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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Joe's 24, I've had him since was 18 and up until the past couple months only loaded him into a trailer when there were already other horses inside. He has a long history of pulling when tied and will pull the lead rope right out of my hands if he feels strongly that he doesn't want to go where I'm leading.\

When I try to load him he does the same things every time - approaches the trailer a little closer each time, pulling away and running back to the barn each time. Then I have to lead him back and he gets in and out of the trailer a few times before finally staying in. It's getting worse every time. Up until now he's always stayed inside by the 2nd or third time he got in. Today he got out about six times.

Since he pulls so hard when tied, or when I'm holding the lead rope and he wants to get away, I usually can't keep him from running back if he decides he's going to do it.

Right now he's in the trailer - standing backwards. I've got the door shut and he has room to turn around and face forward if he wants. He's got a tub of grain and a bag of hay in there and I've gone back into the house to let him stand inside in peace - maybe turn around and eat some hay. I'm late leaving for a ride - should have left 15 minutes ago.

The only thing I can think of to do is to back the trailer up into the barn aisle and only feed him in the trailer - load him every night until he gets used to it.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to get him to stop pulling away from me? Over the years he's learned there's nothing that can keep him from breaking a lead rope if he pulls hard enough. Once he even broke one of the barn's support poles.
 

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Joe's 24, I've had him since was 18 and up until the past couple months only loaded him into a trailer when there were already other horses inside. He has a long history of pulling when tied and will pull the lead rope right out of my hands if he feels strongly that he doesn't want to go where I'm leading.\

When I try to load him he does the same things every time - approaches the trailer a little closer each time, pulling away and running back to the barn each time. Then I have to lead him back and he gets in and out of the trailer a few times before finally staying in. It's getting worse every time. Up until now he's always stayed inside by the 2nd or third time he got in. Today he got out about six times.

Since he pulls so hard when tied, or when I'm holding the lead rope and he wants to get away, I usually can't keep him from running back if he decides he's going to do it.

Right now he's in the trailer - standing backwards. I've got the door shut and he has room to turn around and face forward if he wants. He's got a tub of grain and a bag of hay in there and I've gone back into the house to let him stand inside in peace - maybe turn around and eat some hay. I'm late leaving for a ride - should have left 15 minutes ago.

The only thing I can think of to do is to back the trailer up into the barn aisle and only feed him in the trailer - load him every night until he gets used to it.

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to get him to stop pulling away from me? Over the years he's learned there's nothing that can keep him from breaking a lead rope if he pulls hard enough. Once he even broke one of the barn's support poles.
This is a long standing serious problem and the internet isn't going to give you the tools to remedy it. Find a trainer in your area who is very good with ground work. He has learned he can get away from you and that will be very hard to break. He needs to re-learn how to give to pressure. It is very critical that this re-training is done with the correct timing. If you don't release at the right time, he'll either not learn, or he will have already escalated to the "freaking out" stage to escape, and he will pull away. Timing is so critical.

Your trailer loading problem is just an extension of his leading problem. He won't follow you when he does not want to, so no way he's going to follow you onto a trailer. Simple as that.

I would also never, never tie a horse hard that does this. Always use something like a tie blocker ring or a Smart Tie clip. He will hurt himself (break his neck) or break whatever he is tied to if you do not. These things allow slack to come out while you work on the problem.

For how longstanding this issue is, it might take MONTHS of consistency to begin making headway.

So again --> you do not have a loading problem. So force feeding him in the trailer will do nothing for you. You have a leading problem. Until you fix that, you'll continue to have the loading problem.
 

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I leased a horse like this. He did it about every other time loading. He would appear to be ok about going in, right up until the last second, then he'd lunge to the right and pull the line out of my hand and escape. it happened both going out and going home. I had a friend who put a chain over his nose to lead him, then took it off after he was secured in with the door only ( no tying.) I don't have advice, only to say that I know how frustrating that can be.
 

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I agree with Beau159 - the leading problem is the issue. I'd say he needs to go back to basic groundwork and re-learn how to give to pressure. Remember that you can't physically force a horse to do anything it doesn't want to - it's way too strong. I'm not sure how bad his leading problem is, but for the sake of an example I'll just assume it's not great, but not terrible. Ok, so let's say you were standing still with him, holding the lead rope, and you stepped forward and put some pressure on it. He tries to fight the pressure by raising his head up in the air and backing up (again, I don't know if he would or not, just assuming). If I were in that position, I would keep a light hold on the lead rope (not too firm, that can cause a horse to rear) and hold it until he stops going back, or maybe takes one step forward, depending on how bad he was. If he kept running backwards, I'd just follow with that light pressure and he could do that for an hour if he wanted. Eventually, though, he would figure out that that wasn't going to make the pressure go away, and he'd try something else, be that some thing calmer (slowing down) or something crazier (rearing, ect.). I doubt he'd go to something more extreme if your hold was light, but again, he's your horses and I don't know him.
I hope that's made some sense, tell me if there's anything you didn't understand. It's a bit hard to write these thing out.
Re-reading your post, when you mentioned his running backwards, it seems like you were saying you were trying not to let him go backwards? I think the key with a horse like this is not to stop them going backwards, but just make going forwards more comfortable, as I showed above.
I hope this helps! Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for your replies! I will get some of the tools mentioned to help with pulling and I think it's a good idea to use those when I tie him. I have some other ideas I might try too. He's been a puller since I got him and I hope I can fix it. @DollyandAya thank you for your suggestion on what to do when he backs away from me while I'm holding the lead rope. I will try that!

The problem with the loading and leading is, I let Joe get away with some bad behavior after giving him almost a year off of riding (while I concentrated on my other horse). He knows how to load and lead, knows proper ground manners etc. I had just let him lose respect for me while I was treating him like a pet,

After my post, I went back out to see if I could get him to turn forward inside the trailer and he couldn't so I had to let him out and reload him. He started his behaviors again and this time I just let him know who was boss. He started backing away so I aggressively made him back up fifty feet all the way back to the stalls then turned him and backed him fifty feet to the trailer, and repeated that 3 times. Tried to load him again and he started it up again so I repeated the above. Then I pointed at the trailer and yelled for him to get in. He couldn't get in fast enough!

After our ride he loaded back into the trailer no problem - he always loads well when he knows he's going home. I point and he hops in. When we got home and I went to unload him he turned around and rushed head first out of the trailer again. I went to load him back in to make him back out properly and he started his poor behaviors again so once again I backed him aggressively back and forth down the barn aisle. I grabbed the lunge whip and had DH crack it at him from a safe distance and we made him get back into the trailer and back out nicely. After that I gave him pets and a treat.

He's low horse on the totem pole and I've just coddled him too much. I don't like being aggressive/bossy and would prefer to always be gentle but that can lead to the horses being pushy/disrespectful.

I'm going to make him load and back out properly every day until he starts self loading dependably again. I'll reward him by letting him eat some feed in the trailer. He doesn't need feed - he's in good condition and stays that way on hay/grass. I only use a small amount to keep him easy to catch. So until he's loading voluntarily again, he'll only get a small handful when I catch him and then a larger handful only when he loads.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond!
 

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After my post, I went back out to see if I could get him to turn forward inside the trailer and he couldn't so I had to let him out and reload him. He started his behaviors again and this time I just let him know who was boss. He started backing away so I aggressively made him back up fifty feet all the way back to the stalls then turned him and backed him fifty feet to the trailer, and repeated that 3 times. Tried to load him again and he started it up again so I repeated the above. Then I pointed at the trailer and yelled for him to get in. He couldn't get in fast enough!
I would change a few things about your tactics. The trailer needs to be a safe and calm space. You should only make it uncomfortable for him when he does something you did not ask for (such as backing up or pulling on the lead). So I would not yell for him to get on. You need to be quiet and soft when you're asking him to load so that he associates it with a positive thing. (Not responding out of fear.)

Thank you all for your replies! I will get some of the tools mentioned to help with pulling and I think it's a good idea to use those when I tie him. I have some other ideas I might try too. He's been a puller since I got him and I hope I can fix it.
If you are going to fix his pulling behavior, you need to be on point with your release. Meaning, if you so much as lift up the leadrope to pick up slack, and he is already picking up a foot to follow you, DROP THE PRESSURE. Reward him instantly for the good response. If you continue to pull on the lead rope, even though he is obliging and following you, that is what creates confusion for him. Then he thinks that maybe going forward was not the right answer, because he didn't find a release. So then he might start trying other behaviors to see what the right answer is supposed to be. So you have to be extra mindful at all times and what you are cueing him to do, and when you give him the release for the correct answer. Don't reward him after he has correctly responded - rewards him AS he is correctly responding (or thinking about responding correctly).

And do this every single time whenever you are leading him.

I'm going to expand a bit on what @DollyandAya said. If he choses to back up and make the wrong choice, go ahead and make him back up and be uncomfortable. You can throw in some verbal cues as well to display you are not happy. When you feel you've gotten your point across, then turn around and expect him to follow you to that trailer with slack in the lead rope. If he stops, you stop and HOLD. Just stand there, with some pressure on the lead. And wait. You might wait for 60 seconds (which is a long time to stand there and wait). If he does not move, you do not move. You do not escalate. You just wait. Eventually, he's going to decides it's really not all that great to have some pressure on his head from the leap rope and he will figure out what he needs to do to make the pressure go away. If he decides to take a step forward, be releasing the pressure before his foot comes back down. Instantly. Then rub on him. Tell him he did good. Then repeat. Turn and walk toward the trailer and expect him to follow you.

And again, this is something you can do for leading anywhere else all the time - not just when the trailer is involved.The whole idea is that he starts being quicker about trying to figure out what he has to do in order to find the release.

After our ride he loaded back into the trailer no problem - he always loads well when he knows he's going home. I point and he hops in. When we got home and I went to unload him he turned around and rushed head first out of the trailer again.
So, there is the leading problem resurfacing. He's not listening to you and not waiting for your cue. As mentioned above, you need to be 100% aware when handling him at all times to continue to improve this.

I went to load him back in to make him back out properly and he started his poor behaviors again so once again I backed him aggressively back and forth down the barn aisle. I grabbed the lunge whip and had DH crack it at him from a safe distance and we made him get back into the trailer and back out nicely. After that I gave him pets and a treat.

I don't like being aggressive/bossy and would prefer to always be gentle but that can lead to the horses being pushy/disrespectful.
Just don't overdo it. Obviously none of us were there, but from the words you type, sounds like you overdid it. Yes, he needs to respect you and listen to you, but you don't need to make him fearful. You still need to be FAIR with your corrections and do not let your emotions get the best of you.

Remember that when he pulls back when tied and breaks things, he's doing that out of fear. For whatever reason, in his mind, his only option is to break his neck trying to get himself free. In his mind, it is a matter of life and death to get himself free. That is what is going through his mind. He is reacting with the fight or flight response. So, if you overdo it with your backing up and cracking whips at him, your going to put him into that reactive fight-or-flight state of mind and he's not going to be learning. He needs to be in a calm state in order to learn. No, not saying to coddle him (because that's not correct either) but it's the old saying to be as soft as possible but as firm as necessary.
 

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I had a mare that pulled back, and the tie ring was OK for her when used with a super long lead rope with a big knot at the end. She would pull back and calm down before she hit the knot. My 11-yr-old gelding, however, learned that pulling back with the tie ring would give him distance, and he would pull more often. I think it made him worse. So I used a trailer tie and a very firm, unbreakable object (trailer, or 5" steel hitching post set in concrete) -- the first time he tried to pull back with it, got a sore noggin but did not get loose, and has quit pulling back. He would also give me major grief trying to load. We tried everything, and it would work a few times then no more (loading from a stall, come-along, eating in the trailer, longeing back and forth in front of the trailer, literally everything). Then I found a wonderful thing that works every time -- a stud chain. Wow. I only use it to get him to the trailer and inside it, then I remove it and hook his halter to a trailer tie, and we're down the road in 5 minutes.
 

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A clear message received of "listen up, I'm in charge" can do wonders for a horse who is testing your authority.

Yes, this is about leading, but it is much more.
The horse is testing you in small ways daily and everywhere...
Be fair, be firm and be as gentle as you can and firm as you must....
The horse follows clear directives you give....
Your body English must also be strong and convey leadership..not afraid, fearful or subordinate follower.

That lead shank would have extra length and the horse would find you attached to it if he fled the scene since it seems he goes back to the barn at his whim and will....
Don't place your fingers through any of the metal rings so they can not depart your hand. If you need to hold a halter you hold the strap area, not through any open rings.
Yes, if after several times of retrieval of the animal cause he bolts off to the barn there would be a chain on the face and when the horse yanked and engaged it it would feel the pressure of it in response...notice I said the horse engaged, not the human.
Most times just using a chain shank correctly placed puts the animal on notice of do as told...they are not stupid.
They are opportunistic and fast to catch us slacking.....

If you decide to use a chain shank, aka stud shank make positive you understand how to feed that chain through the halter so it is a tool not a weapon.
Protect the eyes as the chain catching can quickly twist a loose fitting halter on the face into the eye if not applied correctly..
Do not use a lip or gum application leading a quiet horse who just needs a reminder of who is boss and who is to follow.
I also do not believe in through the mouth as the damages inflicted in a second are devastating in severity...
If you've never used a chain, have someone who truly knows what they are doing teach you.. Use caution cause you don't know how fast a response in a rear the horse may take...you play with a face full of sensitive nerves when you are using a chain...

FYI: if the shank/rope/lead/lunge has a loop do not ever put your hand through it or risk being dragged or losing finger, hand or arm.....
Loop a shank so a pull-back feeds out as you work to control and bring the situation back under your control.
The horse has learned your number and to take advantage, he now needs to go back to school to learn the teacher has returned and expects better from the student, aka horse in this case.
🐴...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@bobrameters I think Joe would probably calm down before he got to the knot - of course I'd have to go tie him again before he got to the end and figured out he was still tied. It's worth trying, anyway! What kind of halter/lead did you use on your horse when you tied him to the immovable object? I'm glad you figured him out! I might have to dig out the stud chain if Joe doesn't get back in line real quick! I hope it won't be necessary - not at all sure how he would respond.

@horselovinguy Yeah - that's the message he needed. Thanks for the reminders about protecting my fingers. That's one lesson you never have to learn twice. Years ago, I was bringing my big young rottweiler/shepherd mix for a walk and made the mistake of opening the door before I got the lead rope in proper position. He saw a squirrel and before I could say "stop," my ring finger was bent sideways at a 90 degree angle to the rest of my fingers! I had to have surgery to straighten it and pin the bones.

I was planning to do a loading lesson today but got off work late and didn't feel like dealing with it - because it could take an hour again and I can't risk letting him win. So, instead, when it was time for them all to come in for their evening treat I "pinned my ears" and took a quick step toward him. He ran off and I treated the other two and didn't let him have any. Hopefully I won't have to do that again.

He has to learn who's boss again. I hate it that horses force us to be assertive. I'd really much rather just go out and be easy going and kind and relaxed. It's hard not to take it personally when they get snotty. Maybe Joe will get the message quickly. He's always been a kind, mellow horse. Plus he's low in the pecking order which I hope means I won't have to constantly assert my dominance. He's always been so submissive, I must have really messed up to let him think he could pull rank on me!

He wasn't terribly obedient on our ride yesterday. We crossed six bridges on the 5 miles out and each time he acted like he was afraid to go across. My friend (who is an experienced horse person and has accomplished a lot on her horses with endurance etc) has a phobia of heights, so if her horse hesitates in the slightest she won't make him cross a bridge. Joe refused to go in front, pretending to be afraid and acting like he'd bolt back to the trailer if I made him do it. So either my friend or I got off and lead our horse across at each bridge while the other followed on horseback. On the way back, though, Joe had zero hesitation crossing those bridges. He wasn't afraid - he just didn't want to go!

He is the type of horse who would bolt, and right now he doesn't see me as his boss so I need to get him into check.

I've used a shank/chain on Ona but it was so long ago I don't remember how to hook it up. Joe is so panicky - I'd have to be very careful.

Joe and Ona are so opposite. Ona has an instinct to fight and Joe goes straight to flight. I ride him in an o-ring snaffle. That's what his previous owner rode him in and I don't know if he's ever had a stronger bit. What would be the next stop up? Something with just a little bit of leverage?
 

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I ride him in an o-ring snaffle. That's what his previous owner rode him in and I don't know if he's ever had a stronger bit. What would be the next stop up? Something with just a little bit of leverage?
I don't think I would go "stronger" and into leverage....

I would go "stronger" with a D-ring bit that offers more support felt of guidance not force applied as a leverage bit can.
I might even go with a full-cheek bit as it helps lead a horse to what you want with the comforting felt wings alongside the muzzle. Many people don't like full-cheeks because they hear horror stories..... Only horror stories I know about came from riders being lazy and not using bit loops that correctly hold and position the bit for optimum signal sent and least chance of a incident happening..
Indeed full cheeks also can come with different length wings and the actual positioning of the bit loop to hold and support makes a difference too not only in bit stability & guidance/support but with how much of the bit wing tip is exposed.
Grey Automotive tire Rim Personal protective equipment Window
Wood Terrestrial animal Liver Snout Landscape
Horse Black Working animal Horse tack Liver



Even with a d-ring, as the pictures show the difference in ring size can mean a lot in offering guidance and support to a unsure animal.
Horse Working animal Bit Horse tack Bridle
Horse Vertebrate Working animal Sunglasses Liver

You don't need to go to leverage bits either to go stronger....
I could set a horse on his hocks and butt in alert by using one bit that looks tame, safe and gentle....actually it is till you take a harder feel and presence with the animal to it.

Stronger is not always a answer....support and guidance the horse can trust. Leadership....and do not confuse respect given to you with having to put fear and wary in the mind either...
You want his respect and trust given to you, not have him afraid, wary and leery you are going to harm him or not treat him as the others...
It was fine to make him back-off from barging n for a treat...but instead of denying it from him totally, he waits his turn and nicely accepts what is offered cause now he is in your space I find works better.
When feeding feed or treats, my horses may stand a few feet behind me, but they don't touch till told they may...
I'm queen bee and they are my underlings...they do as told and when. I also don't tease them....they know the signal to be allowed to eat is to gently come forward and touch my outstretched palm at which point I take a step back & away and tell them come eat...and they do. The control of them is mine to have and mine to allow them to do something they want badly...like eat feed.
My food aggressive horse learned the sooner he settles and listens to me the sooner he eats what he desires....

Respect, recognizing I'm the boss mare and acting appropriately respectful also gets him love and praise a plenty.;)
🐴... .
 

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I was planning to do a loading lesson today but got off work late and didn't feel like dealing with it - because it could take an hour again and I can't risk letting him win.
Honestly, it should NOT be your goal to get him ON the trailer. That's not what the "win" is. And quite truthfully, hammering on him for an entire hour of trying to force him into the trailer is enough to fry anyone's brain.

If all you have is 5 minutes, fine. Spend 5 minutes seeing if you can get him to lead without touching the lead rope at all. (Don't even do anywhere near the trailer.) See if you can get him to pay attention to your body language. Walking when you walk. Stopping when you stop. Turning when you turn. Great! You just had a positive 5-minute session FOR THE WIN.

Remember that you do not have a trailer problem. Repeat that out loud. Seriously.

He wasn't terribly obedient on our ride yesterday. We crossed six bridges on the 5 miles out and each time he acted like he was afraid to go across. My friend (who is an experienced horse person and has accomplished a lot on her horses with endurance etc) has a phobia of heights, so if her horse hesitates in the slightest she won't make him cross a bridge. Joe refused to go in front, pretending to be afraid and acting like he'd bolt back to the trailer if I made him do it. So either my friend or I got off and lead our horse across at each bridge while the other followed on horseback. On the way back, though, Joe had zero hesitation crossing those bridges. He wasn't afraid - he just didn't want to go!
I don't think horses have the capacity to pretend. Sure, sometimes they might not want to do something. But usually, there is something going on in their mind where they are lacking the confidence. And this can totally be a carry over of the problems you are having on the ground. He does not trust you to follow you into the trailer, and he does not trust you to go across a deadly bridge that might crash under his feet.

When horses don't do what we want, we usually get frustrated with the situation, start getting pushy, impatient and rushed with our horse. Instead of taking a step back and thinking: Am I doing something to create this situation? Should my horse have a reason to be nervous? Is there a different way I can approach this? Is there a different way I can cue him so he understands?

He is the type of horse who would bolt, and right now he doesn't see me as his boss so I need to get him into check.

I've used a shank/chain on Ona but it was so long ago I don't remember how to hook it up. Joe is so panicky - I'd have to be very careful.
Yes, I would agree he is prone to FLIGHT. Bolting, panicking, pulling back, etc. And when you push him too hard or make him frustrated, that's his go-to response. With a flighty horse, you walk a fine line to teach the horse to accept pressure but to know exactly when you need to HOLD your cue and not take it too far. And instantly reward when they have done the correct thing. When they finally learn that they get a RELEASE of the pressure, that is really critical for them to learn not to panic, and instead THINK and search for what the release will be. When you've taught them to think, instead of just react, now you're getting somewhere.

Joe and Ona are so opposite. Ona has an instinct to fight and Joe goes straight to flight. I ride him in an o-ring snaffle. That's what his previous owner rode him in and I don't know if he's ever had a stronger bit. What would be the next stop up? Something with just a little bit of leverage?
Perhaps I am reading your posts all wrong. But, I do have some real concern that you are being too aggressive (after being a pushover) and trying to fight with him and force him, might end up backfiring on you. I'm getting this impression when you say things like "get him into check" and "yelling" at him, and thinking about adding a stud chain and bigger bit to manhandle him.

Correct me if I am perceiving this wrong but I don't want you to get yourself into a worse situation with him than where you started.

Do you have a trainer to help you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you, @beau159, for your thoughtful responses to my posts. I can tell you care. It's hard to tell what someone is like, just based on posts typed on a forum, so I can certainly understand how easy it would be to read posts wrong based on wording.

I'm not sure my type of "yelling" or "getting a horse into check" might be what you're imagining. Perhaps you've met some more . . . violent? angry? . . . people in the past. And I'm not the one who suggested the stud chain. I'm the one answering "noooo - I don't think a stud chain might be the best idea for this particular horse." Although - I know there are times when stud chains, used by the right people in the right circumstances, are OK. I was trained in the proper use of a stud chain, by a proper trainer, when I was having trouble with Ona years ago.

I also appreciate your suggestions to get a trainer because, as mentioned above, you don't know me and can't see me. I am not going to call a trainer every time I encounter a challenge. I call a trainer when I have an issue I can't work through and I have not reached that point with Joe. I don't think I will reach that point. I've dealt with difficult horses before and overcome many challenges. I ride with experienced people. When I'm riding with my friends (some of whom are trainers), I prefer not to ask them training questions because I'd rather enjoy their company and let them relax and have a good time. They don't ask me medical questions and I don't ask them horse questions - because we're not at work.

Everybody on this forum has their own weaknesses and strengths and, because some of us admit our weaknesses and ask for advice, we are putting ourselves out there. Just because we ask for advice from other people who may have dealt with the types of issues we're currently having with our horses, that doesn't mean we are poor horse people or incompetent or unable to recognize when a situation is entirely beyond our abilities. That is what this forum is for.

Joe's a different type of horse than I'm used to. Taking him on rides and leaving home without the others is a new thing for us. He's always been low in the herd, and I've let him get away with more than I should have because I felt bad for the underdog. My two others are much more opinionated and not at all flighty or spooky. I'm starting to ride Joe now because my main horse is having problems with her eyes. So, while he's been with me for years, I really don't know him that well. His personality is different and that's why I'm reaching out to other horse people, who like to talk, to see what they would do.

This evening, after his treat, we got Joe loaded in the trailer after 3 attempts. I closed the divider then immediately turned him back out. It took about 10 minutes tonight. And yes - if it had taken an hour, then I would have let it take an hour because I don't want it to take an hour this weekend when we go riding again.
 

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Its so great to read you are not wanting or willing to rush into force without first trying other means.
Knowing you have a arsenal if needed though is knowledge too..
Having a newer animal to interact with you need to learn and the animal learn you and to trust you takes time.

Go at your pace and with what you know from having other animals and working with trainers.
You recognize when you've used all of your bag of tricks and need outside influences again to find.

Sounds your method is having good results.....enjoy that trail ride and easier loading experience as it materializes...
Slow and steady gains win in the end... ;)
🐴....
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@horselovinguy Thank you!

It's a let down to have put so many years in with Ona and worked so hard on building a relationship of trust and then have to start a new relationship. We had finally got to the point where I could just load her up and go, and have a great time riding. Now with her eye issues I don't know when I'll start riding her again. I suppose I could ride her now but I'm worried she'll be spooky on the trail until all the residual blood vessels go away, and this issue has really made it clear to me that I need to have a better "backup."

I'm sure Joe and I will get there. He's a sweet boy with loads of experience. He's been ridden many hundreds or thousands of miles and we just need to figure out a good working relationship.
 

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My Chorro is a very reactive horse. He spooks when a leaf drops on the trail. He spooks if a gopher rat comes out of his hole while he is eating a treat from me out in the pasture. Chorro would load perfectly if another horse was on the trailer, but was difficult to load by himself. Like Joe, he would pull backwards. By the way, he always leads perfectly and stands tied perfectly. It was just loading ALONE in a trailer that he wouldn't do.

At first I enlisted 2 volunteers with very long lungelines. And I had a very long lungline hooked to his halter. As he got close to the trailer, my 2 volunteers would slowly and gently cross one another until the 2 lungelines were crossed behind his hindquarters. Then they would put light and steady pressure on his hindquarters. I would thread my long lungeline through an opening in the trailer and put light pressure, so he was getting pressure from the front and back. This probably would not work on a horse who panics when he feels trapped, but Chorro was not one of those. He would just stand there, wishing he didnt have to go in the trailer alone. And finally, usually sonner rather than later, he would just walk on in.

Nowdays, he loads beautifully, with another horse or solo. That was a long time ago.

On the other hand, Isabeau self loaded. She'd walk right in the trailer with the leadrope over her neck. But once in, she'd panic and kick the living daylights out of my trailer. I tried everything everyone suggested. I loaded her in the trailer every evening for 6 years. I installed rubber mats along the sides to protect her legs and my trailer and hauled her anyway. I hired a trainer. (She was and is a marvelous and amazing trainer, but her idea didn't work.) I did probably over a dozen different things to get her to stop kicking in the trailer. After 6 years, she started kicking less and less. She never kicks in the trailer now, and I haul her regularly. This whole paragraph is to say that I worked with her every single day for 6 years and was finally successful. I think what she needed was to realize I was never gonna give up, so she had better give up instead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@knightrider, that was a good idea for getting Chorro into the trailer. I think something like that might panic Joe less than being tied or having his rope pulled on, or having someone behind him with a crop. We've never really used a crop with him much in the past and never from behind - I used it when I took some lessons with him on groundwork (he did the groundwork perfectly the first time but I'd brought him with me as a stand in for Ona). After seeing how he's reacting to having someone behind him with a crop or whip, I'm thinking he's probably had prior experiences that had a negative impact.

Using the lunge lines would feel safer, I think. Of course....I don't have two volunteers so I might have to figure out something using the same concept.

I'm glad to Chorro he quickly learned to load!

That is so weird about Isabeau - why would she get into the trailer voluntarily if she was so terrified of being in it? And SIX YEARS of persistence? Holy cow - you're a much more patient woman than I am! So what happened - one day after six years she just decided "hey, I think I'm getting tired of kicking?"
 

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So what happened - one day after six years she just decided "hey, I think I'm getting tired of kicking?"
No, it was really, really slow, like everything else about training Isabeau. I just kept hauling her places and she would kick less and less. One day I told her she was allowed to kick 2 times, but no more, and after 6 years, I stopped loading her daily. So she kicked 3 times, because that's who she is. She did that for another year or two, and then she kicked only 2 times, like I had asked her, and then no kicks for a drive or two, and then a spare kick every once in awhile. When she was down to one kick every once in a while, I started trusting her enough to haul her with other horses. I bought big thick long shipping boots to protect the other horse, just in case. She did get Aci one time, but it wasn't a bad cut. Every great once in a while, she still lets loose a loud bang in the trailer, but it is pretty rare. She is going in the trailer this morning to ride with friends. She still is nervous about going in the trailer (still jumps right in). She knows when the truck is hitched to the trailer, and I put her halter on, she's GOING, and she starts to spin and sweat a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
No, it was really, really slow, like everything else about training Isabeau. I just kept hauling her places and she would kick less and less. One day I told her she was allowed to kick 2 times, but no more, and after 6 years, I stopped loading her daily. So she kicked 3 times, because that's who she is. She did that for another year or two, and then she kicked only 2 times, like I had asked her, and then no kicks for a drive or two, and then a spare kick every once in awhile. When she was down to one kick every once in a while, I started trusting her enough to haul her with other horses. I bought big thick long shipping boots to protect the other horse, just in case. She did get Aci one time, but it wasn't a bad cut. Every great once in a while, she still lets loose a loud bang in the trailer, but it is pretty rare. She is going in the trailer this morning to ride with friends. She still is nervous about going in the trailer (still jumps right in). She knows when the truck is hitched to the trailer, and I put her halter on, she's GOING, and she starts to spin and sweat a bit.
Horses are total mysteries sometimes. I'm glad she gets in despite her nervousness!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We loaded Joe twice today, once after each feeding. The first time, I asked hubby to stay out of sight until/unless we needed him because Joe is really very responsive to having Lance behind him, especially if he has a crop in his hand. (and no - Lance has never hit him or threatened to). As I was leading him out, he started to hesitate and back up so Lance stepped out of the tack room and that's all it took - Joe jumped right in the trailer and let me close the divider. I let him out right away and he ran out to the pasture.

The second time, Lance stayed in the tack room. I led Joe right down the aisle and he jumped into the trailer with zero hesitation and no help from Lance. Lance stayed out of sight.

I think I'll load him once per day until I can get him loaded without Lance in the barn, and then continue to do it every other day or so for a while.
 
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