Loading horses can be tricky. Here are some top tips we have gathered from experienced experts:
- Choose a light and airy trailer to minimize the risk of claustrophobia.
- Show your horse that loading is more comfortable than refusing by using a pressure halter and your body language, act confident. Don’t go behind your horse as they’ll be uncertain were the pressure is coming from, encouraging apprehension.
If your horse is getting angry and disruptive, calmly allow them to do this by themselves- if we get frustrated it will only further distress our horse.
- Gain your horses trust. When loading your horse for the first time don’t shut the door, as a flight animal, if they feel trapped their instinct is to escape. Shutting them in this scary situation will fix a negative relationship from the get-go between horse and trailer.
- Try not to put pressure on your horse, patience is key. Allow them to approach at their own speed, letting them sniff around and check the trailer out will encourage them to work out that nothing bad is going to happen.
- Horses don’t like small, dark spaces- open all the windows to encourage sunlight and turn on lights is applicable.
Try filling the trailer with familiar scents, put some hay, unwashed blankets or anything else sterile from their stable in there. This familiarity is comforting and will put your horse at ease.
- Wait for your horse to be curious about the trailer, let them investigate the trailer and accept and reward the slightest try.
- When loading horses try loading the more experience horse first if possible, show your horse that if his buddy can do it, he can.
In the beginning stages of travelling with your horse, once you’ve managed to load your horse successfully take them on several short trips to slowly grow their confidence. When you return from these trips treat your horse with their favourite treat.