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trailer loading and eye

Hi April - I couldn't help but respond to your inquiry about trailer
loading. I've been working with a trainer who uses lots of NH methods.
What's special about him is that he has a knack for explaining the logic
behind it in a way that I can understand. He is a master at trailer
loading, and I have watched him succeed at this with all kinds of
horses, and have used his techniques to success with my horses. Anyone
can do this, and anyone can succeed at it. Depending on the horse, and
his level of fear and previous baggage, it may take more or less time.
His basic concepts boil down to these three (which, for that matter,
apply to all horse training, not just trailer loading).

1. Teach the horse to place his body where you want it.
2. Advance and retreat (most horses don't like going in to the trailer
because they're not sure they can back out).
3. Pay attention to your timing.

The blow-by-blow of how this works would take a while to explain, and I
don't want to bore everybody, but if you're interested, let me know and
I'll send it privately. In a nutshell, it involves walking forward and
backing up in a slow, step-by-step process, until the horse trusts you
not to make him do anything that he can't handle, and becomes confident
that the trailer is something he CAN handle. You put the pressure on,
and take it off by backing up, systematically, before he volunteers to
back up, until he knows that you will reward him for trying (stepping
forward) by taking the pressure off (backing up). In order for this to
work, you must make it very clear that side to side movement is not
acceptable - the horse must stay straight in line with the trailer, or
you will correct him until he does. Pretty soon (even if he has previous
trailer baggage), he will come to view the trailer as just another
training exercise, and will begin to get bored with backing out, and
start wanting to stay in, especially if there's food in there. It's
important to spend a lot of time loading him in (I teach them to
self-load) and teaching him to stand in the trailer without closing the
door - don't be in a hurry to lock him in - let him hang out in there,
and then back him out before he wants to get out. Do this for DAYS,
until he views the trailer as a nice place to eat lunch, and eagerly
loads on to it. Then slowly start closing the door and tying him, until
he thinks of it as another type of stall. This horse doesn't want to be
confined - that's clear from the backing up activity. You need to give
him the outlet (backing out initiated by YOU), until he no longer needs
it, because his suspicion is gone. I have learned the hard way that
there is no quick answer to things like trailer loading - you have to do
your homework. I've just taught my green broke 5 yr. old to load this
way, and my 7 yr. old mare as well. About once a week, I continue to
load them in and let them eat their dinner on the trailer, just to keep
the good associations fresh in their minds. Hope that helps.

I have had the exact same eye symptoms with my mare - call the vet, now!
Apache probably has a scratched cornea, which can be successfully
treated now, but could get really bad if not treated. Don't delay -
you've probably already been told this - but he could lose the eye. The
injury will be hard to see without a dye test done by the vet, so don't
rely on your own eyes.

Glad to hear you're feeling better. All the best,


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