Won't stay on float

Discussion in 'Problem Horses' started by ASH lover, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. ASH lover

    ASH lover Well-known Member

    I have a mare that I am having difficulty with - she gets on the float ok - but then backs out after about 15 - 30 seconds (even after many attempts this is as good as it gets).:confused:
    I have had difficult to float horses before and have been able to get good results from the Steve Brady methods, with all my horses able and willing to self load, but this mare is different.
    She is very ear shy (I think she was probably ear twitched in the past - some people should never be allowed around horses:mad:) and quite a sensitive soul so I am certainly NOT going to try and lock her in quickly as she would probably freak creating even more problems.
    Has anyone had this problem - and if so how did you cure it?
  2. Kiwigirl

    Kiwigirl Well-known Member

    I have a self loader (usually *#)) but he has started to back out of the float when we are going home from the beach (I think he wants to stay there *#) everywhere else he selfs loads to go home) I have found that since he is VERY food orientated sp? if he thinks/knows that there is some high value food (as in hard feed hay is not as high up the value scale for my spoilt boy) he will go in and stay in because he is too busy stuffing his face. I am not going to make this a habit though, I want him to get to the stage that he thinks there may be food in the float so will go on everytime.
  3. Bon & Ted

    Bon & Ted Guest

    Different things work for different horses.

    One thing I have personally used with success is sending them backwards. If they want to run off the float backwards they can keep going back until I say so, and then I will ask them to calmly come forward back onto the float. They'll probably try it a couple more times until it clicks.

    Basically you're making the wrong thing hard for them and the right thing easy.

    Just make sure when training you have float (attached to the car of course) in a safe open area without something they run the risk of running into etc.
  4. Pockets

    Pockets Gold Member

    I tend to ask them to back out before they do-make it my idea-and then ask them straight back in again. Or if she wants to back out let her then straight back in again-it takes a while but as long as they don't feel trapped or tricked they usually start to feel comfortable standing in there. A come forward cue is a godsend-tapping on the shoulder is what I like and very politely ask forward with the lead but don't pull just hold firm till they give then release right away. As B&T said make the right thing easy! Hope that makes sense...
  5. Ziggy the Piggy

    Ziggy the Piggy Active Member

    Hi Ashlover, I'm glad you are able to load your mare onto the float easily, but it is frustrating for you that she doesn't want to stay there! You are quite right to not go ahead and close her in, because she is 'telling you' that she is not completely comfortable there at this stage....otherwise she would be happy to stay until you asked her back out.

    I would handle this issue by slowing down a bit, and not making going all the way into the float the goal yet. Play a little yoyo game with her. Walk her up to the ramp, then stop and wait, and stroke her quietly. Then one step back (slowely), then stop and rest. Do this for several repititions until you can see her relax and calm. Then one step up onto the ramp, and stop and rest, scratch, wait. Then one step back, and rest. Keep repeating this until totally calm, then proceed another step forward, then stop, and rest. Make the rest times, and the scratch times longer and longer, partically after proceeding forward a step. You want to have her happily resting for 30 or 60 or 120 seconds at least, and building on that. By this stage you may be scratching her on the side or rump, depending on how far in the float she is. Just keep aiming for step forward, step back, repeat, repeat, step forward, then another step forward, rest, relax. Then proceed.

    The trick is to allow plenty of time...so not when you have to go somewhere, and go slow, keep her calm.

    If your worried that she may get a bit rattled, then practice in the week leading up to the float day. Lead her around, slow down, and go one step at a time, stop, scratch her, wait, then one step back, wait, repeat. You can keep her interested by including poles, step over one, stop, wait, back over one step, wait, turn on the hind, one step at a time.....really anything that will get her calmly listening to you, watching your body language, and slowing down, and looking for that stop and rest....they get to love it.

    Just remember 'calm feet equal calm minds'.

    When you get her all the way into the float, make it a good place, and ease the pressure off then. Slowly rubbing her rump, if she decides to come out, start again, slow it down, one step at a time.

    When ever she comes out of a float from now on, aim for one step at a time, then stop and rest. This breaks the habit of wanting to rush out and get it over with. Also, if you have the leadership enough to stop the horse while still in the float and then send her back on a step or two, then shes more focused on you than just getting off the float.**)**)**)

    My horse is well float trained, and I still stop him half way out, wait, and send him on a step, and wait, before asking him all the way out. I may do this several times, depending on his attitude on the day, so dont worry, we're all training, every day.

    Good luck, and let me know if I can be of more help (if my description is to vague????):D
  6. snoopydoo

    snoopydoo Well-known Member

    My last pony has this problem. I spent many $$$$ and hours trying and trying but to no avail. Main prob was I didn't have a float to practise at home with. Sadly, I never solved the problem so I sold him on with full disclosure of his problem. I managed to find a fabulous home for him with a v experienced lady who has got him loading ok. I've come to the conclusion it was me and my lack of experience. If you have a float to practise with, get professional help to put you on the right track.
  7. Que Sera Sera

    Que Sera Sera Well-known Member

    We had this problem with our boy when we were teaching him to load. Ended up taking the self load approach rather than leading him in. Teaching him to self load meant that it was normal for tapping on the behind to get him to move forward so now he will start to back out after a couple of seconds but he gets a tap on the butt to move forward and responds accordingly (most of the time LOL). It did take a couple of lessons of just getting on and letting him get off then asking him to stop on the ramp and move forward again until he got the idea about standing in the float for more than it took to grab a mouthful of hay. I also undid the chest bar just to give him a little more room to move up the front so it gave me that extra couple of seconds to do up the bum bar. I then go do up the front chest bar and tie him up and then give him hay.

    We are still practising but the rule now is that you have to stay away from me when we load him on the float, so I have to do everything myself cause he has to learn to move forward and stand still rather than people rushing to get the bum bar done up.
  8. jonty

    jonty Well-known Member

  9. ASH lover

    ASH lover Well-known Member

    Thanks everyone for your valuable suggestions / comments**)
    It looks like I am on the right track at this point I am trying similar techniques to Ziggy the piggy (thanks for your detailed reply) and also Bon and Ted.
    Ruby is part arab and I think they must be far more emotional than stock horses (something I not used to as all my ASHs are easy going and just get on with the job - even as youngsters) and it may take far longer than normal to get her comfortable. She seems to have seperation anxiety and this could be half her problem - not wanting to leave the others!
    I have been doing a lot of yo-yo-ing and am able to stop her halfway down the ramp and she is getting more comfortable with that but only with me standing at the top of the ramp (which I do not consider as ideal as it can be a dangerous position to be in)!
    It looks a though this training may take ages, but I am happy to spend the time as a) I have my own float to practice with; b) I am not planning on going anywhere with her soon; and c) something that takes a long time to fix tend to stay fixed!
    Looks like I will drawing on all my reserves of patience and wine:)) (strictly after I have put her back in the paddock)
    I will keep you all informed of our progress as I may need some supportive encouragement if we can't progress past this point!*#)
  10. Bon & Ted

    Bon & Ted Guest

    Good to hear you're on the right track.

    The Arabs can be tricky ones that's for sure, way too smart!! My little girl is half arab and I constantly need to be one step ahead of her to beat her in the floating game. I think the best bet (for my girl anyway) is to beat her at her own game, if she wants to go back, she can get the hell back, if she wants to jump sideways she can keep going sideways lol. As long as I keep a calm but firm demeanour it works every time **)

    Good Luck with your girl.
  11. GarrynGirl

    GarrynGirl New Member

    All great suggestions, perseverance and you will have a horse like my old horse....I can't leave the ramp down or he loads himself from wherever he is in the paddock.

    Another suggestion is along the food line. Feed your horse their hay in there. Just leave it in there and walk away, let her figure out in her own time that the float is not such a bad place to be. Of course this is only if you can leave the float hitched up in a safe place.

    Using this in conjunction with advice from other posters will soon have her happy to go in and stay there. Sounds like you are well on your way anyway. Good job so far.

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