Monty Roberts Equus Online University
Horse Training Video Instruction Program

Learn all about Equus • Dually Halter • Shy Boy Mustang • Jumping Horses
• Story of a Horse Whisperer • Riding Horsemanship • Dressage Horses • Willing Partners
• Horse Training • Round Pen Lessons • Performance Horses • Join-Up

← back

Horse Behavior and Training

My trailer loading experience using the Dually- SUCESS!


So last Friday morning I get a call from my neighbor friend saying that she could not get one of her horses on the trailer and asked if I had any other ideas or could come over and help.

I'm going to try and make this as short as possible, forgive me if I end up writing a book! lol

A little background- the horses are 2 Arabian mares, both have been loaded numerous times, never any difficulty whatsoever, always the "walk right on" kind of horses. Great ground manners, the one in particular who is the one I worked with, was a lesson horse before coming to live with my friend.

Situation- my friend is in college now and only gets 3 months out of the year to regularily ride the horses, so she decided it'd be best if they went back to their previous owner where they would be used more. They were supposed to be leaving early Friday morning and the trip is an all day drive so it was important they leave by a certain time.

So my friend calls me up and gives me the jist of what they've been dealing with......they loaded up the first mare-no problem, walked right in...second mare-refused to get in, started backing up, would not go in. They tried and tried to get her in, she was not going in! They figured she was just being stubborn as she's always been great loading and had even been in this particular trailer before. The neighbors were brought over per her father (as they were on a time-schedule and needed to leave asap) and that ended up only making matters worse. The neighbors tried getting the horse in by force and having one person pulling on her from inside the trailer and another behind the mare with a whip smacking (not trying to hurt her- just trying to make it annoying for her but it actually scared her more) her on her hindquarters and on her back legs. This heightened the mares adrenaline, which was already heightened due to the impatient and stressed energy of the people around her. Long story short they tried getting her in for about an hour which ended when she threw herself. She had gotten as far as two feet on the trailer but they continued smacking her which led to her panicing and throwing herself. She got a little banged up and had some scratches as she fell on a gravel driveway. *As a sidenote- my friend was against bringing over the neighbors and very against the way they went about things but at this point had no say in the matter.

I told my friend I had an idea and I'd come help. I grabbed my Dually halter and headed over...

The neighbors were gone when I got there and everyone but my friend was inside, she stood by to observe and help if I needed her.

I started working the mare at about 9:00am.
I put the Dually on the mare and schooled her a bit so she understood what it meant and that by coming off the pressure she would feel release and be comfortable again. I did this until I knew she understood so I was sending clear signals and to eliminate any confusion on her part that could lead to her not wanting to get in the trailer. I began by walking her calmly towards the trailer, to see if now that everyone was gone and it was a different person with a different energy that maybe she'd load. We got maybe 15 feet from the trailer and she put on the breaks and started pulling me backwards. So, I said "fine, you want to go back, well lets go back" using the Dually I backed her up until I felt she'd had about enough of that but made her go back a bit more than asked her to walk forward. She willingly walked up with me and I walked her up until we were about 5 feet closer than when she stopped last time, and we backed up some more. We repeated this, coming up closer to the trailer each time, willingly on her part might I add (she wasn't so sure she liked this backing game lol) We did this until for at least an hour and made it as close to the trailer (it's a step up trailer, no ramp) as we could without her stepping in. She made it clear she would get right up close to the trailer now, without backing up, but she was not stepping one foot on the trailer. She got to where she refused to back (she would sit against the Dually and not budge) (make note-I'm at most #120, 5' 7", so not a lot of weight to throw into it lol) and everytime she got close enough to step up on the trailer she'd rear and throw herself back. So I could get her right up to the trailer, where she was so close she could touch it with her knees, but she made it clear she wasn't taking a step further. This was a learning process for me as well, figuring out the right amount of pressure with the Dually at the right time. Too much continual pressure would make her rear and fly backwards, but no pressure she wouldn't make any effort to get on either. So what I ended up doing was short but firm tugs (give and release) continuously until she made a baby step to getting on the trailer. She did start taking baby steps as time went on, she got to where she'd put one foot on the trailer, than two. And each time she did she was rewarded by release of pressure and a rub on the head. One thing we had to overcome, due to the previous experience that morning, was that she was now afraid of someone coming up behind her and smacking her, she was constantly and fearfully watching behind her trying to make sure no one was coming up behind her. I let her take her time with each baby step and let her realize it was just her and I and I wasn't going to hurt her. After a while she got to where she actually wanted to get in, but didn't trust that no one was going to come up behind her. I could tell that she SO wanted to get in but that wall of fear that was built would have to be broken down first. *and keep in mind I'm dealing with a purebred Arabian here-they are SMART and THINKERS!*
So we got to where she would put 2 front feet in but she didn't want to go the rest of the way and would back out if I tried getting her to advance any further. So fast forward.....we did this for FOUR HOURS! Until she finally gave in and walked in! I got her in, gave her some grain, petted her, waited until she was relaxed, than walked her out and put her away. I know I could not have done it without the Dually, I needed a way to do it without pain but a way that was effective, and the Dually was just that! Now it was 1:00pm and they were supposed to leave no later than 10:00am (and even than they'd get there past dark and have to spend the night there and drive home the next day). So we ended it on a good note (I was late to work and had to get going, but knew I had to get her in at least once). They planned on making the trip the next morning. I told them she should be loaded again that night to make sure she's good to go for the next morning. They asked me if I could load her that night and come back again the next morning to load her for the trip. I said I would and would be back again.

That night I went to load her again, with the Dually on, and I proceeded to walk her calmly onto the trailer. She stopped in her tracks just in front of the trailer and refused to get on, like she had done that morning. So I went back to the short/firm tugs and release (which was uncomfortable and annoying for her but did not cause any pain), 15 minutes later she was on the trailer. So we brought it down from 4 hours to 1/4 of an hour. Once she was in the trailer I gave her some grain, petted her, waited until she was relaxed, than walked her out of the trailer. I wanted to try again and see if she'd put up another fight or not so we walked towards the trailer again and she loaded right up. I repeated what I did before with her in the trailer and we walked out and I put her up for the night.

That morning came, on the big day that they had to make the trip, and I was there before the sun was up, Dually in hand. I was there early enough in case she wanted to put up another fight again. We walked towards the trailer, she stopped right before it and so I gave her a tug on the Dually, she walked right in! So we took it down from 15 minutes to less than 1/4 of a minute! So with both horses loaded they were able to make the trip!

Even though getting her to load the first time took 4 hours, she did get in, and without any pain or force. It was a learning experience for us both (my first time dealing with a problem loader) and we both walked away better beings. It was also a learning experience for my friends parents and the neighbors, that there's no need for a whip and that working with a horse is not a place for impatience or frustration. If I had been frustrated or impatient I would have gotten nowhere either. I had to understand where the horse was coming from (a state of mind that she didnt fully trust the situation) and she had to understand where I was coming from (a state of mind where I knew the situation and was asking her to trust and work with me).

With the Dually it made it possible to create a calm, clear environment for learning. I wasn't stressed, she wasn't stressed by the halter (like she was with brining in the whip) and the Dually gave a clear signal- you pull against it= pressure/level of discomfort (not pain) increases, you give in to it= pressure decreases and level of comfort increases. I was able to keep my adrenaline down, which kept hers down and made it a safe and effective environment in which she could learn and we could be successful.


Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed

Oh exciting!I can understand how good you must have felt !


Well done! If only there were more people like you in the world.

I've just purchased Dually halters, and have yet to try them out loading my "babies" (they are yearlings now).

We moved a while ago - before I had become a Monty addict!
The babies were about 8 months old and already weaned. Because one of the mares wouldn't travel without the other one, we moved them together and decided to move the babies together as they are practically twins (same father and the mothers are half sisters), and they have been stuck to each other like glue since birth (they were born a week apart to the day!)

Anyway - long story short - the plan was to get the colt on first because I thought he would be the hardest. Well he loaded like a dream until the filly called him. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. He was tied (as everything had gone so well to that point) but then started to lunge in ways I never though he could get his body into. He fractured my husbands hand in 3 places (against the chest bar) and almost hung himself. I had to cut him free while holding his head up from the floor and push him back at the same time (as he was half under the centre divider). I don't get emotional very easily, but it was the absolute most frightening time of my life. I had visions of all kinds of "worst case scenarios".

I tried again myself a week later, but although he was a sweetheart and went back up (unbelievably) the same thing threatened to happen again when she called, so I didn't tie him because I knew what would happen. So I decided to get a professional horse carrier where they had a large space and could travel next to eachother, but without being tied up.
I couldn't be at home when they came to pick them up (my husband was there with him arm in a sling so he couldn't do much except just be there) - and I'm so glad I wasn't. I had arranged for the vet to be there to give them a sedative to reduce the stress, but it made little difference. They were given 3 shots each, and still would not get onto that truck. I don't know exactly what happened - and I really don't want to ever know - but my husband says he is just glad I wasn't there. Appearantly after 6 hours they ended up pushing them up just due to their pure exhuastion. If only I'd discovered the Dually halter before trying to float them.

Anyway, I am really hoping that the next time I load them I can use what I have learnt so far to overcome the fear they would now have. Thank you for sharing your experience - it gives me alot of hope!

julie m.
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed

Great job! You should be very proud of yourself! And the cool thing is that you helped that horse get over her fear so hopefully, she won't have that issue again. Very, very well done!