Any tips for a reluctant loader?

(10 Posts)
dopeysheep Wed 13-Nov-13 14:48:20

Pony will load if he has a lunge line behind him to persuade him in. He travels fine once in.
Thing is I will be mostly loading him alone, so can't get the line behind him. We spent about an hour today with a bucket of food doing the "step forward, ooh nearly up the ramp, best step back' routine and he did get most of the way in before reversing!
I want to just have him load, eat some grub and unload until he is happy to go in but not sure the best way to do this alone?
Any tips?

Loshad Wed 13-Nov-13 21:52:14

Do lots of ground work away from the box/trailer so that you can accurately control his feet all the time. On a longer rope ( or short lunge line) encourage him to walk on a few steps ahead of you . Use a dually or similar halter ( very highly recommended). Feed him in the trailer, practise often.
My mare was a total non loader, spent a few weeks doing the above and transformed her. That was about 7 years ago, sine then her party trick at home and away is I take her to the ramp, put lead rope over her neck and she walks in calmly without a person leading her, leaving me to close the bar behind her grin

Lovesswimming Wed 13-Nov-13 23:16:40

What loshad said and the dually works well as long as the ground work is done as well smile good luck with it

TropicalHorse Thu 14-Nov-13 03:47:19

I used to have a gelding who loaded much more consistently if led from the offside!!?

Agree with the others here, lots of groundwork, get a consistent upwards transition from a tap-tap from a dressage whip, then go from there.
Also make sure whoever is doing the driving goes extra-slow so pony's confidence is not shaken by a scary trip once he's on!

LoveSewingBee Thu 14-Nov-13 19:15:24

With our race horses we just practiced and practiced.

I think it helps to make sure:
- that the trailer is as light as possible (so practice when there is good daylight), horses don't like walking into a dark hole. You may want to open the front but make sure he doesn't barges through and injures himself going down.
- a rubber mat on both loading platforms (front and back) helps to make sure hoofs don't get stuck near the hinges
- putting some bales on the sides of the loading platforms sometimes helps as well, possibly several meters in front, so you create a kind of lane going into the trailer
- if time permits, have a go on a daily basis until he goes without a problem and then try on a regular basis to keep up the good work
- obviously lots of rewards when he responds
- if he is very sensitive and doesn't like to bump against the sides of the trailer a soft blanket/rug may help.
- does he have an companion horse which does not mind the trailer? if so following that horse in may work.

I don't know any horse which cannot be taught, but some take a lot of patience.

LoveSewingBee Thu 14-Nov-13 19:21:14

And we also always did some natural horsemanship exercises before attempting loading a hesitant horse.

Eg making a horse run round in a circle you standing in the middle encouraging him to go round with a lunge (horse is loose). Then turn away from the horse and let him seek contact and walk to you (you look away, no eye contact). You walk away, horse starts following you. You stand still, horse is not allowed to put his nose past your body, then you push him back by his chest. You are the leader he has to follow and stay behind you without you having to push him back. Once he does this, clip on the lead rein and nonchalantly walk towards the trailer (you in front of the horse), don't hesitate. Be strong and confident as you are the leader and he will want to follow his leader. Be aware of your posture at all times, you need to make yourself big all the time as this shows the horse you are a good leader. Horses are very good at reading body language.

dopeysheep Thu 14-Nov-13 22:51:52

Thank you all for these great suggestions I will definitely get started on the groundwork and lots of practice.
He doesn't seem scared or particularly nervous of the trailer, just basically stops so the groundwork/ persuading him to follow me as a herd leader sounds perfect.
Loshad's self loading horse is now my goal!
Thanks all, will report back in a few weeks hopefully with good results.

ADishBestEatenCold Fri 15-Nov-13 23:06:23

Don't know how well I can describe this, but I'll have a go.

Park your box/trailer within inches of (and parallel to) a long straight surface. A wall for preference, but a solid straight fence would do, or even another box.
If you're loading to the right of your box, have the wall on the right, with your box positioned so that the right-hand 'run-out' area is now a wall (or solid fence, or another box).
(If you're loading to the left of your box, park facing the other way, so left-hand 'run-out' covered.)

If you have an assistant (assuming right-hand load) lead forward, with your horse's off-side close to the wall (or solid fence/other box). Go steadily and quietly and confidently, fair leading pressure _ good momentum, but don't pull or jerk. Assistant comes in to the left/rear of your horse with a dressage whip to tap-tap-guide, thus stopping the left-hand 'run-out', (in extreme cases assistant can use the bristle end of a brush, to encourage & guide - not hit).
Without an assistant (and in many ways I've found it easier without an assistant) you lead from the left with lead rope in your right hand (wall to your horses right) with dressage whip in your left hand holding slightly behind your left side to tap-tap-guide left/rear of your horse.

I don't know if I'm explaining this very well - it's harder to describe than I expected - but I have never had this fail, and have used it with several different animals & helped others use this too. It's always been quiet, calm and successful. Even with a two-year old coming 'off-the-field' (it's owner's euphemism for I-haven't-bothered-to-handle-it-enough)!

Also, I should add that it might sound a bit of a bind finding a suitable wall (or other), but I've always managed to find a suitable place with relative ease.

Good luck!

dopeysheep Tue 19-Nov-13 16:11:02

Update! Practiced today, finally found a bit of time. Managed to borrow a Parelli.halter and parked trailer alongside a hedge not as close as I would have liked but did give a good blocking wall as ADish suggested.
Then practiced on the ground, circles and some back steps - he got all four feet in the trailer hurrah!
He only stayed in long enough to eat a couple of mouthfuls of food then backed out. He did this twice, I let him back out on a loose rein as I didn't want him to feel trapped. But to get him all the way in was amazing, plus it only took 15/20 mins as opposed to over an hour of.fruitless coaxing the last time.
I am feeling so much more positive and am sure he will only improve from here on in until he loads and stands without reversing.
Thank you all so much for your advice it has been brilliant smile smile

Lovesswimming Tue 19-Nov-13 16:18:39

Well done! I did the same allowing him to walk out of the front after a couple of mouthfuls and after a few days I put the chest bar across (trailer) them shut the back after a week

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