Young Horse Education - Tara Learns Trailer Loading [Slideshow]
I had done several different preparational exercises with Tara for Trailer Loading. She mastered them all and I know she is well prepared to take the next step.
I asked Mathilde to come with Youshka to be the good example. I choose to let Tara learn by imitation, rather than just me explaining to her what to do. It will make things easier for Tara.
Trailer loading can be such a difficult topic. Even horses who have been loading well at first easily get difficult after a few trips if we don’t take the time to explain every part of it to them.
Today she will learn the first necessary skills for trouble-free trailer loading. How to turn and place herself in our horse truck, how to walk down the ramp step by step and how to back out of the trailer with confidence. Often we forget to teach these little things who might cause worry to the horse.
Discover in the pictures how Tara learn the skill of trailer loading!
Youshka shows that going in that dark box on wheels is not dangerous. Tara is curious right away. What is Youshka doing?
I like to set things up in a way that the horse will do what I want all by himself. Then I don’t have to apply any pressure and the horse will not only think that it was his own idea but also feel super smart when I praise. It took Tara 30 seconds to put her feet on the ramp and start exploring things.
As this was so easy, I checked if she would follow me inside. She did immediately and stood next to me as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
What´s there? It is a great thing when they start to explore everything. Curiosity is the mother of confidence.
Even when going out she didn’t rush. It’s ok when they need to rush the first time, maybe they got spooked by a noise, or they don’t know how to place their feet, or they are afraid of the noise of the ramp. With repetition it will solve itself.
I ask her to load again, I want to show her how to position herself inside.
I lead her nose over the front bar as she enters.
Then I ask her to position her hind quarters close to the wall while still guiding her nose over the front bar.
I wait for her to stand still in this position, a few seconds are enough at first, then I allow her to turn and look out.
As she was doing it so perfectly without any signs of feeling claustrophobic, I decided to show her the closing separation wall. I position her as before, reach for the door and bring it towards her as if I want to close it. I open it again and repeat about 3 - 4 times, with each time she is less worried.
This time, when I allowed her to turn again, she immediately wanted to walk out - not very forcefully though. This tells me that the closing door was a bit scary for her. She will get more confident with it by repeating it.
I ask her to put the foot back, wait and relax before walking out. It´s simply a good habit I like that my horses have - not rush out of the trailer. What a good girl she is!
Horses tend to load way easier into Truck than Trailers. Fortunately we have both, so I can also show the trailer to Tara. Youshka is showing how it is done. First we only walk through. This trailer has a convenient front opening, which allows me to set it up even easier for Tara.
Tara went in without an issue, but the going out part got a bit speedy for the first time! No problem, that´s ok. If I would try to slow her down in that moment, I would make her feel even more claustrophobic and create a higher level of anxiety. I just let it happen and trust that with repetition she will gain confidence.
Tara is following me right away when I go for the second time - so the spook wasn’t that bad.
I make sure that I am out of her way when she exits the trailer. This time she is curious, stopping and checking everything before going down the ramp. That´s a great thing, I couldn’t wish for more.
Obviously she decided that it wasn’t that scary after all, walking down the ramp quietly.
I go to the next step, which is to ask her to load with the front ramp being closed.
Tara is following me really nicely and is standing relaxed right away.
I make sure that I don’t ask her to stay inside for too long, but ask her to go out before she wants to. Like this I will never give the horse the feeling that I want to trap it - which is nightmare number one for horses! I make sure she backs down the ramps slowly and straight - another good habit and skill they have to learn. I have met horses who didn’t want to load because they didn’t know how to back out.
In the end I would like her to load while I am standing outside. A handy skill in case I am alone to load my horses. But before I ask her to do that, I just see if she can load while I stand in the neighbour department.
No problem for Tara. She is just amazing!
Horses will eventually try to turn around once inside. And before they turn around, they turn their nose. So before I have a drama, I gently correct Tara and ask her to put the nose straight again. It is just a little detail, but big shit happens very fast and mostly because we didn’t pay attention to something like this.
When backing out, Tara shows me that she understood well how to stay straight and back out all the way. What a smart girl! And the time it took were 20 minutes!
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