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Horse Help Center

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Serious Trailer Problems

Hi, I hope you can help me.

I have an eight-year-old half Arab mare. I have owned her all her life. I sent her to a trainer to prepare her for competition. The problem I had was trailer loading. She always got in it just took a long time. I got her back from the trainer and the trainer delivered her to me in her large horse trailer and said she would load easily. I just bought a 2-horse slant load. She will get in the trailer fine. The problem is she won't let us close the divider. She flies back out of the trailer, but will willingly get in again. Also she does the same when the rear swing door is being closed, she comes flying out.

We have not tried to tie her, because we are afraid she will injure herself if tied and no door or divider are in place. As far as I know the trainer did not have an accident. I cannot contact the original owner due to her moving and not being able to locate her.

I recently hired a trainer to come to my place. The trainer tied a rope to the back of the trailer thinking the horse would stop and enable her to close the rear door. She was wrong. My horse hit the rear rope and started bucking in the trailer; the trainer had the rope permanent. My horse fell backwards sideways out of the trailer, tangled in the rope. Legs were in and out of the trailer with her on her side kicking trying to get free. The trainers finally cut the rope and drug my horse away from the trailer. I had no idea the trainer had put the rope permanently on the back of the trailer. I thought the rope was just laying across for my horse to think she was blocked.

Once my horse got up I immediately put her back in the trailer. I got in with her and brushed and grained her in there. My horse will still go willingly into the trailer even today.

This accident happened 5 days ago. How can I get this horse to relax and let me close the divider or the rear door before she flies out?

Thank you. Jodi

Hi Jodi,

This is a serious situation. What a shame the horse has had such a hard time. It only takes one bad incident to set up a pattern of "fear response" which is what is happening here. The trainer did not do you or the horse a favor by making the rope "fast". That one thing alone prompted your horse to feel it was caught and begin to struggle. Training a horse to relax and accept a trailer should never be done that way. You cannot force a situation without making the horse fearful. Your "trainer" was not as experienced as they represented themselves.

If it were my horse, I would retrain the horse for the trailer in order to get it thru this fear. This must be done patiently and without a time agenda or trying to Œmake it happen. Do you know what I mean by "sending" the horse into the trailer? You do not walk in ahead of the horse. Rather you point the horse into the trailer and it loads itself. Once it is in, you go in, secure the horse (or leave its head free), and then close the divider and the rear doors. This is not a difficult process. It may take some time though and requires patience, timing and skill. But it shouldn't take more than several days. There will be no abuse and no trying to force anything. It sounds like you could do this yourself.

It is too lengthy a process to give in one little email. However, I do offer telephone coaching for humans and their horses. The best thing is you get to learn the process yourself with feedback. It will help you to become a better horse person, trainer and will absolutely enhance your relationship with this horse and all horses you contact. Please consider the possibility.

I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your email. The best to you and your horse always.

Sincerely, Franklin

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