If you've been following our series until now, then you know to start by teaching your horse how to lead, walk forward on command, stop, and back. We're now to the point where you walk him to a trailer full of ...If you've been following our series until now, then you know to start by teaching your horse how to lead, walk forward on command, stop, and back. We're now to the point where you walk him to a trailer full of ...
If you’ve been following our series until now, then you know to start by teaching your horse how to lead, walk forward on command, stop, and back. We’re now to the point where you walk him to a trailer full of edible goodies and either he walks right in, or he doesn’t. If he refuses, here are a few scenarios and solutions.
If your horse stopped and put his head down to sniff, let him. Remember, horses like to know what they’re stepping on.
After about 30 seconds, use your signal for move forward (let’s say it’s a cluck) and ask your horse to continue walking in. DO NOT PULL ON HIS HEAD! All forward motion needs to come from behind, not from being yanked on and pulled in.
If your horse seems "stuck" and will not move forward when you cluck, then reach in and grab a handful of grain or a carrot, and hold it close enough he can smell it but can’t eat it without putting a foot forward.
Do not pull on his head! The next step is very important.
When your horse moves forward even the tiniest bit, even if it’s just to shift his weight forward, praise him and give him a treat.
Many people make the mistake of waiting until the horse actually gets in the trailer to reward him.
Even if it takes 2 hours! What will bring you success in all facets of horse training is to reward for little steps. Make your horse feel like he’s done something special if you ask him to get in and he puts one foot up and stops.It’s OK! He moved forward, just like you asked. Reward him!
If your horse took a step or rocked forward then you are well on your way. Just keep doing what you’re doing till the horse gets in. (Have lots of carrots before you start doing this!) Offer a treat, just out of reach, and as soon as your horse takes a step forward pet him and give him a bite.If you can get him in all the way like this, great!
If your horse gets in the trailer and then immediately backs out, let him! Pet him and tell him it’s OK. Get another treat and ask him to get in again. Eventually he will stop and stand there and eat all the treats if you don’t scare him by punishing him for getting out.
Did your horse walk up to the trailer and plant his feet?
Won’t even lean forward so you can reward him for it?
If your horse will not make even the slightest move so you can reward him, then most likely he needs to be motivated by discomfort. Not abuse, just discomfort.
You will need a trailer whip, which is a long whip with a short little popper on the end. Practice this next part before you try it so you know you can control your whip and put it where you want it.
If your horse is standing like a statue at the entrance to your trailer, turn him around in a large circle and come up to the trailer again. Hold the whip in your left hand and on the way there, move it behind your back and lightly touch him with it on his hocks.
Now he knows you have a whip and most of the time this will really motivate him. Walk to the trailer at your normal pace with the whip slightly behind you, slanted towards him.
If he walks right in then feed him treats, tell him he’s wonderful and ask him to stand quietly and eat for a few minutes.
If your horse is an old pro and wants to scam you, he may drift to the side so it looks like he couldn’t possibly get in without running into the door. Don’t pay any attention to this.Don’t try and straighten him out!Give him the command for move forward and if he doesn’t put a foot forward or rock his weight forward at least, then he is in trouble.
Put the lead rope in your left hand so you can turn toward him, and the whip in your right hand. Keep his head turned toward the open stall so he does not run over you. Hold the whip in your right hand and pop it in the air behind his hocks.
Ask, then pop if you get no result. Do NOT whip your horse. Just pop the whip close to his hocks.If he so much as leans forward into the trailer, IMMEDIATELY stop popping the whip and praise him.Praise him until he licks his lips.Then ask for a forward motion again. One small step at a time will get him all the way in.
It is your job to have good timing, to reward and stimulate at the proper moment. Make sure you praise and treat him for the smallest move forward into the trailer.
The only time you should actually touch him with the whip is if he moves backwards when you ask for forward motion. If that happens, then immediately pop him one time on the back of the hind leg to bring him forward. When he comes forward, stop, pet him for his forward motion, let him stand for a second as a reward, then ask him to move forward into the trailer again.
When using a whip you must realize that you can reward your horse simply by not popping the whip behind him. Don’t make him dull by continuously popping that whip or he will start to ignore you.
If you have the time and patience to continue doing this then eventually your horse will tire of it and get in the trailer.
In the last 10 years we have trailered over 250 horses and this method has never failed to work. It is a proven combination of pleasure vs. discomfort.If it is not working for you then you need to review the basics and make sure your horse knows the prequisites.
In the next and last article in this series, we will discuss how to teach your horse to stand and haul quietly, and back out calmly. Also we’ll show you how to easily teach your young horse to load and haul.
Copyright2001 Wendy Lumbert
Email me at: [email protected]
Want a better horse? Be a better rider.
Read Part 1: Trailering the Hard-to-Load Horse
Read Part II: Trailering the Hard-to-Load Horse – Part Two
Read Part IV: Trailering the Hard-to-Load Horse – Part Four