If you have ever been around horses, you have probably seen some very interesting trailer loading scenes. You may have seen people try to bribe their horses with food or you may have seen the two person method where one person pulls on the lead rope while the other person pushes on the rear of the horse. You may also have seen the three person method where two people use a rope at the rear of the horse as a sling while the person inside the trailer tries to pull them in. None of these methods are very effective, and none of them are safe. The only way to get a horse to load well is to practice loading with them.
There are several simple steps that you can follow to teach your horse to load properly. This will ensure that you do not have any of those “trailer loading scenes” and that both you and your horse will be safe.
Step 1 – Show your horse the trailer, open the doors and make sure that everything is safe. It is important to allow your horse to look around so that he will be able to see that he is safe. Once your horse is calm, proceed to step two.
Step 2 – Longe your horse at a walk toward the door of the trailer. You should have your horse stop, back up, and change directions. This will allow him to see the trailer from different views. Once your horse is calm with this exercise, reward him and move on to step three.
Step 3 – With the door open, drive your horse toward the door of the trailer and ask them to stop. You should them drive them by the door and around in a circle and ask them to stop again. You should again reward your horse if they are remaining calm and once they are comfortable with this exercise, move on to step four.
Step 4 – With the door open, drive your horse into the trailer. It is okay if the horse stops and does not go into the trailer. Just be patient and continue to drive them toward the open door and once they are inside, ask them to stand quietly and reward them for doing so. Next you should ask your horse to back out of the trailer. It is important to not let them turn around and come out head first because this is very dangerous. Once your horse has mastered this process, move onto step five.
Step 5 – Now you can begin to ask your horse to stand for long time intervals. The goal is to work up to thirty seconds in five second intervals. Once your horse will do this calmly, they will be ready for their first short ride in the trailer.