Trailer Loading

Do you ever find yourself stuck at home, unable to go on trail rides with your friends, or you cannot go anywhere with your horse? You are probably one of the many people who have a hard time loading your horse. I am one of these people and I went through the struggle far too long. Both my horses, Memphis and Fancy, did not like getting in the trailer and would try their hardest to avoid getting in. It got so bad that I have injured myself pulling Fancy into the trailer. I have used force and spent hours asking them to take just a small step into the trailer. It did not help that my family only had a very small two-horse trailer that could barely fit the two of them. They felt so confined, and it is not natural for a horse to walk into such a tight and small space and then stand while it is moving. After hours of working on it, I could sometimes get them in and then we would go through the whole process again, which would take another few hours. Sometimes if we really needed to get somewhere like to the vet or to a riding lesson, we would have to call our neighbor who also had horses and he would force them into the trailer, so we could get to our destination sooner. This was not okay for my horses and I, and what I the struggle I wanted to go through anymore. I needed to find another way to load a horse. Then I met my trainer and she showed me another way to solve the problem I have been having for years. It was so amazing to learn that her horses can hop into the trailer with barely any asking on her part. I had never seen anything like it and I wanted to have that be my experience and relationship with my horses. I did not want to have it be a constant fight, where I was usually the loser, or my horses or I could get seriously hurt in the process. From that day, I decided I needed to make the change for both my horses and I. Therefore, that is what I did. My dad pulled the trailer into the pasture/arena and I worked with them every day. I took my horse out into the pasture and worked with him with just his halter; his lead rope and my Parelli Natural Horsemanship carrot stick (stick with a string attached). I made it a game and not into the negative experience, it used to be. Instead of standing inside the trailer or pulling through the front window to get the horse in as I used to do for years, which cause so much stress for both the horse and I. Now I know to stand outside of the trailer with the horse and just ask him to take a step in with a little encouragement from my stick, which acts as an extension of my arm so I could be at a safe distance.  I would ask him to move towards the trailer and if I even got a small step in the right direction, I would reward him and let him retreat. Just like any other object, approaching and retreating is the most effective way of asking your horse to do anything and getting the positive results, while maintaining the trust you are hoping for with your horse.  This made it where every day I saw improvement. When he was acting up or did not want to take that step closer, I would move away from the trailer and do different movements or games to keep him moving, so he would learn that if he is in or by the trailer, he gets to stand still.  The first day, I would get one step towards the trailer a couples times. The next day, I would get a little more and maybe he would even put his hoof up on the edge of the trailer and feel around it a bit to make sure it was sturdy. Other times he would sniff around and get a feel for what it is. Eventually he would even stick his whole head in the trailer. Every day we made more and more progress until he was comfortable enough to step up inside and have half his body inside. When he got this far, I did not push him the rest of the way, I just let him look around and be in the trailer without anything happening to him. Eventually, I got it; he walked right into the trailer with all of his body inside. I was so happy and relieve that we did it. I had to remind myself that this was only the first time, and I still needed him to get in consistently and be okay with it. I knew that this was huge progress from where we started and I was so proud of him. Not too much later, he was getting in every time and I barely had to ask. He loved to go in the trailer and go places. My mom and I were working with both the horses and she did the same stuff with our mare.  Fancy is definitely more of an extroverted horse and scared of unfamiliar things, so it took her a bit more time, but eventually she too was getting in the trailer with no problem at all. This way of training and working with the trailer was exactly what we needed. Both horses were able to get in the trailer with ease and we did not experience the traumatic attempts like before. If you are having a hard time getting your horse into the trailer I strongly recommend this approach. If you put more time into it in the beginning, you will spend far less time fighting with it later every time you need to go somewhere. I am so happy I made the change and took the necessary time. I hope all of you can find the same success and make trailering a better experience for both you and your horse.  

hit counter

No comments:

Post a Comment