Guest Author - Kim Wende
Many people struggle with getting their horse into the horse trailer. I've seen several horses and people hurt with silly trailer loading tactics. Most of the time it is the handlers fault for the horse not wanting to get into the trailer.
Horses are claustrophobic and need time to understand what the trailer is all about. The biggest mistake people make is not starting early teaching their horse how to load or they rush the horse into the trailer.
Think about it, would you like to be rushed into something that worried or scared you? I know I wouldn't! The horse trailer is like a big dark cave with lots of noises and is scary. Before you jump into loading your horse on the trailer, there are a few things you can do to prepare your horse to load in the trailer.
Think about it this way you didn't go from kindergarten to college so why do you expect your horse to do the same thing when it comes to getting them into the trailer if you haven't properly prepared them?
Before you think about getting your horse into the trailer, get them used to walking over a sturdy piece of plywood or a bridge. This helps build their confidence going across something that makes a noise and with a bridge it gets them used to stepping up on something.
When your horse is confident going over the plywood or bridge the next step is to get them to stop, settle and wait quietly on the plywood or bridge. When they stand quietly then ask them to back off of the object.
It is important that your horse understands how to back out of the trailer and what a perfect way to practice before they get into the actual trailer. If you have a bridge that they have to step down off of that would be great to simulate the feel of stepping out of the trailer.
The next step would be to simulate the confines of a trailer. You can do this by taking four barrels and placing two on each side, one at the front of the bridge and the other at the back. When they are in place then put a pole on top of the barrels to simulate the walls of the trailer. Now have your horse walk over the bridge and when they are comfortable doing that with the poles up then stop them on the bridge and ask them to back off of it.
Follow these steps to help build your horse's confidence before asking them to load into the trailer. Go slowly and take the time your horse needs. Most horses try very hard to do what we ask and given the time trailer loading can become easy.