Have you ever tried loading a horse that just did not want to load? As with anything that has to do with horses, teamwork and trust is a must. Ideally, if you get a horse at a young age you can introduce them to the trailer early as a part of learning ground manners and desensitizing them. If you buy a horse at an older age that was not properly trained as a weanling or yearling they may have a fear of the trailer.
You can talk to any horse person and they will tell you their method for loading a horse. We know that there are many ways to teach a horse to load. What we are sharing in today's blog post is just one method with a few helpful suggestions. As a rule of thumb, practice makes perfect. If you know your horse doesn't load well, leave yourself ample time before you need to leave for your event. Also, make sure you practice loading and unloading days before the event.
Put your horse to work – Send your horse out at a trot in a circle around you directly behind the trailer. Teach them that their reward is rest but rest only comes when they are willing to approach and get in the trailer. You can start farther away from the trailer and move your circle closer and closer until they are moving comfortably in a circle.
Use a lead rope – Although you are “lunging” your horse in a way, you don’t want to use a longe line. You want to use your lead rope to keep your horse close to you and to keep contact on the rope. This way, you have more control when your horse considers getting into the trailer.
Encourage interested behavior – As your horse is going around in a circle, if they offer to stop and smell the trailer, encourage this! This is a sign that they are trying and will now consider the trailer. Once they get sidetracked, send them off into the circle again.
Move every way – Circle your horse in both directions behind the trailer. Help them get as comfortable as possible with being near the trailer.
Although this method can be somewhat time-consuming, it is a great way to teach a horse to load in a trailer. Be sure to give you and your horse plenty of time to practice. It will save you and your horse a lot of stressful trailering experiences!
We would love to hear your success stories or tips of what you have found to work with your horse. We all can learn from one another. Happy Trailering!