Solo trailering

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
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Suffolk, UK
Monkey travels really well with company, but solo is a different story. When I picked him up as a 2yo he was solo in a lorry, and stomped and kicked most of the way from Kent to Norfolk!

He loads really well, but if I lead him in he will sometimes shoot back before I can get to shut the breach bar and ramp. So I switched tact and I now stand outside and point him in and he goes. But either way he is anxious about it, his little face is pitiful.

I have spent a lot of time using a clicker to keep it all as positive as possible. He won't really eat hay or haylage in the trailer. He has a mirror in the trailer. I fixed a bucket to the front ramp (which doesn't open anymore) and put his horselyx in there (his favorite treat of all time) so he gets reward as soon as he goes in, and I've spent a fair bit of time just stood with him giving him a scratch for calm behaviour. I even fed him in there last night.

The additional challenge I have, Jess screams bloody murder when we go out the gate (including when I ride and he now ignores it then), so he screams back in the trailer, the drove is a mile of horse fields and they all call in reply to him as we pass, which winds him up even more. It's a dead end road, this is the only way out. I have wondered about getting him some pompoms (earmuffs) to dull the auditory overload?

I am a bit torn on next steps, I hate that he is so worried by it all :( but he has always been anxious, and gentle repetition has got him through all the other things that worried him initially. So the options I see are to load him without going anywhere (desensitize) or just load and go (flooding), but either way, do it daily, or give it time to sink in in-between? and short trips or longer ones to let him settle into it more?

Added pressure, we go away at the end of the month, and ideally he needs to travel solo (25-30 mins), my friends have kindly said they will take their 2 over, drop one and come back for him but their 2 don't separate well and that means leaving 1 on it's own somewhere no matter which order you do it in and as we are going for L's birthday I don't really want their horses stressed before we start.
 
I won't be much help as I had terrible problems loading AJ and had to enlist Joe's help. Joe thought AJ was really worried, due to the circumstances surrounding his first journey (ie from his breeder's in Devon to me in Yorkshire with an overnight stop).

He's fine to load now (getting off calmly is still a WIP but getting better) but does fidget and fuss when we first get going. He mini rears and ports but I haven't seen him kicking the lorry.

Joe told me that taking him for short rides would be the worst thing I could do as he mustn't learn that creating a fuss gets him off the lorry. AJ does settle eventually with a longer ride but he sweats up a bit. I've only ever travelled him solo.

Sadly I didn't ask Joe what to do if the horse continues to stress even on long journeys.
 
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Joe told me that taking him for short rides would be the worst thing I could do as he mustn't learn that creating a fuss gets him off the lorry. AJ does settle eventually with a longer ride but he sweats up a bit. I've only ever travelled him solo.
That is helpful, thank you. This is exactly what my gut was telling me, that short trips are likely reinforcing the drama. The issue with loading and not leaving is that he is constantly wanting to look for Jess, even if she is quiet (she doesn't fuss if I load him in the middle of the track as she knows we won't leave) he worries every time he hears her move.

Monkey is a real trier, even though he is worried, he loads and unloads really very nicely.

My only other thought, to get him ok with the solo travel without the extra pressure of the other horses and leaving home, is to drop my truck/trailer out somewhere, ride to it, and trailer him home. That maybe not leaving anything but the reward of getting home might make it a good experience???
 
My only other thought, to get him ok with the solo travel without the extra pressure of the other horses and leaving home, is to drop my truck/trailer out somewhere, ride to it, and trailer him home. That maybe not leaving anything but the reward of getting home might make it a good experience???
I would try it.
Have you a battery radio you could hang in the trailer, and put on radio 4 so he hears voices. Alternatively put on loud music, turn the volume up whilsts your driving out past the other horses so it blocks out there calls.

I use load music in the shed when im weaning the calves from there mums. It stops them hearing the mums who are out in the field calling back. Gradually over a week i turn the volume down.
 
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I forgot to update here. I didn't mess about loading him for the rest of last week, then we did a longer solo trip on Sunday and it went well. We went 25/30 mins over to a friends, rode for an hour and travelled home again. He loaded straight away both times and was def much better, probably 80%. Only a couple of kicks and shouts each way. He was a sweaty mess both ways but it was also 26c outside and there's no front vents in my old trailer, though I'm sure some of it is still stress. It definitely felt like progress.
 
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