As he progresses, I am going to keep asking for guidance. Right now I just want him to relax in the trailer, I ask him to pause, then back up, perhaps one or two steps, come forward, and pause, and eat. And repeat. It's a good thing he's so food motivated.
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-20-2014, 05:45 PM
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You need to forget that he was in an accident. It is affecting you confidence.



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post #6 of 6 Old 09-21-2014, 10:12 AM
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I think you are taking the exact right approach. It sounds like you are attuned to what he is telling you. I only want to add to continue to let him advance at his own pace, as long as he is not simply being lazy. It seems as though you have been at this long enough to be able to tell. "I don't want to" from "I am still scared."

What I love most is that you are not restricting his movement, particularly his head. Don't hive him anything to pull against. If he needs to leave, or wants to, fine, but there should be a "penalty" attached to that decision. Refusal should be less appealing than cooperation; "make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard."

And I second the leaving emotion out of it. Work from wisdom with no rancor or aggravation, but have reasonable expectations of cooperation. Always end on a positive note and remember to reward every try, no matter how subtle. Rewarding the try ensures his continued cooperation.

Best wishes, I have been where you are. Bought a horse with severe trailer issues, hiatory unknown, and took a long time getting her load quietly and confidentally in any trailer. Had to have her shipped from Illinois to our new home in Michigan and I was not able to be there. It was, apparently, a disaster, and if she were not a senior pasture pony I would be starting all over again with her. She flipped twice, I am told, this made me so unhappy. :(
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