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Horses > Behavior & Training

Hi, I have a 10 yr old gelding and he won't stay in my 2 horse trailer everytime I try to step out he backs out of the trailer, so I tried to tie him in there while I fed him his dinner and that didn't work he went crazy, he will only stay in the trailer for a few seconds than dart out PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!


Trailering problems are the result of a lack of basic training, not intentionally, of course, but often due to a lack of understanding on the humans part. A ten year old horse has had a long time to learn or not learn how to respond to what the human is asking of them. No one needs to go to the woodshed but everyone (both horse and human) needs to take on some new responsibilities.

Trailer loading and hauling is probably the most unusual thing we ask of the horse on a regular basis. We are asking an extremely claustrophobic animal by nature to go into a small enclosed space with no visible means of escape. Not only that, but we are asking him to stay there while the human locks them in and then causes this enclosure to move while the horse has no sense of where its going, how fast, when will it slow down, turn, or stop. It makes no sense to the horse. We ask them to trust us, and then sometimes we force the horse into this contraption totally against its will. It shouldn`t be much of a surprise that some horses don`t show much interest in getting in or staying.

With that said go back to the beginning with your horse. Is the trailer big enough? I mean tall enough that it doesn`t hit its ears on the ceiling! I mean wide enough that when centered in its stall neither side of the horse touches the wall! I mean long enough that if you get the door closed the horse can stand comfortably without its tail hitting the butt bar or chain and it can take one step forward or backward before making contact! Too small a space is the most frequent cause of horses developing loading or hauling problems. Think of it as loading a human into the trunk of a car and then having someone close the lid. That is presumably how the horse feels in a tight trailer.

Use a tall stock trailer with lots of space. Start over from scratch and teach the horse to walk in and walk out until it is comfortable. Never tie a horse until the butt bar is up and the door closed and latched. Always untie them before you open either.

If your trailer is large enough as per the previous discussion, restart your loading program. Get your horse leading well from both sides. Practice loading it in and out of a boxstall door until you can "load" it one step at a time both into and out of the stall door. Then start with the trailer. Load only one foot. Stop and back off. Load the opposite front foot. Stop and back off. Then load both front feet. Stop, rub the horse's neck, back off and lead him away from the trailer. Return and do it again two or three or more times. Quit when the horse will rest comfortably with both front feet in the trailer. Come back another day and do it ALL over again. Then see if you can get him to step up a hind foot and leave it in the trailer. Do this over a period of time until the horse learns it is OK to step up into the trailer and stay. He didn`t learn to be a problem all at once your not going to correct it all at once.

Many clinicians could fix this in an hour,however, your most likely not that experianced or the problem wouldn`t be present. Take your time and teach the horse to trust you. It takes patience and persistance. If you have trouble get the help of a good professional that uses methods other than force to train horses. It will be worth both the time and money it will cost.

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