Trailer woes (loading)

esselle

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Hi all :)
We have owned my daughter's new horse now for 1.5 months. She is lovely in practically every way, we are very very happy with her.
We were fully aware when we bought her that she had only travelled on a box (she was home-bred). She does indeed load and travel brilliantly on a box as we've tried her on friends'
The difficulty comes in that I only have a trailer (box definitely not an option for me :-(). Over last several days we have patiently been introducing our mare to the trailer. She seemed very panicky with the central partition in so I have removed it to make it seem more spacious. She has gone through phases of planting, walking in and out happily, shooting out, standing in the trailer and walking out happy and now back to going in very reluctantly. Once in she doesn't seem unduly scared and will stand for a while, receive praise then admittedly try and rush out the front ramp.
Last night she went in happily a couple of times then just refused and stomped and swished. Rather than risk losing patience with her we called it a day and put her away.
We haven't even reached the closing any ramps stage as she's a super hot/sensitive horse anyway and I am so frightened she will just explode!! If she did that she could seriously hurt herself or us in the process of trying to release her and of course I don't want that.
I just don't know what to do for the best as we don't seem to be making headway. My daughter finally has a horse she is excited about taking out and we can't go anywhere :-(.

Any help really welcomed. Thank you
 

kerrieberry2

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my mare was always very difficult to load, luckily we didn't need to travel much! she got really nervous in the confined space!

I think if you can get her on, it might help if you feed her on there, once she is happy to stand and eat then slowly put the bars across! don't do it all in one go, each time just do 1 extra thing! until she's more comfortable in there and realises its a place for dinner rather than somewhere small and scary?
 

Peregrine Falcon

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What's she like in the stable? Does she also rush through the door then? Perhaps at one stage she has bumped herself in a confined space and relates that to the trailer?

I had trouble with one of mine whom I bred. She just decided that she wasn't going to load. I spent a lot of time with her and the only thing that eventually worked was making her go backwards and respecting me when handling. She did try to evade going in by going off the ramp sideways,. That only happened a couple of times!

Before she got to the point where I thought she was going to hesitate I would make her go backwards then forwards again. She got so fed up the one day of having to go backwards so much she loaded herself. I just threw the leadrope over her neck and stood at the base of the ramp (manger of food hooked over breastbar) and told her up you go and she did.

I don't like front ramps personally as I think the angle is quite tight for them to get out without bumping themselves if they rush. Good luck, correct handling and patience will hopefully win the day. There's nothing more frustrating than a non-loader.
 

esselle

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Thank you. Yes we've already been rewarding her with food when she stands patiently and have progressed to putting up the front bar. We've been taking it slowly. She hasn't really had any reason to protest, but she still does.

Just don't know whether we need to move things along or just keep letting her pick and choose when she will play ball.

Thanks lots
 

esselle

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Yes she is great in her stable, never rushes through her door. Just think the confined space of the trailer doesn't appeal to her lol.
I had thought about just teaching her to rear load and unload only actually x
 

Spot_the_Risk

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Try with rear unload, she has to think about where to put her feet. I have wondered too if a rug can help with a sensitive horse as they already have something touching their skin, rather than bumping against the partition and surprising themselves?
 

Moomin1

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Bit by bit, day by day, over as long a period as you possibly can is the key. Every few steps she takes comfortably on the ramp/in the trailer, a reward, and no pressure. If she feels she wants to back off, let her and don't make any fuss about it at all. Keep everything nice and 'normal' and calm as if you were just standing in the stable with her. Make sure you only try it on days that are calm and she is already in a calm relaxed mood. Once she gets completely comfortable with, for instance, standing half way up the ramp and being completely relaxed, ask her for another step or two, and repeat.

It's an arduous task, but I think with nervy highly strung horses it's usually the most productive way forward.
 

esselle

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I've taken the partition out STR :)

Thank you. I am listening to all your advice and am very grateful.

So at what point do I risk closing the back ramp? She's already been stood in calmly - should I have closed it or do I just keep repeating with all ramps open?
 

Moomin1

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I've taken the partition out STR :)

Thank you. I am listening to all your advice and am very grateful.

So at what point do I risk closing the back ramp? She's already been stood in calmly - should I have closed it or do I just keep repeating with all ramps open?

I wouldn't do up the ramps until she is 100% comfortable with standing rock still for a decent amount of time. That is what I did with my mare who developed a serious loading issue last winter. Once she is absolutely fine in standing still without you making her and constantly asking her to stand still, then I would pop the back bar up, and let her get used to that for a few days. Once ok with that, then start putting the ramp up slowly. Perhaps even just lift it half up, and slowly back down again, and keep repeating until she is used to the sensation of it going up, but not completely shut to start with.
 

wench

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Might be worth while scouting on the net and see if you have any local instructors etc who help with problem loaders. They can often well spot problems, and give best advice on how to deal with the horse in front of them!
 

Moomin1

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Might be worth while scouting on the net and see if you have any local instructors etc who help with problem loaders. They can often well spot problems, and give best advice on how to deal with the horse in front of them!

I do agree with this to a certain extent. I don't think it does any harm whatsoever to get help, and in some cases is definately the best way forward. But I do feel, depending on the competency and confidence of the handler, that sometimes it's best dealt with by the owner, as the trust is built between the owner and horse, and essentially that is what matters if they are the ones who are going to be loading in future.
 

Louby

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Just wanted to add that my last boy had only travelled in a wagon too and we had similar problems. I spent ages walking him through, feeding him in there etc etc but never got the back bar up due to him panicking. I tried the reversing out to try and prevent the rushing out forwards and it worked brilliantly but then he would load and then rush out backwards at speed so I ended up creating another problem. After he bent the ramp of the trailer and whacked his head on the lip of the roof on his way out we did find the means to buy a wagon and this solved the problem although he was never the same chilled horse that travelled great before trying him in a trailer.
 

esselle

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I do agree with this to a certain extent. I don't think it does any harm whatsoever to get help, and in some cases is definately the best way forward. But I do feel, depending on the competency and confidence of the handler, that sometimes it's best dealt with by the owner, as the trust is built between the owner and horse, and essentially that is what matters if they are the ones who are going to be loading in future.

This is very true . Also very unnerving for me as her regular handler is my 16yo child (who I have to say is being incredibly patient, always with me present).

We've always had good loaders so this is a whole new ball game for us! In the mare's defence though, a trailer is totally alien to her having only ever been asked to load on a lorry. I'm not going to lie, it's very frustrating as we wanted to start her British Novices, but we won't rush as would rather eliminate the risk of longer term problems.

Thank you again
 

Echo Bravo

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I'd start looking for a nice small lorry, better that, than a stressed out horse and daughter. We have a trailer but seeing I only bought it to get my colt to the vets to have an op for retained testicle, took us months to get him to load and more difficulty get him back, but if I wanted to go places I'd buy a small lorry, my next door neighbour has one and she takes her horses everywhere, but they don't like trailers.
 

esselle

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I do agree with this to a certain extent. I don't think it does any harm whatsoever to get help, and in some cases is definately the best way forward. But I do feel, depending on the competency and confidence of the handler, that sometimes it's best dealt with by the owner, as the trust is built between the owner and horse, and essentially that is what matters if they are the ones who are going to be loading in future.

I'd start looking for a nice small lorry, better that, than a stressed out horse and daughter. We have a trailer but seeing I only bought it to get my colt to the vets to have an op for retained testicle, took us months to get him to load and more difficulty get him back, but if I wanted to go places I'd buy a small lorry, my next door neighbour has one and she takes her horses everywhere, but they don't like trailers.

Not an option, cannot afford one. :)
 

Moomin1

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This is very true . Also very unnerving for me as her regular handler is my 16yo child (who I have to say is being incredibly patient, always with me present).

We've always had good loaders so this is a whole new ball game for us! In the mare's defence though, a trailer is totally alien to her having only ever been asked to load on a lorry. I'm not going to lie, it's very frustrating as we wanted to start her British Novices, but we won't rush as would rather eliminate the risk of longer term problems.

Thank you again

You will get there. :) Time and patience is a virtue with this sort of problem, because any quick fix will cause untold problems in the future. She's still very new in your care, so still a way to go in getting her confidence generally on the ground with you and your daughter. I think it would do wonders for you and your daughter to start doing as much groundwork as possible and gain her trust in situations which push her slightly out of her comfort zone. Perhaps a bit of bombproofing in the school, tarps on the ground etc. Another good thing is to get her walking between blocks and poles raised up - gradually raise the height and narrow the width she has to walk through until she is completely comfortable following you in there, standing, and walking out calmly. You could even add a tarpaulin on the ground in between them once she gets very confident.
 

YasandCrystal

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I would get the help of a Kelly Marks natural horsemanship trainer. You can google to find accredited trainers. Having watched Monty and Kelly live last month dealing with 2 really bad loaders successfully they would be the way I would go. The fact is that a calm confident handler instills confidence in the horse and horses being such sensitive animals need that reassurance. Once you see that your horse is loading calmly and happily your heart rate will go down and you will be ready to be the reassuring leader. I am used to good travellers and our young mare is a feisty flighty thing and she sets my heart rate up. So when we took her to stud this week I got my super calm hubby to load her and she was a dream for him :) Good luck op.
 
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Landcruiser

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Don't be in a hurry to get the partition back in. I travelled both my horses (not together) in my trailer without the partition for several years until I got a lorry. Both were very difficult loaders and it took a lot of time and practice until I could be reasonably sure of loading on a given day. Ironically I've had to go back to square 1 now I have a lorry. "You cannot be serious if you thing I'm going up that steep scary ramp mother!"
 

Dry Rot

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There was a lovely post on a similar thread on loading. I wish I had down loaded it! It went something like this: "Think of the scariest thing you can think of. Now imagine it is in a dark cavern. Now think of your reaction if someone was trying to get you to go into that cavern. Think of your reaction if they were trying to force you to go in".

First, you have to deal with that fear. I would not worry about the horse that backs out at speed. It is just reassuring itself that there is escape if it needs it. Concentrate your efforts in making the horse feel comfortable around the trailer or lorry so it stops thinking about a need to escape. One of mine would plant when it got within 25 yards of the trailer, but we got her so she would self load in time.

Feed on the ramp, feed inside, hang up a hay net with small holes. Leave her to it and go and have your tea. When she seems comfortable, start gently rattling bum bars, shaking the trailer, lifting the ramp a few inches and dropping it, etc. When she is quite comfortable about being in the trailer, you can start using the special head collars to discourage her from reversing out. But make sure you know how to use them and can lead over plastic sheeting, ply wood sheets, anything unusual. If you use any sort of force before this stage she will equate trailer = nasty which is the last thing you want.
 

Tia0513

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After spending a LOT of time with my late gelding, trying to get him to load in a trailer, I booked Richard Maxwell to come out and help. He was loaded within 30 minutes! Couldn't recommend him highly enough so, although it may be a bit costly, well worth it. Good luck with whatever you decide to do :)
 

Goldenstar

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I would use the trailer as " the stable " all summer if necessary put in for foos daily before or after work .
Try loading every day and leaving in to feed make it normal to be in there .
Richard maxwell is very very good with loading issues .
 

3OldPonies

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Patience, patience and more patience is what you need. It sounds like you have been making great progress. If you carry on as you have been and keep going you'll get there in the end. The slower and more calmer that you take things the better in the long run. quick fixes are just as quick to undo in my experience. Time, patience, encouragement and reward will get you there and have a longer lasting effect than rushing for the latest gadget to force her in.

Dry Rot's suggestion about feeding in the trailer is a good one too - I did that with my first and second ponies when they were troublesome and in time they just got so used to going in and out that if I left the ramps down they'd wander in by themselves to see if there was a bucket about!

Mini shettie is so keen on going out and about on jaunts that if the trailer is hitched up and ready to be taken out, he'll load himself regardless of whether or not we actually want him too!
 
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k1w1

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Bit by bit, day by day, over as long a period as you possibly can is the key. Every few steps she takes comfortably on the ramp/in the trailer, a reward, and no pressure. If she feels she wants to back off, let her and don't make any fuss about it at all. Keep everything nice and 'normal' and calm as if you were just standing in the stable with her. Make sure you only try it on days that are calm and she is already in a calm relaxed mood. Once she gets completely comfortable with, for instance, standing half way up the ramp and being completely relaxed, ask her for another step or two, and repeat.

It's an arduous task, but I think with nervy highly strung horses it's usually the most productive way forward.

Exactly what I did with my youngster one step at a time was definitely the most effective :)
 

Dry Rot

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Anticipate problems and start them young! Not much help to those who already have bad loaders, but there's always next time.

[youtube]AfRRCkam0ug[/youtube]
 

buddylove

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Another fan of the Richard Maxwell methods and halter here. My youngster just never really fancied loading, some days he would and other days it could take 2 hours, and the more force that was used lunge line; whip; brush etc etc just created more extreme ways of saying no, including rearing and going over on a yard. I got the halter and dvd on a recommendation from an instructor. Last night was only our second attempt and he loaded with the minimum fuss both going to a lesson and coming home. Highly recommend!!!
 
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Peregrine Falcon

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I had another reluctant loader, I was able to make it safe enough to leave in the field and put a haynet in it. She helped herself the first day and I don't have any problems loading her. She rarely goes anywhere (as she's normally out on the forest) but she remembers the positive experience.
 

TarrSteps

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I'm not sure I agree that loading is about trust, I'm afraid I think it's mostly about training.

The fact is there are lots of ways to get the job done with the end result being a relaxed, easy loading horse. I don't think it has to take weeks because i do a lot of loading training and my experience is there is no reason for it to take weeks. In fact it shouldn't take more than a session unless there has been a lot of damage done or there are extenuating circumstances.

But if you want to do it that way and prefer to work on your own, then there is no reason not to.

That said, once you do have the horse loading then yes, you have to practice a bit, both for the horse's and the handler's sake. I do often find there are tweaks to be made in general handling that help as well and many people are surprised how even just doing the day to day stuff yields positive results.

I think it's worth getting someone knowledgeable to work with you a bit but then I would say that. ;) It's not essential in most cases but it often makes life easier.
 
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