Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
• Horses: 0
Touching base on the hard loader issue again, I've loaded plenty of 'em over the years...two very memorable ones this summer.
You really have to get into their head to know what kind of hard loader you're dealing with - fear, or stubborness.
The latter is reasonably easy to work with so far as it doesn't change to fear. Although I use it as a last resort, a nose twitch did the job in the case of one this summer. He wasn't scared one bit, he was just extremely stubborn and ADD - once we had his attention with the twitch (after 40 minutes of escalating methods) he walked right on a trailered like a pro.
Another was a fear issue...previous owner had clearly traumatized the poor horse with a previous bad trailering experience and the new owner (who had owned her for 2 years) was left holding the bag, and dealing with a huge draft mare that hated trailering with a passion and would often just not load - she told me about plenty of shows and such she simply missed because her horse wouldn't load. I wouldn't resort to something like the twitch in this scenario as it would have just escalated her and ended up in injury or worse, but we worked for about an hour to get her loaded, escalating gently, eventually resorting to the lead across her gums (which I consider pretty mild all things considered) with the slight give/take pressure method someone else mentioned (an inch forward reduced the tension, an inch back brought it back), and someone else tapping her on the bum every now and then to get a little forward movement. Eventually she loaded and had a great ride, even unloaded well. I actually trailered her 3 times this summer (nobody else locally would haul this horse anymore, she'd actually been stranded on a few trips off property previously when the haulers gave up and left her) and each and every time she loaded better, having gained confidence - the last time she loaded in <5 minutes, we unloaded and reloaded her 3 times within 15 minutes to allow her to gain more confidence.
The "Stubbon" ones will often be like your experience - once minute they plant themselves and won't move, the next minute they walk right on like nobody's business. It's the fear issues that are much more difficult to work through - trusting their owner helps a whole lot, but in the end, a horse that had a terrible trailering experience at some point in it's past doesn't forget easily...