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Discuss Teaching a horse to back out of a trailer at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

My horse has only been trailered in a stock trailer and is always led out ...
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    Full Member Kharmel's Avatar
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    Question Teaching a horse to back out of a trailer

    My horse has only been trailered in a stock trailer and is always led out head first (she's 10). She was recently hauled by a friend who tried to get her to back out. She freaked and would back up until she couldn't feel the ground beneath her foot. She would step forward again and wouldn't go any farther. We did this for awhile then gave up and walked her out head first. I would like to buy my own trailer but only a two horse that she would have to back out of. What is the best way to teach a horse to back out of a step down trailer without them ******** and getting injured.

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    Senior Member SpiritSaddle's Avatar
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    Well my neighbor says "step" everytime the horse has to step up or down. So maybe you could try saying something like that everytime she steps up, even when she's walking in. Apache LOVES small straight loads, not sure why! She just hops right into them when i open the back door. But she just backs out too...i've never had a problem with back out. Well Thunder...but that's cuz it took FOREVER to get him in. Is she scared of them? Like...is she scared to walk in one too? Because I don't blame her, i'd be scared too to back out of something that i can't see where i'm going! For all she knows, you could be making her go off the edge of a cliff!

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    If she's good to back until she finds air under her feet, get a trailer with a ramp.
    ♥ Jen
    I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind! The answer is twelve? I think I'm in the wrong building. - Charles M. Schulz


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    Full Member Kharmel's Avatar
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    She's great loading, jumps right in without hesitation. A trailer with a ramp, may be the way to go, not sure if that would help but probably would. She's never been in a two horse either, just a wide open stock trailer so I'm hoping that she would still load nicely. I would still like to teach her to back out of a step down with out being afraid, any suggestions on how horses are taught not to be afraid to step down?

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    Senior Member Belladonna's Avatar
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    Well it is normally good to start with backing out of a float with a ramp, that way the horse knows the ground is still there. But this all comes back to the basics, ground work! oh, don't we just love those 2 words? :P first of all how you back up a horse is a big thing. If you do it just tugging on the lead rope, well they have to be partually willing to give you what you want. But if you give a direct question to their body then they're more likely to do as you ask. A voice comand is a great idea. When i want my horse to back up, i leave the lead rope alone, press softly on her chest and say clearly, "back back." This method i used to train horses that were so afraid of going backwards and would try to go sideways or even forwards to get away from the pressure on the halter.

    She needs to know that you're not backing her off into danger. See if you can't borrow a float with a ramp and then practis backing her off that. but first make sure she's good with backing down slopes. I've seen horses fly down the back of ramped floats and cut their leg open. By giving in and letting her turn around and walk forwards out you rewarded her for being bad, and she's probably got the idea that if she really resists you're not going to insist. You have to get her perfect with backing up in the paddock first before asking her to back out of a float.

    For backing out a step-down float, you could form a little step down in your paddock by getting dirt and creating a flate serface with a drop off, and then insist that she goes down it. Providing you do everything properly, and she is perfect on the ground backing up, a float will pose much less of a problem.

    Remember you have to insist everytime, otherwise she'll learn that if she doesn't really want to you're not going to make her.

    Good luck!
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    Sounds to me like you are trying to get the horse to back out of a step up. I would try using a ramp load first just to get the horse used to backing off where a angled support can be felt then like the others said try a step up but unload where the trailer is very close to the ground. Try to make it so there would be less than 2-3 inches to step down to.

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    I am curious as all of our floats here have a tail gate that drops down to be the ramp. How do you get a float without one?

    Back to the problem in hand. The way I see it is you are asking a horse to step backwards when there in nothing under their foot. I think if it was me I would find a nice little drop off (or even make one) about the same height in your paddock. Practice backing your horse off that. It won't be so scary for them and will give them confidence for when you do ask for it from a horse conveyance.
    "If your brain was elastic you wouldn't have enough to make a garter for a canary" (Prisoner, an Aussie tv show)

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    i know i am new here, but....

    i would have him go into the trailer with only one foot first and stand for a sec or two, then back him out. i would do this a while, then i would work on loading with 2 feet and wait, then back out,
    next..3 feet, wait, then back, 4 feet wait, then back. i would not let him go all the way in, just enough for the feet to get in, then stand, relax, then back. at first i may even leave the "wait a sec" out, then bring that in at a later time.

    good luck!

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    I had a horse that had this problem in my early years of owning horses. I built a bridge of sturdy lumber and put it in my arena and worked with my horse stepping up and crossing and then backing off of it . Once they were comfortable I put the bridge near a solid wall to make it feel more like a trailer wall. You could then get a panel set up to be the second wall and get them comfortable with that before triing the trailer again.
    Another way would be to back the trailer up to a rise in the ground so that there is no or a small step up into it and gradually make the step higher in gradual lessons.
    I think the ramp trailers are a good thing but it never hurts to teach your horse to back out of a trailer as you never know when your horse may need to ride in one.

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    Training to load and travel is only 1/2 the equation in trailer loading - you have to teach them to unload as well.

    So, just go back to the beginning, as if he doesn't know how to load. One foot up, one foot off, 2 feet up, 2 feet off. Then a hind leg up, all 3 off. Then all 4 up, all 4 off. By doing that you are teaching him to back off, one foot at a time.
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