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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Severe Trailering Issues

Mr. Franklin,

I have a very unique situation occurring with one of my horses. Sandy is a 20 year old Connemara pony who has traveled all over Europe and the US as a very successful show jumper and event pony. He has never truly loved loading, but he has always gone on with very little trouble if any at all. Recently he has begun balking a bit before readily going on the trailer. This past week he watched a new pony pull nasty tricks and not load. Following this he initially refused to load, but then hopped right in. He now will not even get close to the ramp. He is at my house and will not get back on the trailer to go home to his farm. He is a very special lesson horse, and we need him back at the riding school before winter really hits. I have tried everything imaginable to get him on the trailer. He has always reared when he has become nervous. Be it in the cross ties, or if he steps on a hose, when he gets upset, he rears terribly. This has led to him flipping himself over when I am merely asking him to get on the trailer. I am at a loss of things to do. I love this horse and do not wish to cause him any more stress, but he must get back to work. He is unhappy as he is in a pasture all alone whereas he is normally with his 9 buddies. I have a two horse side by side trailer that is extra tall and extra wide. I have brought his best buddy from the farm who he always trailers with to events, but this did not help him load at all. We had noticed that he preferrs loading 2nd when his friend is coming along, so we thought it might help if he had a friend. He showed no interest at all. Sadly I can't even get him to put a single hoof on the ramp. I have no idea why a seamingly happy loader would change so quickly.

Please help!
Thank you for your time,


Hello Meredith,

Your horse as well, as the "new pony" are afraid. They are not being bad, naughty or any such thing. It is fear pure and simple. Both are showing more extreme symptoms of fear (especially the rearing to the point of going over backwards). Your horse, and the pony, need to be retrained, and there is no quick fix. A lot of circles on the ground, 'driving', not pulling, the horse forward (perfect lungeing position). Set up poles on the ground and drive horse over them. Set up cones or poles making a narrow path and drive horse through them. Set up jump uprights and drive horse through them. Get a large, sturdy piece of wood (big enough for a horse to stand on), lay one end on a pole and drive the horse up and over it (slowly and thoughtfully, perhaps with uprights on either side of the wood). Do as many things like this as you can think of (all driving the horse forward with you by the left hip of the horse holding a long leadrope in your left hand and perhaps a small plastic on a wand in the right hand. Some of these excercises should be done one-step-at-a-time and then reward (removal of pressure). A lot of one-step-at-a-time and reward. I mean this literally. Most humans do not have the patience for this. But the horse will learn effectively through this consistent positive reinforcement process. Find me on YouTube or NickerNetwork and see a trailer loading demonstration.

Good Luck
Sincerely, Franklin

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