Wednesday, November 19, 2008

But, That Dark Box is Going to EAT ME!!!!!!!!!

I promise you it will NOT eat you!!!! Yeah try telling that to a horse! It's funny because one of the biggest issues I see in horses is trailering. It's enclosed, dark, and makes weird noises, and then it MOVES!!!

I've seen so many people try to force their horses in a trailer by way of lip chains, whips leaving welts, butt ropes, 4 grown ass men pulling on a horse's face with chains and and one behind it with a whip literally trying to drag the horse in. I've seen horse's with bloody faces, swollen eyes, broken teeth, welts, swollen legs... UGH!!! So how do you get a horse into a trailer???

Well, there are several HUMANE ways of training a horse to do it. First is going to be the most obvious. Your horse should trust you enough to walk, stop, back and turn whenever you do, therefore he should follow you right into the trailer right?? NOPE! Not always. The best I've found to get a horse used to a trailer are parking the trailer in the horse's pasture (if you can) with the doors open, for a few days and start feeding them near it, getting closer and closer to the trailer every time until you are feeding them out of the trailer. They'll balk at first, but eventually even the most stubborn horse will realize where the chow is and cave.

Another way that works is teaching the horse that it is more UNcomfortable to fight me then to just get in the trailer. Example; I work with this Haflinger mare who wanted nothing to do with the trailer even though she'd been in it before. So she would walk up to it just fine then stop and no amount of pulling was going to get her in(DUH!) So I would wrap the lead rope around one of the steel bars for leverage and so my hand wouldn't get torn to hell and I'd wait, then every time she took a step closer I'd take out the slack of the rope and tighten it up again. She could ONLY go forward and if she tried to go back she couldn't. I wouldn't let her and neither would my lead rope. So she would pull and stand there leaning all the way back on her halter (Thank god for strong halters) and finally she pop right back and take another step forward. She learned that it was way more comfortable to just step up then to lean back. I had no chain on her, no butt rope no whips no nothing. I merely was just using her own weight against her. It only took about 15 minutes and she finally hopped in the trailer where she was greeted with cookies, carrots and A LOT of praise!!

I've even had to create little barricades and actually run horses up into trailers, which I hate, but *sigh* it does work. Giving them nowhere to go but in. I've had to do it on a colt and filly that weren't even halter broke, yet the owner really wanted them in training! UGH!

I'm not opposed to using a butt rope for encouragement if it is used properly! It makes a nice little barricade and bum pusher upper for the horse without me physically being behind it. Whips are the same way for a little tap. TAP! Just to remind the horse to move forward. Not hitting, beating or any of that crap, just a little tap to say hey I'm back here please go forward. If your horse won't you're going to have to go back to some basics.

A Trailer ride should not be some big traumatic experience for you or your horse! Never tie a horse to the inside of a trailer with a chain (which I've seen) keep the crowding down to a minimum! The less people you can get away with the better! Lots of goodies, treats, fresh hay and a clean floor will make the trailering experience much more appealing too!! No beating, no blood, and no pain or you are going to get a horse that will never set foot anywhere NEAR a trailer! And always remember the rules of Murphy's Law, the day you're running late your horse will decide that's the day he doesn't want to get in the trailer! LOL!!


2toads2luv said...

Dude, that top photo makes me just CRINGE!! I saw a guy (no surprise) driving down the freeway with all three horses heads out the window. They appeared to be enjoying the ride, but shit, wouldn't you feel bad if the worst case scenario happened and your horse's head ended up getting ripped off?

And you're so right, the one day I was WAY late, and alone, I could NOT get a horse into the trailer. I had to resort to running a lunge line through the front of the trailer, barracade on one side, me on the other, and lunge whip (whip part coiled around the stiff part of the whip) to the ankles. Neither of us were having any fun.

The next time was a 2 hour session, slow, treats, 1 step forward and 2 back, till he was self loading. And never a problem since.

Where are you on tying, bedding, and using dividers if you only have one horse?

twhlady said...

I had the great fight on my hands the day I went to pick up my two thoroughbred mares. BB took one look at the trailer(mind you she is an OTTB, been trailered many times to and from the track)balked and had to be encouraged by my stepdad (prior thoroughbred experience) and the stable manager.
A gentle tap with a whip and a pull from in the trailer and she finally went in.

twhlady said...

After the incident with BB, Passion just calm as could be walked in turned around and settled for the ride. I frequently stopped to check on the girls as I had never trailered horses before. They rode well and unloaded fine. Overall I didn't have any problems transporting.

Trainer X said...

I'm a naughty trainer! :* If I only have one horse sometimes I don't tie them up. Depending on the horse I might use the dividers and I might not. More often I do use them, but if it's a horse I've had to "run" into a trailer then hell with it. I'm slamming the door shut! LOL!! As long as the horse trailer is semi clean, meaning the horse won't slip on poop or urine, then I'm not too concerned about shavings.

Also in regards to tying, there are a lot of people who believe that horses prefer not to be tied and that actually hold their balance better when not tied up. I tend to agree. Then there are some horses that will be fine in a trailer, but if you tie them in it they freak! So to me it's case by case. But usually, no I don't tie.

Trainer X said...

Sometimes it really does help if you have a horse afraid of the trailer to put a bomb-proof more experienced horse in first. Like giving your nervous horse a security blanket for the first few rides.

2toads2luv said...

I never tie, unless I have an asshat trying to reach a head under the divider. Gives them a chance to move a little freer, especially at stops.

Dividers... If I have one horse, short distance (30 miles or so) and know they're ok w/o, I say screw it. More than one horse, always, and also on long trips.

And I've had several horses that wouldn't pee on long trips if the mats were bare, so, again, on long trips, I throw shavings in.

I was just curious, everyone has the "right" way. I'm not that anal, I just want everyone to arrive safe and not worn out.

And I rarely use shipping boots. More like never. I know, I'm a bad mom.

Trainer X said...

LMAO!! Me too, I rarely go "By the book" *sigh* slap me on the wrist!

Raven said...

That last bit is so true isn't it.
Once I find a float that will fit my boy in it, we're going to be doing LOTS of practice.

Amanda Nicole said...

Another option rather than wrapping the lead rope through something is to give them two choices: Go forward or BACK BACK BACK and WORK. This worked with my gelding. They eventually figure out that those steps forward are so much more pleasant than refusing or stepping back.
And I agree, especially if it's the first time in a new trailer (because only MY dark box is to be trusted, all others are suspicios!) Light taps with a whip or lead are ok but I find good training time works the best. Nothing worse than a horse who doesn't load willingly!!

Trainer X said...

Amanda Nicole~~ Very good ideas!!!

OldMorgans said...

And then there was the fellow I used to know who pretty much never touched his horses but when he had to move them would use a long rope to their halter, run it thru the front of the trailer & tied the rope to his tractor & pull them into the trailer.
I never saw it happen; never wanted to see it.
I had a stock trailer & hauled w/the horses untied.

Amanda Nicole said...

Thanks ;)

GoLightly said...

In my day, I could load anything.
I was often called in, just to load the horse. The attitude is very similar to Cesar Milan's calm assertive technique.

I worked for a horse transport company for a time. I was the master loader.
A calm attitude, matter of fact expectation of obedience, and the perfectly timed slap/tap are crucial.

hey TX
My issues are gone:)
Where the hell did they go?

Serendipity said...

Mine is an oddball about trailering.

We have a step-up, and when I try to lead him into it he'll walk forward until his knees knock the edge and then stand there looking forlorn. One of us actually has to pick up a foreleg and set it down inside, then he climbs in without a problem.

twhlady said...

I actually found the story for that top picture. It seems everyone who was there thinks a bee or something may have stung the horse, as he has never had any problems trailering before this incident. He was seven and was being transported from one farm to another. He came out after being sedated and pulled free from the outside. He only had minor scrapes and bruising. A vet was on hand for the extrication.

twhlady said...

Here is the link to the story...

Trainer X said...

That picture totally freaks me out!!! Poor horse!!

Trainer X said...

OMG! That poor terrified horse! Damn and being the owner/driver, ugh! Thank god people were available to help!

kestrel said...

Oh man, and just when you got it foolproof, along come a new and improved fool! Trailering is just so different for each horse. I use the back, go to work, come forward and get petted...but have had some determined "I just decided I will not today" types that needed a firm spank!
I usually tie. A friend of mine lost her horse to a brain injury rearing in the trailer. He'd been hauled loose for years, so who knows what happened.
I have 2 horses that really love the dividers, and of course one that hates them.
I've found the biggest thing is to get in the trailer myself and have someone pull me around. Lots of times the weatherstripping has worn away and it sound like machine gun fire in there!
Hot floorboard are a problem if your bearings are starting to fail. I also hose the trailer out with cold water on a hot day. Some thin skinned horses actually blister from the hot metal.

sterling said...

Amen to Murphey's law. Had a mare once who would pop right in until you needed her to. Once you needed to go, she would balk.

And, for goodnes sakes, close the windows if you are anywhere, or at least have bars over them if you must open the windows. I know for a fact that herses get their heads taken off, or try to get out and wind up stuck. The windows have screens and bars for a reason!