Finally - Problem Loader Solved!

I hate to admit that we have had a problem loader.

Ava, a homebred Half-Arabian mare, has been a problem loader (read refusing to load) since we brought her home from being broke. That was 6 years ago! We've tried making life uncomfortable outside the trailer, we tried blindfolding, we've tried loading her best friend/sister, we've tried waiting patiently for 5 hours, we've tried just about everything but tranquilizer. We were at our wits end - everything else loads willingly why not her - nothing happened on her trailer rides to and from the trainer's.

Ava has loaded since she was a foal at her dam's side and loaded everythime we spent a day loading the youngstock and those that don't get to go to exciting places like shows and rides, this event happens 3-4 times a summer. Then BOOM when we brought her home from the trainer's she said NO WAY! Not violent - just stubborn. I quit riding this potential show horse as it was a lost cause. Too many good competition horses in the barn to spend my limited time with and don't need to waste it on a broke horse that won't load.

Well, we ran into Gail Haynes of Five Star Ranch at the Centre Wellington Tack Exchange and she was looking for a problem loader for the Josh Lyons Clinic last weekend. Well needless to say we volunteered Ava as we have seen Josh's dad, John Lyons, work miracles with problem loaders in the past. There was some "step" that we were missing it was worthing going to find out what that step was.

So after 6 years 1.5cc of Rompum and 30 minutes of inching a 1,200lb horse foot by foot onto a 4 horse step-up stock trailer, we got her loaded with only two attempts. She spend Fri night, all day Sat and Sun morning at 5 Star Ranch, to get the tranq out of her system and to get her used to the sights and sounds there including the loud speaker.

Josh did not handle Ava until I handed the line over at the begining of the problem loading session. 32 minutes later he had her loading on his command and she did test him several times and threw the odd hissy fit. An hour after that he had her free loading (loose, no halter and in a round pen, she would dive for the trailer and load herself on his commands). Then he had me load her several times, correcting some of my positioning and my mom even loaded her a couple of times. After a 1/2 hr rest we loaded her on our trailer to come home, again with Josh supervising.

Josh told us that that was just the beginning, she needed 100 trips to the gas station for her to resolve her issues. Well yesterday was the first time we had the opportunity (time and trailer hooked up) to practice. 20 minutes after I caught Ava in the field, I was putting her back - with a great big smile on my face. She loaded and unloaded at least 20 times, including stopping partway unloaded and reloading!

Today - ROAD TRIP. I have to go pick up Loosi from the indoor arena, so it is the perfect opportunity for Ava to go for a trailer ride, unload at a strange place, and then reload, have another horse load and travel home.

If this progress keeps up I might just get my potential show horse to a horse show by the end of the season and know that I can get her home again. Better 6 years too late than never at all!

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