Trailer loading - how to 'send' her in? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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Trailer loading - how to 'send' her in?

My mare has been loaded into a trailer a grand total of 2 times since I've had her (about 18 months). Neither time was great (though no disasters) - I take full responsibility for the mediocre results, but it didn't help that both times were a bit rushed due to things beyond my control. This horse always surprises me with what she's been taught and can pull up from her past training, when I'm smart enough to ask... She has been trailered all over the place in her life (though it's been a few years), but I'm new to all this and have some anxiety about getting in that tin can with a 1000 lb animal, so I'm obviously the primary problem.

So now, tomorrow morning, it's going to be a beautiful day. And I'm finally doing this right. My only goal is to load and unload as many times as it takes, in a calm relaxed way, until it's boring to both of us. Advice? She's rusty on it, but when I toss the lead rope over her withers & stand in front and point, I've found she'll back up slowly. Is it possible she knows how to 'send' into the trailer? How do I cue this and what's the right way to bring this training to the surface if she has it?

if not... I can just lead her in, but any advice on that? She follows me into the trailer on a lead just fine, but gets nervous when I hook her halter... and she really hates to have the slant gate closed on her. I will be working on that tomorrow. I assume it's just a matter of getting her relaxed, and then just asking her to move her hind quarters? The complicating thing for me is that in the future she will be the second horse in (we've never tried that spot; she was trailered alone both previous times)... my friend's heavier horse will get the front position and it's the one that has an escape door. So I need to get this down to a very calm system so I don't get cornered. How in the world does that work? I hook her up and then slide past her in that narrow slant? Hmmmmm

Honestly, she's a very easy-going horse, with a good foundation of training, who generally wants to get along - and in the past we've worked through every little thing that's come up (such as bathing and fly spray, and little "I don't wanna's" thanks in large part to the calm supportive advice I've received here), so I know I don't have a big problem, but I would LOVE your tips and advice on how to approach this new (new to me at least) dance and make it a non-issue. Thanks!
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Last edited by Folly; 08-24-2017 at 07:29 PM.
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post #2 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 07:45 PM
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Is there a 'head window' in either slot? And are there tie rings outside on the side of the trailer?

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post #3 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 07:54 PM
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Hi, yes, if she's been taught to do this & has no problem with the trailer, it could be as easy as pointing & telling her. Or not. If you do find you have to teach her to do this, I'd teach her in the same manner as teaching her to be 'driven', or 'sent' as you call it, in any other situation. And I'd start that away from the trailer. Can you drive her on the ground? I don't mean just conventional 'ground driving' with 2 long reins & you being behind her, but get so as you can direct her in any direction, with one rein/lead, without pressure on that lead. Once she's doing that, if she doesn't have a prob with the trailer, then she shouldn't have a prob doing it in that situation too.

And while 'practice, practice, practice' is a very good idea, remember, especially(but not only) if she is nervous of stuff - like the butt bar going across - ensure your sessions are very short & easy, non-eventful. Because even if all is going well, if you do too much/too long, it can still be... too much. Best to do 5-10 minute sessions & then go away & do something else 'nice' before coming back for another 5... etc.
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post #4 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Yes. both slots have a head window, with soft mesh screens that can be taken off. And yes it has rings.

It's a nice 2 horse slant with a tack room in front... the back position has a second foldable tack room thing ... it has to be in the open position, making a little closet, in order for the gate to close over her rear. Does that make any sense? When I loaded her before (a couple of weeks ago to go get coggins pulled), I just put her in the front position and slipped out the door. latched her halter while someone else closed her in. She wasn't too happy. Not out of control. just busy and worried. She even ended up with a little scuff on her nose. She backs out slowly and under control, but was definitely not relaxed.

BTW - friend just got this trailer a month or so ago so that we can gear up for our first off property trail rides (Woo Hoo!), so I haven't had a trailer available to practice with.

@loosie - I don't think I have the skills to teach driving. My only hope would be that this is some memory I can refresh. And she is definitely not calm at the trailer. She's not like a horse that's never been trailered.. she's just nervous. It's been a while for her. I need to help her past that. So, I should probably just learn a basic conventional way to load her unless this 'button' is already installed
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Last edited by Folly; 08-24-2017 at 08:05 PM.
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post #5 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly View Post
Yes. both slots have a head window, with soft mesh screens that can be taken off.

It's a nice 2 horse slant with a tack room in front... the back position has a second foldable tack room thing ... it has to be in the open position, making a little closet, in order for the gate to close over her rear. Does that make any sense? When I loaded her before (a couple of weeks ago to go get coggins pulled), I just put her in the front position and slipped out the door. latched her halter while someone else closed her in. She wasn't too happy. Not out of control. just busy and worried. She even ended up with a little scuff on her nose. She backs out slowly and under control, but was definitely not relaxed.

BTW - friend just got this trailer a month or so ago so that we can gear up for our first off property trail rides (Woo Hoo!), so I haven't had a trailer available to practice with.
To find out what she knows, without her getting loose and wandering off, you can use a long line (lunge line 25 ft) and take it out through the window and either have someone hold it (if you have help) or tie to the outside ring. Hook the lead to the halter and put it over her neck and stand back by her withers with your crop or carrot stick or whatever you have, and tap her on the shoulder/wither area gently. You can also cluck at her as you tap. See if she'll walk right in for you. It could be that simple. And if not, she doesn't get it or doesn't know, she won't get confused and wander away.

If she doesn't know how to go in like that, then you can go away from the trailer and just pick an area to work in that you can practice the 'send' part. One step in the right direction is HUGE if she really hasn't been trained.
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post #6 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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So - how do you load your horses Dreamcatcher? do you send? I'm not hung up on that... I'm just trying to put this all together. And even if she does get the 'send' thing, what then? how do I get her hooked in, then get out? just duck in under the gate and slide up beside her to hook her in? yikes. even a calm horse. yikes. Gotta love newbies, right thanks for the patience. I really am learning - and this horse and I are generally a darn good team so I know we'll work this one out.

Great tip on the long lead line! never would have though of that.

Oh, and another fyi, I know she's been hauled a lot in her life... but it might not have been in a slant. so...

I'm a mid-lifer finally making time for horses... Having a blast, but there's soooo much to learn -
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post #7 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 08:27 PM
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So, curious far as those of you who send a horse in, yet then have to get in yourself to tie the horse, close partitions, ect, what is the advantage?
I can see sending a loose horse in.
I tie my horses, so lead them in, but I have no dividers (on purpose), and my trailer is a three horse goose neck angle haul I could send them in, but since I tie them, does not make much sense to me
No side escape door.
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post #8 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 09:07 PM
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Will she step in if you lead her in? If so, it's pretty easy from there to teach them to hop on on command. There are quite a few videos on YouTube to teach trailer loading, so watch a few and pick a method you think will work with your horse. I generally get my horses good about moving around me softly to one side or another with a cue from a stick or rope, and once you have that, you can practice sending the horse between you and a wall or fence. Then add a feed bag, tarp, or something the horse has to step over or on and work on sending him over that between you and the fence. Send him one way, disengage, send him the other way until he's walking nicely back and forth. At that point, you can usually point them at the trailer and they'll go right in. If not, I put some pressure on while they are away from it, then as soon as they take a step in the right direction, I'll let them stand and rest. It doesn't take long for them to go in.

Part of teaching a horse to load is also teaching him to unload. I send the horse in one foot at a time, then 'whoa'. First the head in. Stop, back out. Then the head and one foot. Stop. Back out. Then both front feet. Stop. Back out. Then three feet, then all four. A lot of horses with anxiety about loading don't know how to unload, and that's what is worrying them. Even if your trailer allows you to lead out forwards, teaching the horse to back out a step at a time on command is a good skill to know in case you ever need it. Plus, it keeps the horse from rushing out. My experienced loaders will back up until I tell them "Step", then they fish around with a rear foot for the ground and come out.

Of course, for safety, do your training with the trailer hitched to a tow vehicle, and on good ground, and never tie the horse until the divider, butt bar, or rear gate is closed. Good luck!
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post #9 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 09:12 PM
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I do a version of 'send' and I use the long line through the window to the tie ring or to a helper. They go in and I can shut my dividers and keep them between me and the horse, then walk around and reach through the window and clip my trailer tie to the halter. I don't tie with the lead rope, just loop that over their neck and tie loose so it doesn't fall down. Then I untie the long line and walk away. The ONLY time I get in a trailer with a horse is with a baby. And after my accident on July 1, I'm rethinking that one.
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post #10 of 44 Old 08-24-2017, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
So, curious far as those of you who send a horse in, yet then have to get in yourself to tie the horse, close partitions, ect, what is the advantage?
I can see sending a loose horse in.
I tie my horses, so lead them in, but I have no dividers (on purpose), and my trailer is a three horse goose neck angle haul I could send them in, but since I tie them, does not make much sense to me
No side escape door.
It's generally recommended to send the horse in when teaching loading, because if you lead a horse in and he spooks or is nervous, he can jump right on top of you and then you're trapped between a scared horse and the wall. More than one quiet horse has jumped onto someone when he hears the trailer banging or his hooves on the floor. Sending the horse in alone is also particularly helpful with straight-load trailers, especially for the second horse-- as you don't have an empty stall to stand in when loading. Send the horse in, close the butt bar, then go around to the head window and tie the horse. Leading a horse into a straight-load is an accident waiting to happen, even with an escape door. It's not nearly as essential if you have an open slant or stock trailer, as it's easy there to lead the horse in, tie, and get out and with a seasoned horse, you're not likely to get run over.
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