- Published on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 12:48
My mixed breed horse won’t load into the trailer. I do not understand why! He loaded perfectly the first time we took him to the beach but would not load to go home, and I had to ride the 20km’s! Now will not go anywhere near the trailer. We have tried to coax him in with food, but as soon as we go near the chain he shoots out again. We have used a whip to make him go in, but he won’t go in further than putting his front feet into the box. I am at my whit’s end as we have spent a lot of time and money trying to get the right horse and one that I will be able to go to shows with.
This is a common problem for many people so don’t feel alone. There is no history so I am not sure how old the horse is or if it has traveled before. But what is apparent is that he does not want to be “trapped” again. His trust in this situation of boxing has been totally destroyed, he trusted you going in and then you blew it by closing him in and presuming he knew how to travel and was comfortable. You have also inadvertently now made the horsebox or trailer an issue by trying to bribe him and “catch him” again. In his mind you are trying to catch or trick him, he will become more suspicious and will always have one eye or ear on the rear of the box. Beating him has confirmed his suspicion that the trailer is to be associated with pain, fear and entrapment
I suggest you go back to basics and find a trainer to help you train this behaviour one step at a time. And the important thing is to remember it takes as long as it takes! There is no quick fix for a horse that is not happy boxing. You will need to start slowly by asking him to step onto the ramp and then back him off before he decides to leave and reward him with a little walk or a moment to stand still. You will first need to undo all the negative connotations you have already made with the horse trailer in the horses mind. Feed him on the ramp; let him have time to inspect the box when nobody is around. Be warned though it is often safer to watch from a distance, as sometimes the inspection leads to the horse really inspecting it and removing padding and mats etc. Don’t be timid and suspicious when you are working around the trailer, just work as usual. Also take all the time you need to get a positive reaction from the horse about going into the trailer, then take him out. Continue this training. When you are ready to work behind him, don’t chain him immediately. Drop the chain before you connect it and take the horse out again. So often I hear owners saying “close quick” “don’t let him back out, he wont go in again if he does” – well yes that is probably right if that is how you are loading. By trapping him before he is ready you are effectively training him not to box next time. Always remember the next time you need to box is just as important as this time you box. Always make it pleasant in the box for the horse, ensure the driver drives carefully around corners, bends and stops. And ensure if the horse is traveling with another horse that he is not being bullied by the other horse.
Always try to make the trip pleasant. The only time I feel it is acceptable to force a horse into a trailer is if it is a life or death situation; where the horses life will be affected negatively by it not loading.