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Trouble Float Loading my Horse

Original Question

I have always had trouble float loading my horse McGinness . He is about 8 years old and could only load him using a bum rope.  
I decided to try your way of loading him, it took an hour and a half to get him all the way into the float.  

Was I wrong to continue for so long? I did not lose my patience, I tried to do it the best I could your way.
The next day he went straight on the float. So over the next few day he has loaded well, staying longer each time in the float.
So my question is for how long will I continue to do this as he is not at all happy about being in there.

Cheers Tania

Angie’s Answer

Hi Tania,


It is so great to hear that you tried loading him another way.  The fact he went on straight away is great, though if you say he is not comfortable then you need to give him way more time to feel comfortable being on the float.
It sounds like floating has caused a huge amount of anxiety for him in the past.  Though you can’t expect him to just get over this big concern in a few days.  
I would suggest hooking your float up as much as possible and practise loading him after every ride or as often as you can.  
Use the approach and retreat strategy.  Don’t always go all the way on.  Go only half way on soemtimes, wait for 30 seconds or so and then slowly, back him out only a few steps at a time.  Repeat a few times, mixing up how far you go on, how long you stay on etc.  Also, don’t be direct and go on and off, on and off.  You can also go for a walk or let hom have a pick on some grass in between.


I would also incorporate float loading into your groundwork sessions.  So in between working on lunging, backing, sideways or whatever you are working on go over to the float and ask him to load and hang out in the float.  Then do something else on the ground before loading again, so mix it up between doing other groundwork tasks so it’s not just all about the float.
 
If you are prepared to put in the time (and it sounds like you are and also be really patient and calm), he will slowly get more comfortable with loading.  Imagine if you had a fear or heaps of anxiety about something, if someone supported you through that anxiety or fear, would you expect yourself to be fully okay after a few days?
 
Just try putting yourself in his shoes and take your time and support him to build more confidence on the float.  If you get in a rush or put a time line on it he will feel it.  


 Unfortunately there are no short cuts in training, it’s a process BUT if you stick to it and not be in a rush it will continue to improve.   You just have to add it to your daily training routine and keep building on it slowly and mix the float loading sessions up by incorporating it into your other training so it’s not just about the float all the time.

Please let us know how you are going with it in a month or so.

Hope this helps,
Angie

 

Angie Wicks

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