Agree with others, think its *mostly* a leading problem. But not only. Your horse also has to trust you, that where youre leading him is safe. (& do, as in needles etc)
Also agree i wouldnt do sedatives, unless its an emergency situation. I dont want a horse unsteady on his feet in a trailer either.
Im also surprised the horse had to be put in stocks just for dental work & shots. Maybe normal procedure for your vet. But considering his terror, i wouldnt have fought to force him, but left him out. You will have to do some desensitising there too, well prior to any necessity if your vet insists on the stocks.
When you try, and the horse is worried, if you push too far/fast, so he gets panicked and reactive, he not only learns that he can fight you and win, but more importantly IMO, his emotional response - panic - is confirmed, strengthened.
Remember, horses dont think/remember stuff rationally, but emotionally - trailer(garage, stocks, needles...) = worry = fighting = panic. Whatever fearful thing you get into a fight about, realise this will strengthen his fear & make him worse about it next time. Now thats been confirmed to him, it will be a task to change his *emotional association* with the trailer. You will now have to *prove* to him its not as bad as his experiences have taught him.
So dont fight him, do whatever necessary to minimise/avoid him feeling like that, getting any more 'practice' at being frightened of where you ask him to go. First thing (after getting him leading really well elsewhere) is to not start trailer lessons when you need to go somewhere. Aim to do lots of short, easy sessions beforehand. He should be comfortable going in & out, tied, with the doors shut eyc, before you actually go anywhere.
**BTW, NEVER have the front 'escape' door open when you are putting your horse in - seen some horrid wrecks when a scared horse tries to escape through it!!
Good idea to take it bit by bit, literally one step at a time if needed. I think where that went wrong was just asking for too much. Eg. Hes now very worried, but with pressure & release you convinced him to step on the ramp - great! Remember, as with people & fears, youre not going to feel ok about it if someone keeps trying to force more & more on you - eventually youll reach 'breaking point', the 'final straw'. So whatever youre working on, pay attention to where hes at emotionally and dont push him into real fear. Aim to 'stretch' his 'comfort zone' by 'pushing' only a bit at a time.
So back to the trailer... Start where he's comfortable, relaxed. Ask him to approach, lead/lunge over the tailgate or get him to walk right up to it, whatever. By that point, considering last lessons, he may be quite nervous - dont take him past that stage, wherever you find it. Take him away again, to somewhere he can relax, de-stress. Then do it again. And again... until he is fine about going that far, no big deal. Then start with asking for just one of 2 steps further before rewarding & taking him away. Etc.
Really helps if you can reward - give something Good, a treat etc, as well as removing the Bad - release pressure - when he does Right, to change his emotional associations. **But dont try to bribe him! That can actually strengthen his fear. And be careful not to reward if hes getting reactive.
I find 'desensitising' to confirmed fears is best done 'incidentally', as matter of fact and non-eventfully as possible. Eg. Id have the trailer close & 'play' with him near it, doing lots of stuff hes happy and relaxed about, and in between times, you just ask him to go to/in the trailer, before doing something else fun. Then back to the trailer, then onto something else... etc. In this way, you can spend a lot of time in one 'play time', do a lot of 'sessions' without stress blowing his mind... or wasting your time, taking forever.
Last edited by loosie; 04-09-2017 at 07:40 PM.