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Trail Loading and Tying (LONG)

Karen Standefer
I have been reading all the threads on trailer loading (I was the one out of 100 that said they like their slant load) and on tying at the trailer.  There is a common theme I see rising.  I liked Darolyn's suggestion about the John Lyons tapes.  One other thing he teaches you to teach your horse in the very beginning lessons (like lesson one or two in his book) is to gain the horse's trust by wrapping a rope around the saddle horn and consequently letting the horse get caught up in it in a round ring situation.  The lesson is for the horse to learn not to fight, but to trust you to get him out of whatever situation.  This is invaluable for LOTS of different situations including getting themselves in trouble at the trailer, getting into wire on the trail (definitely don't want a horse blowing up or freaking out if they get tangled in wire with you on their back).  A horse that learns this is way less likely to hurt themselves or cause trouble when trailer loading (although trailer loading is a different lesson, the basics of trusting you and standing quietly are the same).  

My opinion is that if you have a horse you feel unsafe in the trailer with, you should go back to ground zero and start over with John Lyon's (or some other form) of sacking out and trust building.  

Both my youngsters (4 and 6) JUMP voluntarily into the trailer and stand quietly, even with the drop windows closed.  When we're unloading, I do go into the stall and retrieve them.  I unlatch the door and they do not even attempt to move until I have put a lead on them and have asked them to back (and I don't tie their heads, so they could easily start backing out, but they KNOW not to until I'm ready for them).  I don't even remember training them to do this.  I think it happened out of repetition, but neither has even given me a minute of grief when trailer loading.

I still think the slant load is easier on the horse when travelling.  All I've heard here that condemns them is the fact that the horses being put into them are unsafe. I've been behind my friends travelling with their horses in straight loads and the horses seem thrown off balance much more than when riding diagonally.  

Just my $.02


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