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Re: RC: Horse in a manger

In a message dated 4/25/99 6:18:36 PM US Mountain Standard Time, writes:

<< Help!! My horse has decided that climbing in and out of his feed manger in 
 trailer is a good way to express frustration. I am about to tear my hair out
 or his, if I can get a handful.
 The problem began with pawing in the trailer when I stopped. I didn't think
 too much of it and put on front boots to protect his legs and tied him us
 shorter to make it hard for him to paw. Then he discovered how to lift 
 up and get his feet into the feeder. The first time freaked me out. The 
 time I got mad and ignored him until he lifted himself out and things settled
 down. And this weekend he jumped in the feeder whenever I stopped. slammed
 around and then lifted himself out only to repeat the procedure. He still has
 not hurt his legs, thanks to good pads (now in shreds) and good leg wraps
 (still intact).
 Today, faced with a six hour haul home, I tied him up short, cross-tied him 
 he couldn't get his head up to rear and watched the little sucker heave his
 legs up past his nose into the feeder. I confess I lost it. i took the drop
 and beat his legs and yelled till he got down and then every time he picked 
 a foot i cracked him one. I had to smack him when I was standing there. That
 worked until i moved out of sight. Then I had to run back to yell and thump
 the trailer. That worked until I slammed the camper door, then we had the
 whole mess again until i spanked him and he stood. Ditto when i slammed the
 truck door and then again when I started the truck. He finally stood when I
 slammed all the doors  and waited so we took off. He stood all the way home
 and is safe, sound and out in the pasture -  and  I am trying to think of a
 more constructive, more permanent way to cure this problem. 
 Would hobbles help???  I think the problem starts when he paws, gets more and
 more excited, the feet go higher and whamo he is up in the feeder. Could I
 hobble him in the arena where it would be safe for him to figure out how
 hobbles work and then tie him up with the hobbles  (he tends to paw if he is
 left unattended and tied) and then work him into the trailer ? Any better
 suggestions? I really don't think I want to hide in the corner with a whip 
 the rest of my life - or his!!!
 He came to me from a beginner with terrible ground manners and has learned to
 stand four footed and pretty still when I am present. What do I need to do
 with this all too smart - too dumb beast that I love???
 Terry and Shahin the magnificent idiot savant. >>


I wouldn't hobble a horse that needs to be able to move around to keep its 
balance in a moving horse trailer.  Your horse is telling you that is 
EXTREMELY uncomfortable in this trailer.  Did this behavior begin suddenly or 
has he always been nervous in the trailer?  Have you safety checked the 
trailer for, example, a rotted floor board?  Are you sure your driving is the 
best it can be without hard stops or fast cornering?  I am not trying to make 
you defensive as I had a horse that exhibited the same behaviors and I knew 
it wasn't the trailer and it wasn't my driving.  But, it doesn't hurt to 
cover all the bases when looking at a problem.

I wrote almost a month ago about my very strong belief in the John Lyons' 
methods.  (See the end of this message for my previous explanation of the JL 
method for loading).  His "Leading and Loading" tape can give you some 
insight on safe and sane way to teach trailer loading.  Just because you can 
get your horse into the trailer doesn't mean he knows how to properly 
(calmly) load and unload (and ride) in your trailer.  Horses that are 
extremely nervous about just standing in a trailer need to be educated in the 
same manner as a horse who has never loaded.  Whether the horse is showing 
signs of being stubborn or scared, you don't change the way you teach and use 
the cue.  

If you are willing to take the chunk of time to once and for all teach your 
horse a cue to load, you won't have to futz with it over and over in the 
future.  It took me two sessions of about three hours each to teach a horse 
that was pretty bad about loading and I was doing it from what I'd learned in 
the video and from JL's book "Lyons on Horses."  It has been superseded by 
his new book "Communicating With Cues."  His magazine, Perfect Horse, is also 
an excellent value.

Subj:	Re: RC:  horse and trailer
Date:	4/4/99
To:	<A HREF=""></A>, 
<A HREF=""></A>


 Please see my response to Diane's (knaptyme message about trailer 
loading on ridecamp.  I have had such good responses from both of my horses 
because of the John Lyons' methods I used to teach them to get into the 
trailer and out of the trailer.  The tape that JL made called "Leading and 
Loading" is most useful because the cue to get into the trailer is just an 
extension of the cue when leading.  Leading exercises will teach your horse 
to have better ground manners (useful by itself) but will also help when your 
horse wants to blast past you stepping out of a slant or backing out of 
straight load trailer.  Even horses that were bad loaders/riders can learn to 
CALMLY load and ride.  That is the unspoken benefit to JL methods as when you 
are teaching this technique you never proceed unless and until the horse is 
calm at each step.  You don't rush the procedure but are adamant that the 
horse respond to the "go forward" cue.  Also, the horse loads each one of its 
feet many, many times and so unloads itself many, many times.  The problem 
with lots of other methods is that you get the horse in because it is tired 
of being tapped or it is seeking relief from ropes or prodding but once in, 
it panics and wants out.  This is where the horse rushes out or turns around 
in the slant and leaps out.  If the horse has gotten three quarters of the 
way in and back out dozens of times it won't be such a big deal when it gets 
in all the way.  You can then give it the cue to back out (usually just 
pressure on the lead) and praise the horse for a good job.  After a short 
break ask the horse to get in all the way again and back out with your cue.  
Then start asking the horse to stay in longer while you bang the door or the 
partition simulating the normal noise encountered when trailering.  If you 
are going to allow the horse to turn around in the trailer to step out and 
have worked with leading lessons you will be able ask the horse to stop its 
feet and wait for the cue to proceed or even back up in the slant load 

April Lee (  recommends the Feb. and March "Perfect Horse" 
as having the latest info from JL about trailer loading and I give that a 
hearty "amen"!  Good luck with whatever you do and stay safe.

Melanie in AZ 

If you are at all interested in learning more then feel free to e-mail me.

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