The 3 keys to successful trailer loading


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Horses running away from a horse trailer. "It's after us! RUN AWAY!!!" Monty Python reference.


Here are my keys to successful trailer training:

1. Don’t wait until you have someplace to go.

If you have to be somewhere and that horse won’t get in the trailer, someone is going to get upset.  This leads me to my number two point:

2.  No one is allowed to get upset: not you, not your horse.

Don’t EVER get upset or impatient.  Impatience is absolutely the best way to fail at any form of horse training, but especially trailer loading.  If you get upset and push too hard, the horse will get upset and afraid and he/she will associate that fear with the trailer.  Congratulations, you’ve just taught your horse never to want to load again.

3. Learn to say no thanks.

Every horse person firmly believes that they can get that horse in the trailer.  Plenty of them will walk up and take the lead rope from you and proceed to do it their way.  Don’t be unkind, because they really are trying to help, but don’t let them.  Changing handlers and techniques five times in the course of a session will confuse your horse.  Confused = scared.

Pick one training technique and stick to it.

A child probably wouldn’t learn not to touch a hot stove if it only burned sometimes, other times it just tingled, still other times it gave them a toy, and other times it made a funny noise.  No, a child learns that a hot stove burns every time, without fail, and so they don’t touch it anymore.

This is consistency and it is vital to learning.

Incidentally, the wannabe-helper-who-means-well issue can often be avoided entirely if you stick to rule #1.

By the way, these points apply to more than just trailer loading.  Think about it.