Anxious horse - trailer loading

Discussion in 'Natural Horsemanship' started by juliecwuk, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. Frances144

    Frances144 Remember me?

  2. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    Fab thanks.

    I feel this poor horse has real deep issues, I never realised just how bad until yesterday. We knew her with prev owner but I suppose we didn't really know her issues until we have spend more groundwork with her...

    I have done as u have, left trailer open, floor covered in treats, unless I'm in trailer she's not interested and goes anywhere but trailer.

    Day6: partitions open
    I spent an hr with her mid afternoon with the trailer...unfortunately I realised how easily distracted she is and how extroverted she can get. Something happened on the car park about 100m away and that set her off galloping around, had to wait until she felt she could focus, she came to trailer and went completely within herself, I didn't ask anything of her until she had 'come back to me' - then some fantastic stuff, she went all the way through the trailer (not asked for but she was eating by haynet and then went out the front - old owner had warned me she launches out, so luckily I was out of the way and she literally jumped from top to grass! Unfortunately she spooked herself and then we back tracked. Ended with 8 seconds in trailer and all 4 feet in but not as far as previous. After riding then the girl who owns her fed her properly on the trailer, unfortunately I have noticed that the girl isn't experienced enough to read what buttons to press, but she's insistent that she must do it as she wants a bond with the horse, I am speaking to her mum this weekend about it as I feel she needs to let me just do it as the girls own issues are in the way and the horse is reading it.

    Day 7: front partition in travel position but no front bar across.

    Yesterday when I arrived something had set her off and she had been flat out galloping around paddock for half hr. when I got there she stopped. I had been thinking she had settled more but now I realise she hasn't as just a tiny change makes her lose the plot. I waited for her to calm and settle and dry off and then fed her on trailer.

    When i had her attention I was able to ask from the side of the rear ramp, keep touching her bum in preparation for the rear bar - absolutely brilliant! She wasnt settled when on today but did hit 10 seconds.

    Main problem I see now is getting her head off the floor, I am going to use a hook over bucket now to hook over front bar, try to encourage her to have her head off the floor.

    In anxious as to how long the YO will allow me to park trailer in field...I feel we need it there for months...that's not gonna be allowed :(
  3. diplomaticandtactful

    diplomaticandtactful Well-Known Member

    such a shame, isn't it, the horse to be so badly scarred by previous treatment. hopefully she will keep improving but it's going to take time isn't it.
  4. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    Day 8: partitions in travel position and breast bar in place.

    Wow what an improvement today. The owner only had time to feed her up at the stables and leave so after she left I did some work with the trailer (with her mums permission & only 30 mins). Thought I'd have a bit more trouble since she wasn't hungry...but completely opposite tbh. I closed the front partition and put the breast bar in place. Hooked a bucket on the Breast bar with some treats in, tied the haynet above the breast bar. I stood on rear ramp next to her and pointed into trailer, I was really gentle and calm, she matched, she went in after about 5 mins of step forward/back. She did have mini 'close downs' when she went within herself and couldn't move her feet, when they happened I asked nothing and then as soon as she came round she took herself fully in to investigate the bucket. Over a few times in I gradually moved the rear partition nearer her and she didn't freak :) by the end the partitions were in travel position, she was fully in and I was able to fully stroke her bum in preparation for the rear bar :)

    Shame I don't own her actually, she's a cracking sensitive interesting horse! I'm really sussing her out, shame her owner only see's me as a threat to their relationship rather than me helping!
  5. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

    I have found that size does matter!!!!!! Friend had a Ifor 505. Tobes is only 15.3 but her Ifor was just too small for him. He is quite chunky and seems to 'grow' when stressed. The 505 was a nightmare for him. He used to 'launch himself' off the front ramp and I was fairly scared he would end up on top of me if allowed to continue. I know that Ifor say the 505 is fine for horses of 16.2 .............. but not in my experience.

    We borrowed a 510 and OH has subsequently bought me a 510. And we have absolutely no problems with that at all. He walks off the front ramp a treat and I don't have to fling myself out the way.

    Don't know but is this one a chunky monkey? Tobes seemed to fill the 505 even without the partition in.
  6. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    awww thats a good thought - however no, she is a fine 15.1 and i have a big 510 lol! however the old owner had a perhaps she cant quite figure it out!

    day 9: partitions in travel mode

    horse walked straight on fully in - literally no hesitation. Owner was standing on rear ramp and pointing the way in, that was literally it! Whilst horse in trailer owner can rub her bum with the rear 'rope' (starting with the rubber line for now instead of the bar). She stayed in for 19 seconds today!!!!

    im hoping to get some video clips to upload to show you!
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  7. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

  8. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

    What a turn around!!!!

    You should keep her - she is made for you!
  9. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    Awww she's honestly fab!

    Day 10 (partitions in travel mode permanently now):

    Today was a bit tougher as there was stuff happening up at the stables, its harder to get her to focus on the trailer and overcoming her fear when there's other stuff going on! Anyhow, with patience she can focus again, usually only takes a few minutes to get her to focus again and then she walks straight in!

    Today we clipped a rope across the back, to imitate the bar, she did back out through it and snap it...BUT more importantly she went back in only a few mins later - that really is impressive, thinking she would freak out and not go back in whoop!!
  10. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    Trying to debate the next step...I want to out the rear bar on and clipped in but I don't feel she had learnt that pressure behind cannot be pushed through...not sure whether we should wait until she doesn't want to back out, however trailer prob can only stay for another few days... Don't want her to panic and trash my trailer and her confidence, although I know from experience that usually when she's in she doesn't thrash around she just dances....but I'm a bit nervous of the next step!
  11. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

    Well ............ I fed Tobes apples whilst friend did up the bottom bar. Piggy so busy stuffing his face with apples he didn't bother.

    Having said that, Tobes never was scared of the trailer, he just preferred to much about on the ramp loungeing around and taking the mick - except for when I had bought him and the dealer put a chifney on him to get him up as he kept rearing:hot:

    I think someone keeping them happy up the front with feed, put the bar up, stay like that for a few minutes and take it down works quite well.
  12. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    gosh updates:

    days 11-12:

    much the same as before, but quicker loading initially and staying in for longer.

    day 13:

    today i had to take trailer out of field :( so whilst moving it i parked it on car park this morning - so it was in a totally different place, cars parked all around, skip with flappy bags behind, people coming/going, people riding out and in the school and across the fields behind us. I figured i would just see how she copes and what she would offer (thinking i would settle for a foot on the ramp) - well after a poo, some sniffing, some snorting, some pretending to be distracted (all the time i just stood there and pretended it wasnt anything exciting!), she entered the trailer right in to eat her breakfast! and then continued to go in/out to eat her feed for another 15 mins. Not one spook/rear/refusal etc etc ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! here is a little video i took on my phone - this i think was her 2nd or 3rd entry into the trailer, i opened the partition so i could video her, the rest of the time partition was in travel position and i was rubbing her bum in preparation for the bar:

    she will have to have a couple of days without the trailer and i will bring it back on sunday to see how she feels about doing it again - i may try her with moet on there too as if we were going somewhere but unloading straight after they are loaded.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2012
  13. Jane&Ziggy

    Jane&Ziggy Learning together!

    FANTASTIC! You are an inspiration. Ziggy travels well but hates to load, you have motivated me to help him get over it this year!

    Oh and your little mare is just beautiful !
  14. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    Day 14:

    So we hadnt been able to use trailer for 2 days. I brought it over to yard and parked in car park (although different place than the other day). We loaded Moet on, she was super, just stood there calmly eating the haynet for about an hour!

    Only took about 5-10 mins for the first load right into the breast bar :) she was a bit more settled with another horse in there. But then she managed to catch her leg on something and then refused to go back on. So we had about 4/5 fully loading in until she mastered the art of planting her feet on the ramp.

    This was new to us as we have been used to her fidgeting, rearing (although she hasnt reared at all since moving her to this yard), backing up etc...but not feet planting. We waited it out and it didnt improve - she just fell asleep. So we had to encourage movement. We were able to use a fair amount of 'encouragement' which was actually nice as it was 'controlled' and her reactions were 'controlled' also. (no exploding/rearing just a step forward and pressure was released etc)

    I did discover that i feel she respects me more than her owner who seems to lack 'aim' and 'purpose'. The planting was all with her owner not me....When i took over again it was only a few mins until she was back going in. I have decided this is the way it has to be from now on...mind you in all honesty i am not keen on putting that back bar up as i dont want to get kicked! (not that she has ever but you know what i mean!)

    We havent had her settled enough in the trailer yet to attempt the back bar, but we intend on bringing the trailer over twice a week and seeing how things improve!

    All in all really good! ended with her eating off the floor and all 4 feet in.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  15. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member


    well there was a gap of about 10 days since the last time - i brought the trailer over, loaded Moet onto it and then we practised loading D onto it - she was pretty good tbh. Went all 4 feet in but not fully settled, but nowhere near as bad as i thought she would have been! still not able to put rear bar up but ended on a very happy note :)

    Anyway, fast forward about 5 weeks! I havent been able to do anything in the mean time as she had an incident in the stable and tried jumping out and got her leg caught, she was very very sore and i felt not in the right frame of mind for more training.

    On friday i brought the trailer over, within 6 minutes she was fully in the trailer eating food, she was backing out and re-entering calmly, would only stay in about 20 seconds but that was REALLY good! After she finished her food she tends to then not see the point in going in (there is a haynet in there though), so i decided to continue after she had finished, she had a bit of a strop for about 10 mins, but if i persisted to keep her out of my space and point into the trailer she did go in another few times which i ended on.

    Yesterday i tried again - this time she walked straight into the trailer! she ate her tea and then i continued afterwards without any food, she needs to be accepting that i am in control and it is not all about the food, and tbh she was great, a little hissy for about 5-7 mins but then straight all the way in, a sniff around, nibble of hay then i backed her out. BUT more importantly, when she was on there yesterday we had a mini breakthrough! normally she takes a few mouthfuls and then back out, but 3 times yesterday she ate then paused, looked out door, ate some more then backed out!!!! now that might not seem that exciting for most of you, but for us it was a clear sign that she is starting to settle in there! she is starting to no longer think 'back out' as the first thing after she has some mouthfuls, she was calm enough to look outside, then return to a few more mouthfuls then back out!!!! VERY PLEASED!

    will try to do this everytime i have the trailer over - which nowadays is once a week :)
  16. bitsnpieces

    bitsnpieces Active Member

    Great to hear that she's been making progress!!! It could all be tied in with her separation anxiety so slow and regular practice like you're doing will really help. Go you!
  17. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member


    Today we loaded Mr safe Major on to have a snooze and eat hay, then we asked D in - she walked straight in!

    Her owner was there today so she stood up by the nets and handed her hay.

    We had stale mate after prob about 15 mins of on/off due to a ride on lawn mower in the garden behind the trailer, but I took what she felt she could offer whilst he was there then when he left we resumed and she went fully in.

    She was much calmer today, she went in and stayed in for what seemed like ages, with me rubbing her bum, liftin her tail, lifting back bar, making banging with back the time felt right to lock bar in.

    First time she didn't reverse so I undid bar and backed her out. Second time she reversed and panicked - BUT after realising bar wouldn't give she moved forward and did her usual stress dance, we undid bar and backed her off....she went straight back in though, albeit a bit unconfident. Continued with her in/out and ended when she was calm again.

    Now BIG things to take from today -

    1. We no longer need a food bucket at the front
    2. She has learnt to move forward when pressure behind/when I ask her forward
    3. She has learnt that she doesn't get trapped for a long time

    Good old major didn't react at all when she panicked about the bar not letting her back out! He just turned his head like 'what on earth is the matter with you'! Lol!

    The owner was REALLY pleased cos she hasn't seen her being loaded for ages!!
  18. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

    I still say that horse would be better off with you!
  19. juliecwuk

    juliecwuk Well-Known Member

    Teehee I think I would be nervous riding her, she is rather forward going! I'm used to pushing along not stopping!
  20. sjp1

    sjp1 Well-Known Member

    Easier on the legs though! And I am finding myself, it is all mindset as to how they behave with you anyway!

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