الإثنين 27 مايو 2024

How to Load a Troubled Trailer Loader

موقع أيام نيوز

I am frequently called on to teach young horses how to load into a trailer confidently and to help horses that are having trouble loading sort out what’s going wrong. I have written articles in the past about trailer loading, explaining why it is important to teach and detailing technique. I am not going to talk about technique here. I want to talk about other factors that lead to a horse loading well or having trouble loading.

If you have ever owned a horse that had difficulties loading you know how determined a horse can be to not get in the trailer. It is easy to accuse the horse of being stubborn or obstinate, or we can make excuses for them, especially if they have ever been hurt or scared in a trailer. Unfortunately, sympathy will get you about as far as being frustrated will — basically nowhere.

There is always a reason the horse will not load; we sometimes don’t look hard enough or we discount possible factors because we don’t allow the horse to have certain emotions. Things like separation anxiety, displacement anxiety, fear of the unknown, or anticipation of a past event repeating itself are all intangible and easily overlooked. There is often a question of who has authority, the horse or handler?

Trailer loading can easily be turned into an ego driven fight. We can’t let them win! Or it turns into a battle of intimidation tactics. When they are stressed, horses quickly learn to evade what stresses them. If we then stop these evasions, they can learn to resist in more intimidating ways, usually rearing, pulling back, or running backwards. This is often when we give in. We just want them in the trailer but we don’t want to fight, not really. The horse then becomes confirmed in the evasion that was effective.

There are many good trailer loading techniques being sold out there. Trainers are happy to sell you their trailer loading video; I even made one a few years ago (I never put it on the market but I do have one). These are all designed to teach a horse that is not scared out of his wits at the thought of getting into a trailer. It is relatively easy to convince a horse with little trailering experience to load nicely. It is another thing to teach a highly stressed animal that has a history of not loading or whose loading experiences have been bad. Most of the methods covered in a video don’t give the handler the tools to deal with things when they go wrong to the point of extreme defensive behaviour from the horse. At the point that your horse becomes violent all technique quickly goes out the window. Many a horse and handler go into aggressive mode. We get