I hope you’ve found some solution at this point! If not, I want to reiterate some points made as well as clarify (or perhaps get clarity) from a few responses.
Now, firstly, you all can get your flame throwers ready- but this is IME what has worked with my “stubborn” gelding.
Gelding did have ONE bad trailer experience. No one got hurt, he just spooked himself however I’ve never met a horse who remembers EVERYTHING like this one. Anyways, so he spooked himself and doesn’t load we’ll ever since. He’s been on the trailer many many many MANY times since then (he’s an A Circuit Jumper so we travel more often than most), and yet I sometimes feel like I’m teaching a 13yo horse who’s never seen a trailer how to load.
Biggest thing in my book- Safety. Not just of the horse, either, though we’d like to say that’s priority. But a horse who’s acting out because of (fear) (stubbornness) and is not loading poses a threat to my safety, too.
There’s a time to take a step back and say, yea, you’re scared, let’s meet half way. Then there is the time when the horse, now stubborn (legit has no reason other than he always has a reason) to not load is being “dangerous ” (rearing, spinning, etc). I have no time for that. I don’t want to get hurt and I sure as hell don’t want my horse to *actually* traumatize himself v playing scared (remember- IME, we’ve worked through the fear, he is seriously stubborn at this point).
There comes a point when they psych themselves out too. They are just as worked up about it even if they don’t outwardly appear to be. Every experience EVERY SINGLE ONE is a training experience. So make sure whatever you do you have massive amounts of follow through. You “giving in because she’s too x,y,z” is you saying to the horse, you’re right! I really have no idea what I’m doing, and this situation is pretty scary, God I’m scared too! Let’s be scared together and “leave it for another day”…
I’m getting to my point promise!!!
Sometimes the necessary action isn’t the most PC or pretty one.
And now, here: to load the gelding of mine, I had to lip chain him. Now, read this through.
He wanted, more than anything, to know that it was ok to get on that trailer. He, however, is smart, crafty, and stubborn. When he starts standing up and spinning I stop playing nice. If there was a fire or emergency and he decided to say… Hum not right now what about tomorrow? We’d all be screwed.
An EXPIRIENCED handler (EXPIRIENCED being key here) can slip a chain over the lip so as to have it resting on their gum. When he stands up…well, he got on the trailer. He realized the pain of “being dangerous ” was not worth it in the end, and the comfort of the trailer with munchies and treats was the better of the options. I only needed to use this method ONE time. That is all.
I’m not advocating horse abuse. I am advocating safety for both handler and horse.
Other things to try: lunge line/lead rope behind him, always wear gloves while loading, lunge whip or dressage whip (and, let’s remember, because we are not beating out horse, the horse will not become afraid of the whip. The automatic assumption that if you use a whip it will teach him to hate the trailer ensues that whips are being used for punishment in the first place. It’s an extension of your forward aid; hand, leg, etc)
Anyways. Good luck.
Oh and one last idea: do “scary” things that have nothing to do with the trailer. Maybe walk across a bridge, or over a tarp, be creative. The more Opportunities you give your horse to look for guidance the probability of him seeking you out when he’s unsure is that much greater!!!