Loading Your Horse cont

Often times I work with horses that have initially been afraid of boxing and then have been set back by people training and boxing them from a peoples’ perspective. We walk them up, and the minute they do consider walking in we start doing ‘people’ things like not wanting them to back out, or look at things, then if they do walk in we all rush to close the ramp. In our misconception that this way we will teach him how to box. But now just for a minute think of it from the horses point of view.

If you are a prey animal entering a confined space,

you would want to make sure there is not a prey animal wanting to leap out. You would most certainly need to feel your exit route is open and available, would you not?

So if we have a horse that is not comfortable in the box,or even a seasoned loader, the exercises that follow will help to improve the horse’s perception of the horsebox. It is vitally important for the horse to already have good ground manners and know how to lead and give to pressure, if you don’t have these basics sorted then you need to do more training before you expect the horse to load. Do not use a bridle, rather use a halter and a long lead rein as you are wanting the horse to stay relaxed and calm. You don’t have to have a horsebox to start training your horse for loading either, although it does help.

  • Start exposing your horse to confined spaces like garages, carports, sheds, tarps over poles or any other confined area you can make or find.
  • Let your horse walk past the horse box a number of times a day, groom and feed it next to the box. The aim is to have the horse see the trailer as simply another piece of furniture in the yard.
  • With the ramp open, walk your horse up to the ramp and turn and walk it away. Do this a number of times, each time as the horse steps onto the ramp or towards the ramp you change direction and walk away.
  • Walk into the box yourself with the horse on a loose rein, stay very relaxed and calm, as soon as you are in, back out again. Do this a few times and you will find the horse is starting to get impatient and just wants to walk in.
  • Also lead the horse up to the ramp and let it take one step past you into the box on its own. Stop, back out and do it again. Your aim is to eventually be able to send your horse in.
  • Give your horse its meals in the box occasionally. If it is afraid of the box, start with the feed dish on the ramp. Each feed move it a little more into the box.
  • When your horse is comfortable with the ramp been closed, then take it for very short trips, once unloaded at home. Reload and then don’t close the ramp. Vary this patern.
  • Be patient, spend time training this behaviour.

If you train it properly you will save yourself a lot of aggravation and time later. And every time your horse does box for you appreciate it for going against its nature!