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Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.comHorse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com   Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com  

Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at www.horsekeeping.com

December 6, 2008

Horse Refuses to Load

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Cherry,

I was recently given an OTTB [Off the Track Thoroughbred]. He has been off the track for at least 4 years, and has been retrained. He is calm, responsive, and sane everywhere except near a trailer. He has obviously been forced and abused into getting in. He isn't explosive and dangerous, he simply won't get in. To get him home, we had to result to tranquilizing him, and it still took 6 people to get him in. I will NEVER load a horse that way again.

I've spent hours sitting behind the trailer with him. I lead him around behind the trailer, and as soon as we turn to face it he stops and refuses to move an inch closer. I try not to pull at all, since that makes him back up. I've worked with him and rewarded him for every step forward. The farthest I've gotten him is right up to the trailer, but he just WON'T put his feet in. If I try tapping with a crop or even raise my voice, he just shuts off and won't do anything. Baiting him in doesn't work either.(and it doesn't for most horses) He just leans in. Since he feels confident enough to put his head in, I don't think he is completely terrified of the trailer.

I've reached a point where we're not making any progress, and I don't know what the next step should be. I hope to do some dressage and eventing with him, so it's very important that he loads. How can I get him past his bad trailering experiences?

Thank you very much for your time,
Hannah

 

How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry HillDear Hannah,

I know this is going to sound like a plug for my book "Trailering Your Horse" but that is why I wrote the book which has hundreds of photos and drawings in it.

Most of the training takes place away from the trailer. As you'll see if you read the book, you set up circumstances that mimic the various things about trailers that frighten a horse such as:

  • narrow spaces
  • spaces with limited head room
  • hollow sounding floor
  • stepping up
  • stepping down
  • and so on.

Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry HillAny horse that has loading issues needs a review of in-hand work. Refusing to walk forward shows there are underlying problems that need to be worked out and the obstacles will help in that regard. You may find that the horse refuses more than loading in a trailer.

When the horse has mastered all of the lessons, is no longer afraid of the components of the trailer, he will more likely be willing to enter freely.

The book is divided into three parts:

      1. The Truck and Trailer
      2. Training the Horse
      3. Traveling

If you know and understand all there is about trailers and trailering, you will project a sense of confidence to your horse. And if you use systematic lessons to overcome your horse's fears, you will help him become a willing partner when it comes time to load.

My advice does not include bribery or sitting behind the trailer for hours but rather is action oriented - lessons filled with progressive, positive goals that will get you working with your horse and get him listening to you and trusting your judgment.

One final thought. Without knowing your level of experience with trailer loading and trailering, there is the possibility that you could be adding to your horse's insecurity. A very accomplished rider can also be inexperienced when it comes to trailering. It is actually very common.

However, you can raise your level of experience as well as your horse's by going through the ground training exercises together that I suggest in the book.

Best of luck,Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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      2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

     

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