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Old 05-21-2009, 08:15 PM   #1
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Need help backing a horse out of trailer!

I have three wonderful horse that will go into a trailer just perfect but they are scared to death of backing out of the trailer. It is a 3 horse slant stock trailer that is very open and it has a larger step up to it. I have had to turn the horses around in the trailer( I know really stupid) because they would start to shake and panic but when i do turn them around they are calm and slow about everything and are perfectly fine. The one horse I have has been in a two horse straight load with no ramp and he backed out just fine but for some reason is scared of this one. And the other 2 are younger and have no experience. But like i have said in the beginning they load perfectly( no hesitation what so ever) but when you ask them to start to back they freeze. I don't want to get the horses hurt or myself so if any of you have any kind of tips I would appreciate it.Thanks!
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:25 PM   #2
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Two choices.

Either just turn them around and walk them out. This is what I do. This way my horses never anticipate exiting the trailer and rushing out backwards full speed. They know to wait for me to unclip them and turn them around.


Take your time and praise them for any little step backwards. Go slow and be patient. Remember that they are backing up and cannot see anything behind them, nor do the know when they will hit the back of the trailer. If I have to back a horse out of the trailer I use the command back, and step down when they need to step down.
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Old 05-22-2009, 08:04 PM   #3
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I wouldn't worry about turning them around to exit a slant. That is the advantage of a slant.

We own a 2 straight load that our horse has no problem backing out and stepping down.

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Old 05-22-2009, 08:08 PM   #4
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I have two that will back out and one that is not comfortable. I just let her turn around.
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Old 05-22-2009, 08:15 PM   #5
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Thanks guys! I have had a lot of people tell me that it is not good to let them turn around but when i do they are better than ever. I think I will take my time with them and maybe one day they will back out! : )
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Old 05-22-2009, 08:26 PM   #6
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You know how they say, with kids, pick your battles? Well this is one you don't have to pick. You do what's right for you and your horses. And if that's turning them around and walking them out, so be it.

I'd encourage you to go ahead and continue to work on backing, but without the pressure of "having to do it."
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:17 PM   #7
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I always let them turn around when I can. I made sure I bought a trailer that they'd be able to turn around in.
Some people are too strict about what they allow their horses to do, in my opinion. If it makes them feel better to turn around, what's the harm? I also will offer a treat to get them in and hand feed my horses treats. Some people would thinks that's terrible but, whatever, I'll do what I want with my horses.
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:46 PM   #8
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I turn mine around. Don't let people tell you it is unsafe! Yeah, if your horse is going to bolt as soon as he turns it's dangerous. My horse got in a trailer accident backing out. OUr old trailer was on an odd angle in the last stall. My horse backed out while still tied. In the end he fell over backwards and we are lucky he didn't kill himself.

So now we turn around. I will not let that horse back out because I don't want to chance him bolting backwords. And letting him turn around make him feel not so clausterphobic. But I Turn each horse around, walk to the door and make them stand on the trailer a few minutes. This kind of teaches them that they can't just run off, they have to wait for my okay.

But if you WANT your horse to back out, I am in the process of teaching my other horse for ranch horse shows (more points if he backs out). My stalls are lower than the aisle, so I slowly asked him to back into his stall over and over giving a verbal command "down". Now in the trailer he wanted to run backwords expecting the large drop. So I now ask him to take a step. whoa. step. whoa. step. whoa. step. whoa. And when we are on the edge I finally say "down" and he steps down.

We are working on a tail cue for me to just touch his tail to get him to back out on his own but he is so used to turning around right now he just wants to turn around if I am not in the trailer. *sighs* I will think of something.

But the moral is, as long as your horses are being safe, let them turn around.
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Old 05-23-2009, 12:08 AM   #9
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I agree with Sirita about how to teach the backing.

My horses know not to start backing unitl I lift their tails and say back and once they get within the last step or two to the drop I change to "step" "step" so they know it is coming up. I also tend to lift higher on their tail (like I could lift them down! LOL).

I personnally do not let mine turn around. Have seen too many that will push you over trying to get turned around. I had one that would run out of the trailer backwards. **hold your breath*** I finally got tired of that and started putting a Be Nice halter on him with a lunge line that I ran through the ring at the front of the trailer next to his head and ran it to the back next to where I could reach it when I was ready for him to get out. He set back a few times on me, but figured out I was just going to stand there and watch him till he stopped, then I would untie him. Didn't have a problem after that.
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Old 05-23-2009, 06:13 AM   #10
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Mine seem to prefer to turn and walk out as well. I can back them but they are more hesitant and take some time to think about it.
I think they really do not like not being able to see when that drop off is coming. One of mine seems to feel for it but still comes out in a rushed large awkward backward step and he looks around once he's out like what the [email protected]! So, I just turn them. As long as you have room to turn them, I do not think it will harm any to let them. The young ones will probably take a cue from the older one.
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Old 05-23-2009, 06:30 AM   #11
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I agree with others, just let them turn around, but I would still work on backing out with no pressure on them, you never know when you might need them to do it. Also I tell mine to step when it is time to step. And you know I feel like you do, I also feed mine treats by hand, have always done it and have never had a problem, if I did have a problem I'd correct it or not do it but mine are pretty mannerly about it and it's not been a problem for me.

Although I'm sure there are some who Have had problems.
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Old 05-28-2009, 07:01 AM   #12
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We had the same problem with Dillon. He would back up, but he wouldn't get off the trailer. He didn't like to step down, not knowing where it was. So, we just did it slowly, praised him every step.
Now, when he gets close to the edge, we grab his tail and tell him "DOWN" and he knows it's coming. Now the second i grab his tail, he knows he has to step down.
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Old 05-28-2009, 07:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by beth55051 View Post

Take your time and praise them for any little step backwards. Go slow and be patient. Remember that they are backing up and cannot see anything behind them, nor do the know when they will hit the back of the trailer. If I have to back a horse out of the trailer I use the command back, and step down when they need to step down.

This is what I did with Jake when he was scared to step out backwards. I mean, he would litterally start pouring sweat over his nerves when it came time to back out of the trailer.

I just took it slow, started when we didn't actually plan to go somewhere.

I'd say back, and if he took a step, he got a treat. Over and Over and Over, until he was comfortable backing all the way to the end of the trailer.

Then I tell him easy so he knows when he is about to step off and I pat his shoulder (or his rump if I'm behind him) so it's a double reinforcment that the step off is there.

He will now back out calmly and softly without all the nerves, but it takes alot of patience and time to get there.

Our trailer has a rear tack room so there isn't room for them to be turning around, especially if another horse is in the trailer too.
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:30 AM   #14
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My horse would prefer to turn around, but in a two horse straight load with divider that is not possible. He tried, many times and of course, failed. It helps if your horse knows how to back from the ground either with a wiggle of the lead, voice command, or tapping him on the chest with a dressage whip or stick. If your horse can back with those techniques it is helpful when getting them to back out of the trailer. I also say back, back and step when his next footfall would be off the back end of the trailer.

Having said all of that, if you have the option to turn around, then just turn the horse around. I know I would if I had that type of trailer. I don't see how it's anymore safe or unsafe than trying to back a horse out.
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:51 AM   #15
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I would suggest that, you backed them in the stall, if they are stalled. Go for a walk put a log out and back them over the log. Please keep in mind a small log. Backed them over a curb. I imagine you have a cue for backing up while on the ground with your horses, my cue is waving the lead rope towards the horse.
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:20 AM   #16
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Personally, I back mine out, but I mostly do it because I want them to be able to if I'm ever in a situation where they can't turn around. However, there's certainly no reason why you should or should not do it one way or the other.

I also teach my horses the "step" command, so they know when I say "step" that they are about to step down. This really seems to aleviate a lot of the anxiety that comes with backing out of a trailer - they get a warning, and since I started using this command, every horse I've worked with has done great with backing out - in fact, most will pause and start to feel for the step when I give the command. It really does seem to make a huge difference, at least for me.

Also, I will untie my horses and put the lead rope on (hanging it over their neck or out the window) before I ever open the trailer door - that way, there's no sudden backing out while tied just in case.

Otherwise, if you are comfortable turning them around, and they are comfortable doing it, then why not just do it that way?

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Old 05-29-2009, 01:20 PM   #17
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Backing out

I've never had a major issue with any that minor patience, pushing,saying back, pulling, etc. except with one memorable one, it was a 2 year old colt that I bought who lived 1000 miles away, when I went to pick him up, we had a 2 horse (large) straight load, he had never been off farm he was born on, which is where I found/bought him, never had trailered, he walked right on, like he had been on a 1000 trips, rode great, and about 17 hours later, when home, would NOT get out, or even attempt to try,not a budge.

Sooo...... after an hour or so, desperate, I took a longe line, tied it to outside left corner tie ring, pulled it in along horses left side, in front of chest, and back out right side of trailer, and like a wench, slowly, carefully "pulled him out" of course he didn't flip out, rear, anything like that like some horses might, but even then I'd probably back off, calm situation down, proceed again,never had another problem with him backing out again, of course he didn't want to load again, ( I'm sure afraid of another 17 hr. trip so we parked trailer in his paddock, and he did not get his feedings, until he was willing to eat them IN the trailer( didnot take long) and of course did not lock him in, until a couple loadings, then would shut up doors, for a few moments, but not drive anywhere, then let back out again, then very short pleasant trips,etc. 20 years later, with many trips,under his belt, has never ever been a problem since.
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