Horse won't load

Miss L Toe

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OK so after having to move my horse several times in quick succession, he won't load, not a bad traveller, not frightend, just will not walk right on, both a lorry and a trailer.
I thought I was over it after spending a week, he was getting on with oats as a bribe. but now back to sq one.
He has had a bit of re training with a rope halter, and will walk backwards, but to be honest he is v blddy minded, and is not willing to accept the groundwork involved.
Those who have seen previous posts know that I am having to sell him, now this.!
 

Miss L Toe

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Be nice halter and the associated ground work.
I.ve done that, he will follow me and back up, just won't go right in to the lorry or trailer.
He is reluctant to cross hind legs over when asked, and does not seem to respond to a light touch with a schooling whip on his barrel [groundwork or when loading]
Is the bucket feed a very bad idea? I am thinking keeping him hungry then tying again. I did have sucess with this before.
I tried long reinng, he won't go in. I feel the more I try the worse he gets, as the most promising attempt was definately the first one.
 
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Destario

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I had a pony that wouldn't load, best way I found was to walk him in a circle gradually moving the circle close to the ramp, then walking him across the ramp in his circles so he stepped up and down and walked over and on the ramp but not into the trailer, after a while he seemed to get a bit bored and then when he was half way over the ramp I slacked off on the lead rope and walked into the trailer and he followed me without thinking. He looked very annoyed at himself once he realised what he'd done. Also when I had the time I would do this a lot, but instead of stopping in the trailer I'd walk him through and then back round to start the circles again...Sometimes he'd still refuse to go in but we got there eventually...he'd very rarely go straight in from home. At a show though, he'd walk right in, in fact he'd get in so fast I often had to let go and let him charge in all on his own...very strange...
 

FfionWinnie

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Sorry thought you said rope halter. Be nice halter is a bit stronger for stubborn horses.

I would just keep the pressure on til he makes the slightest step or lean forwards then release then repeat. If he is just being stubborn you probably need to wait him out. Once you get him in you should get him in and out multiple times ie 50 times a session (start in the morning lol) to reinforce it then do it every day about 50 times to completely reinforce him loading well.

I don't bother with bribes as I don't think it works long term.

Wear your hat and gloves...
 

Miss L Toe

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Stubborn is what he is, I will get a Be Nice, another last grasp at straws with this horse, he is just very difficult is several ways, but has good points too, sometimes.
PS looked at Be Nice, they seem almost same as mine, which is a thinner rope but has no rings to release it. Waited him out, he even sighed, but still not loading.
 
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FfionWinnie

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Another thing you could do is simulate loading ie a tarp or something he doesn't want to walk on and do it in the school until he respects you enough to walk over it.

I have cured many bad loaders with a be nice halter but maybe get someone to help you if he is beating you. Where are you?
 

Miss L Toe

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I am near Glasgow, I have had years of experience, and have loaded several horses for other people when they have failed!
Never had such a trying animal in my life. Have had other very experienced people try for me, last move they had to twitch and walk him on. I don't think this helped, but neither do I think it made any difference to his attitude now..
 
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Destario

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Well one bonus for you: he doesn't kick. My first pony (the wannabe rodeo bull) was a nightmare to load, you couldn't stand anywhere near his back end and when angry he could move himself into kick position very well! We ended up tying four lunge line to the trailer, two on each side, and getting two people to walk (a very long way off!) round behin him so that the lunge lines eveloped his back end causing him to walk forward with the occasional kick out, but as everyone was so far away he never got anyone...it would always take a few tries to get him in but it worked. Many years later when we had a second horse who loaded like a charm we found out that rodeo boy would walk on like an angel if there was already another horse on...sigh, he's much better now that he is retired and doesn't kick anyone much, except the new apprentice farriers who our top farrier sends over to trim his feet whilst we watch on to see what they do. He and the farrier have an agreement that they will both behave as the farrier is huge enough that when he has one leg up and rodeo boy picks up another to push the farrier over, the farrier can just hold him up, very amusing.
 

Miss L Toe

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Naughty horse is easier to deal with in some ways, any attempt to use any sort of pressure behind this horse makes the situation escalate , and not in a good way. Obviously we have tried mass people, lunge whips, lunge reins, the thing is he used to load like a lamb but I had to move him several times, and he has never been in a lorry or a trailer without being moved, this may have sparked off the problem, or perhaps someone hustled him instead of letting him have a sniff, I don't know, but he is now an absolute refusnik.
He sees other ponies being loaded and going to shows etc all the time. Tried leading an old pony thru, etc.
 
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Dry Rot

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A lot of things in successful animal training are to do with choices. I'm sorry if that sounds flippant, but bear with me. I'm old and work alone so my ponies have to learn to self load. I refuse to go into a confined space with an animal that weighs over half a tonne, and is probably upset, especially as my mobile is in the house with a flat battery!

A round pen is a great asset thought I'm told a lunge line will work. I haven't tried it and suspect it isn't as good. In the absence of my pen, I think I'd rig up a makeshift pen with some tape. My method is very simple. If they are outside the trailer, they work. The nearer they are to going in, the less work they do -- or the better the rest. Keep everything calm with no force. If they go in and immediately come out, that's fine too -- more work! It's their choice.

So, they get worked and eventually will put a foot on the ramp. I immediately turn my back and walk away and stand with my back to the horse for maybe a minute. Then work starts again and I demand an inch or two more each time. Hunger helps as there is a full hay net in the trailer. Training being what it is, it won't be a steady progression but more like three steps forward and two back.

This is where choices come in. Outside the trailer, the horse works. Completely inside, I leave the horse to its hay net and go and have a cup of tea. If they want to come out, that's their choice but, guess what? More work!;) I'll continue until the pony loads without hesitation.

Of course, the above is similar to several NH training methods but the penny dropped when I had a very shy mare in for service owned by a no nonsense livestock haulier. I've never seen an animal load as fast in my life! It was easy to guess what had been going on and to use a bit of imagination to vary the technique to be totally humane but every bit as successful.
 

Destario

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That's a shame. Only thing I can think of is just practice loading and every so often once he's in take him for a short drive and bring him straight back home. We did that with one of our cats as our older ones make themselves sick and stressed in the car, so we drove mini cat around a little in the basket and brought him home. He is now happy to drive around to the vets when he needs to (funnily the only cat which needs vets attention - he eats too much rabbit and blocks himself up!) and this may help with your boy...let him feel safer about coming home after the trailer...I have a friend that puts their trailer in the horses field every so often with it all open so that they can have a look around and surprisingly they are happy to walk around inside and she never has problems loading.
With rodeo boy we found that lavender gel (can get it in supermarkets) rubbed around his nostrils helped to calm him down a little and load, so maybe you could try that...he was plain stubborn, but forgot he was stubborn after a while and scared himself and got angry. We think he had a terrible experience in trailers when he was little as the people we bought him off had had him delivered to them on request of the sellers...he was always happier when there was a little bit of food in the trailer once he was in, positive reinforcement and all that, greedy little monster!
 

FfionWinnie

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I meant someone who is very experienced with using a pressure halter.

I've seen it all on various yards and shows. No method in my experience actually cures a horse other than the correct use of a pressure halter. Chasing them on, lifting feet, bribing with food etc etc is just a crutch that works on the day (some times).

My horse to my shame was a victim of all those techniques and while they worked with other horses on the yard they did not work with her. She reared and went over backwards twice before my "helpers" called it a day.

The next day I loaded her myself in 30 minutes using the be nice halter (she was already trained to it).

I was young and the "experts" at the livery yard she was on had waded in with the other old fashioned techniques when she didn't go on straight away. Had I been left to my own devices I could have avoided all that stress and I will never load a horse any other way than with any "aids" other than a pressure halter ever again.

All my childhood and teenage years the horses and ponies I had were terrible loaders. I used to look at folk at shows and see their horse just walk on and think that was utterly amazing. Now my aforementioned horse and my new ponies all just walk on nonchalantly and it is all thanks to a Richard Maxwell clinic I attended on loading 12 years ago.:)
 

Miss L Toe

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A lot of things in successful animal training are to do with choices. I'm sorry if that sounds flippant, but bear with me. I'm old and work alone so my ponies have to learn to self load. I refuse to go into a confined space with an animal that weighs over half a tonne, and is probably upset, especially as my mobile is in the house with a flat battery!

A round pen is a great asset thought I'm told a lunge line will work. I haven't tried it and suspect it isn't as good. In the absence of my pen, I think I'd rig up a makeshift pen with some tape. My method is very simple. If they are outside the trailer, they work. The nearer they are to going in, the less work they do -- or the better the rest. Keep everything calm with no force. If they go in and immediately come out, that's fine too -- more work! It's their choice.

So, they get worked and eventually will put a foot on the ramp. I immediately turn my back and walk away and stand with my back to the horse for maybe a minute. Then work starts again and I demand an inch or two more each time. Hunger helps as there is a full hay net in the trailer. Training being what it is, it won't be a steady progression but more like three steps forward and two back.

This is where choices come in. Outside the trailer, the horse works. Completely inside, I leave the horse to its hay net and go and have a cup of tea. If they want to come out, that's their choice but, guess what? More work!;) I'll continue until the pony loads without hesitation.

Of course, the above is similar to several NH training methods but the penny dropped when I had a very shy mare in for service owned by a no nonsense livestock haulier. I've never seen an animal load as fast in my life! It was easy to guess what had been going on and to use a bit of imagination to vary the technique to be totally humane but every bit as successful.
Sorry, are you saying you leave horse to load if he choses, cause he would choose not to! If in trailer loose, and the front door was open he could reach net from there.
I have tried loading, lunging, loading lunging, groundwork, lunge load, I am exhausted but not him. I have got him on the ramp with four feet, he will almost go right in then head up and pull back. As I say the first attempt of the day seems to be the best, things go downhill after that.
I rub his head as a reward for forward motion, and keep light pressure on him as he goes back with head up. I tend to stay in the trailer and use a long lunge rein. The first few times after a lunge, I approach the trailer normally, walking slightly ahead of him. I hope I am not confronting him by looking him in the eye, just try to be relaxed, though sometime I am ready to lose it, and he gets a reminder with the schooling whip, this upsets him but has no other effect.
 
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sarahann1

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My little lad has a stubborn streak in him. On one occasion I ended up standing at the end of a lunge line, at the back of a lorry with a feed and a hay net, he was at the bottom of the ramp. In total it took about 3hrs but he gave in and came in. No fuss, no lunge whips, no chasing. Loads ok now :)
 

PorkChop

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Another to recommend the Be Nice Halter, it really is quite different to any of the other rope halters.

I have loaded un-loadable horses in minutes, you can get them through Richard Maxwell's website, and sometimes you can pick them up off ebay.

I would have thought it was the easiest solution, considering you don't have access to pen and trailer - though I think Dry Rot's suggestion is genius :)

Do make sure you do at least ten minutes away from the trailer with the halter before trying to load, I am sure there are loads of videos on Youtube showing the stages of progression.
 

Destario

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When I get round to getting another youngster to bring on, loading and driving about and coming home again will be top of my priorities. That way trailers are just another thing to do and sometimes have a lot of horses at the other end! But always coming home. I think he may be worried about leaving somewhere he like a lot, so maybe put some pressure on the owner of the trailer to take him out for little trips. Also try just chilling on the ramp/next to the ramp holding the lead rope loose and long and stay like that for a while, he should get inquisitive anough about the lack of fuss and trying to get him in the trailer to wander up the ramp a little and maybe poke a head in and walk out...he might be starting to associate the trailer with stress and work and perhaps he might chill out a little if he has no pressure to go in, just curiosity. Also if there are any excellent loaders at your yard ask them to come and help - they walk their horse through a few times in front of your horse, and then see if he will follow them through the trailer, if he does, then keepo both of them going through and then try just on his own, if not, ask the other horse to go through a few more times and try again. The chilled relaxed horse that is happy to go through may make him feel better about it.
 

Miss L Toe

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Another to recommend the Be Nice Halter, it really is quite different to any of the other rope halters.

I have loaded un-loadable horses in minutes, you can get them through Richard Maxwell's website, and sometimes you can pick them up off ebay.

I would have thought it was the easiest solution, considering you don't have access to pen and trailer - though I think Dry Rot's suggestion is genius :)

Do make sure you do at least ten minutes away from the trailer with the halter before trying to load, I am sure there are loads of videos on Youtube showing the stages of progression.
Yes I have studied RM video, and I can't get my boy to co-operate with the ground handling, at the moment goes backwards reluctantly, will come forwards, easily, and wont cross back legs over at all. He will go round in a circle round me but tries to fall in on me, and I can't get him to turn on his forehand. I know what he should be doing , but he is just unco-operative.
He comes up to the ramp fine, sometimes tripods [which is preparing to rear], but mostly he just will not go as far as is needed, so far but no further. He can just "turn off" I have tried re-presenting or just tugging on the rope.
I lunge, present to trailer,, work away.
lunge, present etc etc.
In order to turn the quarters away [RM groundhandling] Richard swivels the end of the line in a vertical circele, my horse ignores this, even if I then hit him with the end of the rope he just stands there when I try to repeat the exercise.
 
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FfionWinnie

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I personally think multiple loading is more important thank actually taking them for a ride in it. They need to be utterly rock solid that the trailer is not at all a problem before it starts to move anywhere. Then you need to repeat the whole process with it moving.
 

FfionWinnie

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He likely will rear that's why you need a hat and gloves and a long rope and just keep the pressure on until he makes any forward movement at all ie even leaning his body forward.
 

Destario

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Something that worked with a friend's horse that was iffy to load, was walking up the ramp then turning sideways off the ramp, she'd do this for about 10 minutes and then try and go straight in, any resistance and she'd turn off the ramp again, repeat a few more times and then try again, he'd normally be in 10 minutes after her first try at getting him in. She thought he was a little scared of the ramp and that this helped him chil down and remember the ramp is his friend...
 

Miss L Toe

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Something that worked with a friend's horse that was iffy to load, was walking up the ramp then turning sideways off the ramp, she'd do this for about 10 minutes and then try and go straight in, any resistance and she'd turn off the ramp again, repeat a few more times and then try again, he'd normally be in 10 minutes after her first try at getting him in. She thought he was a little scared of the ramp and that this helped him chil down and remember the ramp is his friend...
Yes this is the same as walking sideways along the ramp, I have tried this a few times, but he is not scared, not scared at all.
I might try this, trouble is there is not a lot of room where the trailer is, and as it is not my trailer I don't like to move it about.
 

Miss L Toe

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He likely will rear that's why you need a hat and gloves and a long rope and just keep the pressure on until he makes any forward movement at all ie even leaning his body forward.
He can only rear fom the tripod position, ie hind legs wider than fronts, so it is easy to prevent this, he would only do this if I put him under lot of pressure from behind, so it is easy to avoid, yes, I have gloves and hat on now, but this is mostly to protect me when asking him to go round me when ground handling.
 

FfionWinnie

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I think what I am trying to say is he may rear if you use the pressure halter in the manner I would be using it because they will try everything to evade it. In some ways they need to rear to learn they will never evade it other than going forwards.

You have to dominate him on the ground away from the trailer first tho, it sounds like he knows all the tricks in the book and is not submitting to you therefore not trusting you.
 

Miss L Toe

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I think what I am trying to say is he may rear if you use the pressure halter in the manner I would be using it because they will try everything to evade it. In some ways they need to rear to learn they will never evade it other than going forwards.

You have to dominate him on the ground away from the trailer first tho, it sounds like he knows all the tricks in the book and is not submitting to you therefore not trusting you.
That is it, I have had plenty of similar issues with this horse over the years, he is not "nervous" as in a regular highly strung type, but seems to spend a lot of time "evading" rather than co-operating.
But as I have said others just as experienced as me have tried, though they don't do the lunging and the groundwork, he still goes better for me than for them, as far as I can see. One lady loaded him [this was last year], by just crouching down and rewarding him, it took less than an hour, but the next time she tried it did not work. We have now had more sessions on loading than the number of times he has been in a trailer in his life. The trailer owner is the YO and is not particularly helpful other than letting me use it. There was lorry here a month ago and they promised to help me , but did not.
 

Miss L Toe

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I think what I am trying to say is he may rear if you use the pressure halter in the manner I would be using it because they will try everything to evade it. In some ways they need to rear to learn they will never evade it other than going forwards.

You have to dominate him on the ground away from the trailer first tho, it sounds like he knows all the tricks in the book and is not submitting to you therefore not trusting you.
It is difficult to try to get him so agitated that he would rear, that seems a very tricky approach, I know RM does say think will get worse before they get better, but I really can't go for a rear, he would be in a right state for that to occur.
 

Miss L Toe

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I have looked at Richard Maxwell halter, it is a bit diferent from my cowboy type which acts on both poll and nose, and is more like a Be Friendly, it comes with training video. I feel the whole control halter is much th same as usuing a lunge rein over the nose, but what do I know. I also have video of RM doing loading training, but the horse would load......... just took an hour, mine won't load at all at the moment.
 

R.A.H

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This might not be of any use to you, but we had a horse that was a bad loader and what worked for him was parking downhill a little so the ramp almost level with the trailer. He wasn't scared of the trailer he was just a stubborn old git. He seemed to enjoy doing the opposite to what you was asking of him.
 

Dry Rot

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Sorry, are you saying you leave horse to load if he choses, cause he would choose not to!
If he chooses not to, he works. Simple! It may take a while the first time, but the message will eventually get through.

in trailer loose, and the front door was open he could reach net from there.
Then don't leave the front ramp down/front door open!;) If you've backed the trailer up to a round pen or have him on a lunge, he can only get in at the rear anyway.

Editing this to add that I had a bought in mare that would refuse to load. She reared six times after a show when a very experienced horseman tried to load her using a rope head collar and we only got her in (eventually!) on her last rear when she fell forwards into the trailer -- and the ramp was promptly banged shut! It took a while, but even she was trained to self load on command once I got her home.
 
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