7 great tips to help you create harmony & ease when trailer loading...

  • 1. Don't allow your horse on the trailer if they feel anxious or frightened.
  • 2. Don't desensitize your horse.
  • 3. Do take your horse on adventure walks online.
  • 4. Do teach your horse to be able to accept light pressure.
  • 5. Don't work to a timeline.
  • 6. Do make sure you experience what it is like to travel in the trailer.
  • 7. Do create a scenario towards the end of your trailer training (prior to travel) where you can ask them to load onto the trailer when you know they don't want to.

Read on to understand a little more about what we mean... 

1. Don't allow your horse on the trailer if they feel anxious or frightened.

We build bravery in our horses from the day they are born. For a horse to learn to stretch themselves and dare to be brave they need to have control of their thoughts. If you are standing at the back of a trailer and you can feel that your horse wants to hurry to get on, then they are probably not in control of themselves, they are not mindful and it is likely that going on will only create more anxiety and make it even harder next time. This is also the case in our youngsters who are overly enthusiastic to get on. I don't allow them on either until I can see that they can think about their bodies and control each and every step they take. We must do everything we can to set them up for success because every time we create a bad experience, particularly with trailer loading it creates a bad memory which can hang around for life.

2. Don't desensitize your horse!

Desensitizing is the opposite of bravery. It is being done to the horse. They never own it. It doesn't encourage bravery and a desire to challenge themselves and learn. It only encourages obedience. An obedient horse is only obedient for long as it can be and often when they can no longer be obedient the next reaction is explosive.

3. Do take your horse on adventure walks online.

Do take your horse on adventure walks online where they are in control of distance. When we take our horses on adventure walks the focus is on the horses ability to challenge themselves. It's really important that the horse is in control of how far we go. Depending on the age, the experience of the horse and the environment will dictate how much we encourage them to try a little harder, however ultimately they are in control of when we stop or turn back. We must also treat every day as a new day. Today they might be able to go twice as far as yesterday or perhaps only half the distance. It is very important not to expect that they will increase the distance each day. Your focus needs to be on how they manage their anxiety. Approaching your horse this way with walks and also trailer loading creates horses that want to challenge themselves.

4. Do teach your horse to accept light pressure on the halter.

Your horse should be able to accept light pressure but not to the point that you force them. For example, if I am working with a horse loading and they want to run out or pull back we begin by working only on the tailgate. I control the environment and help the horse to overcome its fear and rise to the challenge in a safe way. If your horse doesn't even want to go near the trailer, then you need to start this process from what ever distance the horse needs to be from the trailer. It's the same concept as the adventure walks.

5. Don't work to a timeline.

Don't have a timeline if you really want to be successful at trailer loading. I find that if you are not working to a timeline the process goes so much faster! Your energy has such a powerful influence on the horse. Your patience is so important if you want a long term positive outcome.

6. Do make sure you experience what it is like to travel in a trailer!

Traveling in the trailer (law permitting of course!) is a really great thing to do to feel what it is like for our horses. The braking around corners, the speed and the going and stopping all have a marked effect on the horses balance. When a horse doesn't feel in balance in their body, they don't in their mind either. This is when scrambling, pawing and kicking begin! If you do have the opportunity to travel in your trailer, try to stand in the bay without hanging on and just see what it feels like. Do make sure when you finally do take them on an outing that you drive REALLY SLOWLY and that the experience is one that is positive. I find that many people take their horses to places that make the horse unhappy. The owner really wants to be there, but the horse doesn't. When you build a relationship based on trust, you need to make sure that this follows through all the way to and including the destination. If they don't like where you are taking them or how you are driving then they won't want to get back on tomorrow.

7. Do create a scenario towards the end of your trailer training (prior to travel) where you can ask them to load onto the trailer when you know they don't want to!

Perhaps it's raining or there is some activity in the street that is worrying them. You may not get them on the trailer (don't use force) but in asking them to pay attention to you, to keep calm and listen is making significant progress and you will build more trust when you really need it for both your safety. Ideally you will create this situation until you can get them on. I tend to use a tap on the shoulder (not hard, just asked for their attention) with a whip to teach this step. You need to be able to do it without the trailer first. It's important to do this so that if we are in a situation out and about and they don't want to get back on (say in a storm) we are able to convince them.

Attuned Trailer Loading Online Course

I have been preparing young horses to travel for over 25 years. Our way of thinking and approaching horses is something that you can apply to all horses in your general handling and training. It is a gentle approach the encourages the horses to connect to us, to be mindful in their approach and to communicate how they feel. When we approach our horses this way our conversations with them become constructive rather than reactive.

What Our Students Say

“A little update on our progress with Scarab. So before we talked about Scarab not wanting to go near the trailer. Well since then we have been working with the methods you express on the online videos and just willingly and without any pressure put both his from feet onto the ramp. I was not expecting him to actually get that far in such a short time. Since then he has become even more confident with putting his front feet on the ramp and in today's session he has now progressed to putting all feet onto the ramp. It has been amazing to experience his desire, willingness and confidence. It defiantly feels so much better to have him happy to get onto the trailer than to force him with pressure. Thank you for the videos and the email communications. I am still going through the videos and re-watching the sessions to make sure I don’t forget or miss any info. Thank you.”


Join us with over 3 hours of trailer (float) loading training sessions with 6 of our Ribbleton horses.

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