SO, you’ve successfully taught your horse the “in” command! If you haven’t, go back to this post and do that first! Once your horse is a self stalling or self pasturing master, you’re ready to move on.
Before trying to even ask your horse to load, you need to make sure your horse is comfortable with the trailer. West used to see the trailer pull up and he’d clam. He was already anticipating World War 3. Before we ever started trying to load him, we got him comfortable with the presence of the trailer.
This process can be different for every horse, but for West it was just hanging out. I’d tie a hay bag to the side of the trailer and tie him there with it, or just let him freely graze around it. Let them do all the sniffing and exploring they desire. Desensitize to dropping the ramp, and opening and closing doors and windows. This takes nothing more than time and repetition.
Once your horse is comfortable and relaxed around the trailer – it’s time for the fun stuff! Set your trailer up in a stress free location to start. Stand to the left of the entrance, throw the rope over his back, (just like you did when teaching self stalling) point to the inside of the trailer and use your command word. Do all of this in the exact same way you did in the barn.
If you really did a good job teaching the command and making sure your horse is comfortable with the trailer, it shouldn’t take very many tries until he understands what you want.
If he doesn’t – go back to the basics. Try to determine if he’s uncomfortable with the trailer or if he doesn’t understand the command. Fix whichever is wrong. If he STILL isn’t having it, I have a few other methods you can try – don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
Don’t overdo the practice – especially not on the first day. I take my truck to the barn and hook up a few times a month to practice. Once your horse is comfortable with actually loading, you can introduce patience. I put West on and make him stand in the trailer for 20-30 minutes at the time.
If you teach these methods correctly, and practice them frequently – traveling will be a breeze! If you’ve tried my method and had success I want to see!! Feel free to always DM me on Instagram (@theheadequestrian) or shoot me an email (email@example.com!)