Getting a horse on a trailer?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Chickerdoodle13, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. Cara

    Cara Songster

    Aug 30, 2007
    I think the majority of trailering issues come from people who haven't taken the time to teach their horse to load, and then all of a sudden have to get them loaded and do it by force. Work patiently with them and you'll rarely have problems. Get in a hurry about getting the horse to a vet appt. or show, and you will. You've already won the battle as far as I can see.
  2. katrinag

    katrinag Songster

    Just a funny ting about showing and your horse not loading. We where doing a local show years ago and at the end was loading the 5 horses we took. All but one mare would load. She never had a problem before. We tried to load her for about 2 hrs. Tried working her then leading, sweet feed in a bucket, rope on rump. Nothing. The stable across the street let her stay there for the night. We went out the next morning to try again and not luck. So my girlfriend started to ride her home. (about 20 mile trip) We would cirlce with the trailer every couple miles to see if we could get her to load. No luck. About half way through the trip home and a good 4 mile run she load.
    After that day she NEVER gave us any more problems loading.
  3. Cara

    Cara Songster

    Aug 30, 2007
    I think my husband did something similar to my mare one day. When we first got her she was hesitant to load when leaving, but fine coming home. One day she decided she wouldn't load to come back, so he left her in the pens and went back for her after lunch. She'd soon changed her mind after everyone had gone!
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  4. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Songster

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    I had the worst possible horse for trailering EVER. He was wide, Haflinger X Belgian and he couldn't see how he'd fit in the trailer so he'd never go in.

    We tried blind folding him, but it made it worse..

    In the end we had someone open the front side door to let light in, had that person hold a bucket of grain, then two people would hold a lunge line around his butt and pull him on.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Some good ideas here.

    The main cautions and suggestions I'd offer (some of which have been floated in previous posts) are):

    - don't mess with the horse and trailer unless the trailer is hitched to the truck.

    - if you have a GUARANTEED GOOD-LOADING horse, it is very useful to hold, pen or (safely) tie the pupil nearby to watch the good-loading horse go on and off a number of times, including watching him/her being given a treat once fully loaded in the trailer. Do not do this if there is the slightest question about whether the demonstration horse will sail right on -- you don't want to be demonstrating hesitation or misbehavior! [​IMG]

    - work on getting the horse very, very good at going forward and backward on cue *on the ground* first, then "happen to find yourself" doing it into the trailer.

    - don't try to go all the way in, in one go - stop partway, with YOU being the one who says stop, and back the horse calmly back out on YOUR say-so. If the horse stops on its own, DO NOT BACK OUT at that point -- ask for, and obtain, at least one more step forwards before asking him to stop and reverse.

    - I am not a big one for using treats to lure a horse into a trailer, unless you've got an essential vet clinic appointment twenty minutes ago and just *have* to get him loaded. All too many horses figure out how to 'work the system' and score treats without ever actually fully loading. OTOH I am a big supporter of waiting til the horse is loaded and then picking up a small bucket with something tasty in the bottom and hangnig it for the horse to enjoy.

    - neither rush nor delay snapping the butt bar or butt chain. Try to do it too fast, like *as* the horse is stepping forward the final bit of the way, and they often get spooked and come rushing back out, which is not only unproductive but apt to result in injuries (not the least to whomever was trying to hook the butt bar!). OTOH leaving a horse in the trailer *without* the butt bar done up is just asking for him to ooze backwards to the end of the leadrope and either break loose or panic.

    - once the butt bar is attached, close the doors/ramp right away, again to remove potential for excitement and vet bills and emergency room visits.

    That said, you can also get horses into trailers on a fairly regular basis by chivvying them in with brooms or leadropes or pool noodles or whatever, or by linking hands behind the rump and physically PUTTING the horse in. The thing is, even if you have fairly good natural-born tact for these methods -- some do, many don't -- they still have more of a likelihood of "fireworks" and a bad experience for the horse. So if you have time -- and it sounds like you do -- I think it is well, well worth approaching it the way you are doing, as a training issue so the horse *learns* what to do and do it reliably.

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. PeepsInc

    PeepsInc Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    NY Tri State region
    (Never use food against an animal)I gave an untouchable stallion to a lady that lived about 2 hours away. She brought a horse whisperer with her. His name is Billy Smith. He used the 16x16 foot barn as a round pen. He uses the rope to control the horses emotions. (This only works if you know how to read a horses posture) First throwing the rope behind the horse to make him stand unoffensive with hocks tucked. Then tossing the rope in front to make him stop. Once the horse respected that he couldn't out run the rope,turn your back to the horse. That's how you let the horse know it's done the rite thing.(by leaving it alone for a moment) In short he made that horse want to be with him, & do what he wanted by ignoring it. Every time the horse did the rite thing, relax & give it a brake. No steady pulling or being forceful. A horse is a heard animal that really wants to be with you,but it needs the respect another horse would show it. If you get the horse to the trailer wrap the rope under one foot at a time & lift it gently & place it in the trailer. Work with our horse with out making it panic, go slow. Trust is key. There are classes that are given as to how to better train your horse. Remember every animal is different!
  7. dixygirl

    dixygirl Songster

    May 14, 2008
    you could blindfold them to lead them in and then give them a bucket of feed immediately to eat inside. Then take them out. Repeat daily as necessary.
  8. CountryMom

    CountryMom Songster

    Jun 21, 2008
    South Texas
    I am cringing at this talk of blindfolding a horse. Ever seen a horse panic in a trailer??? I have more than once but from one in particular that was forced in and when she decided she wanted out she not only went back fast, but hit the divider and the motion backwards forced her upward. Took off her face from her poll to half way down her nose. Big old flap of skin and all the bone showing. And she was wedged in the trailer with the divider bent. Not a place most humans can safely get a horse out without further damage to the horse or themselves. Took MONTHS for that mare to heal.

    Rule of thumb, never force a horse into a trailer or do anything that would panic the horse once in. Taking off a blindfold on a horse that doesn't realize where it is would set them in a panic.

    This is a training issue and something that needs to be learned and not forced. Just because you get the horse in the trailer once does not mean it is trained to load. I see that all the time in horse sale ads how they brag they can force the horse in the trailer, so won't have any issues loading.

    Continue to work on the lunging aspect and over a period of time and you will have a horse that knows how to load.
  9. Chicks_N_Horses

    Chicks_N_Horses Songster

    Mar 30, 2009
    South Alabama
    I personally find trailer training a foal is the best way to get them to be 'trailer happy'. If you take the mare (this is assuming she is trailer broken) and load her then her foal will follow just about every time. The foal sees mama doing it and then isn't scared...and my foals know basic gw cues to back and lead first before this is attempted because you are going to want to back your foal/horse back out of the trailer.

    Loading another horse that is already trailer broken in front of your newbie will help sometimes too. Or if you can load the other horse first and then the newbie will sometimes follow that one into the trailer. Horses seeing other horses doing something and nothing ate them up then makes the newbie horse not as afraid because they see the other horse doing it without problem.

    I am not a fan of using food and treats to lure a horse into doing what you want. I don't want my horses looking to get a treat or food everytime I ask something of them.

    I tend to use the way Patandchickens stated to load one. I actually have never had much issues with loading a horse at all. Maybe I have been lucky but I usually can get them to load without much trouble.

    You want to make sure you reward every single effort given by your horse the instant it makes even the slightest effort. Stop and let them relax a minute and pat them on the head and say good boy or whatever it is you say or do....If they give you the wrong answer then make it uncomfortable for them. Move their feet - do a couple circles or a gw excersise or two then immediatly try again and reward even the slightes attempt to load. You have to take baby steps. When the horse is half way in go ahead and say good job back them back out and let them relax a minute. Do this a couple times and then load all the way. Then back them back out of being loaded all the way a few times. And pat was right if they stop on their own - keep asking for them to give you another step. You don't want to reward what they want to want to reward what you want them doing.

    I am so not good with words or explaining things. I could show you 10 times better than I can think to say it....
  10. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks everyone for all the advice!

    I haven't been able to work with her since I started this post (although my dad and I have made attempts despite the terrible weather!)

    I still think I'm going to try the lunging thing and maybe mix it with a few of the other suggestions. She's really a good girl, so I'm hoping she'll realize what it is I want and do it. The harder part I think will be getting her use to the divider closing. Freaked out horses in a trailer are never a fun thing, so I want to avoid that as much as possible. However, she's real good about reading me as she sees me as leader. If I sigh like they do, you can see all her body just relax. She's not a spooky horse (although the previous owners still swear she spooks at things on the ground [​IMG])

    In other news, my dad brought the two year old filly up to the trailer to see how she would react around it. It wasn't connected to the truck, so he had no plans of actually loading her, but when he led her near the opening she wanted to hop right in! Hopefully that's a good sign! I have no idea what she'll do once she's in the trailer, so we'll have to be careful. She tends to spook at the strangest things and its usually a much bigger spook than any of my other horses. However, if we do decide to sell her, trailering should be no problem!

    Thanks again for all the advice!
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009

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