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 Trailer Loading Tips

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Posts : 81
Join date : 2010-01-03
Location : Upper Nine Mile River, NS

PostSubject: Trailer Loading Tips   Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:55 pm

Trailer Loading a Horse

Trailer loading has very little to do with the actual trailer. It has everything to do with who is in control, who is leading this group of two. If we break trailer loading down to its simplest form, it is nothing more than asking the horse to take a simple step forward. That is it, one small step forward. If I ask my horse to step
forward, he must step.
I was asked to attend the Pictou, NS County Fair this year, during our time there we worked with close to a dozen horses with varying issues. One of the main issues, trailer loading.
One afternoon I worked with an extreme trailer loading case. The mare was drugged by a vet and dragged half unconscious into the trailer and brought to the fair three days earlier. This was all done with the hope that I would be able to help with this issue of trailer loading. Drugged as she was, she still managed to damage the trailer. The good folks that own the horse were at the end of their rope, with no other options that they felt comfortable with.
She was an extreme trailer loading case. Brought with the hope that I would be able to help with this issue of trailering. Drugged as she was, she still managed to damage the trailer. Ideally, I would have gone to the horse, but time constraints did not allow that. The
good folks that own the horse were at the end of their rope, with no other options that they felt comfortable with.
I worked with this mare for a good hour. At one point during this process, an older gentleman walked up. He said to me, " Young man, go get me a rope, and I will put the horse on the trailer". At which point I responded, "Any fool can force an animal to do something. What we are doing is teaching this horse to want to go on the trailer". Wish I had a camera, the look on his face was priceless. In the end she walks on and off
like a lady.
What is Equine Leadership? Being the Leader of a horse is more
complicated than most think. We must earn the horse's trust and respect. We do this by moving the horses feet. We
decide when, where and how that horse moves, not most of the time, all the time. The horse must never walk into our personal space unless invited. It needs to know how to walk on a lead, like the lead is not even there. The horse should move out of our way when we
decide to walk through the spot where it stands, without ever touching the horse. Your horse needs to learn your intentions through your body language. We need to achieve all this without ever getting mad, frustrated, anxious or running around more than our horse.
When we work with a horse, we mustbe calm and calculating. Leaders are not the one who get flustered or angry. Leaders do not screech at the horse, or talk baby talk. The leader always has a plan, good or bad. They ask for simple things, assist in achieving these goals and have the fortitude to see it through.
Then how do we get a horse that is fearful of the trailer to want to walk on? We show them that it is not about the trailer. We walk to our trailer. Where the horse stops is where we start. We may be 10 feet from the trailer or 30 feet, it does not matter.
We take our new leadership skills, being calm and assertive, we start working the horse. We start putting the horse through its paces. Can I move the shoulders over, can I disengage the hind quarters. Can I get the horse to stop and stand still in the exact spot I want. Can I get the horse to relax. Can I get the horse to lunge around me.
All this is at the spot where the horse decided was close enough to the trailer. As we lunge the horse, you will notice every time the horse goes past the trailer, they will shy away from it. The more we work with the horse, the less the horse will worry about the trailer. Soon the horse is going past the trailer without a second thought. This is the time that we now move closer to the trailer and start all over again.
We will do this until this horse is as comfortable working at the door of the trailer as it was 20 feet away. This is the point that we
start looking at asking for the step onto the trailer.
What we are doing here is showing the horse we are in control. If we say it is safe, then it is safe, you will not be harmed. If you have to,
this can be done over a day or two for an hour long session. I usually have the horse on the trailer in under an hour. Worst case scenario, it has taken me two hours. What is important here, you do it so that both you and the horse get where you need to be to make
it all work.
During all this, your horse is wearing a rope halter on a lead that is roughly 12 to 14 feet long. Footing is as best as is within your means, last thing you want is for the horses foot to slide under the
At the door, we allow the horse to just stand there, until they can relax. At that time you move away from the trailer. Go and do something else for 2 or 3 minutes. Then come back and have
the horse stand calmly at the door again. If you cannot get the horse to relax at the door, do not waste your time trying to load.
Now that the horse can walk up to the trailer and stand relaxed at the door, we ask for our first step onto the trailer. Now it is important that you have a decent size trailer, that is bright inside. We do not want to be loading into a cave, or a trailer that is small for the horse to fit comfortably inside. This is called, setting ourselves up for success. If you only have a small two horse tag along, paint the inside white, and remove the centre divider.
Here we now stand at the trailer door, horse is calm, as we have not even tried to put them on the trailer. We step onto the trailer
using our long lead, trying to get the horse to be curious about the trailer. If they are sniffing and checking things out, you leave them alone. Once they lose interest, we ask them to step forward.
The way we do this, we hold pressure on the lead enough that their neck is stretched out a bit, but not enough that you give them the feeling you are going to drag them on.
Hold that pressure until the horse makes a forward step. I do not care if this step is half an inch, it has to be a forward movement. If the horse takes off backwards, you will be dragged out of the trailer. Maintain pressure as best you can, until they stop and step forward off the pressure. This is very important, along with that calm. This give and take can be awhile, you must remain calm and assertive. Do not be afraid to walk away and work the horse, get those feet moving. Soon the horse will realize, at the trailer is relaxation, away from the trailer is work.
Key thing here, when the horse gives you that forward movement you must release all pressure. Release of pressure is what teaches.
Soon the horse will take that golden step in, this is not the time to pull harder. You want to do nothing, let them stand there for a bit and then take them away from the trailer. Remember, it is not about the trailer, it is about doing what we ask, which is step forward.
Back and forth you will go, the horse will get better, then seem like it
is getting worse. Sticking with it, your horse will finally step on the trailer.
If you have any questions on this or any other matters, please feel free to contact us.

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Posts : 61
Join date : 2009-04-01
Location : Annapolis Valley

PostSubject: Re: Trailer Loading Tips   Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:13 pm

Awesome and so true!!!!
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Posts : 2030
Join date : 2009-03-31
Age : 54
Location : Clarkes Beach Newfoundland

PostSubject: Re: Trailer Loading Tips   Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:08 pm

Thanks for posting this. It's always amazing how many hours are spent in the saddle preparing for shows, etc - but no time is spent teaching the horse to load easily.
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Posts : 81
Join date : 2010-01-03
Location : Upper Nine Mile River, NS

PostSubject: Re: Trailer Loading Tips   Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:23 pm

Trailer loading should be exercised just like anything else we do with a horse.
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