Trailer Training Tips
On this page, there are two separate problems addressed.
Problem #1. Horse is difficult to load.
Problem #2. Horse doesn’t haul well.
Read both solutions below.
Problem #1. Horse is difficult to load.
In one of these modules, I demonstrated how to use a very useful tool called a “Come-A-Long”.
In the video, I mentioned it worked great for fixing many problems… including teaching a horse to load in the trailer.
One of my members was hoping she could do exactly that.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get the job done and emailed me for help.
So, in this module, I’m going to expand on the topic of teaching a horse to load in the trailer.
Below, is her email and my response.
I wanted to buy the loading magic video, but as it wasn’t online, i bought the complete groom saddle ride and fix bad behaviour…the come a long tool seemed interesting to fix the mare not wanting to get in the trailer, but it didn’t help. So we did the whole ground work, she comes a long fine when it is not to go in the trailer. Just in front of the trailer she backs up, even with a come a long. so I made it unpleasant and everytime she backed up I longed her and after a while made her stop at the hight of the trailer door to rest there close buy. I repeated it many times, she would come to the door of the trailer, back up, even rears back, so on we went with longing. I once had her then put a foot in the trailer, she hitted it hard on the trailer floor (made a lot of noise, wonder if she did that on purpose to have an excuse) then she was backing up again; Will buying the trailer loading magic help me further?
Thanks ahead, hope I find your answer back if you find time to answer…Melanie from Belgium
Thank you for becoming a member. Much appreciated.
ALL horse training methods boil down to only ONE concept:
Make the wrong response uncomfortable for the horse (application of pressure)… and the right response comfortable for the horse (total release of pressure).
The TIMING in each instance is CRITICAL… and must be EXACT.
Miss the timing and the horse won’t understand what you want.
A big factor is this:
Some horses are easy to train and take very little pressure to get them to respond.
Some horses are very strong willed and require a lot of pressure to get them to respond.
In your case, I would recommend using the come a long to get your mare to do other things she might not want to do (crossing a ditch or stepping over a log or on a sheet of plywood or a tarp lying on the ground.
And if she rears up, make the rearing uncomfortable too. Motivate her to want to cooperate.
Don’t let her think rearing will get her out of doing what she doesn’t want to do.
Here’s the main thing… get ONE SMALL STEP of success (and then reward, quit and start over again)… and then build on that one step.
When your mare placed one foot in the trailer, that’s when you should have released all pressure and petted her to let her know that’s what you wanted. Just let her stand there with one foot in the trailer for a minute. Then back her up and start over again.
Repeat until she puts two feet in the trailer etc. etc.
Build on it by then getting two steps and rewarding, quitting and starting over again. And then go for three steps etc. etc.
Once you have the horse understanding what you want (and understanding the pressure of the come a long)… and have him comfortable walking over obstacles on the ground… he is now ready to teach to load in the trailer.
Note: It may make things go faster if you pick up a front hoof and place it in the trailer. Then ask the horse to move forward.
It may also be helpful to lunge the horse and make him work hard on the lunge line (about 40 feet from the trailer) and then lunge toward the trailer and let him stop and rest when he gets to the entrance of the trailer.
Repeat until he understands the entrance of the trailer is a comfortable place to be.
Build on that until you can literally LUNGE HIM DIRECTLY INTO THE TRAILER. (This is the method I use in my trailer loading DVD).
AGAIN, it would he helpful to lunge the horse over a sheet of plywood or tarp lying on the ground BEFORE you try the trailer.
Here’s a little story about motivation:
If you put a wild horse in a breaking pen and backed a trailer up to the gate… the chances of the horse loading all by himself are pretty slim.
Why would he want to? He has no reason (motivation) to get in the trailer.
Next, put a mountain lion in the breaking pen with the horse.
Within 5 seconds, the horse would jump into the trailer trying to find safety.
Nobody had to teach the horse to jump into the trailer… he was simply MOTIVATED to do so.
The moral: Make it uncomfortable for the horse away from the trailer and comfortable inside the trailer. And remember, if you drive like a maniac, your horse will learn to hate the trailer.
Also, if your trailer is so small a horse can barely fit, most horses will resist going in there. Get a nice roomy trailer and most horses will jump right in.
I hope this helps.
Problem #2. Horse doesn’t haul well.
Hello Mr. Trocha,
My name is Christina Brown and I have used your training videos, equipment… for some time now with good results. However, 2mos ago I had a trailering issue when my 3yo filly tried to go through grates of the window after traveling ~10 min. I pulled over when I heard kicking and when I stopped she was going for the window. I found 2 red wasp in there so thought maybe she was bit? Well since she will not travel at all. I worked her on the ground with lead arm as shown on your video and she will now load fine and stand quietly for 20-30 min, truck starts and she gets nervous but will calm down. Go to drive in pasture and within 2-3 min head goes high, body stiffens she is scrambling and starts kicking with front feet. I have stopped pulled her out and worked on the ground then loaded her back up in hopes to let her rest and be calm in trailer but as soon as we start going again the kicks come. I have tried going slow with her but her anxiety is so high when trailer moves. I’m currently in TX and I know there are reputable trainers here somewhere but I do not know them and you can honestly find “roughneck trainers” on every block (as some advice I have received has been horrible and would scare her even more) and that’s not what I need. I know I’m not doing something right and would appreciate your advice and value your opinion.
I have a 2 horse slant, she is sound, no back or teeth issues, previously hauled fine even 2 1/2hr trip once with no kicking. Vet said try tx for ulcers which she has been on for a month, no change. She is a bit high strung as a racebred filly however I ride her fine with no issues. Trailering is biggest problem.
Look at this from your filly’s perspective.
From your description, it appears something bad happened in the trailer or she thinks something bad is going to happen in there.
I’d make sure only good things happened in the trailer.
Here’s what I’d initially do and stay with for a while.
#1. Open the divider and give her the entire trailer to help ease claustrophobia.
#2. Give her a mild sedative to help relieve fear and anxiety.
#3. Feed her something she likes while she’s in the trailer. It’ll help take her mind off whatever is worrying her.
#4. Most horses ride much better in a stock trailer, than a horse trailer. Might give it a try.
Follow this procedure for as long as it takes for her to get over her problem.
Here are a few more suggestions:
For a horse like yours, there are several things I’d try to get her over that behavior.
#1. I’d try getting her REAL tired before I put her in the trailer. Make her associate the trailer with resting. I’d also put food in the trailer for her to eat. This may keep her mind occupied.
#2. Tie the dividers back and put her in the trailer loose without being tied.
#3. Tie her in the trailer BACKWARDS. Riding backwards will sometimes work great.
#4. Strap “kick chains” to the horse’s hind pasterns. Make sure she understand what they are in the stall BEFORE you use them in the trailer.
#5. Hobble the horse in the trailer. Be sure she understands hobbles BEFORE using them in the trailer.
If all else fails, train her to hobbles in a small pen a few times and then hobble her in the trailer.
Hope this helps.