Tips for Trailer Loading.

This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  christina3566 3 years, 9 months ago.

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  • WorthTheWait Original Poster WorthTheWait
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 7

    My horse gets really nervous around trailers, so I thought I would come post here to see if anyone has any other suggestions.

    Back in the middle of May I attempted to take my horse to a show. He got all worked up and it took me 5 attempts to get him on the trailer. Once he had all four feet in he immediately backed up pulling both of us out of the trailer so we didn’t have a chance to get him tied or anything.

    The last time, he threw his head up hitting it on the top of the trailer (kept a close eye on him the rest of the day and he had no injuries.)

    So in the past few weeks we have been walking him up to the trailers to just eat grass to see if we can get the nerves down.

    The trailer he came to me on, was a fifth wheel goose neck, so the roof was taller, where the one I own is a bumper pull.

    Any suggestions on keeping his head down and staying calm?

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    When I first tried to load my mare after purchase, it took five of us to get her onto a friend’s trailer. She was accustomed to a slant load, so when I bought a trailer, it was a slant load and now she loads right on. The type of trailer the horse is used to loading can make a huge difference.

    Clinton Anderson has a method for getting a horse to load using the trailer for “rest” and outside the trailer for “work”. You could try his website and see if you can purchase it. (I think it’s called “Troublefree Trailering”?) I attended his clinics at FEI in Kentucky and he has some interesting techniques that I’ve since used successfully on my horses.

    My gelding spooked once on the trailer – turned out there was a wasp in the trailer – so I took care of the wasp but we still had the issue. So I rewarded him for two feet on the trailer and backed him off, and gradually got him to load, then promptly let him off. We did this a few more times so that he knew I would let him off if he wants, and that seemed to fix it. But he was normally a good boy to load and is fine now. You could try loading and unloading repeatedly so that he knows he can get off, and start by rewarding the half-loads. Always reward the “try”.

    As far as keeping the head down, pulling down makes a horse instinctively pull up. If the lead-line becomes taut, re-approach the trailer until you aren’t “pulling” him on, he needs to “follow” you on. And as much as you can, control your own breathing and panic that he might not load. In the beginning that was the toughest part for me with my mare. She probably wondered why we were so afraid – but was afraid just for my sake anyway- ha.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by Mapale Mapale.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    NinaJD NinaJD
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 139

    Like the above poster stated, take the time.
    reward small steps. If he puts his head in, walk away and come back. He puts one foot in, walk away and come back. Continue this.

    when i went to get atreyu from his previous owner, the guy took the rope and went to load him. My horse SAT down and dug his feet in trying to get away from the guy. once the rope was taken away from this guy and we applied gentle pressure, he got right in. I was fearful that he was going to react like this each time we tried to trailer him. But nope, he gets right in.

    picture what you want to happen. Relax, take a deep breathe and walk to the trailer like you’re walking out to pasture. calm, cool, relaxed, with purpose.

    I also agree with what was said about the type of trailer. My aunt had a straight load 2 horse with ramp. not one of the horses(5 total) would get into this trailer. Even my seasoned show horse. They would take one step on the ramp and back off quickly. Sometimes trailers just have bad ju-ju to them.

    "Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time."
    "Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often."
    Pat Parelli

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    does he have a reliable buddy he could follow onto the trailer? sometimes the best teacher is another horse. You could also try feeding him in the trailer for a week or two – that’s a good association to build, as long as he’s not getting too worked up before eating. maybe feed him from the ramp one day, then the doorway, then 2′ into it, and so on, until he can eat his dinner standing calmly in the trailer. positive associations go a long way for a horse, especially a food motivated one 🙂

    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 2

    Some of the horses at my barn are interesting loaders, including my mare. These are my tips that work for her and a few other horses at my barn.

    1. Feed the horse in the trailer. Whether its just the horse sticking his head in or going all the way in, anything is good.
    2. Park the trailer near the horse’s turnout. The horse will get used to seeing the trailer all the time, so it wont be a monster when loading time comes.
    3. Have plenty of treats for when the horse walks in.
    4. DO NOT tie the horse before a divider is put up. My horse has broken a few trailer ties because we have tied her before the divider is up. The horse will back out, panic, and rear if they feel trapped.
    5. Have a calm horse buddy in there first so hopefully you’re horse will notice that it is alot easier to just stay calm.
    6. Take your time. Practice loading every single day, and don’t rush. You’re horse will pick up on your tension if you rush.
    Good luck!

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by  christina3566.
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