Something which plenty of horse owners struggle with is getting their animal comfortable around the idea of getting inside a trailer.
Naturally, horses love the experience of being in wide open spaces. Because of this, they instinctively feel very uncomfortable spending any sort of meaningful time in a small confined space.
On top of this, horses also feel very uncomfortable with objects which move or aren’t always present in their day to day lives. A great example of this is the fact that we must drive slowly when passing horses on the road.
Both of these things mean that some horses won’t accept a trailer straight away. If you have had trouble getting your horse into a trailer, here are some top tips to make them feel more comfortable.
Quiet and Calm Location
Horses are prey animals and are therefore hyperaware of anything which might harm them. Because of this, fast moving objects or loud noises make them very uncomfortable.
For this reason, the best place to even attempt loading a horse is as far away from a busy road as possible. Try bringing the trailer into more familiar surroundings, like the field they spend most of their time in.
As we train our horses, we develop a relationship with them which enables the horse to trust you. Try keeping close, maybe leaning on them and walking slowly next to your horse, guiding them head-on towards the trailer ramp.
Depending on how comfortable they are with you, horses are more likely to trust you in leading them slowly into the trailer than someone who they don’t recognise.
Lap the Trailer
It’s totally understandable for your horse to feel uneasy and refuse to be led into the trailer. One way to ease their discomfort is to lead them in laps around the trailer.
This helps them get a good look at it and hopefully realise that it is something not to feel threatened by. Take it slowly and always attempt to lead them in by approaching the ramp head-on.
Some horses may need a little more encouragement than simply being led carefully. If you are struggling to get your horse much closer than the ramp of the trailer, try holding out some particularly delicious treats just out of reach, inside the trailer, to motivate your horse to follow.
Keep Your Horse’s Attention
If your horse starts to become a little spooked or skittish as you approach the trailer, it is because it has let fear take over.
At this point, it’s all about helping your horse forget what they are afraid off and getting them to concentrate on you and your instructions.
Ask them to back away to calm them down, then move them forward. Continue to edge them back and forth as the instructions will mean they are concentrated more on you than what might spook them.
Doing this doesn’t force them towards the trailer but keeps them busy and builds their confidence in the motion and what you ask of them.
It’s not just trailers which horses feel uncomfortable around. In fact, they dislike any sort of small space, including stables.
Stables can be a difficult place for some horses, especially if they spend a lot of time in them. Because of this we recently put together some advice to help make stables happier places for your horse, check it out here.