Friday, May 22, 2009

More on Trailering

I was putting this in the comments, but it kept growing so I guess I'll put my Sonita story off until Monday. Kidlet has graduated from High School. We have a whirlwind of activities this week-end, so I probably won't be posting. Whoop!

I have a fairly basic approach to horses who misbehave in the trailer. I don't take them out.

Yes, I've had some get cut up. I still don't take them out.

When the horse is quiet I go get them. I also won't unload a horse who is pawing or whinnying.

Keep in mind, there is a mentality here that I have in all aspects of dealing with my horses.

I don't travel with a horse loose in a trailer, ever. Except for new babies.

My horses know how to stand tied.

I don't untie them until they are quiet.

I don't feed them unless they are quiet.

I don't tolerate much goofing when I'm handling them period.

So when I ignore a temper tantrum in the trailer my horses have already learned what it will take to get me to come back. Once again, the time to work on this is not the day of a show.

I don't feed my horse in the trailer either.If it's such a long trip they need to eat I plan on stopping and feeding out of the trailer. They'll need a stretch anyway.

Sonita was a bear in the trailer. I worked with her on some things and not on others.

She had legitimate reasons for being afraid. She had been hauled without incident maybe three or four times when everything came undone.

A horse standing next to her in a straight load two-horse pitched a fit as we were hauling down the road. The commotion was HUGE!

We pulled over to the side of the highway and found the other mare had actually lifted the divider and dumped it on Sonita.

The divider was trashed and we were several miles from home. So we put the divider in the back of the truck and loaded both mares in the trailer without a divider.

When we got home we opened the doors to find the other mare had beat the crap out of Sonita. Her face, neck and withers were torn to shreds. She was cut and bruised from the divider. It was a nightmare, mainly my poor filly's (she was just three) and I ended up with some trailering problems.

Sonita became claustrophobic. So I made sure she had enough room to spraddle her feet and steady herself, no more solid dividers. She was afraid of horses coming in behind her, so I loaded her last. If she had to go first in a slant load I made sure the horse next to her couldn't reach over the divider and touch her.

But other than those concessions I expected her to behave. She didn't always, but eventually she became pretty good again.

I have had horses refuse to get out of the trailer. I have used different methods to get them out.
I have put two ropes on the halter, run them through the front legs, put a strong person on each rope and pulled them out.
I have gotten in the stall next to them (two-horse front load) reached underneath the divider and wacked the front legs until the horse moved back a bit, hesitated, whacked, you get my drift.
I have also been known to leave the horse in the trailer until she felt like unloading. I will check once in a while and offer to help her out until she gets out like a lady. I've had this approach take 3 days though, so be prepared.

Those situations were with horses I needed NOW and didn't know they had an unloading problem.

If I know the horse has a problem I'm a little classier about my technique. I start by backing the horse around the yard. Over logs, up slight hills, down hills, through cones all backwards. I set up my poles and make him back over those. Lots of rest. I don't make him back more than ten steps at any time.

When he's good at this we load. By good I mean I can direct him with a hand on his chest and no pulling back.

I practice in a slant load if possible. I let the horse turn around to get out until he is ready to back out. I don't punish a horse in a trailer unless he crowds me, then I'm pretty nasty.

I bring him to the trailer. I get one front foot in. We back.
I start again. And again. And again.
Then I go to two feet and we back out. Again and....
Then three.
Then four.
Right at the back of the trailer. I don't lead them all the way in.
Over and over.
Then I bring them in about three feet and we back out.
Over and over.
If the horse charges me I will get him out of the trailer and kill him. We will practice staying off me with vigor.
Then we try again.
This has always worked for me.
Once again, a good balance between unending patience and solid discipline is the key.
If you have to talk nice and you have to give treats, do it when you are completely done for the day.


TallDarkAndSpotty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the end said...

For a common sense and practical and reasonable expectation for how to deal with a horse in a trailer.

Sometiems I'm ready to tear my hair out at the super softee approach of dealing with horses.

I have the very same expectations of my horses and horses I train.

Good post!

foxtrotter said...

TallDarkAndApotty--this isn't an ideal way of handling this, but I had a filly that would paw and she got her foot up in the feed bag. I checked her the first hour out and it was in the bag, we had gone through hilly, twisty mountains and she had it in there mostly the whole time, from what I guess. I let her foot out and she never did it again and we drove another 5 hours. I think her having it up there the whole time made her realize that wasn't such a good idea. While it worked with her, a non freaky horse, it may not work with all of them.

All of mine hop on and load them selves, but I have one horse that gets impatient and throws a fit when he isn't unloaded on time. I think he needs to sit in there for awhile. I just don't know how well it will work. He's thrown himself on the ground and broke ropes because he was left at the hitching post. Plus my mom let him go barreling out of the trailer and he snapped his tie, so he thinks he can do that all the time. Great, I just realized I'm in for a long day of trailer fun. This horse also tried to turn around in a straight load. The people I bought him from, never taught him to back out of their slant load, only let him turn around and jump out. So when I loaded him in the trailer he went in fine, got to the arena and he went to turn around and got himself stuck. I tried getting his head back around, but that didn't work. So I opened the door,dropped the butt bar and let him figure it out himself. He flew out backwards and actually didn't get hurt. After that he learned, you back out of the trailers, not turn around.

Sydney said...

I've never had a problem more than once with a horse. I am like you. I don't take crap from them in the trailer. Once I had this colt that would not for the life of him stand still. He knows how to tie and does so well but he just got so riled up. One day the breaking point he reared up and over the metal partition in our stock trailer and right onto the fender of the carriage. We had to practically disassemble the trailer to get him out of that one. I still don't know how he did it. When we got home after that wedding he was hobbled and left in the trailer alone for 5 hours until he was quiet (mind you I would never do this with the trailer in motion). He trailers nicely now.

mugwump said...

I like Sydney's answer very much. I think that could resolve a bunch of issues. I have hobbled horses who refused to quit pawing when tied, but haven't tried the trailer. But trust me, I will.
Then again, one of the best tips I ever got was from a newbie. Slow down five miles an hour slower than usual. Even if you drive like a Grandma (like me). You'll be amazed at what that can fix.

foxtrooter- I'd work on your horse's behavior issues outside of the trailer. Standing tied and respecting space are best reintroduced outside where you have room.

stillearning said...

Yeah, that's what I figured you'd say...I DO know better.

Congrats to Kidlet! Enjoy the celebration!!

AKPonyGirl said...

I have a horse who also was claustrophobic in the trailer. She was hauled from South Dakota to Alaska in a 4 horse stock trailer with 4 other horses. That's right 5 two year olds in a 4 horse. These were not small horses either. It took me over a year, $400 in vet bills, and buying a new trailer to get her to the point where I can trailer her. We found, by putting together all the pieces of the puzzle, that she didn't know how to balance herself. So I spent a week or so picking up one foot at a time a shoving her around so she could learn to balance.

She could be pretty noisy in the trailer also. She'd paw and carry on so, as a last resort, we put hobbles on her. She was tied with a Blocker Tie Ring so that if she did run into problems she wouldn't be tied hard and fast. It took one or two rides before she could travel unhobbled.

"For a common sense and practical and reasonable expectation for how to deal with a horse in a trailer.

Sometimes I'm ready to tear my hair out at the super softee approach of dealing with horses."


Accendora said...

This is off-topic, but do you have any more pictures of your yellow mare? I want to see more.

Deered said...

Some of the best advice we had on horses playing up in the float was from a polo player that would transport his team in a stock truck - no dividers, no leg protection. Get all the protective stuff of them - your horses are smart - they're not going to willingly hurt themselves more than once. The one that was the silliest lost a little skin once no problems after that.

MollyDay said...

I'm no trainer, and I know the natural horsemanship crowd has a few crazies and has earned some well-deserved skepticism, but just recently I saw the Clinton Anderson method of teaching trailer loading work wonders with two life-long *horrific* loaders. We're talking absolute refusal to load, rearing and unacceptable snotty behavior, followed by incessant kicking, pawing and screaming once they were loaded and tied.

Local trainer guy started with 15 to 20 minutes of longing the horse in semi-circles between the trainer and the side of the trailer, releasing pressure whenever the horses were closest to the trailer, then did a few minutes of the same at the back of the trailer, scootching the horse closer to the trailer until he was passing back and forth over the ramp. Then, he just gave a little more line when the horse was right at the gate, and let the horse pause and think about going in. Pausing got him slack line and no pressure, backing up from the trailer meant he was put back to work. Pretty quickly the horse was heading into the trailer on his own, where he was allowed to rest until he started pawing and kicking. Then it was out the trailer and back to work.

After no more than 45 minutes of work, one of the horses would trailer himself if you pointed at the trailer from 20 feet away, and would stand quietly until asked to unload. An hour later the other one would, too. It was like watching a freakin' miracle. They continue to load with no trouble and haul quietly, 3 months later. I'm sure other horses might take longer to figure it out, but I was impressed.

Londoner said...

congratulations to her! Is she going to follow you into training?
I've never seen anything that won't unload - it seems pretty illogical to me but I am just a human I suppose.

When people talk about trailers, do you mean trailers that you attach to 4x4s? Where I work we only have horse lorries. My boss is pretty magical with loading, and for the naughty ones we use the 'long rope around the bum' method with two people holding either end, and one person holding the horse. If any more encouragement is needed, someone will be behind the bum rustling something crackly. As for placing feet, I think it works if the horse is truly scared of the trailer and the first foot on it is a very big deal, but it's far too faffy in my opinion.

I think our lorry is terrifying! It's old, creaky and really bangy, and coupled with my boss' HORRIBLE driving I would never set foot in there if I was a horse, but they all do, day after day. makes you wonder..

LongTrot said...

MollyDay that is the method I use. It goes back to Hunt's training philosophy-- make the right think easy and the wrong think diffcult.

Before I even get a horse near a trailer I make sure he can move off implied pressure. Don't need a whip. If the horse is nasty may start with one until it goes soft.

Make sure horse can move one foot at a time again away from the trailer. If it can't do that just in ground work work it isn't ready for loading. Pretty much I have to be able to drive him over anything before I expect him to load.

A horse trained this way will follow you anywhere...or you can drive him off the hip. They also have learned not to invade your space at risk of things getting a little unpleasant for the horse.

Depending on the horse's history it may take 5 minutes, 5 hours,5 days. Have you ever noticed a horse who has never been trailered usually doesn't have much of a problem going in?

I retrain all my horses my way. Some have had the pully system with whip on one end and line on the other. I don't like giving a horse pressure on both ends.

I trailer out 2-3 times a week so don't want to put up with nonsence. Once my horses know how to load, they self load. By knowing I mean they will load anyplace anytime. I put their head in the trailer, show my hand at their hip and they go in and stand in the corner.

One of my retrains was a scrambler, and it did take time to get over. If a horse scrambles it is usually to a bad experience were it lost its balance. To the person that said they brake hard when their horse is scrambling, wow can't think of anything worse to do to a horse. If you drive carefully, slow stops and gentle turns your horse will learn he's gonna be OK.

Food in the trailer...yep I do that. I want to the trailer to be as pleasant experience as possible. Let's face it, a trailer is a sucky place to be. It's not a bribe, it's not a treat, it's something to do while standing in a moving rattling box.

Unloading I turn my horse in a slant. I think it is more natural for a TRAINED horse to unload this way. Strange horses get backed as I don't know if they will respect my space. Some horse back to fast and hit thier head on the top. Remember they can't see directly behind them and it takes a lot of guessing for them to know how far to step down.

So that's my way. I try to avoid ANY drama near the trailer. I also work alone. If the horse won't drive in he does circles circles circles. He rests when his head is in the trailer. And the circles are not lazy strung out--he's on an arch working his hip. If he backs out of the trailer more circles. Eventually they WANT to be in the trailer, where it's mellow and they can rest. Food is in the's a good place to be.

So, this is just an offering of my version, the sticky soft "natural" way. It may take longer, but you can load alone with no tools other than your hand.

mugwump said...

Long Trot- I have to comment. There is nothing "natural" about longing a horse to exhaustion in order to get them in the trailer.
"Natural" would mean letting them live without any interferance from you.
I have no problem with your method, except I like to ride my horses, not take five days to load them.
I think I stressed strongly that the lead rope was only for direction, it was not to be pulled, or used to try to drag the horse.
I'm OK with disagreement, but please don't misdirect what I say.
I spent years loading horses from everything to 2 horse straight loads to 16 horse semis that were converted to haul horses.
I never beat one,or hurt one. I did get entire trailers loaded in a short enough time to keep my job.
All of the horses I trained became reliable loaders who would happily hop in a trailer, no food bribes, no longing, simply point them to the trailer and go. To my mind any well trained horse who travels regularly gets that way.
Many of them started out impossible and/or dangerous to load. Many of my clients came to me after their favorite "natural" clinician's method failed and made the situation worse. Not because it is a bad approach, but because the people in question weren't able to read their horse well enough to time the rests correctly. I don't fault my clients for not being able to perform NH magic, I just show them a safe way to load their horse.
It made the trip to the next magic NH clinician that much safer.
This is an obvious ending to training your horse to load.
My way is not "magic" or "natural",or the only way, just to the point and safe enough for an every day horse owner to use.

Laura Crum said...

I have always loaded horses more or less the way mugwump does. It has always worked for me. Difficult horses get better over time. The one thing I will say is that I had many more problems back when I used a two horse straight load trailer with a divider. The divider did not go to the floor, but I still had problems with horses that wanted to scramble (I drive really conservatively and am very thoughtful about corners.) Eventually I bought a rope horse that had the scrambling habit very ingrained. I bought a three horse slant. End of problem. I really have not had a significant loading/hauling problem since I have owned this trailer. If a horse won't back out I make him take a step or two backward and then turn him around and lead him out. The same next time. They all back out eventually. I just don't make a big deal out of it. As for backing them out of the two horse straight load, I think I already told the story of the time I drove the trailer out from under the horse. I was young and dumb. It did work. The horse was fine. Don't anybody try this, though.

Smurfette said...

I've got a trailering issue that I dont' think we have covered yet.

My old gelding loads great, into any trailer, even my 8 year old daughter can load him. Once in the trailer, he stands quietly until the doors are shut. He will trailer tied or untied. He doesn't scramble or kick or paw.

So, what is the problem? (1)He sits (calmly and quietly) on the butt bar and tail gate, so hard that he rubs the hide off his tail or butt, to the point of bleeding. (2) Unloading is a nightmare. Once I pull (or push) him up off of the butt bar, he begins trembling, but stands until he is told he can back out, then he EXPLODES backwards, scrambling sideways, until he falls out of the trailer sideways. He has done this in both straight load and slant load trailers. He does it whether he is unloaded first or last, whether he is unloaded immediately upon arriving, or sits around a while. This is a horse that is usually VERY conscious of your personal space, but will lay on you if you are up in the slantload with him. (I don't do THAT anymore.)

In addition to the above, I have tried practicing loading him and not shutting the door, and letting him unload on his own. He stood until he was ready to unload and blasted out. I have spent the day loading and unloading, probaby 10 or 12 times, and he blasted out each time. The usual idea of making him take one step back, then step forward and settle again is defeated by the fact that the first step back triggers the explosion. The only thing that has slowed him down some has been a lip chain. I have started lip chaining him, holding contact until he begins to relax from the pressure point, and the hold him with the lip chain rope until he blasts out more slowly. At least he is safer this way, but I feel that I am treating only the symptoms, not fixing the problem.

This is a kid's show horse, and I really need, well want, to be able to, for example, send them off to horse camp, but with this unsafe unloading practice of his, I am afraid to let anyone handle him.

Sorry its so long, I didn't want to come back with "Oh, I've already tried that, it didn't work." Any ideas?

Laura Crum said...

Smurfette--I'm curious. I never had a horse with this exact problem, so I have no real idea what I'd do, but we used to haul horses "head and tail" sometimes--we could fit more in the trailer that way. If this horse was tied facing the rear in a slant load, and you got in the trailer, untied him, took hold of his head, got his attention, and led him forward and out the door, do you think he'd blast over the top of you from that position? I know its not a cure, but I'd be curious if it was just the stepping backward part that triggered the explosion. I can see where it would be hard to turn him around if he was tied facing the front and you'd be afraid he'd smash you, but if he was already facing the rear door? I have no idea if this is a good idea or not--it just popped into my head as something I might consider--mugwump will probably have a better thought. I have to say that I have known horses with trailering issues that did not entirely cure, sort of like what mugwump said about Sonita. You had to figure out stuff that worked OK for them and then be firm.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh good, it looks like I'm on the right track!

I've had a few problems and now I believe that if it's a loading problem, It's really a leading problem.

But I'll get back to you when we get a new floor in that tin can of ours... and some new tires... new wiring...

Smurfette said...

Laura --- thanks for thinking of us. I dont' think we have ever actually HAULED him backwards, but when we had the big slantload, you couldn't turn him around, because just starting to move him trigers the explosion. Thas how I learned that he would climb right on top of you, being inside the slant load with him. Maybe you are right, this horse is just such a gentleman in so many ways, maybe he is allowed his one ?idiosyncracy?

mugwump said...

Smurfette- I have only dealt with this once and I don't know if my issue was as ingrained a problem as yours is. I would wrap his tail with vet wrap and then put a tail guard on top of that for the trip....
I think Laura has an excellent idea. It would be much safer for everybody if it will work. Many horses feel safer if they haul backwards.
Remember when I said I worked with some of Sonita's fears? They were serious fears and I respected them.
The mare I worked with who did this came out so hard she would flip herself backwards. She had string halt and I think was truly afraid because of her bad leg.
I put her back in if she came flying out.Yes I used my longe whip again.Yes, I ran the whip back and forth across her fetlocks. I had my 40 foot rope on her, so we still had her no matter how hard she came out.It wasn't tied, just run through the front window and held by me or the owner, depending on the day.
I immediately whipped her back in. No,I didn't beat her bloody, but I sent her in with some force.
Every time she flew back I sent her back.
Eventually she stepped back carefully, because she thought I was going to nail her. So I stayed quiet, let her out, rubbed on her and was done.
The owner stayed consistant. If she was leaning on the butt bar she got her butt slapped with a crop until she went forward. When the door was opened the butt bar stayed up until the mare was quiet. She was sent forward with the crop.
Then the door was opened and she was asked to step back.
If she blew out she was put back in.
It worked.
She learned to unload decently.
This might seem harsh to some of you, but this mare was a danger to herself and whoever had to trailer her. This was an OTTB with string halt. She was going to end up in a sale if she didn't get it together. I'd rather be tough than lose the horse.
I still would try Laura's way first.

Smurfette said...

Thanks, mugs...this is a VERY ingrained problem. I've had him 9 years, and we cann't remember him ever NOT doing this. I always put a neoprene wrap tail, and shipping boots on him. Working out of a two horse straight load now, and once he blasts out, he stands quietly, and will reload quietly. I'll think about spanking him for it, I'd have to catch him really quick.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

This is sooo great. As you may remember, I am teaching my mare to load correctly...finally got her on, but she also blasts off. I finally quit last year when she clipped her leg on the middle support bar (double straight load) and bled all over. I did make her get in and out again, but needed to take a break..stop and think. Looks like I'm in for a long afternoon soon.

I really want to take her trail riding - which she has not done in years if ever...but gotta do the trailer first :)


Fantastyk Voyager said...

Wow, these are all great posts on a very difficult (for me) subject.
I rarely trailer my horses anywhere. However, I would LIKE to. I want to take up trail riding.

I have an Arabian mare that was impossible to load because of the very traumatic time she had when we loaded her to bring her home after buying her. She reared a lot, hitting her head on the trailer frame. She also managed to bust the lead rope and fall over backwards. Long story short, we got her home and she bled from her nose for three days. I thought we'd killed her! Needless to say, She developed some serious claustrophobia/head issues.

Last summer after doing everything I could think of: spending hours in the daylight and the dark just sitting at the open doors, backing, lunging, butt ropes, starving her to self load in a hitched, open trailer with lots of food, you name it, I hired a horse trainer. With the use of gates attached to the trailer sides and a whip for encouragement we got her in.

I bred her last summer and it took eleven trips to the vet's office to make it happen. She finally learned to load well because of the frequent trips to the vet we had to make.

However, she never got used to the stocks where she had to be for the exams and ultrasounds. I would have to back her into the clinic because there was a low overhang which she feared. She would raise her head and get reary even though I had been working on head lowering exercises at home. Since it was a busy place of business, I really didn't get the time to school her properly as I did at home. I always make sure she wore a leather helmet because she so often banged her head. Once in the stocks, another challenge with the overhead bar, she would stand very well until asked to back out. When she did back, she would raise her head and run back, often hitting her head on the overhead bar, even though we didn't apply any pressure for her to go. I would use verbal commands, knowing her reaction. How can I cure this?

Anyway, I just wanted to mention that you've all got some great tips that I will definitely try to use in the future.

Thanks everybody and keep 'em coming!

mugwump said...

Smurfette and Voyager- It's the same M.O. for both horses. They have to repeatedly get back in until they back out quietly. I would keep the Arab mares head extremely padded.
Smurfette-I'm not sure why you feel you need to be quick. You know he'll fly back. So just start whacking as soon as he starts moving. I've mentioned my extreme lack of co-ordination before, haven't I? You don't have to be adept, just go to it. You're not screaming, shouting, no sound is best, your just flicking his fetlocks with the whip. You'll know how hard you need to go because you will practice sending him forward this way first. You can longe him and send him forward with the whip at his heels, or have him go past you into a doorway by flicking his heels, any way that teaches him to move forward when you use the whip. Give him a verbal cluck or something if you want, but only once, then silently apply the whip.
Then load him and unload him and send him back in as soon as he starts out. Does this make sense? He doesn't get to stand quietly for one second until he walks out of the trailer.
Voyager - To be honest, I would tell the vet your mare doesn't do stocks. They're grown ups, they should be able to work with her without them.

mugwump said...

Voyager-You said it best >> I bred her last summer and it took eleven trips to the vet's office to make it happen. She finally learned to load well because of the frequent trips to the vet we had to make.<<

Miles cures all trailering problems.....

Laura Crum said...

I know I mentioned this before, and I know it isn't practical for everyone to get a new trailer (I had to make do with an old two-horse straight load for many years), but a lot of trailering problems go away if you get a slant load trailer with dividers. In Smurfette's case, if I had her horse, I'd try loading the horse backwards, hauling him backwards behind a divider, and when I went to unload, I'd untie the horse, get his attention, make him shift backward from my pressure while the divider was still shut, and then open the divider and be ready. If he will step forward calmly, I'd lead him off. If not, we'd go round and round, whatever it took. He'd be backed back in and led out forward until he did it calmly. Hopefully this would be easier for him to learn than trying to overcome his backing out issue, which is so ingrained. Then maybe you'd have a protocol both you and the horse could live with.

However, I realize this is no help if you are dealing with a two horse straight load. I have had horses that wanted to unload too fast from these, though they were not as violent or as ingrained as you describe. I put a long line on them, as mugwump describes, ran it out the feed window, and kept reloading them and asking them to step back calmly. It worked in the end. To let you know that I'm not such a great trainer, however, one horse that I cured of this problem, I also was the sole cause of the problem. Poor Burt hauled and unloaded just fine from my old two horse straight load. Until the day I forgot to untie him and opened the back door and told him to get out. Those of you who have seen this particular wreck can picture it. We had to cut the leadrope. Burt's back legs were pretty scraped up. Then I had to retrain him to step out calmly. Good soul that he was, Burt didn't take long to get over it.

rockymouse said...

Mugs, congratulations on the kidlet's graduation! That's a big deal, mom!
I've got a couple questions when you next need some fodder. We've very recently acquired a cute 14.1 pony primarily for our 8 year old beginner boy. I ride him too, to stay on top of how he's going. The horse was formerly used as a childrens' lesson horse. He's got a terrific personality. I need to do some fine tuning though:
* He naturally moves out into a BIG, ground-covering, bouncy trot that's a challenge for an adult to handle, much less a child. I'm puzzling at how to convince him that a sustained, slower trot is possible. Lots of w-t transitions for this?
* Also, he doesn't naturally follow his nose when turning or even circling. Instead, his neck sorta braces and his shoulder leads the way, so that he quarters his way around a curve rather than arcing his body. It can be jarring, very rushy and hard to anticipate at anything faster than a walk. What are things I can do to encourage a smooth, arcing follow-your-nose approach to curves and circles?
* Lastly, he's being ridden right now in a full cheek snaffle, same as in his former home. I'm not in favor of gadgets and equipment to "fix" a problem...but I wonder if that's the best bit for my son when he rides. (he rides Western) He's not a heavy handed kid, though he's learning. I want him to learn to ride with sensitivity, but still have the ability to get the horse's attention if needed. Make sense?
Thanks mucho! Have a great graduation weekend!

Smurfette said...

Thanks, Mugs. I was thinking "quick" so that I was punishing him AS he was doing the bad act. The explosion is over so quickly, and then he is standing quietly outside of the trailer. He will go immediately back in, and stand for several minutes, unattended, or however long you want him to, if he is told to stand by the butt bar, or even just standing there with him, until you start to back him out, then we get the nerves and the explosion.

I guess thats what I am having trouble wrapping my head around, how to punish him for flying backwards, unless I can catch him AS he is flying, because he is doing WHAT I told him to do, just not HOW I told him to do it. I'm not meaning to do the "yes, but..." thing. Maybe another day of sending him right back into the trailer is in order. Right now, I don't remember if I sent him right back in, or let him hang around for a while. The "right back in" is something that I think I could handle.

kestrel said...

I add an extra cue for my horses, when backing out. I stop the horse at the edge of the trailer and say "foot." (My horses are trained first to pick up a foot when the word is spoken and a foot pointed at. I loathe having to yank and tug to get a horse to pick up a foot!)
A lot of horses seem to panic at not being able to see the drop off behind them when unloading, so warning them avoids that issue, plus gets the horse to back quietly out of either a 2 or 4 horse.

mugwump said...

Good thought kestrel.

Juli said...

So, how do you go about teaching a horse to load when you don't have a trailer? We have trailered him a couple of times using a friends trailer, but he walks up the ramp and stops dead. It takes a fair bit to convince him to walk in. We've done the butt tapping, and the butt rope, but it still can get hairy. Once in, he hauls just fine,and he comes out fairly easily.

I can start teaching him to step forward with the whip tapping him on the pasterns, but is there something else I can do to help teach him to load without a trailer in which to load him in?

mugwump said...

Juli - I have taught them to pass by me when I cue them into a doorway, or a gate, or a stall door. I also back them through all these things.
Tapping them on the butt has never worked as well for me, since by swatting them on the pasterns it gets the feet moving, which is what I'm looking for.
If you are consistant every time you load he will get better in time, just not as fast as he would if you had a trailer.
Could you get your friend to pick you up for a trailer training day?

slippin said...

Laura Crum,
I just finished Cutter. Good book! Now I have to get the rest of the series!LOL I didn't get the book in time for my flight, so I started it when I got back home. Being in the cutting horse world, it was right up my alley! I have been mowing the pastures and kept taking breaks to go read some more...finally finished it about an hour ago..

Jesse said...

Londoner - English is a funny language, and throwing horse words into it only makes it worse. ;-)

By lorry, do you mean like this?

By horse trailer Americans usually mean something like this. I've never heard of anybody pulling one with a 4x4, but I'm sure some idiot has tried.

t_orchosky said...

My big barrel horse started getting a little chargy when backing out of the trailer. I could tell it was the drop that was making him nervous, so i started pausing him right before the step and then tapping him on the shoulder. He knows now when i tap him on the shoulder the next step is the drop. Now I do this with all my horses so they have a clue it's coming. It didn't take the big guy long to figure it out, he hauls weekley.

mugwump said...

Jesse - By 4x4 don't you think it means a 4-wheel drive truck? My truck is a 4x4 and I'm not an idiot.

Laura Crum said...

slippin--thanks for the nice review. I'm glad you liked Cutter. Let me know what you think of the others (if you read them). Cutter is the only one that features cutting horses, though. Hoofprints, the second one, moves on to reined cowhorses.

slippin said...

Laura Crum:
I was wondering if that was the next one in line since it is in the back of the "Cutter" book. COw horses are good too...I tried showing them a few times, but never got brave enough to go down the fence:) I did it a few times at home with a lesson, but I just couldn't see myself doing it at a show...I only showed in the limited class, so we didn't have to go down the fence...I will have to hunt for the next book in line.

Karen V said...

I have a mare that will also throw it in reverse and run you over if you don't get out of the way.

She will walk in and stand until the divider is closed (3-horse slant). Then she will start trying to back out - forward - wham, foward-wham. Open the divider and she'll drop her head and burn rubber in reverse.

She will only do this when hauled alone.

Our "fix" - we left her loose in the trailer with the dividers tied back. She turned around to face backward, and leaned against the front of the trailer. I don't tie any of my horses in the trailer (one accident taught me that one). They all will "self-load" and "unload", tacked or "naked".

We don't haul particular mare a whole lot and I try to have a buddy with her.

Another suggestion I received (but never used) was to dig a trough 6 inches deep, the width of the trailer, and 3 feet wide. Fill it with water. Unload the horse into it. The theory is that they'll back out, hit the water, jump back in, look around, and be careful about it.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Here's one...

I decided yesterday, in order to get Starlette used to jumping higher (2') jumps not that I will necessarily be on her jumping that high), to free lunge her over one that I set up with rails funneling her into the jump. I lunged her counter clockwise, then asked her to go over the "jump"...I had put poles on the ground to start. Note here...this is the side I am on when I go to load her into the trailer. So she got up to the poles, and did what she does when she refused to load...panics, spins, then faces me and gets into my space, and gets freaky.

Interesting, I think. So I lead her over the poles and she's fine. Tried again lunging over...same response. I tried forcing her, lost my horsei for a moment in frustration, and she got so upset that she ended up changing directions. I collected myself, and sent her over the jump going clockwise, and not a problem. Hmmm....

Anyway, to make a long story short, since I didn't have any problems with the one direction, I took the other "trailer-loading" direction and broke it down into pieces..first lunging in circles away from the jump, then in front...and finally sending her over. She did hesitate, go to spin...then a light went on (I saw it!) in her head, and over she went.

She loved the the time I quit (was only a few rounds both ways not to wear her out) she popped over 2' without any problem.

So I think I've found an answer/solution to getting her to load! At least and idea how to help her get past this.

Oh, my husband wanted to know why I hadn't just ridden her her over the jump LOL! I am just popping her over 8" right now :)


gillian said...

Ok, when you need questions I have a more specific question now. Horsey in question is pretty damn dumb. He does OK when he's calm, but as soon as he gets aggravated his thinking goes waaay slower. (He is learning how to calm down again, thank god.)

Anyway, the problem is this: he has a hard time balancing, especially with a rider. His response to this is to get a little agitated, to lean on the reins, lower his head (if you wont hold it up with the reins) and go faster. Its the worst at the canter.

If I hold his head up like he wants me to, he calms down and balances a little better on his hind end (ok, and on my hands.) I thought if I let him pack me around on a loose rein that he'd figure it out. I'm sure whatever balance issues I have aren't helping, but he leans on longlines for balance too.

I really want to help him balance back on his hind end. I know he'd be happier that way; but I dont think he's going to figure this out on his own. He is really attached to his current plan of leaning on the reins and/or speeding up. Particularly at the canter. (He also leans into his turns like a motorcycle.) Eventually when he still doesn't find his balance he throws a few bucks, and then runs himself into a wall. (Left to his own devices that is.)

I've been trotting like ben cartwright (it works at the trot, its pretty neat.) That has helped some with his trot. I really dont think its safe to do it at the canter.

Right now my plan is to longline him some more, do some turning exercises and whatnot. I want to get back to riding him though. So what do you do to help a horse that doesn't figure out the whole working from behind concept?

stillearning said...

Gillian: Transitions. Lots and lots of transitions. Transitions between gaits, transitions within gaits, lots of transitions, preferably done using very little hand.

Boring and effective. Builds muscle and brain.

lopinon4 said...

I just want to update everyone on the little mare who wouldn't load....she did finally load (pretty happily) after day 4 of consistent and calm work. Her pasture mate was removed from the facility and moved to another farm temporarily, and I really believe that smoothed the process even further. She is at her new home, where her new owner vows to do LOTS of trailer work with her. WOOT! WOOT!!

lopinon4 said...

Gillian,Regarding the balancing, if he is leaning into turns, change those turns up on him. Not necessarily in a dirty fashion, but try not to warn him. When you feel a shoulder dump (probably right before he gets heavy on your reins), sit deep and tall ~ which will encourage him to use his hindquarters and lift his front end ~ and smoothly but firmly take the rein opposite of his leaning and circle him the other way. I also bump with my legs to encourage forward motion when I do this exercise. If you do this regularly, he will learn to stay balanced in order to be prepared for your "surprise" maneuvers, instead of becoming comfortable going around willy-nilly. After he does several of these exercises pretty swiftly, let him take a straight line, then a soft large circle and see what he gives you. Repeat if necessary, but don't drill. Just my two cents. It has worked wonders for me in the past.

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