Encountering a horse that refuses to enter the trailer can be incredibly frustrating, especially when time is of the essence. In this article, we'll explore simple yet effective techniques to address trailer loading challenges, offering solutions that can make the process smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your equine companion.
Dealing with a reluctant horse requires patience and dedication. Nothing is more frustrating than when you are in a hurry to leave and your horse will not load. Pick a day to work on this issue when you have plenty of time to work through this and end on a good note.
Understanding why your horse resists the trailer is the first step toward a solution. Start by walking your horse up to the trailer until you find his first refusal, look down where his front feet are and draw a line on the ground with your toe. Then back him up twenty or thirty feet and make a second approach. If he gets closer its fear.
A fearful horse builds confidence by approach and retreat, so we just need to approach and back away until he stops further from the trailer then the time before. Now its Dominance, he has quit trying to challenge his fears. Now you can ask him to come forward with light contact on your lead rope. If he refuses to come forward DO NOT pull harder. This is where things can go down hill.
If we try to pull a dominate horse forward it gives him something to fight against that he can win. In this case he looses respect for the pull and you as the leader. Instead you will want to maintain the contact on the lead shank and lightly tap him on the shoulder with a dressage whip or the end of your lead rope. (I tap his shoulder because I can reach it when I'm alone)
Slowly increase the pressure of your taps until he takes one step forward then release the contact. The taps are the most effective way to move his feet when he try's to lock up. The timing has to be perfect. If he goes backwards do not pull harder just maintain the contact and go with him until he stops his feet, then start your taps again. Release for each step forward. Only ask him to come forward until he is closer than he has been, then back him away for a new approach. Back him up further each time until he gets closer, then let him rest. If he refuses to back up, tap him on the shoulder, the same place you tapped him to come forward.
Sometimes with a tuff horse It's helpful to have a second person running the taps from behind him with a lunge whip. It's important for this person to start very light with the taps across the back of his legs. We are not whipping him to go in the trailer. A dominant horse will try to lock up and not move his feet. We are building pressure slowly to motivate him to take only one step. It's important to take him away from the trailer for each advancement even if it's only two inches. This is where the confidence is built.
By teaching him to go into the trailer one foot at a time, forward and back. we are also teaching him to back out of the trailer which is also very important. Prioritize safety during trailer loading by avoiding solid tying inside the trailer before they are loaded. The trailer can be a dangerous place we can't stress enough the importance of maintaining a safe and controlled environment. We want to make the trailer a good place. It only takes one negative experience to leave horse reluctant to load.
As you embark on the journey of addressing trailer loading challenges, keep in mind the importance of patience, emotional control, and effective communication. Follow these practical techniques to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience for both you and your horse. Be safe, stay patient, and always remember to Enjoy the Journey!
If you require more instruction check out our Online Mini Trailer Loading Course!