If you’re a horse owner, chances are you’ve had to transport your equine companion at some point. Whether it’s for a vet appointment, a competition, or simply moving to a new barn, loading and traveling in a trailer is an essential skill for horses to have. However, not all horses are comfortable with trailer loading, and this can be a source of stress and danger for both the horse and you. Teaching a horse to load should be a slow process – you can create lasting problems for your horse if you rush this task. Why is it paramount for your horse to load safely? Let’s look at three basic reasons.
The most important reason to teach your horse how to load into a trailer is safety. Proper training can prevent accidents during loading and traveling. Loading a horse in a hurry that is clearly uncomfortable or scared will almost certainly lead to an accident. Whether he panics in the trailer and hurts himself, or blows out backward when you open the door, safely loading and unloading is the number on priority.
Moreover, by familiarizing your horse with the trailer and teaching them good loading manners, you reduce the risk of accidents during transport. A horse that’s panicking and struggling to get out of the trailer can cause serious injuries to himself and even other horses in the trailer. Proper training also includes teaching your horse how to balance and stand correctly while the trailer is in motion, making for a safer journey. Again, this process is not one to be rushed. Take it slow, and work with a professional if you’re unsure of how to teach this skill.
In Case of Emergency
In addition to safety concerns, there may be times when you need to quickly load your horse into a trailer. Imagine you’re facing an imminent danger, and you need to get your horse out of the vicinity immediately. He doesn’t know how to load, or is refusing to get in the trailer. Your stress is mounting, you both become panicked, and the situation continues to devolve.
If you need to evacuate due to a natural disaster or rush your horse to the vet in case of an emergency having a well-trained horse that calmly loads and unloads can make all the difference. We all hope we’re not faced with the task of having to evacuate horses, but life happens. The last thing you want to be doing is fighting to get your horse in the trailer when minutes count.
Without proper training, loading under pressure can be extremely difficult and even dangerous for both you and your horse. Horses that have not been trained to load may refuse, become frightened, or even bolt in a panic, making the situation more stressful and potentially harmful.
Apart from safety and emergency situations, teaching your horse how to safely load into a trailer also just promotes good manners, and can build trust. By training your horse to load safely, you establish yourself as the leader and teach your horse to respect and trust your guidance. This can have a positive impact on your overall relationship with your horse, making it easier to handle him in other situations as well.
Furthermore, proper trailer loading manners also include standing quietly and patiently while waiting for the journey to begin. This behavior is not only considerate towards others sharing the trailer but also shows good discipline from your horse. Just like how standing tied is beneficial in a variety of situations, the skills involved in loading in the trailer can be applied to various other tasks. By teaching your horse to safely load and haul, you’re helping him trust your guidance. He learns that he can work through a new fear or uncertainty, and that you will be there to help him.
Again, the process of teaching your horse to load in the trailer is a crucial one. If you force him, rush him, or approach this task with urgency and panic, you can create long lasting problems. Take your time, let him move at his own pace, and work with a professional if you’re unsure the best way to go about teaching this.