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Help! Horse will not back out of trailer!

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by GHFrider GHFrider 3 years, 8 months ago.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • Barrelracer612 Original Poster Barrelracer612
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 6

    I have a 6 year old very sweet paint gelding. He usually does everything willingly. He really has only been on and of the trailer a dozen times, so maybe he just needs more experience. The first couple times he was taken in a trailer he was in a stock trailer by himself. We turned him around so he could step out forwards, but he only backed out.
    I have a two horse straight load trailer that I use. He doesn’t immediately get onto the trailer (which is understandable) , so normally we use a butt rope to encourage him on. Our other horse is a little bigger so she goes on the left and he goes on the right and he comes off last. I have practiced getting him on then off with the other horse on and he backed off fine. When we took him to a show he would not back off so we had to take the divider off and turn him around. I would say it was the surroundings, but when we got home he wouldn’t get of either…. The next couple times we tried backing for around 10 min then turned him around. The reason I am worried about it is because he catapults him self off and last time he slammed his right side against the side of the trailer.
    -Emily
    P.S. I have practiced backing down a step he was fine also we have tried parking on a slight incline so the step is smaller.

    GHFrider GHFrider
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 32

    Ha! Been there! LOL No two horses are identical, but here’s what worked for me.

    I found that doing a lot of backing-up exercises on the ground helped, and so did clicker training. It helps a lot if he’s already familiar with the clicker-training concept so you can cut to the chase and just use that. I added a cue word and once he was solid with that we began working slowly on the trailer. Don’t put him all the way on at first. Give him an “on” cue and an “off” cue that are different. Cue him “on” and work him till he will put just his front feet on, then cue him “off” and let him back off. Click-treat on both. Continue that on the ground for a few efforts, then back to the trainer. More on, and back off. Even further on, and back off. Keep it up until going in and backing off are making him happy. This could take a while. I don’t recommend using a butt rope or one in front of the chest. Most horses tend to move into pressure, so his first reaction is going to be the opposite of what you want. I had much better results tickling his lower legs with a dressage whip until he was annoyed enough to move the leg I was tapping.

    Good luck! I know how scary and frustrating this problem can be. We actually opted not to take one horse off the trailer at a show because we were afraid he wouldn’t get off and, if he did, that he wouldn’t get back on.

    joannemfriedman.blogspot.com
    Horses In the Yard

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    Too true that no two are alike! Here’s my donation: Teach a “step DOWN” cue, for instance, a gentle but clear tug on his tail when he is about to step on the ramp or anything lower than where he is. Teach a second cue for when his foot is about to touch solid/flat ground again (I tap the top of the butt). Have someone or yourself keep a hand on his hip to help keep him straight on the ramp and secure that you are there (he probably can’t see the ramp down and behind but he CAN see you on the side). Good luck, be patient and consistent, and be safe : )

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    conservator
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 5

    Does your horse have to step down off the trailer or do you have a drop down ramp..There is always a simple reason for a horse’s reactions.Ask yourself,what is he trying to tell me..what is it he can’t figger out himself and needs help from me,the one he loves and trusts.Step downs scare horses for a number of reasons one is as the horse moves back the front of the trailer comes up,even if it is still attached to your truck.that imblaence really scares them..Or they might have really hurt themselves once that you were not awear of.Next time watch closely if they know you are trying to understand the problem,they will find a way to tell you

    Barrelracer612 Original Poster Barrelracer612
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 6

    Thank you everyone for all your help!
    I don’t have a ramp…….maybe that would help? Also he has navicular so maybe he isn’t sure he wants to put allot of weight on just two feet at a time? He jumps into the trailer and doesn’t really take his time to put front feet than back feet slowly and kind of squashes me. I am going to work on slowing him down , because he seems to be rushing everything.
    That was a good point GHFrider I found that he was just leaning into the pressure of the chest rope….he leans into me when I ask him to back and really only takes a step back then immediately forward again. Once he takes a step back, I reward him and release a little hoping I could just go step by step, but I found that really doesn’t work that well. I will try back with a command so he knows what I ask every time and I can also use a couple more tricks you mentioned. Maybe he just needs more time and repetition, so I will just spend more time trying to back him out.

    ForeverinBreeches
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Remember he can’t see the ground behind the trailer, so he’s probably worried that he will just step off into empty space. Try to park the trailer on a grassy hill so the step up and down is very small and easy. Keep playing with it over several days and give treats when he goes in and when he backs out. Keep doing it until he is calm and easy before asking for a bigger step up and down. I think it’s safer learning to back out because if they turn around and go out head first, they will usually make a big leap off. He will eventually trust you and trust that the ground is back there with more time and experience. Good Luck!

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    Foot/joint pain can have a significant influence in a horse’s willingness to load/unload. This might very well be a part of the issue for you, BR612. With that in mind, he might always have some reservations about or odd approaches to loading but play around with a few methods, listen to/watch his body language and go from there. Understanding why or why not a horse will or will not comply is a huge aid in resolving most issues.

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    GHFrider GHFrider
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 32

    You’ve gotten some great suggestions here! Let me add that many horses don’t like straight-load trailers because the inside is dark in the front. It might help if you can park so that the sun fills the inside and makes it look less Black Hole of Calcutta and more Good Morning, Sunshine. :) A battery-operated light aimed at the front inside might help, but watch for shadows he casts as he moves in. Being afraid of his own shadow isn’t something you want to teach him. As for ramp vs step-up, most of my horses (including the foundered mare) preferred the step up to the ramp. They didn’t like the sound their hooves made on the ramp, and one nearly knocked us all over jumping over the ramp to get in. They are definitely individuals!

    joannemfriedman.blogspot.com
    Horses In the Yard

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