Loading a horse is perhaps one of the most difficult practices carried out by horse farmers, trainers and breeders alike. Horses can easily become uneasy loading a trailer, especially should they have a previous bad experience. Teaching your horse to be comfortable when loading could in fact save you hours of hardship.
See below our list of ways to load your horse more easily.
Step 1: Feed Lure
This is perhaps the most commonly used method, but is does work. Using feed to lure your horse into the trailer helps make the transition into the trailer easier for both horse and handler.
You can either put the feed onto the trailer before the horse goes in, letting the horse see you put it there or you can use a pulley system for more difficult animals. This allows you to use a rope to slowly encourage the horse to enter the vehicle. By slowly pulling the rope, the feed is moved at a slow pace in front of the horse, while still not allowing it the feed until it is in. Always allow it to have the feed upon entry, as this will help encourage the horse to enter the trailer more freely next time. It will associate the process with receiving feed, should you do it enough.
Though this process works, it may also not be feasible, as most people don’t tend to carry feed on them. Keep reading below for more tips.
Step 2: Making your trailer less scary.
The main reasons a horse will not load a trailer is because they don’t feel comfortable with the situation. Making the transition less scary will benefit you in the longer term. This can be done by removing the top of the horsebox from the trailer to create the illusion of more space in the horsebox. The more light in the trailer, lorry of horsebox the better.
Sometimes horses become spooked with the noise a trailer makes when they load it, modifying your trailer to decrease these noises will also help. A rubber matt also be used to nullify the noise made by loading. This should eventually be weaned out as you might not always have it with you.
Step 3: Helping the animal become comfortable with the process
For younger animals, letting an older animal go into the trailer first and lead them in allows them to become more comfortable. This should be repeated a few times and eventually the foal will become comfortable with entering themselves. Sometimes when an animal will not load is is because they are used to large groups. Loading it with another will encourage them to follow their lead.
Step 4: Handling the horse
Always remember patience is key when training a horse or even loading the most experienced horses. Give yourself plenty of time when loading your animal, if you are relaxed about the situation the chances are your horse will remain relaxed.
One should always be careful when handling a horse, especially when loading onto a trailer. It is advised to never stand behind the horse, as even the most docile animals can let out a kick when frightened. A cavesson with a connected lunge line can also be placed over the horse’s head gear and then guided into the trailer. Always stay in your horse’s eyeline and at it’s shoulder. Try to refrain from pulling the horse, let it enter on it’s own accord. Again a treat can be used to entice it.