3 Mistakes New Horse Owners Make When Loading Their Horse Into the Trailer (and How To Avoid Them)

Trailer LoadingWe’ve all been new horse owners at one time or another and have made these mistakes, but they can be avoided. Horses are large animals that can hurt you in a heart beat so it’s better to have their cooperation instead of forcing them to do things.

Here are the 3 mistakes:

1) Not preparing the horse to get into the trailer
Horses are claustrophobic and their instincts tell them not to get trapped. Looking at it from a horses point of view the horse trailer is a dark hole and is not a safe place to be.

To avoid this mistake: Do the proper groundwork to prepare you horse to get into the trailer. You will be way ahead of things if you simulate trailer loading by using obstacles before you ever try to get them into the trailer. You can have them going over bridges and backing off the bridge. Have them go between obstacles that are close together and when they’re confident doing that have them stop at the middle section then back them up.

2) Making sure the horse knows how to back out of the trailer
I’ve seen this happen before where the owner finally gets the horse into the trailer only to find out they don’t know how to back out of the trailer. If the horse is in a 2 horse trailer this can be a disaster. If they’re in a stock trailer it’s easy to turn them around, but it would be best to practice backing off of the trailer because you never know when you’ll have to put your horse into a trailer and the only option is to back them off.

To avoid this mistake: Before you load the horse all the way into the trailer have them step up with one of both front feet into the trailer then back them off. Do this several times to make sure they understand and to help build their confidence. After they’ve done this a few times then ask them to go all the way into the trailer let them settle then ask them to back.

3) Trying to force the horse into the trailer
I’ve seen this too many times where people are rushing around because they are late to an event which causes them to rush their horse into the trailer. Horses are very in tune to our emotions which effects them and causes them to be anxious and sometimes they refuse to load into the trailer. When this happens it can be very aggravating which causes us to be impatient. Most people when they get impatient they get mad, may start yelling or hitting the horse which causes more refusal.

To avoid this mistake: Make sure your horse will load easily into the trailer before you ever decided to to anywhere and when the day comes allow yourself plenty of time to get your horse into the trailer. The day before it’s always a good idea to check over the outside and inside of your trailer cause you don’t want a surprise of a wasps nest in the trailer when you load your horse up.

Horses are wonderful animals and when given the time to understand things are more willing to cooperate.

Bonus Tip: If loading your horse into a trailer with several dividers make sure the dividers are secure so they won’t swing and bump into your horse, this could set your horse back in the trailer loading process.

If you need help with trailer loading get in touch with me I can help no matter the distance. Contact me today I would love to help!

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  1. I’m looking at an older 2 horse trailer and it has tack storage under the front of the horses?? Is that common? I’m just worried they won’t be able to lower there heads much but then again i suppose the chest bar/ tie must prevent much lowering anyway. It has a two sided small tack room at the front with slid out saddle racks. It’s a circle p.

  2. Good tips, Kim. I see a lot of horses being loaded for the first time (sometimes barely handled prior) when they’re leaving the only home they’ve known. It’s sad and no wonder they get labeled problem loaders. This can be a lifetime issue if someone doesn’t take the time to reassure them patiently. It’s not just the loading part, but getting used to travel too before a long trip or new home is scheduled. Thanks for underscoring the importance of preparation time.

  3. I don’t think we are much different than most horse-lovers in the way that we want safety and the best for our horses. So I would agree that brand of aluminum trailer could play a difference, but we noticed even with our friends’ brands of trailers (from Sooners to Exciss) that our Double D LQ and now our recently purchased downsized Double D are better built trailers with horse friendly features not offered in other brands. My husband always said he did not like the aluminum trailer because he thought it rattled too much when the horses were just loading or moving around inside. I wish I could eloquently pin-point why we disliked what we thought was a good everyday horse trailer, but I think it is just better to say, we trust the quality of the Double D and our past experiences with trailering our horses in one has always been good. To own a Double D Trailer makes a true believer of the quality and horse-friendly ride it provides.

  4. These are 3 great tips, Kim, that I have seen far too often.

    Another mistake I see is people assuming that because their horse loaded well in the past, that he will load fine a year (or even more) later. It’s good practice to occasionally put your horse on the trailer even if you’re not going anywhere.

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