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How to train your horse to get into the trailer

Apr 20, 2017
My dad pulled the trailer into the pasture/arena and I worked with them every day. I took my horse out into the pasture and worked with him with just his halter; his lead rope and my Parelli Natural Horsemanship carrot stick (stick with a string attached). I made it a game and not into the negative experience, it used to be. Instead of standing inside the trailer or pulling through the front window to get the horse in as I used to do for years, which cause so much stress for both the horse and I. Now I know to stand outside of the trailer with the horse and just ask him to take a step in with a little encouragement from my stick, which acts as an extension of my arm so I could be at a safe distance. I would ask him to move towards the trailer and if I even got a small step in the right direction, I would reward him and let him retreat. Just like any other object, approaching and retreating is the most effective way of asking your horse to do anything and getting the positive results, while maintaining the trust you are hoping for with your horse. This made it where every day I saw improvement. When he was acting up or did not want to take that step closer, I would move away from the trailer and do different movements or games to keep him moving, so he would learn that if he is in or by the trailer, he gets to stand still. The first day, I would get one step towards the trailer a couples times. The next day, I would get a little more and maybe he would even put his hoof up on the edge of the trailer and feel around it a bit to make sure it was sturdy. Other times he would sniff around and get a feel for what it is. Eventually he would even stick his whole head in the trailer. Every day we made more and more progress until he was comfortable enough to step up inside and have half his body inside. When he got this far, I did not push him the rest of the way, I just let him look around and be in the trailer without anything happening to him. Eventually, I got it; he walked right into the trailer with all of his body inside. I was so happy and relieve that we did it. I had to remind myself that this was only the first time, and I still needed him to get in consistently and be okay with it. I knew that this was huge progress from where we started and I was so proud of him. Not too much later, he was getting in every time and I barely had to ask. He loved to go in the trailer and go places. My mom and I were working with both the horses and she did the same stuff with our mare. Fancy is definitely more of an extroverted horse and scared of unfamiliar things, so it took her a bit more time, but eventually she too was getting in the trailer with no problem at all. This way of training and working with the trailer was exactly what we needed. Both horses were able to get in the trailer with ease and we did not experience the traumatic attempts like before. If you are having a hard time getting your horse into the trailer I strongly recommend this approach. If you put more time into it in the beginning, you will spend far less time fighting with it later every time you need to go somewhere. I am so happy I made the change and took the necessary time. I hope all of you can find the same success and make trailering a better experience for both you and your horse.
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