Trailer loading

Does your horse have trailer loading problems? - Then follow the steps below.

How to load a horse onto a trailer or float.

It’s important to teach the horse to load confidently from an early age, so when you do need to travel him on a trailer, it won’t be a problem.

Ideally you need to find a dry day when you have plenty of time on your hands and you’ll need plenty of patients.

I always park my trailer in a quiet spot, so there are no distractions and start by dropping the front and back ramps and removing the partition to create a bigger space and more light, so the horse will feel less claustrophobic.

Make sure when you drop the ramps the ground is level.

The last thing you want is the ramp bouncing up and down when the horse steps onto it.

The easiest way to begin is to borrow another horse, ideally a field companion or stable mate that is a good loader.

With the help of a friend, lead the experienced horse into the trailer and out the other end, with the young horse standing close by watching.

Next time lead the horse in and stand it still while you lead the youngster onto the ramp.

Make sure you move the companion horse over so there is enough room for the other horse.

At this point, he might just put one foot on the ramp and start sniffing or snorting at these new surroundings, or he might put one foot on the ramp, panic and do a “runner” backwards.

When he steps onto the ramp, reward and praise him. Keep him standing on the ramp until you feel he is ready to take another step forward.

When he takes the next step, again reward and praise him.

Continue this process until he is inside the trailer. Once inside keep him standing for a few minutes and give him a little feed as a reward.

The next step is to lead the other horse off the trailer with you following closely with the young horse.

Be prepared for the horse to rush off in a state of panic or leap off it.

I will continue this exercise, asking the youngster to stand alongside the other then out of the trailer following the other horse, until I feel the horse is completely relaxed and ready for the next step.

Remember, you must work at the horse’s pace and they’re all different just like people.

So if the first stage of the training is proving very difficult, then call it a day and repeat this exercise the following day.

Once the horse is comfortable following another horse, put the partition in and lead the other horse into the stall, tying him up and securing the back bar.

Next lead the youngster into the other partition and secure him. Once in more praise and reward is needed. Carrots, apples, mints or cubes will do.

The next stage is to leave the companion on and lead the young horse off the front ramp and around to the back of the trailer to load again.

Keep repeating this exercise until the horse is totally happy with this new experience.

Next tie up two hay nets, lift up the ramps and close the jockey door, and leave the horses for about five minutes eating the hay.

The horse has come a long way, so now it’s time to load on his own.

Once again remove the partition and lead the horse on and off the trailer a couple of times.

Float or trailer loading

When the horse is fully accepting of this, replace the partition but allow it to swing over, creating a larger space to enter.

It’s the same procedure, lead him on and lead him off. Repeat as many times as necessary.

There is no quick fix to trailer loading. He has to learn that there is nothing to be afraid of, and in time he will.

If the horse is showing no signs of progress, I would start feeding him in the trailer.

This way he will associate it as a positive and pleasant experience.

The key to success is to repeat each step on a daily basis, so it becomes part of the horse’s routine and he will eventually load without thinking about it.

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