Sarah and I set off early this morning to pick up a paint horse colt from Nottingham, we wanted to arrive with plenty of time / light to give the young fella a positive introduction to loading.
I had only seen pictures of him from his advert and when I got to see him in the flesh I was delighted, he was wonderfully marked and equally fantastically put together with very straight, clean limbs. He had been well handled and halter broken.
I put a rope halter on him and a long lead line – I like the line to be of none stretchy material so he can feel when the “pressure is on” and when it is “off” I also like the rope looped through the halter rather than a heavy metal clip that might knock his chin if he jerks suddenly.
I opened the ramp fully. I had prepared the box as I would for any youngster; I had removed the partition and put a layer of shavings on the floor and a pile of nice hay in the corner.
My main concern is to give horses TIME when doing something that they are unsure of so to begin with I walked him up to the ramp and he lowered his head to sniff the ramp… this is an excellent sign, it says to me I will try for you I’m just making sure its safe (put it this way if a horse openly walked onto something that it might fall through would you really want to be on its back, no so self preservation is a good sign for me) Some horses will paw the ramp at this point, this is also a good sign as they are checking if it is solid (never punish a horse for doing this at this point as it is not a demonstration of impatience as it is when they are left tied up and paw)
After a short while I lead him forward positioning myself at the side of him (not in front – obstructing his view of the horsebox) and behind his eye – this naturally encourages him to move forward. I knew he would not go straight on at this point but I had to give him the opportunity. He pulled back but didn’t turn his head away from the horsebox. Keeping my current position I use a carrot stick gently at the base of his neck or on the saddle area (please not this is NOT a punishment and is NOT for hitting them) gently rhythmical taps (lighter than a clap) cause the horse to want to move… when the horse moves his feet forward the handler STOPS immediately thus rewarding the horses positive action if at any point the horse stops and chews of lowers his head to sniff the ramp again the handler should stop and give the horse TIME.
We loaded Magicality using this method within ten minutes! So giving time at the right point saves you time overall. If anyone would like advice on loading their horse please call 07920875145
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