Help…sudden Loading Issues!

Joined
5 January 2014
Messages
8
Please no hate…looking for some advice on some recent and loading issues with my 16 year old mare..

I’ve owned her for around a year and never had any issues before in the few times I have travelled with her and to my knowledge has never had issues loading before I owned her.

I have taken her twice in a 3.5tonne with no issues loading. I then borrowed a friends HB506 to take her to the vets - again had no issues loading there or back. It might be worth noting that when I collected her from the vets she was dripping in sweat.

I then purchased my own trailer which is a HB511. The first time we used it was to move yards. This was also the first time I tried to load her without anyone else being there incase I needed help. She just would not go on. She would plant her feet and pull back, or take a few steps on the ramp then run back. She’s a big horse so it was a losing battle. I tried everything but eventually had to call it a day. I wasn’t sure if something happened in the trailer on our previous journey that I didn’t know about, or if it was too small (even though this was bigger model), if she was associating going in the trailer with her stressful trip to the vets previously or if she was just picking up on soemthing was happening that we were moving yards.

The following day, I tried again. This time I had a friend who would chase her from behind when she planted her feet. This time she walked on perfectly without the person behind having to do anything. I assumed the day before must have been a fluke.

we Have now only been at our new yard for 4 days, so 4 days since she was last in trailer. The first few days she had difficulty settling as she was seperated from other horses. Yesterday she got a friend in the stable next to her and settled instantly.

This morning we were scheduled for a vet appointment. I tried to load her with someone behind and she would not go on once again. I tried everything again, coacing even blocking the trailer into the stable entrance so she couldn’t go to either side of the ramp which still didn’t work. There was another horse being held at the front of the trailer, which did make her walk into the trailer twice but before the person could close the back, she bolted out the back twice. At this point, I was starting to get concerned if we kept going she would hurt herself so decided to call it a day and cancel the vet appointment.

I realise I probably made a mistake in trying to load her today as she has had a few unsettled days at a new yard and will probably leave it another week or so before practicing loading.


I am now anxious that any more failed attempts at loading will traumatise her and we won’t get her back on a trailer.

I’m looking for any suggestions or advice on how to successfully load and make it a positive experience for her?

I am considering the idea of using another horse or pony in the other side of the trailer to help load her - as she loves the company of other horses. However, my car only has the towing capacity to cope with my trailer and 1x horse. So I’m worried that this said pony or horse leaving will make the travelling experience unpleasant for her and she gernerally travels very well.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance! :)
 

j1ffy

Well-Known Member
Joined
27 January 2009
Messages
3,542
Location
Oxon
My loan horse took exception to my lorry having had a journey where he got very sweaty - I never put a rug on him again! He would always go on eventually but it took time and patience, having someone chase him from behind resulted in a friend's head nearly meeting his back hooves. Perhaps yours also didn't enjoy a sweaty journey?

After a couple of months working around it, I brought in professional help (Kelly Marks, as she's based just a few miles from me). She gave me some good techniques based on well-timed pressure and release plus ensuring he had a reward for loading - my lorry has a tall tack locker in the horse area which is perfect for putting some food or treats on once he's loaded.

It was only one session and after that he loaded perfectly every time.

I'd recommend getting professional support. Kelly was great, I've also heard really good things about Michael Peace. If you give a rough area of the country I'm sure others could suggest good people.
 
Joined
8 August 2014
Messages
3,090
Just have a really good check of trailer floor/tyres/any rattled/loose bits..she may be aware of something you have missed….also (apologies I have no wish to offend) do you drive in a smooth way when towing so it is a pleasant experience?
 

MissTyc

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 June 2010
Messages
3,115
Location
South East
I have known a few who really didn't like travelling in a trailer although were fine in little boxes and proper lorries. Some of these were better without a partition as could wedge themselves sideways. From my perspective, you have two problems here:

1) loading
2) experience while travelling.

The first can be fixed. You have given her a fright by having people "chase her from behind" while she's already scared. There are better ways to handle a horse, so I echo the advice to get some groundwork lessons. This addressed, she will load every time even if she hates the travelling. E.g. I had a mare who had had a bad experience in a trailer. She still loaded every time, but then would sit down and sway once on board. Very scared. Took a long time to help her overcome this and safely travel and removing the partition was a big help for her. Either way, she now knows that sometimes you will give up, so you need to dig deep for patience as well as get the help you need. I've often advised frustrated clients "OK we might be here for 5-6 hours, so better get cosy". Once they see the reality of that statement, the horses normally realise that time isn't THEIR friend in this game. But first, you need to remove the fear.

The second. Also echo the advice to check all the fittings. Go for a drive with an half filled bucket of water in the trailer and see how smooth a ride you're giving. Get a friend to sit in the back to see if they can hear/feel anything. Check tyre air pressure.

And then, once you're sure the trailer is a welcoming environment, accept that this will take a little while with small steps if you want a horse that will self-load ahead of you in the future. Don't trick her, don't "fake" anything e.g. if the partition is rattly, rattle the partition. If the ramp makes a load bang when it closes, let her experience that bang and be comfortable with it. And most importantly, DON'T FRET! This is a horse who has loaded and travelled well in the past, seems to have had a fright compounded by some uneasy handling that has taught her she doesn't HAVE to load. The right person on the ground will help you to identify that moment when "I am afraid and I don't want this" turns into "haha I don't feel like it today" ... and then you'll be fine!
 

J&S

Well-Known Member
Joined
17 June 2012
Messages
1,746
I am like a broken record..... but do all of the above plus give her a few drops of Rescue remedy just before loading and then again when about to start the journey. My mare had a bad experience when travelling, having been good as gold previously, and for a while would scrabble around in the back on any downhill areas. It was very alarming and obviously not nice for her. I read about using rescue remedy in a holistic healing book that I had and followed the instructions. It was successful straight away. This was over spring/summer period. she then had a break from travelling but when I loaded her in the next Winter i actually forgot about the possible need for the Rescue remedy and she was fine any way. After that we travelled miles for Trec etc and she was entirely self loading, just rope over her neck and walking in and travelling like a pro. A simple remedy so worth a try.
 
Joined
5 January 2014
Messages
8
My loan horse took exception to my lorry having had a journey where he got very sweaty - I never put a rug on him again! He would always go on eventually but it took time and patience, having someone chase him from behind resulted in a friend's head nearly meeting his back hooves. Perhaps yours also didn't enjoy a sweaty journey?

After a couple of months working around it, I brought in professional help (Kelly Marks, as she's based just a few miles from me). She gave me some good techniques based on well-timed pressure and release plus ensuring he had a reward for loading - my lorry has a tall tack locker in the horse area which is perfect for putting some food or treats on once he's loaded.

It was only one session and after that he loaded perfectly every time.

I'd recommend getting professional support. Kelly was great, I've also heard really good things about Michael Peace. If you give a rough area of the country I'm sure others could suggest good people.

Thanks for your reply! Yeah it’s possible, she was pretty sweaty when we picked her up from the vets and when I got home she was even worse!

Thank you! I definitely am considering professional help as I wouldn’t want to make the situation any worse! I’m based in Scotland so not sure of any people who would be able to help up here?
 

Birker2020

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 January 2021
Messages
1,882
My previous horse was like this. Had her 17 years and for the first seven she would practically run you over trying to get up the ramp. But I went to a showground the one day and in between classes thought it would be a good idea to give her a leg stretch and walked her up to the two pet pigs they had in a little pen. The one lifted its head and snorted at her and that was it, she practically shook like jelly and from that moment on we had a loading issue.

I think she thought the pigs were going to be in the trailer or something, it was the shock of seeing the pigs and she somehow associated that with the trailer. She hated pigs anyway having had piglets run across a lane in front of her feet, out hacking months before and from an enclosure. It had upset her and I think that and the pigs at the show centre had reinforced her issues.

She was a demo horse at a Monty Roberts for problem horses and they felt she was claustrophobic but at the age 14 it wasn't as if she'd grown 2 " or something, it was the same trailer she'd gone on all those years before.

Anyway I got a behaviourist in to see her and he loaded her within minutes and with the technique he'd shown me on her very bad days it may have taken three minutes to load her, on her good days a few seconds and sometimes she'd go on coming back without a second look which rather made me think it was in her head.
 
Joined
5 January 2014
Messages
8
Just have a really good check of trailer floor/tyres/any rattled/loose bits..she may be aware of something you have missed….also (apologies I have no wish to offend) do you drive in a smooth way when towing so it is a pleasant experience?
thank you I definitely will! I would say I am probably overly cautious when I drive as I have only just starting dfowi
I have known a few who really didn't like travelling in a trailer although were fine in little boxes and proper lorries. Some of these were better without a partition as could wedge themselves sideways. From my perspective, you have two problems here:

1) loading
2) experience while travelling.

The first can be fixed. You have given her a fright by having people "chase her from behind" while she's already scared. There are better ways to handle a horse, so I echo the advice to get some groundwork lessons. This addressed, she will load every time even if she hates the travelling. E.g. I had a mare who had had a bad experience in a trailer. She still loaded every time, but then would sit down and sway once on board. Very scared. Took a long time to help her overcome this and safely travel and removing the partition was a big help for her. Either way, she now knows that sometimes you will give up, so you need to dig deep for patience as well as get the help you need. I've often advised frustrated clients "OK we might be here for 5-6 hours, so better get cosy". Once they see the reality of that statement, the horses normally realise that time isn't THEIR friend in this game. But first, you need to remove the fear.

The second. Also echo the advice to check all the fittings. Go for a drive with an half filled bucket of water in the trailer and see how smooth a ride you're giving. Get a friend to sit in the back to see if they can hear/feel anything. Check tyre air pressure.

And then, once you're sure the trailer is a welcoming environment, accept that this will take a little while with small steps if you want a horse that will self-load ahead of you in the future. Don't trick her, don't "fake" anything e.g. if the partition is rattly, rattle the partition. If the ramp makes a load bang when it closes, let her experience that bang and be comfortable with it. And most importantly, DON'T FRET! This is a horse who has loaded and travelled well in the past, seems to have had a fright compounded by some uneasy handling that has taught her she doesn't HAVE to load. The right person on the ground will help you to identify that moment when "I am afraid and I don't want this" turns into "haha I don't feel like it today" ... and then you'll be fine!
I have known a few who really didn't like travelling in a trailer although were fine in little boxes and proper lorries. Some of these were better without a partition as could wedge themselves sideways. From my perspective, you have two problems here:

1) loading
2) experience while travelling.

The first can be fixed. You have given her a fright by having people "chase her from behind" while she's already scared. There are better ways to handle a horse, so I echo the advice to get some groundwork lessons. This addressed, she will load every time even if she hates the travelling. E.g. I had a mare who had had a bad experience in a trailer. She still loaded every time, but then would sit down and sway once on board. Very scared. Took a long time to help her overcome this and safely travel and removing the partition was a big help for her. Either way, she now knows that sometimes you will give up, so you need to dig deep for patience as well as get the help you need. I've often advised frustrated clients "OK we might be here for 5-6 hours, so better get cosy". Once they see the reality of that statement, the horses normally realise that time isn't THEIR friend in this game. But first, you need to remove the fear.

The second. Also echo the advice to check all the fittings. Go for a drive with an half filled bucket of water in the trailer and see how smooth a ride you're giving. Get a friend to sit in the back to see if they can hear/feel anything. Check tyre air pressure.

And then, once you're sure the trailer is a welcoming environment, accept that this will take a little while with small steps if you want a horse that will self-load ahead of you in the future. Don't trick her, don't "fake" anything e.g. if the partition is rattly, rattle the partition. If the ramp makes a load bang when it closes, let her experience that bang and be comfortable with it. And most importantly, DON'T FRET! This is a horse who has loaded and travelled well in the past, seems to have had a fright compounded by some uneasy handling that has taught her she doesn't HAVE to load. The right person on the ground will help you to identify that moment when "I am afraid and I don't want this" turns into "haha I don't feel like it today" ... and then you'll be fine!
Thank you! I will take all of this on board, and try loading when we have no where to be and have the time to spend all day doing it if needed!
 
Joined
5 January 2014
Messages
8
Thank you! I will take all of this on board, and try loading when we have no where to be and have the time to spend all day doing it if needed![/QUOTE]
 
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