If you don't know what to do, have little time, or are just feeling stuck, try our task challenges as a way to at least do something with your horse! (It just may motivate you to do more.)
This week IS all about the trailer! What I mean is that I challenge you to evaluate your trailer loading savvy, fix what needs fixing, and play with your horse using the trailer. Use the inside and the outside. Loading in forwards, backwards, and any other combination of tasks you can think of and that are possible. Get a few friends together and share trailers so that your horse can have many experiences! Having your horse's comfort zone include the trailer is vital to your partnership. Below are some notes to help you.
Trailer Loading Horses Notes Based on a review of the Parelli, Trouble-free Trailer Loading DVD and segments of other Parelli DVD productions
• It is not about the trailer and trailer loading, it is about the relationship
• Love—Do it for him, not to him
• Language—7 games
• Leadership—Have a plan
• Take the time it takes—Don’t wait until you are late for the show, be able to play the 7 games and win before trying to load your horse, don’t ask a trying horse to try, don’t rush and slam the gate if the horse gets in, don’t be a direct line thinker, don’t think in an anthropomorphic mind-set, don’t constantly move your feet, the horse should be moving his feet, use communication to get your horse in the trailer not force
• The horse in the trailer, not the human
• Set up for success with the right tools, 12 ft and 22 ft ropes, rope halter, carrot stick, savvy string
• Pretest—before asking your horse in the trailer, squeeze game between you and the trailer, don’t forget the turn-face-wait
• Your horse needs to want to be in the trailer, mentally, emotionally, and physically
• Use approach and retreat, prey animal psychology
• Don’t knock the curiosity out of the horse
• Remember: Nose, Neck, maybe Feet
• Horses have bilateral vision
• Don’t micromanage your horse
• Horses are skeptics, cowards, claustrophobic and panic-a-holics by the nature of being a prey animal
• Keep your horse’s dignity in tact
• Don’t ask a trying horse to try, you want the horse to be curious and want to complete the task, answer to puzzle
• Lead it, life it, swing it, touch it (lead horse, lift stick, wiggle stick, throw it over his back (touch the horse—“Atta boy touch”)—create a pattern)
• Prepare to position to make the transition from outside the trailer to inside the trailer
• It is not about the trailer, it is about the relationship we will have for the rest of our lives, and this task prepares horses for all kinds of other activities in their lives.
• As gentle as you can as firm as necessary, never get mad
• Three parts to this: 1. trailer loading 2. Being calm in the trailer 3. Coming out of the trailer
• Horses are creatures of comfort, you can use discomfort as a motivator
• Two parts of the brain, prey animal side (right side) and partnership side (left side). You want your horse to be thinking left brained, you task them using the 7 games to get them to be there.
• If the horse loads, allow him to stay in there but don’t shut the gate! You are preparing him; you allow the desirable thing to be easy but the undesirable thing to be uncomfortable.
• Match your horse’s energy
• Practice this with your horse, work up to higher levels of
• Be happy with the try
• Momentum comes from impulsion is emotional collection and impulsion comes from respect
• Short range (is not using the string)
• Why no voice cues? Be silent and be savvy, horses are not voice responsive animals as much as logic or savvy responsive, horses respond to movement (alpha horses use movement to get other horses to yield to their wishes)
• Horses usually the 3rd -5th time, they get worse and worse loading, so get good at home, practice over and over, at home then, you will be prepared when out and about
• He who moves their feet the most, looses (although you really want a win-win situation for both the horse and human)
• Most of the time, if you stand still, you will do the right thing
• Strategy is like being a fisherman (stay on the bank, stay in the boat)
• You want consistency and certainly, you want him to load for life, this is about the relationship, love, language, leadership
• Cause your idea to become your horse’s idea (it is like a debate)
• Know the nature of the horse
• Each horse is different, know their horsenality, read them, respect them,
• Principles before goals
• Pat and Linda have taken anywhere from 3 minutes to 3 hours to load a horse, it just depends, don’t get frustrated, be interested
• Liberty and horse behavior has a long trailer loading segment that is a must see (3 hours long)
Should a horse be tied in a trailer?
Usually yes, I tie a horse in a trailer to keep him out of trouble. But this is not to be a trap for your horse. Think about why, how. Stay away from straps to tie the horse (it is a sink or swim). Adjust to fit the situation. Don’t trap or sneak your horse in the trailer. Horses loose in stock trailer is ok, the trailer has to be safe and fit for this purpose.
What about a horse that rushes out of the trailer?
You probably have a big problem because the horse was forced in, coaxed in, etc. at some point. When they get in the trailer, they start to panic and when they have a chance to get out, they rush. The solution is the yo-yo game.
Which is better a trailer with or without a ramp?
The real answer is do you have the savvy it takes to get your horse to use the left side (partnership side) of his brain to load in anything. It is not about the trailer. However, a ramp is more difficult but it does offer a chance to do many fun things (like backwards loading).
Is a slant load better than a straight load?
Slant loads are popular for several reasons; easier for humans to deal with in getting around, etc, horses have less trouble in a slant load traveling because 60% of their weight in on the forehand. Dividers should not be solid to the ground, but a mat that would swing a bit would be better or don’t have dividers that go to the ground. Stock trailers and slant loads help horses and make it a bit more natural.
Have you ever used a “butt-rope” to get a horse into a trailer?
Usually not, but I would use it in preparation for a butt bar. Horses can panic when the butt-bar in place so this rope could help with this preparation. Using the butt-rope method to get a horse in a trailer, I stay away from that.
What can you do for horses that “scramble” while traveling?
If you horse scrambles, he is claustrophobic, he feels unbalanced and like he has no room. Prepare your horse, in and out; until it is his idea, horses scramble more if facing forward instead of slant or backwards. Solution, get an open stock trailer, use it like a mobile stall and slowly drive (3mph) around (after he loads—loose) to help him learn to get balance. This is about finding a way to get your horse out of this pattern.
How do you stop a horse from pawing when tied in a trailer?
This is not a trailer loading question but is something asked a lot. Most horses are not used to being tied. Best exercise is to have a patience post. The concept is tie a horse from above (high and strong) and let them figure out being tied for 3-4 hours a day—teaches a horse mental and emotional fitness of being tied.
What can I do for horses that have had trauma in a trailer?
Horses are adaptable and can change their patterns. Horses tend to think differently than people, think about safety, comfort, and play. Horses that are bad loaders and have had a bad experience, through association are phobic about the trailer. Have the confidence to study the materials, follow the principles, and practice and play with your horse, you can improve his loading skills and confidence.
How often do you stop and rest your horses while traveling?
If the trailer has good ventilation, suspension, and on good roads, stop the trailer and just let it be motionless, don’t unload (unless you are going a very long way). Give them water and molasses mixture for hydration, feed hay, let them relax. There are directories of places you can stay overnight at too.
Why shouldn’t I lead my horse into the trailer?
Most people think like people and not like horses. It seems logical to lead him in there. There are many dangers and safety elements. There are many ways to get hurt. Horses being forward-aholics can lead to disaster. You in the trailer is like a mountain lion in a cave asking for trust. They are prey animals.
*Weekly tasks are based on many different Parelli resources I have studied as well as my own ideas on how to proceed through my journey. Some of the content was copied to make it easier to put up in a timely manner. Please consult http://www.parelli.com for any official instructions or materials.
Michelle Young is a horse lover, animal advocate, Reiki Master Teacher, holistic healer, Parelli Savvy Club Gold Member and Level 3 Student, academic library director, professor, and more. Contact Michelle.
This blog was created to share my life-long journey with horses and holistic health. I write about horsemanship, healthy, holistic living, and just about anything else that passes through my mind. Enjoy!
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