I have to butt in here guys, I got a question I absolutely have to answer....
Mugs, I know of a mare who is REALLY having a trailer-loading issue. I tried your method last night (and it would've possibly played out better if I had experienced help with me), and although we almost got her inside, she just wouldn't commit to the final few steps...lopinon4 goes on to say they tried drugs, then muscle and now have an injured, freaked out mare.
First off, don't feel bad about the drugs or the muscle. I'm simply suggesting you don't go there again. Your situation explains why.
One of the biggest problems we have is forgetting to be patient. Especially if you have an unhelpful audience telling you they know best.
I'm going to walk you through getting her loaded. You need to dedicate all the time in the world to letting her decide to get in there. You have to insist there is nobody around except you and your help. Be an absolute bitch about this if necessary.
This mare has just had it proven to her the trailer is the worst place in the world to be. When she thinks about getting in the trailer she is pushed, dragged, whipped, drugged, then beaten. I'm sure she has no intention of letting this happen again.
So our job is to be kind, patient and firm and let her know this is no big thing.
Step one: Promise not to feed, coax, talk baby talk, nothing, until after the mare is loaded. Then feed, coax, talk baby talk and have a beer with your assistant, not the mare. You need to be calm, quiet and clear with your body language and goals.
Step two: Talk through your plan with your assistant. I like to man the whip, but it takes finesse to work the lead rope, so it's your call.
Step three: Understand your tools. I like to use a 40 foot soft rope as my lead rope. My horse can pull back all the way to China and she'll still quit before she runs out of rope. Whoever mans the rope needs to be wearing gloves. The lead rope is only to keep the horse looking at the trailer. Don't try to pull them in. If the horse pulls back you send her forward with the whip. The goal is to keep the rope relaxed. The whip is the driving force here. Keep Mr. Muscle away from it. You only want to whip hard enough to move her.
Step four: Understand your positions. Whoever runs the whip needs to stand to the side parallel to the point of the horses hip. This is why I like to use a longe whip. It keeps me well out of kick range. Remember to get the hind feet moving, so go after the fetlocks. You can sweep along and be really annoying without actually stinging the horse. But I will sting if I'm not getting forward motion. Whoever has the rope will be in front of the horse looking into the trailer. If you have to step into the trailer stay well in front of the horse and don't look at her. Have your escape door opened. If you have a two-horse straight load, run the rope through the front window and around the side. Be prepared to hold, not pull. If the horse sucks back simply hold on enough to create some tension, let the rope run through your gloved hands. The person with the whip will get the horse forward again.
The rest of it: Plan on taking from three to several days to fix this. This is vital.
Have your hitched trailer parked in a safe, clear area. Tell Mr. Muscle to clear out.
Start at least 20 feet away from the trailer.Lead the mare toward the trailer with a loose lead rope (I prefer about 6 feet). Walk with a firm and confident step and look toward the trailer, not at the mare. Your assistant will follow with the whip, flag, bag of kittens, whatever.
When she balks hard enough to stop you, have your assistant whack at her hind fetlocks, just enough to create a forward step, then quit whacking. You will continue to head to the trailer, not watching your mare, until she quits again, then have your assistant move her again.
You might get a rearing, arguing mess here, but stick to your guns. The whip doesn't stop until she moves her hind feet. This is only about moving her feet forward.
When it comes to the whip and how hard to use it, I go by the horse. I will pop them hard enough to make them move, but always start soft. Before long the horse will move of the soft pop. But I will make them move.
Anytime she hangs on the lead, have your assistant start with the whip.
Choose a place to stop her, well before the trailer.
Tell her Whoa, then back her two or three steps. Then let her rest.
She can't look away from the trailer though. If she does, start again.
Keep this up until you're at the trailer.
Ask her to look inside.
Whip her forward if necessary, but all she has to do is look.
Once she looks inside back her away from the trailer about 10 steps.
Then take her forward, get her to look inside and back her again. Make sure to back her away before she thinks of it.
If I'm loading into a walk-in trailer, I'll walk in first and head to the end of the trailer. I don't look at her. If it's a two-horse I run the lead rope (which for this situation is my 40 foot soft cotton rope) through the window and have my assistant work it. I take over the whip.
If she balks hold her steady and have your assistant whack her fetlocks until she just thinks of getting in.
It can be a shift of her feet, a foot inside the trailer, just stopping flailing around, you don't need much. Relax, let her rest a second and back her away from the trailer again.
NOTE: If the mare goes flying backwards go with her and start whipping with some energy. Don't pull on the rope, just go with her and have your assistant whacking the tar out of her fetlocks (or as close as you can get) until she stops. Then immediately quit whacking on her, everybody take a breath and start over. It is not a problem if she does this. She has just cause. Just make sure she begins to understand flying back is a really bad idea. Really bad. So is wrapping around to one side of the trailer or the other. That gets the same treatment.
Keep this routine up until I get one foot in. Then back her up. Quit letting her rest at this point.
Back, go forward, get a foot in, hesitate, and back out. Start again. The only rest she will get is when she's standing there with a foot in the trailer. Then it's a small one.
Keep this up until she is willingly walking up and putting that one foot in. She can back out anytime she wants, but she'll get whipped again if she does anything more than step down. Then she immediately gets put back in.
Now up the ante and ask for two feet in. Be extremely patient here. Don't ask for anything else until she's been backed out several times. Try to back her before she decides to back out herself. But again, she doesn't get in trouble for backing out. She simply gets driven back in. The whip is only for forward (and stopping wild sucking back). At no time should you try to pull her in by the lead rope.
When she willingly walks up and puts her two feet in it's time to get her in the rest of the way.
Ask her to step in, usually with a cluck and then get your assistant to start with the whip. The whip stroke should be as soft as possible, but once you increase pressure commit and keep it up until she loads. She has to get in the trailer, but she doesn't have to stay there. She can step right back out. Let her out, let her take a breath, then start again. Remember, the lead rope only keeps her looking at the trailer. You don't pull on it to try to get her in.
Go again. Make her get all the way in, but let her back out.
Go again. Rinse, repeat.
Eventually she will offer to stay in the trailer. Back her out. Really.
I only back them out once when they offer to stay. I am making a point by controlling their movement, but I don't want my horse to get confused. After all, it is about getting in the dang thing.
Put her in again. Tie her, shut the doors, go around the block (10 minutes at most!) then let her out and be done.
Do this again the next day.
On the third day, take her to a coffee shop (or bar, depending on how hard this has been) have your coffee and take her home.
For the next several months make sure you have gloves, whip and rope with you when you go somewhere.
I hope this helps. I know it works. Be patient. Let her back out, but make sure she gets driven forward again. Only use the whip until her feet get moving. Only use the rope as a guide. Be prepared for a wild west show, but if you hang in there you will win.
No drugs. No Mr.Muscle. Only Horsaii and common sense allowed.
I loved this story. It's a classic "survival of the fittest" tale. It also got me thinking about the cowboys in my past who taught me a bunch, even if they had unorthodox approaches...I found this story in my files BTW. If you sent me one a while ago and haven't seen it, send me a whomp up the side of the head, would you? I'm trying to post them in order, but, well it's me, what can I say. Order is not a word that has a lot of hang time in my vocabulary.
(slavetomyhorses.blogspot.com)... this is from there:
When I was around 11 or 12, a fellow-horse crazy friend named Cherrie told me about this old guy who had horses and ponies, and who would let you ride them if you cleaned the horse and it's stall.
It happened that he was renting the barn that belonged to another friend, Karen's, grandmother.This was tantamount to heaven on earth for a horse-poor daughter of clinging-to-lower-middle class parents.
And so I came to meet Buzz.Buzz had prepubescent and pubescent girls fluttering around him like bees around apple blossoms. Before you jump to any conclusions: he wasn't a pedophile - unless pedophiles endear themselves to children by saying things like "Hey, chicken legs - where the hell do you think you're going with that horse, did you brush his tail?" or "Get back on that goddamned horse, you goddamned farmer!"
He loved his horses; young girls on the other hand - with their high-pitched voices and daily dramas - he sometimes barely tolerated. I think of him as a New England cowboy - and a real oldstyle horseman. He didn't ride any more by the time I met him, but was keeping around all his old horses because he owed it to them, I think.
Occasionally too, he would add to the herd after trips to the Shrewsbury auction on tack or supply runs. He didn't have a trailer, he'd just toss the horse into the bed of his pickup and bring it home.
Days he worked as a meat packer at the Finast Supermarkets, unloading sides of frozen beef from trucks. He'd start work at 5AM, and then he'd come to the barn around 3-3:30 in the afternoon to open up - the door was padlocked shut.
He liked his beer, and after a six-pack or two he sometimes would tell us stories of his riding days. One that I still remember was about his beloved Harry the Horse, a big paint he'd ride to the Oaks, a bar in Billerica. He said he and Harry would both get shitfaced drunk - apparently they served horses there.
Then he would laugh, and say that one time, when riding home along the Shawsheen River after an evening at the Oaks, he and Harry tipped over and fell in. He'd laugh, take a sip of his Schlitz, and say "Harry was a hell of a horse..."
In hindsight, I have to say that he had a pretty sick sense of humor: "Harry the Horse"? "Little Richard" (a stud hackney pony he usually referred to as "Little Dick")? But it all went way over my head back then - I was pretty naive.
Every afternoon when Buzz arrived, speeding up the dirt drive in his Chevy pickup, we'd be waiting. The horses would be too: we could hear them nickering their greetings from inside. He'd unpadlock the bolt and slide the two doors wide, letting in the fresh air and sunlight. Then they'd be set free: he'd go to each stall, open the stall door, take them by their halters to the opened door and let them go, standing back to watch each one of them gallop out into the unfenced field, tails up, manes streaming, nostrils flaring.
There was about 15 acres of land, and those horses and ponies never wandered off it. The newly-added horses would stay with the herd, and he never had to chase down a horse who'd gone walkabout.
It never occurred to me at the time that any of this was odd - the fenceless turnout, the horses locked up tight until 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon - I was a kid, it was what it was. The horses didn't seem to care, either - or not that I remember.
Maybe I'm just romanticizing it: knowing what I know about horses now, I can't imagine there NOT being a lot of neighing and kicking and carrying on to be let out FIRST. Instead what I remember is feeling an incredible thrill standing next to Buzz to watch them running, kicking, bucking, and cavorting with each other.
We were blessed to witness it, and we knew it: young and old, they drank in the glorious smells of grass and trees and flowers; they channelled their inner wild horse - and we got to watch.It was and continues to be a sight that takes my breath away.
As for letting us ride: Buzz had a rule. Well actually, he had a lot of rules and some of them we actually followed - at least when we were within his eyesight. I'm pretty sure he knew about our transgressions too, but he never let on. We really were brats.But this one rule was one we couldn't bend: no saddles - he didn't want us falling and getting our feet caught in the stirrup and dragged.The "falling" part was a given; the dragged part was what he was interested in avoiding. So we all rode bareback.
That wasn't to say he just said "Here, clean this horse - clean his stall - you're good to go, have fun!" Nope. You had to *earn* the right to ride one of his animals. Buzz had a system to cull out the dilletantes in his gaggle of horse-crazy sycophants: It was named Zero.
Zero was a paint pony of about 13hh, with the attitude of Godzilla with a hangover. Zero hated little girls. While grooming him, he'd try to bite you, kick you, and stomp on your feet. Once you'd finished, and after Buzz had inspected him for cleanliness and an untangled tail, the real fun began.
This was the routine:Lead Zero out to the driveway, keeping his teeth an arms distance away from your body. Gather up the reins, grab a hunk of mane, and face his back.Block his attempt to bite your butt. Watch his hind leg for a muscle twitch heralding an attempt to kick you in the leg.Chase Zero around as he does spins on the forehand, all the while trying to cow-kick your knee.After about 10 rotations, launch yourself at his back.
If you're lucky you get on and don't flip over his back to the other side, because he stops spinning the moment you're airborn, and he'll stomp you if you're on the ground.Wrap your legs as tightly around his fat belly as you can and hold on to that hunk of mane, because the next thing that happens is you're on a pony who's galloping across the field bee-lining for some trees to knock you off on, meanwhile tossing in a few bucks and crow-hops just to let you know he can.
Zero was the great equalizer.I'm proud to say I survived him - many fell by the wayside - literally and figuratively - and were so disheartened they were never seen at the barn again. Those of us who managed to survive Zero and kept coming back - and that's not to say we didn't fall by the wayside literally ourselves, we just were too stubborn to give in - were offered another mount after a couple of weeks.