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Re: [RC] unloading to fast!! - Diane Trefethen

Often we inadvertently train our horses to do things we don't want them to do. The most common mistake in this regard is the unintentional rewarding of bad behaviour. Unless your horse's misbehaviour is the result of genuine fear, soothing or gentle words are a mistake. Horses love us to stroke them with our voices so when your mare backs out fast, the last thing you want to do is reward her with your touch or your voice.

Set aside a good two hours. Fully load her as if you were going somewhere. Then unload her. As she comes shooting out, growl as unpleasantly as you can and chastise her with your best disappointed voice (think, "Bad Dog! Bad, bad dog!"). Then load her again. Keep doing this. If she has any smarts at all, she will realize that loading and unloading isn't how it's done and she'll start to look at you to try to figure out what you want. As soon as she does that connect with the eyes thing, praise her. When she's figured out you want something from her and that coming out of the trailer coincides with your unpleasant voice, she might at first think that you don't want her to unload at all. I've always trained my horses to stand quietly till I give them a specific signal to unload, usually a light touch and a soft "Okay" with my voice. If you've done that too, then apply it when she hesitates so she'll know you really do want her to come out and at the same time, praise her for hesitating and THINKING. Keep up the in and out till she puts together a string of 2 or 3 calm exits, each one rewarded by your nicest, gentlest, kindest voice.

It is possible that at some time she had a bad experience unloading from a step down (scraped legs or some such) and that she's developed the idea that pain and unloading are partners. If you think this is a good likelihood, put shipping boots on her rear legs for the training session.


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[RC] unloading to fast!!, Suzy Henderson