Horsemanship at its best


Ok, I’m sure that after watching that, most of you are expecting some pretty snarky commentary.  But come on!  How awesome is that old dude?! Ignoring all the safety concerns that crop up from his mad skillz, it is so completely and entirely laughable that he thinks he can actually push a draft breed into a trailer!  I mean, ok, he does, but I’m betting that’s somewhere on par with a horse stamping its leg to remove a fly.  (Maybe the fly was on said hypothetical horse’s leg, wanting it to lift its foot temporarily.  Ya never know.)

It would honestly NEVER have occurred to me to try to push my horse into a trailer! -or anywhere else for that matter.  Prior to learning better, a lot of us try to pull horses, typically to no avail – maybe he was never taught better but managed to figure out on his own that pulling doesn’t work, so why not try pushing?!

This obviously wouldn’t be so funny if any injuries occurred.  And there are so many horror stories out there surrounding trailers – I’ve heard tales ranging from people’s jaws being wired shut to horses fracturing their skulls.  Neither my horse nor I have been in any sort of trailering accident, but I still manage to work myself into quite the panic prior to every trip.

So, to help guide you, faithful readers, I’ve compiled this list of what not to do when loading a horse.

1. Do not attempt to load a large quadriped onto a comically small trailer (floors can rust and lose their structural stability, in addition to the obvious head-room issue)

2. Get rid of any unnecessary vehicles nearby – can you imagine if that horse had come rushing out? He could have headed straight into that car!  Big ass draftie vs. car?

3. Do not stand directly behind a horse (what if he farted? or pooped!? -correct! laughter would ensue!)

4. ok, this one’s kind of serious: when the dude put his back into the horse’s rump, a number of things could have gone wrong.  If the horse had jumped forward, the man could have fallen, horse comes crashing back out, right on top of what would then become a human pancake.  Also, by turning his back on the horse, he looses any ability to see/interpret the horse’s body language (not that he was exactly paying attention to this when we was pushing with his hands…)

Is it just me, or is that horse’s ass almost hanging out the end?!

For a buttload of trailer safety articles, check out 🙂


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Posted on March 13, 2012, in Misc Horsies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. lol good thing that big guy looked pretty good natured! I’m sure the poor horse was just worried he wouldn’t fit in a tiny little trailer.

    But physically pushing the horse in the trailer??? really? lol If we need a little extra encouragement for the horse to go in we’ll run a lunge line behind the horse’s butt and help push him with that. but dear lord, pushing with a squishy human? not a good Idea.

  2. “pushing with a squishy human? not a good idea.”

    “Squishy human” LOL 🙂

  3. I’m pretty sure it was a joke video. Nevertheless, wow that horse is friendly.

  4. You are correct, not the best or safest way to load a horse, but I am betting that this guy has handled draft horses all his life and thought nothing about what he did. We have a local guy much like him, but more elderly and frail. He’s in his 80’s and now walks stooped over and slow. To see him walk around his horses, you are scared he will be crushed at and moment. Yet, he knows his horses and still works in the woods with them daily. However, when he gets into his hitch wagon, he drives his 6-horse hitch of huge draft horses at shows like a mad man…yet with complete control. He’s amazing to watch. On the other hand, I’ve watched some real horrors happen with people try to load horses. The worst one was one who blew backwards just as the owner was shutting the rear door, the door slammed into them and knocked them down, and then the horse ran backwards out of the trailer over top of them. Squish!

    • Moral of that: Don’t stand directly behind when closing a trailer door. Or, worse, a ramp.

      In England, all trailers are ramped, and when I showed regularly over there I more than once saw somebody drive off without closing the trailer ramp. They usually didn’t get out of the showground before somebody flagged them down, but I even saw trainers do this. You can’t actually see, with that kind of trailer, whether the ramp is up or down from the cab of your towing vehicle. (I never saw anyone or any horse get hurt that way, but it was always amusing to see somebody running…or riding…after a departing trailer yelling ‘RAMP’.

  5. Actually, while we’re talking about loading and hauling, I think I’m going to ask people here their opinion on something from many years ago.

    I had a little grade pony, maybe 13.2, and the only guess to his breeding was that his head looked kinda Welsh.

    This pony loaded like a charm. Whether it was the big horse box or a pokey little trailer rated only for up to 14.2 ponies, he’d be straight up the ramp, no fuss, no muss. Never tried to pull back, never hesitated…

    …and by the time we got to our destination the poor thing was in a cold sweat. Every time. Then on the way back, he’d load like a charm…and arrive home in a cold sweat.

    What I never could understand was why when he so CLEARLY found hauling a stressful misery akin to a trip to the dentist…he would still load first time, every time.

    I mean. Seriously. You’d think he’d refuse to go anywhere near a trailer, but he’d bounce right on. Then break out into a cold sweat. Rinse, repeat. He’d do this on SHORT trips, too…to the point where if we were only going to the local show I’d hack him (through town, traffic islands, etc) rather than inflict being hauled on him. He’d do it regardless of the hauling vehicle or who was driving.

    But he’d still load.

    That pony was weird.

    • That’s so weird! Short term memory loss maybe?! That’s the best I got… What a trooper though!

    • That is really weird… Do you know the training history of the pony at all? All I can think is that perhaps he was initially scared to load, so a past trainer used an inordinate amount of treats or food or some other reward to get him on, but never actually dealt with the fear, resulting in a horse that is scared of being in the trailer for any length of time, but will happily load into the trailer because he associates that particular behaviour with something good?

      Alternatively, perhaps he had some severe punishment when he wouldn’t get on, so will willingly load to avoid that, even though he’s afraid of the trailer? Doesn’t seem overly likely though, as he would probably still be jumpy or show some sign of fear while loading, even if you had no difficulty getting him on.

      • Training history…all I knew about the pony was that my trainer at the time (an unpleasant woman, but that’s another part of the story) found him at a livestock auction. The first time I saw him he was a little bit underweight (not the previous owner’s fault…he was a lousy keeper. That was the other weird thing about him) and still had a lot sticker on his butt. Oh, and cracked hoofs…he never had great hoofs either.

        The only time she would have loaded him was to bring him back from the auction.

        The pony was badly head shy…you had to use a small brush to brush his face because he’d freak out at a body brush. He bridled and haltered fine, but he did not like having his head groomed, his ears handled or being petted on the nose. He did NOT like jumping and when he did jump he’d jerk his front legs upwards. Knowing what I know now but did not know then, I suspect that he was rapped or hedgehogged. However, he was really easy to catch, had good ground manners otherwise…he didn’t know how to neck rein or ground tie, but learned both very quickly. Easy to saddle and bridle, easy to blanket, fine with the vet and the farrier. Never showed a sign of aggression and the only time he showed fear was when asked to jump…or the time I tried to catch him wearing a long coat. He wanted nothing to do with me! (I cured him of being afraid of long coats in a couple of sessions, but never did explain it…it was the only time in the two years I had him that he didn’t walk up to me in the field, assuming he wasn’t waiting at the gate, and practically put his head in the halter.

        Oh, yes, and he didn’t know horse cookies were edible to start with. He’d take peppermints, carrots, apples, just not cookies. I’m guessing nobody’d ever given him one for whatever reason.

    • My Arabian was the exact same way. He would follow me onto any trailer willingly and then would end up at the destination drenched in sweat so bad you’d thought we hosed him off in the the thing!

      We actually thought he was getting better by the end of ‘show season’ because he’d be less drenched coming off the trailer. Then I realized he was probably actually building up endurance. He would prance any moment he could. He was the same way about wash racks too until he had to live in a rain storm.

      The reason he followed me into the trailers, even the last one he was on before he colick’ed and had to be put down, was because he trusted me. We’d grown up together and he trusted me implicitly. Not necessarily everyone though. (Anyone who owns Arabs knows they can be very wary of strangers, oddly accepting/motherly of children, and loyal to a fault to their humans)

      Reading what history you had with him it could very well be the same reason. Dustin (my Arab) also had only trailered twice before I started showing as a teen. Once when he was a 4 year old stud colt in a two horse with another stallion He had to be loaded backwards because he kept trying to mount the stallion. >.< The second was to the barn where I took lessons in a big open stock trailer. Both were very short trips. But even after his hellishly long one to Maryland and back he still loaded onto the narrow little stalls of those trailers without question.

      We actually had a Dressage show when we were in Maryland where I warned my trainer he didn't like trailer rides, so could we put him at the end of the 7 horse where he'd have room? "Okay, but your class isn't till much later in the day. You'll have to hang onto him because we have to unload the others." There was no way I had even thought to leave him on that trailer regardless of when we showed or where he was. When we got there (also a short trip) she realized why. Drenched head to toe of his long spring coat, ruffled like a curly horse. He dried by our show and did well though.

  6. Verrueckter alter Mann. Ein Pferd rein zu schieben! Ha!

    Glad no one got hurt.

  7. As much as I’m going “Ack! Why are you standing directly behind the horse like that?” and “that trailer is way too small!” it was certainly a lot better than some people. No whips, no shouting, no dragging the horse in by the mouth, no chains, or any of the other ridiculousness people use to make up for lack of proper training. I’d much rather see something like this than someone using pain or fear to get the horse in.

    • I have to go with you! At least no one was in real danger there except the old man, and possibly the car, LOL.

      I almost can’t go to horseshows because of the amount of DUMB I see trying to load horses in the parking lot after. I see better loading techniques at the slaughter auctions, and that isn’t saying much.

      Oh, and drafty is a SAINT.

  8. I probably shouldn’t admit this out loud, but I actually used this technique to get Chance into the bathing stall the other day. She spent the rainy day happily wallowing in the mud and covering herself tail to ear, but *did not* want to be hosed off with the warm water. After a frustrating day at work, I just didn’t feel like tolerating it so I literally shoved her into the stall by pushing her in the butt. She was awfully surprised but didn’t kick me. 😉

    I like to think we know each other well enough that she won’t hurt me, but honestly? Will likely never do that again. Hopefully, she’ll just be more cooperative now that she knows I may resort to something other than the tug o’ war game I know I’ll lose!

    It may just be that way with this gentleman: he knows his horses and he takes calculated risks. I am glad he wasn’t hurt, too.

  9. Once, I was so desperate to get my mare into the trailer I put my shoulder on her butt like a football player, starting pushing and actually lifted both feet off the ground! My friend wet her pants laughing so hard. Said mare just being stubborn, then my feet slipped in the loose gravel and I ended up on my hands and knees looking at her back feet inches from my head. Thankfully, she didn’t kick. When she figured out dinner time was rolling around, she stepped into the trailer, ready to go home.

  10. I actually think it was staged. If you watch carefully, the lady who is inside the trailer with the horse seems to stop the horse for a moment..
    And when the older gent turns his back to the horse and starts pushing with his back… I think you can see the lead rope get pulled a little and POOF the horse goes in.
    And that trailer is pretty tall, considering.

    I like the fact that draft has his tail.

    I have a mare that will break out into a sweat EVERY time she is in a trailer, she is actually worse in a stock than in a 2 horse. One of her first experiences in a 2 horse did not go well. I took her to school her at some jumps before a show a few days down the road, and she managed to turn herself around ( I didn’t have her tied well), AND the trailer had an internal set up that apparently made it possible to turn around .. so we are going down the driveway, leaving that barn when some one honks at me.. and my mare has her head out the back of the trailer… It took me several minutes to get her to load, and she had problems for quite some time after that with a 2 horse.
    She will jump into a stock trailer, but sweats up a storm. I got a 2 horse and luckily it was very airy and open, although I had to use a head bumper on her a few times, she finally loaded like a pro after several weeks.. she sweated much less in the 2 horse than she has ever done in the years riding in a stock trailer.

  11. I have seen someone crouch down on the trailer ramp behind a large horse they don’t know from a bar of soap, who had got to that “I’ve got my front feet on the ramp but not sure about the hinds” stage – who then proceeded to try to lift the horse’s hind feet, one at a time, onto the ramp. The only saving grace was that they at least had the sense not to kneel down, so at least when the horse hit reverse they got barrelled out of the way with nothing more than a bloody nose to show for it.

  12. That’s such a nice change from the video you had on FHOTD yesterday. One guy is using the same tool as a lot of other people, but doing it horridly wrong and creating a very stressed out horse. The other is doing something I REALLY can’t recommend, but it works and the horse doesn’t seem bothered in the slightest. (I agree, it might be staged. Even if it isn’t, I’m sure the guy knows the horse very well.) I know which one I’d want training my horses!

  13. Rebecca Neppach

    Seriously, haven’t we all felt like that man,at one time or another loading a horse. Faked or not, very funny:) There is nothing more frustrating than trying to load a horse who doesn’t want to cooperate! I have been dealing with the wrong end in loading all along, who knew:) Did you catch the horse looking out to the group of people, like what is he doing:)

  14. That’s how I move our mini donkey when he’s not wearing a halter and is in the way…. You just point his head where you want him to go then get behind him push his bum! Its like pushing a hairy shopping cart!! Would I try that with a horse? HELL NO! If the donkey kicked it might hurt but it would probably be more comical than anything. But a big guy like that??? And in a trailer that small??? Really????

  15. Sort of Anonymous

    Uh, yeah, I push the mini donk all the time.

    And technically, you can see “sort of” this technique at any racetrack across the country… pushing equines, although much smaller equines and in a slightly safer manner.

    A friend’s 4 yo TB didn’t want to load. Another friend’s 6’4 husband hunkered down, caught his shoulder under the horse’s haunch, and football pressed him in one smooth move. I think the horse just went with it because he hadn’t been off the track that long…

    • Exactly, I saw it being done with two people clasping their wrist’s. You still have to be calm and read the horse. What was funny (in hindsite, I was lucky I didn’t get my head caved in) was my mare just kept her front feet planted next to the trailer. At one point I had a 1 ft twig ripped from a bush trying to get her in, urbanites walking on a trail nearby had to stare….tap, tap with a twig…not so effecient.

      We did finally learn the best, low stress method. She would have to get in and out 2 times but always stood quietly on #3, in an open slant. What ever works.

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