Getting a horse to relax in a box

Vodkagirly

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I recently purchased a 3.5t van conversion, previously my horse was a good loader/traveller in a trailer. He took an instant dislike to the van and wouldn't load. Its take 4 weeks and help of a NH person to get the loading resolved. Pressure and release didn't work so resorted to lunging then loading.
He is still very tense in the van, any suggestions how to get him to relax more? He will eat his dinner in the van but not relaxed enough to eat a haynet. I'm practising daily and trying to keep everything stress free. He is normally a chilled out horse and stands happily on a trailer so I would like him to be the same on the van.
Plenty of space on the van for his size but I can't travel 2 due to weight so need him to cope alone (travelled alone on trailer)
 

Shay

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If he travels well in a trailer do you have the option of going back to that for him? I have known several horses who would travel in a trailer and not a van - and the reverse. Any form of transport requires different balancing techniques, makes different noises and feels different to travel in. Some prefer forward facing, some backward, some herringbone. Who knows what it is that they see and feel which upsets them. You have made a lot of effort to settle him and it clearly isn't something he is happy with. Can you go back to a trailer?
 

Vodkagirly

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I am using the trailer currently but I've bought a brand new box and really can't afford to take the hit and sell it, I would also need a new 4x4 as mine isn't very reliable ( hence buying box)
 

Shay

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Horses are awkward aren't they! Only you can decide which you feel is the better option for you. You might feel you are better off selling the box and upgrading your 4x4 so the horse is happy / relaxed to events. Or you might feel it is worth persisting with even if he is never going to fully settle. Depends on what you do with him, how far and how often you travel. Over the years I've known several people have to sell new transport - both boxes and trailers - because the animals did not get on in them. (And for that matter new tack!) But there have also been those who have got over their difficulties. You have made massive efforts to help him with limited success. Only you know him well enough to know if you are going to get further with him than you have.

I'm afraid I'm of the "adapt the transport to suit the horse" school because we compete so much and I can't risk a bad traveler performing poorly or getting their knickers in a twist to the extent that we develop loading problems. The only suggestion I can offer really is whether you have the ability to borrow / hire other forms of transport to see if it is travel position he has an issue with (as in backward / forward etc) or if it is the higher ride in a box over a trailer (they do sway much more). But if switching transport methods isn't an option then finding this out could be inherently futile. Sorry - hopefully someone else can be more helpful.
 

Bernster

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Hmm difficult. And annoying if you've just for,ed out for a smart new box. I'd check the lorry to make sure it's all fine, not rattly etc., and take a trip out with you in the back.

Then it depends if you think he's a bit unsettled but it's worth seeing if he can get used to it, and do som low level outings to a local yard where you can hack back or if you could have someone there to help if he's tricky to load on the return journey. See if he improves although it might take time.

But if he's getting in a real state, is dangerous, or isn't improving, then I'm afraid I'd re think the lorry option and find what he's more settled in. Good small boxes should sell easy if nothing else?
 
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