Preparing for Trailering Troubles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Preparing for Trailering Troubles

I am about to bring my new mare home in the next few months and was warned that she has been difficult to load in the past due to the driver being in an accident while she was in the trailer. She was not injured but has been fearful ever since. I do not own my own trailer so getting her used to it is not an option at this point so I was hoping to get a few tips in case even after all these years she is still afraid. The trailer I would normally borrow will not work in this case due to it not having an escape door so I will have to rent something because there is no way I'm getting trapped in there with her. I was thinking of renting a stock trailer for a more open airy feel that I could walk her through. Any suggestions? She has not had the best past as she was used as a brood mare for 9 years then sold at auction while drugged to someone that thought they were going to barrel race her and when the horse didn't agree they tried to breed her and she ended up killing the stallion which was the same day she was in the accident. She was then given to the sister and has been a pleasure horse ever since. She either loves you or hates you and apparently she loves me which is why they offered her to me. Her pasture mate is crippled and they do not want more horses due to lack of time so she needs a new home where she can be ridden. They are waiting for me to take her so they can make the difficult decision of putting their other horse down. Anyway I really want our relationship to start of on the right foot so any stress relieving suggestions for her are greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 06:29 PM
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You can find lots of videos on youtube for trailer loading. Without the trailer, what you need to work on are your go forward and back up cues. And going forward over stuff that the horse doesn't like is especially helpful. There's a thread on this board about driving a horse over a tarp and there were plenty of folks who saw no utility, but being able to drive your horse willingly over something he doesn't like has plenty of utility here. If your horse doesn't have the confidence to go over a tarp for you, how much confidence will he have going into a trailer?

Don't use food to coax him. I've been going to shows for quite a few years, and at the beginning of the show season there's almost always someone who can't reload at the end of the show. In every case they've brought grain and a bucket with them. Comments like "I've been feeding him in the trailer every morning and night for xxx days" will be spouted. But the horse was never trained to go in the trailer. That's kind of like saying you've trained your horses go into their stalls in the morning to get fed. It's not an impressive trick and it only works when hunger is stronger than fear. You might have a very long wait.

You can give him food in the trailer after he is loaded, but the food isn't there as an enticement to get him loaded. It's to make him more comfortable after he has loaded.

Getting him loaded at home doesn't mean he'll reload when you are far from home. Ride him somewhere not too far from home and have somebody drive the trailer to you. You can see how he loads in an unfamiliar location. If he won't reload, it's not a disaster and you want to know that before you've gone miles and miles.
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post #3 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 07:16 PM
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Horses prefer a stock trailer and it may be she doesn't have "flashbacks" with one.

If you can I'd try one and then you don't need to worry (though I'd recommend working on it long term).

I would just work on training her as if she's never seen a trailer before. Slow and easy and YOU must stay confident and calm. Don't buy into her stress.

Is her issue loading or the trailer? Beware that she may get stressed while on the trailer.

I would make the trailer a nice place where she gets dinner working up to short rides around the block then home (with dinner). Always good things.

As far as just getting her home as long as you can be safe and get her on you don't need to worry a much (though again, the issue should be addressed at some point) so a stock trailer and maybe a light sedative and bribes (cookies) would be my advice.

Have a couple different plans (approach retreat? work her outside? etc) and I would just go to load her as any other horse then let her response dictate the plan. Hopefully she just walks right on.

I know a mare in a very bad trailer accident (trailer flipped, truck and passengers were fine luckily). She was loaded to go to the hospital (under sedation) and then loaded to go home. A little hesitant but walked right on. Hopefully in the future she continues on that road right now we are more worried about her physical state. This mare is an OTTB and has traveled extensively, for a horse that hasn't I would imagine it would be much more traumatic, more of a "see I told you it was bad!)
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post #4 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 07:17 PM
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If it's stubbornness there's tactics to deal with that, but it's almost certainly fear in this situation.

Having someone the mare trusts is going to be a big plus here - do you have access to the previous owner/rider who has worked with her and whom she trusts? And is there a chance of having another horse whom she's also familiar with do the move with her, even if it's only to have the second horse return home after the trip? Sometimes horses are more willing to load if one of their buddies is on the trailer already.

Aside from that, my experience with fear and trailering is that patience is your best friend. That doesn't always mean the process will be fast - often it's anything but, but trying to force or rush a fearful horse can go sour very quickly if it translates to panic.

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post #5 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 07:40 PM
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"Aside from that, my experience with fear and trailering is that patience is your best friend. That doesn't always mean the process will be fast - often it's anything but, but trying to force or rush a fearful horse can go sour very quickly if it translates to panic."

This. I wanted to add- set aside a day when you can spend as much time as needed and go into it with that mindset.
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post #6 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 07:52 PM
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I think your idea of a stock trailer is a good one, she might not relate it to her trailering accident as it is a different type of trailer, I have seen this work in the past with horses that have been in an accident in a non stock type trailer. Just want to point out that not all stock trailers have a person door at the front and I think with this horse, it would be a good idea to have for you to get out after tying her in the trailer, then you don't have to walk out behind her.
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post #7 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 08:07 PM
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Agree Woodhaven but stock trailers are roomy enough the OP should be able to get out safely imo. I would be more concerned about her trying to bolt through a human door in front of her.

JW was this mare actually abused?
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post #8 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone I will put all of your suggestions to use. I have as long as I need to prepare her as her current family is in no hurry and wants the transition to be as smooth as possible. I have been visiting her for months just to be sure we are a good match as I only have a two stall barn and can't afford to take a horse I can't ride. I will be working with her a lot this next week because Im off work. I love the suggestion of getting her to walk over things like the tarp to earn trust.
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post #9 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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I don't think she was abused but I know nothing of her life as a brood mare. Her name is Jets Miss Print. Maybe someone here knows something about her?
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post #10 of 30 Old 03-26-2015, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yogiwick View Post
I would be more concerned about her trying to bolt through a human door in front of her.
This is a very real possibility with an already scared horse so pay particularly close attention, or avoid using the door if at all possible. NEVER EVER open it if there's a panicked horse aboard unless you're in imminent danger yourself - a panicked horse can and often will try to run through that open door, and horses seldom fit through them..leading to injury or worse.
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-- In the great white north - Canada!
Every ride is a lesson, for you AND your horse - Newbies read this thread!
Thinking of buying an older trailer? Go in eyes wide open!
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