For those of you who do not have a horse, you may not know how difficult it is to load a horse into a trailer. Most of you may assume, the horse walks right into a trailer as asked…not always the case. Like any animal, they have to be trained, and sometimes they have a mind of their own. It is not always easy to load a horse up into their trailer. If you have been struggling for the last hour and a half to load your horse, try some of these tricks!
Get the RIGHT Kind of Horse Trailer
A lot of people have a trailer that they think is the best fit for their horse but is not always the case. A lot of trainers and owners have found that a slant load horse trailer has made their life a whole lot easier. If your horse has experienced trauma on the road or refuses to step foot on the trailer, this would be the first thing to look at. It is very horse friendly and gives them natural light as well as room for them to move around and not feel so secluded. This will keep them safer on the road and allow them to feel protected while traveling.
Make them comfortable around their horse trailer, even when they are not in it. Have it in a convenient spot at home where they can see it, walk up to it, look around and know that it is safe. Horses are very smart animals, so it is not surprising that they are a bit apprehensive before walking right into it. Let them become comfortable in knowing that this is a place they can be safe and relax in and not force them to get into it. This may take a few weeks, but you will thank yourself later after they easily get on and off.
If you are in a rush, this process is probably not going to go well. Make sure you begin the loading process with plenty of time to do so. Don’t pull, push or force the horse to move. Let him smell his surroundings in the trailer and allow the horse to make the decision. This is also a great time for positive reinforcement. As he takes a step towards the trailer or looks inside, feel free to pet him and let him rest in the position before you encourage him to move more forward.
Approach and Retreat
This is a way to really build confidence in your horse. You allow the horse to approach the trailer. They should be calm, cool and collected at this point. You will know when they reach an uncomfortable phase and they start to react. Allow them to stand there and just be. Don’t force them to keep walking but allow them to figure this part out on their own. At this point, lead them away from the trailer and then start the process over. After a few times, you may notice that your horse is actually coming closer and closer to the trailer without you having to use a lot of force.
Get Used to It
Get them used to being in the trailer. Although you may be in training mode, your horse needs to get used to being in the trailer and what that is going to sound like and feel like. Once your horse decides to load up, give them a hint into what it will be like on the road. Slowly start to increase the time they spend on it when you are stationary. Start moving around the dividers and the bars so they know what the process will be like and it will not be a scary experience for them.
Throughout this process, you also have to know your risks. If you try to push or pull and the horse is not ready, this could result in scaring the horse, or potentially injuring them. No matter what, getting your horse on the trailer should not result in an injury due to frustration.
Keep these tips and tricks in mind next time you have to load your scared, frustrated or stubborn horse into the trailer. It is highly suggested that you begin this process prior to traveling with your horse so you can gauge what they are going to be like. Remember, every horse is different. Every breed is different. Even if you have done this 1,000 times, it could be totally different with your next horse. Don’t get frustrated and stay patient with your 4-legged friend! They will eventually get the hang of it and make traveling together easy and enjoyable!