Loading a horse in a trailer or a van can become a nightmare if no preparation has been done initially. This education process should be performed with all horses as you never know when you should load your horse in case of emergency.
For those who need to load and unload often due to competitions or shows, the following tips can help to save a lot of time. A few hours of training can save dozens of hours later on.
1 ) horses learn when you release pressure.
2 ) timing is essential to good horsemanship, recognize the signs of relaxation to make sure you release right on time: blinking eye, lowering the head and neck, chewing mouth, cocking a hind leg.
Discovering the trailer
The very first step is to let a few minutes to your horse to get familiar with the trailer. Walk around it with your horse, let it smell and touch the van. Remember to pet your horse every time you see it showing a sign of relaxation.
Sending into the trailer
Now, it is time to load your horse. Position yourself by the door and send your horse. Point the direction of the trailer, put extra pressure with your flag if necessary, and release eveything as soon as your horse makes one step toward the trailer. Rub it!
Basically, you will repeat the process until your horse has its front feet in the trailer. Pet it, then back it up out of the trailer and give it a break.
Finally, send it again until it gets entirely in the trailer. Let it in for a couple of minutes, rub it and make sure it feels comfortable in there. Next, back it up out of the trailer, give it a break and do it again!
An effective way to release pressure is to lead your horse a few meters far from the trailer, stop and rub it. Just spend a couple of peaceful minutes with it before you start again. Your horse will feel more relaxed and comfortable.