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Hi Cherry,

I have purchased a new mare (2mths ago) after being out of the saddle for 16yrs.  This mare is 7yrs old & hadn’t been ridden regularly for the last 3yrs, apart from being forward she has shown no signs of being anything but quiet.
Her rushing, is the one issue i’m continuing to have, I know that this is due to the lack of regular handling over the past 3yrs.
Outside of a walk she just wants to take the bit and race…(at a walk I can ride her all day on a loose rein, she listens to my seat and aides, I can change directions and halt with no pressure on the rein or bit, but only at the walk), she fights me in every other gate…her head comes up & she looses her flow, she ignors all aides asking her to “slow” I don’t want to have to fight her at the bit & end up with a dead mouthed horse, I have never had heavy hands with any of my past horses & would like this mare to understand that pressure is gone when she slows & listens to my seat & voice, thing is as soon as she does slow & I release the pressure that brought the response I was after, the fight starts all over again (also I think I might clarify that, I don’t yank or see-saw her mouth, by fight I mean restrain her, I ask for collection & balance I ask for her to listen to my voice and my seat to try slow her pace again but the more I ask for slow the
more cranky she seems to get) I’ve had her teeth done, her back is not sore, I bought a brand new saddle that fits her correctly and I don’t feed her anything, I think if I fed her on top of what she gets just from her paddock she would founder (she is an extremly good doer and is very fat now), she has a salt & mineral lick but thats prettly much it, so no “hot” feed at all!
I am currently doing the only thing I know worked for a race horse I got from the track once, which is… apply a half check as soon as she starts to race, if I get no response I halt and ask for her to back but she refuses to back (she plants herself even when she’s collected and “on” the bit), if I apply slightly more pressure she will then just over collect and put her head on her chest (very frustrating) & I don’t know how to rectify this, I haven’t had this problem before & when I asked for movement last time she refused to back…with just a nudge / sqeeze from my legs she rared up, I in no way want to encourage that so have not pushed for her to back, hence I’m looking for answers.
I include “back” with ground exercises, which she does with no fuss but this hasn’t transfered under saddle, all these exercises that I’ve tried and have worked for me in the past, arn’t working on her, instead she’s getting “piggy” with the flat work and the ground exercises so I break up the routine & do different things with her…her past owners had her graded in both dressage and jumping so I don’t understand why she’s not responsive to me asking her to slow using my seat and half checks.
Due to her past education she is receptive to directional leg aides and that is helping with teaching her basic reining (with the exception to backing she is learning to neck rein ok) to help her move better with the cattle, all of this is at a walk and to use her outside of a walking pace I need her to losen up, slow down &; keep her head from reaching for the clouds, I don’t want to use martin gails or anything like it, I don’t believe she needs them, I just want to relax and calm her & get her responsive outside of a walk, she has such lovely movement when she’s not fighting.
I currently ride her with an egg butt snaffle bit (would you reccomend changing bits?), i’m trying different ground exercises & i’m also trying to lunge her but she doesn’t seem to yet understand my indicators for her to move out…(I don’t have a round yard, just open area and cattle yards) I have tried also to long rein her as an alternative to also get her responsive to my voice, but i’m not very good at not getting tangled, it is a good thing that she wasn’t phased by my inability to keep the long leads from falling down around her hoofs…I know that this is a long explanation, but I wanted to give you as much info as I possibly could…hope you can help & possibly advise me on some alternative exercises to try.
Kind Regards
Beth

Hi Beth,

Most of the elements of my answer and suggestions to you are already in your question. They include going back to ground training, that is in-hand work, free longeing, line longeing, and long lining and making a strong association with the mare that she can move in balance in each gait without rushing.

101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises

Rushing is a sign that a horse has lost her balance and confidence.

When you have trouble with things when riding, it just shows the basics have never been established, so that means going back and reviewing everything from square one and finding where the holes are. In this mare’s case, I’d imagine if you trotted alongside her in-hand, she’d probably try to zoom ahead of you. If you free longed her, she would probably rush at the trot and canter in poor form and with a too-quick rhythm. And so on. So its no wonder that she would do the same when being ridden.

Doing simple things well with you on the ground will help make a solid connection between you and the mare. All of the exercises you do in-hand and when longeing and ground driving will be a balance act between driving aids and restraining aids, just as you use when riding.

You’ll be surprised at how working on the basics will improve the mare under saddle.

Some of my favorites exercises, whether as ground training exercises or when riding are:

Frequent transitions of all kinds, both upward and downward, between gaits and within gaits. So instead of trotting around and around, you’d only trot a few strides, then maybe walk or maybe extend the trot, or collect the trot, but always be changing things up. The more you develop a give and take with the mare, the more balanced and steady she will become when moving at one gait for an extended period of time.

Walk-Halt-Back-Trot out of the Back and then Walk and repeat

Walk-Trot 4 steps-Walk repeat and vary the number of steps of trot, increasing as long as the horse stays balanced and rhythmic.

Add lateral bending (turning) to any exercise when a horse starts to speed up. Lateral bending, when done correctly, causes a horse’s legs to automatically slow down. So two strides (4 beats) of trot straight, then a full circle and repeat, that sort of thing.

Yes you want to use half halts or checks as you ride and be sure to yield when the horse does soften and slow down.

As far as a bit change, more than likely that is not the problem. You should be able to do whatever you need to do with an egg butt snaffle.

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Hi Cherry,
My 3 year old paint horse tries to  take my 7 year old back to the other horses will I’m leading him and i do not want him to. what should i do.
Emma


Hi Emma,

The behavior you describe can be thought of as Herd Bound, Buddy Bound or Barn Sour or a combination of all 3.

Horses are herd animals and when left on their own, they gang together in twos, threes, bands and herds. That is natural horse behavior.

But when a horse, in this case, the 7 year old you are leading, is being tempted to misbehave by another horse, your 3 year old. Generally it is because one or both horses are insecure and don’t want to be separated from each other. It could also be that they just want to play. But in any case, they need to learn a new set of acceptable behavior when you are leading.

All horses need to develop confidence and good manners so that you can lead them in a variety of tempting and stressful situations. It is the horse you are leading that you should focus on, not the one that is trying to start up the mischief.


If you go to the horse article page on my website www.horsekeeping.com and look under the topic Behavior – you will see a number of articles on Barn Sour behavior which also cover Buddy Bound and Herd Bound.

Reading those will give you some good ideas as to why this behavior occurs and how to prevent and fix it.

Best of luck !

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Hi Cherry,

i just got a 4 year old gelding and he’s very skittish – fast movements scare him. He’s out in a good sized area with a female who is 15. besides the fact that he is skittish, every time he starts to be ok with me and fast movements she bites him. it’s like she is trying to make him bad so she gets all of the attention but i do my best to love on them both. He is my first horse and i don’t know alot about them but i love them and it’s to the point that i want to slug her for biting him but she isn’t mine. also is there a way to get him to be ok with the halter? I really think he’ll be a great horse i just need help training him so he can be. What books of yours would be the best for me to buy?

Shannon

Hi Shannon,

I have hundreds of articles on horse care and training on my website. Be sure to search there for your topic of interest.

Also I just posted a reply to another reader yesterday about her spooky horse so that will be helpful for you to read. (It is the article just before this one.)

As far as the mare biting your gelding, that is part of the pecking order with horses. You can read about pecking order in this article – Pecking Order at Feeding Time.

You ask if there is a way for your horse to be OK with the halter…..I’m not sure what you mean – do you mean haltering and unhaltering or leading or just general respect? Again, visit my main article archive and search some of your key words – there are a lot of articles there including a series on ground training a young horse, called the Sherlock series.

Finally, as far as book recommendations, you should probably read How to Think Like a Horse and What Every Horse Should Know and then branch out into the How-To books that are listed on my website.

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Hello Cherry,
I have a 3 yr old Trakehner X TB Gelding He just came home from 60 days of saddle training with an Event, TB trainer. I rode him 2 times during his training and was sent video’s of his progress. He is a lazy horse but was moving forward in the walk and trot when I rode him. Since coming home he is refusing to go forward under saddle. He will walk off for about 7-10 min and then he shuts down. I am using little to no contact on the reins. Riding in a Waterford D bit. He moves great off your leg, When he is going forward. When he stops and I apply leg he rises up as if ready to buck. When I use my long dressage whip on his rump he will kick out but still does not go forward. He will paw and sometimes try to bite me. I found that pushing him with my leg, “fighting” him to go forward is useless. He shuts down. If I sit there, let him relax, he will take a deep breath, then I can apply leg and say Walk On and usually he will go forward but sometimes it is just a step or two. He did well with a lead pony the other day but again after 10 min shut down. The trainer keeps telling me to stay after him but I refuse to fight him every time I ride. He is a very big horse, 16’3h I will never be able to push him when he is in shut down mode. I have started 2 young horses before him being the first rider on their backs. I ride english and have 30+ years experience. He is the first one that will not go forward. He is kind horse and thankfully has not reared up but I am afraid that will be next. I am riding in the same saddle, brand, model and tree size that the trainer used. I would appreciate any suggestions. I plan on having this horse for life. A partnership is a must. Thank you in advance,
C M B

Dear CMB,

I know this doesn’t help you solve your horse’s problems but it must be said. It is hard for me to imagine a horse coming from 60 days of saddle training and having this behavior. One of the most important goals of any training is to develop and preserve forward movement.


Check my website article page for many articles and Q&As related to this topic such as

Horse Won’t Move Forward

From what you describe, my inclination would be to go back to ground training to establish forward movement in a variety of situations. By ground training, I mean:

1. In-hand work including walk, trot, figures, obstacles.

Refer to my In Hand Checklist posted previously.

2. Longeing with or without tack, with focus on forward movement.

Benefits and Uses of Longeing

3. Long lining (ground driving) to establish moving forward with tack.

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The word submissive can sometimes have an undeserved bad connotation.  If we are talking about a bully who is forcing another person into submission and fear, yes, that is a bad thing, a very bad thing.

But when it comes to horses and their interaction with people, submission is not only necessary from a safety standpoint, it is desirable from the horse’s perspective.

Horses feel the most secure, content and untroubled when they have a fair and capable leader. When there are no questions, when roles are clear, when the (human-horse) pecking order is established, a horse is submissive, calm and content.

Once the partnership is established, often, all it takes is the touch of a hand to elicit that calmness.

Zipper and Cherry

Enjoy that good horse,

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Hello Cherry

My miniature horse foal keeps biting, bucking, rearing and jumping up.  He is a 4 month old foal.  I plan to geld him, but our vet said to wait until he is 1 year, so it won’t harm his growth.

Hershey wants to bite and chew on EVERYTHING.  He has toys in the yard that he can play with, but I seldom see him using them.  We have a pet goat who lives with him and his mother, and he is often seen chewing on her legs and tail (she has bite marks to prove it)  I try to enforce the no-bite rule when I am around him by pushing his head away and tapping him on the muzzle, but when I leave for the day, there isn’t anyone to stop him.

Also, when I turn my back to him, he will often run up behind me and rear/kick me.  He also does this to his mother by jumping up and placing his hooves right below her withers.

He is a very smart foal, catches on very easily and  loves to please me.  He let me take his halter on and off him at 5 days old and would move back and to the side with pressure too, but now he is so focused on biting or chewing on me that when I ask him to do something, he ignores my signals.

On a different hoof, when his mother goes to roll in the dirt, she finds it very difficult because he jumps over her.  I have often had to hold him still so she can roll, because I am worried that he will tangle his legs with hers.

Is this a stage, or is it a habit???  And how would I be able to fix it and make him behave?  Would gelding him early help?  I am supposed to show him in showmanship this year.

Thanks, Julia

Hi Julia,

First I want to be sure that you know how to search here on this blog and on my website for information related to Biting and other horse behavior and training topics.

For example, here on this blog, you can type Biting in the Search box at the top of the page or in the right hand column. It will bring up a list of articles here that talk about horses that bite. For example

Horse Behavior – Biting Children

You can also go to the article page on my main website www.horsekeeping.com where there are many more articles. On that page, you can see all of the articles by title, so the fastest way to find what you want is to go to the Behavior category and scroll down to the articles on Biting.

For example, besides the one on the miniatures that bite children, there are the following articles:

Q&As on Horse Biting

Biting Prevention

Horse in Stall Bites at People

Now, to your questions specifically. It is generally a stage that colts (male foals) go through. If a biting horse is dabbed at or played with, or if you lightly tap his nose to tell him no, in many cases it tends to encourage play biting which is a socially acceptable behavior between horses.

You need to make sure your foal knows in no uncertain terms that you are top on the pecking order and biting is not an acceptable behavior.

You also need to set up regular handling sessions so that he learns to respect your personal space. This means 2-3 sessions per day every day – the sessions don’t have to be long – they could be 5-20 minutes each but should be structured. The articles I suggest above and other articles on my website will help with that.

As far as limiting his biting when you are not handling him or near him, that would be difficult. You can deter his biting of certain things like wood rails by coating them with a No Chew product, but that’s a big world out there, so while he is at this stage, perhaps teething, you should focus on his good manners when he is being handled and when you are near him when he is loose.

In terms of gelding him, here is a thorough discussion of why a horse is gelded, when, and aftercare. You should follow your own veterinarian’s advice as to when to geld but do know that many horses are gelding “early” which means before they are a year old – even at weaning – with good results and no negative effects. I don’t want to advise you on that as I can’t see your horse. Your veterinarian has the best picture of your horses, management and so on.

Gelding and Aftercare

Best of luck and remember, there is no substitute for thorough regular effective handling.

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Happy Holidays !

Boy is it busy around here ! I was so glad when hubby Richard worked up this article about his continuing adventure with Sherlock’s Sarcoid and offered to let me post it to my sorely neglected blog !  Thank you Richard ! And keep those good questions coming – I will catch up after the holidays. Cherry Hill

A Simple Equine Sarcoid Treatment
by Richard Klimesh

History –

January 2009. While grooming my 10-year-old gelding, Sherlock, I felt a small growth on his inner flank, about the size of a gum drop, in the crease where the flank joins the abdomen. It wasn’t sensitive and didn’t bother Sherlock so I simply made a mental note to check it periodically.

equine sarcoid treatmentJanuary 2010. The growth had increased to the size of a small walnut although the area of attachment seemed quite small (photo at left). It was neither soft nor hard – rather like squeezing an orange. It was not sensitive and was not causing any problems. Nevertheless, because it had doubled in size I sent photos to a veterinarian to get his opinion.

The vet said, “It’s probably a pedunculated sarcoid. Sarcoids are a common skin virus of horses. This one, based on my imperfect observations of one photo, is probably easily banded to remove. However, my recommendation with sarcoids is to always leave them alone unless they are causing some sort of problem. They represent no threat at all to the health of the horse, they only interfere with the tack if they are in a bad position. Sometimes when we remove them, we cause the virus to spread, however this is not much of a concern when we band them.”

I decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

March 9, 2010. I contacted my vet: “Next time you are up this way and you have time, would you stop in and take a close look at that growth on Sherlock? It seems to be getting larger and a small scab came off it a few days ago. I’m sure it bothers me more than it does Sherlock, but I’d like to get your first hand opinion so I can make definite plans to either do something about it or forget it.”

The vet came by a few days later and after examining the sarcoid he banded it – using a specialized hand tool he slipped a heavy duty rubber band over the sarcoid so it constricted around the base. This cuts off the blood supply to the tumor and eventually it drops off. I kept Sherlock in a pen so that I could collect the sarcoid when it dropped. I checked it every day and it got looser and looser and then began to smell and I thought it would never come off.

March 23, 2010. Two weeks after banding the sarcoid was gone. . . and was nowhere to be found in the pen. The place where it had attached looked healthy and pink so said good riddance to the sarcoid (so I thought) and turned Sherlock back out on pasture.


equine sarcoid treatmentNovember 1, 2010. On my daily check of the horses I noticed some blood droplets on Sherlock’s left hind pastern. Examining him closer I found a new and different looking growth (fibroblastic sarcoid in photo at left) at the site of the previous sarcoid. It was being abraded when Sherlock moved, causing it to bleed. I contacted the vet. Here’s what he had to say:

“Sorry to see this has returned. Now it looks more cutaneous, flatter, and perhaps some XTerra might work. This is a topical ointment, a caustic debridement agent, that is made at Vetline in Fort Collins. Sometimes it works well, but the location of this lesion makes any treatment difficult. These sarcoids can be a bugger to beat. Maybe CSU [Colorado State University in nearby Fort Collins] has a freeze treatment, I don’t know but it might be worthwhile to consult with them. And of course it’s always a good idea to wait a while and see what develops. I don’t think he’s in much discomfort or danger from this. Good luck.”

I then did some web research and found XTerra that the vet mentioned, some other caustic treatments, a few herbal formulas all of which had mixed reviews.
I also came across several anecdotal accounts on horse forums of successful rapid elimination of equine sarcoids by application of Crest toothpaste.
Some who had used the toothpaste method speculated that it was the flouride in the toothpaste that killed the sarcoid virus. I figured if it was true that flouride was the healing agent then mouthwash containing flouride (which we just happened to have in the medicine cabinet) would be as effective as toothpaste and much easier to apply, since it could be sprayed on the tumor rather than applied by hand or with an applicator stick.

11-6-2010
I began treatment, which consisted solely of spraying the sarcoid once daily with full strength commercial mouthwash (ACT Restoring brand) containing 0.05% sodium flouride. I used a small spray bottle that came in an eyeglass cleaning solution kit. This was very handy and easy to use. I found it very difficult to bend over and twist my head to get a good look at the sarcoid because of its location and doing so put my head in a vulnerable position should Sherlock suddenly bring his hind hoof forward. I found that with the small spray bottle I could remain upright and reach down with this little spray bottle and hit the sarcoid without looking.

Sherlock tolerated this daily treatment well. One reason is because I never had to touch the sarcoid to administer treatment. Also, Sherlock’s ground training had included thoroughly sacking out with a spray bottle of water.

equine sarcoid treatment
11-27-2010  

 

Twenty days from the first spray the sarcoid had dried up and was sloughing. I put on a rubber glove, pulled an old sock over that and gently rubbed the dry tissue to remove it. This was done completely dry with no washing of the area.


equine sarcoid treatment
Same Day 

 

The photo at left shows the site of the sarcoid immediately after the dry matter was brushed off. I have given no further treatment, but will commence at the first sign of new sarcoid development.

 

equine sarcoid treatment 


12-08-2010

 

12 days later and site of the sloughed sarcoid is healing over nicely, with no sign of sarcoid.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet. As far as I know this method of treating sarcoids with flouride mouthwash has only been used by me and only in this one case. If you decide to try it, do so at your own risk. Please let me know how it works for you.

Good Luck!

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Hi Cherry,

I rescued two horses- a large Fell pony and a mini. Both had been abused and were starving. I’ve got their weight up, their hooves cared for, shots, worming etc.
But it has been almost 3 months and they are still very hard to halter, to clean their feet ( both have thrush) and to separate them to work with them ( just the simplest ground work in a nearby round pen)! When I have someone else, we can work it out fairly well but usually I am alone. I have few expectations, maybe short rides or a little pulling a cart ( both had some draft experience) – I’m now 65, and even though i had been a horse professional teaching in riding stables, training and judging in dressage,  I’m having an awful time with them. I need encouragement to keep them. It has been very expensive and wonder if others have rescue horse experience. Eileen

HI Eileen,

Just in my email box this morning was an article from The Horse which states that

Each year there are about 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States, too many for the registered equine rescue and sanctuary groups to handle, according to a recent survey by experts at the University of California, Davis. They found that the 236 registered rescue and sanctuary organizations could only help about 13,400 horses a year.

I have no personal experience with rescue horses but wanted to post your note so that if others want to reply, they can do so here.

I do know that retraining any horse can seem like it takes twice as long as it does to train a horse from scratch. Some of my colleagues say ten times as long !

When I taught in college and university equine programs, one of the ways we would get horses for the training and riding classes was through donations. Well, we received some wonderful horses and also some with interesting previous experiences and challenging behaviors. Some took several semesters to sort out and even then, might not be trustworthy with novice riders.

I do encourage you and applaud you for your efforts. It will take time, repetition and very frequent regular handling to alter their suspicious behavior. But it can be done.

Please refer to the many useful articles here on this blog related to ground training, desensitization and more. Here are some examples:

Head Handling

Horse Training – Handling, Gentling, Desensitization, Sacking Out, Flooding

Horse Behavior – Licking and Chewing

Also visit my Horse Information Roundup where I have posted hundreds of free articles related to behavior and training.

Best of luck and let me know if you have specific questions.

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We’ve tried and tried to use clippers on our horses ears but to no avail. She freaks out every time! What can you suggest that we can use to clean the hairs in her ears for shows. We’ve tried every form of desensitizing that can be thought of and nothing works. She simply can’t stand the buzzing noise. I want her to look groomed for shows but am at a loss as what to do now. Any suggestions. Mary

Hi Mary,

I understand, having been a horse show judge for over 25 years, that during show season you want to clip the hair from around and inside a horse’s ears.

Personally, I would never do that to a horse, but then we live on a ranch and our horses live in pastures, so clipping the hair out of their ears would mean they’d have to fight off bugs in the summer and have cold ears in the winter.

But getting a horse used to clippers around his ears is the same as any other desensitization.

You haven’t told me what you tried and how it worked or didn’t work, so I have very little to go on here.

Be sure to read the articles about:

Desensitization

Head Handling

because they contain the principles you need. You don’t say what your horse does when you try to clip her ears, just that “she simply can’t stand the buzzing noise”  – does this mean she doesn’t stand still, raises her head, shakes her head, lowers her head between her front legs, walks over the top of you, bites you, strikes at the clippers, lays down, pulls free and runs off? What?

If you care to write more details, perhaps I can be of more help, but in the meantime, like any other desensitization, it takes time and patience and time and repetition and time and progressive goals and time. Did I say it takes time?

Whether you want to clip your horse’s ears or not, you should be able to run clippers in the ear and bridle path area. Take the time it takes to get the job done. Start with being able to just hold the clippers turned off anywhere on her body, then running anywhere on her body. You won’t be clipping, you are just holding the running clippers on her hot spots. Find an area where her behavior starts to say NO and work there, even if it is under her chin or on her flank…..use that place to establish your system.

You repeat the stimulation there until she accepts it, then you remove the stimulation and reward her with a rub.

You never remove the stimulation until she relaxes and accepts it. If you remove the running clippers from a hot spot when she is “freaking” as you say, you have taught her to freak. Freaking gets her what she wants – the removal of the clippers.

Plan to take days, not hours or minutes to work on this. Once you have your system established, use it to desensitize her ears (without clipping). Your goal is not to clip, but to have the running clippers closer and closer to her ears.

Once you can run the clippers near her ears, it will be no big deal to clip.

Best of luck,

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Cherry,
I am having a problem with my horse who has picked up this habit of bolting out of the horse trailer when we open the back. Its at the point where it takes 2 people to load her since she will bolt. I’m scared that one of my kids will get hurt since she comes out so forcefully once the butt-bar is taken down. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. – Mitzi

Dear Mitzi,

To start fixing unloading problems you need to work on in-hand work and loading. You state in your question that it takes 2 people to load her which indicates that is where you need to start – with the loading. Start from square one reviewing all in hand work. Some of these things might be a quick review and others will show you where your horse’s “holes” are and where you need to work. Here’s a checklist to get you going:

  • Head Down
  • Whoa on a Long Line
  • Leading Next to You
  • Respecting Your Personal Space
  • Turn on the Forehand
  • Side Pass
  • Back
  • Backing Through obstacles such as rails, barrels
  • Turn on the Center in a Box
  • Crossing odd footing such as concrete, wooden bridge
  • Standing on elevated platform
  • Leading Under a safe low ceiling such as a tarp
  • Leading past the Traile
Trailering Your Horse by Cherry Hill

Trailering Your Horse by Cherry Hill

There are step-by-step photo instructions for some of these lessons on my website Horsekeeping and for all of these lessons and more in my book

Trailering Your Horse

Once you and your horse have mastered all of these things, sending her into the trailer will be a piece of cake, very anti-climactic. When you DO start loading here again in the trailer, just ask her to take ONE STEP AT A TIME. You might make her stand with just her front feet in and then back her out. This may take days or weeks but when you have finished, you will have a solid horse that will retain the good habits for life. Cherry Hill, award-winning author of books on horse training, riding, horse

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