Take the stress out of transporting your horse with our smart advice
With all this beautiful weather we have been having you may well be taking your horse on some outings such as going to local shows, lessons at another yard or exploring some new rides a bit further afield.
However, this could be the start of a headache, rather than an exciting change, if you have a reluctant loader.
There is nothing worse than missing a lesson or getting stuck in the lorry park at a show - watched by a growing crowd - with a horse that will not put his feet on the ramp.
Here are a few tips to hopefully reduce the chance of this happening to you!
1. Practice makes perfect
Don't leave loading until show-day. If possible, practice at least a week beforehand, and try and load your horse every day so it becomes a usual occurence. Try popping your horse into the trailer or lorry and giving him his tea - he will then associate the process with food.
2. Make the lorry or trailer as welcoming as possible
Horses are not keen on enclosed spaces and being such big animals, what might seem spacious to you will not be to them. Open all the doors and ramps to make it as light, and roomy, as possible. If it is a trailer, move the partition to one side before loading to make the space seem larger.
3. Allow plenty of time
Horses are intuitive animals and if you are stressed out and in a rush they will pick up on this. Stay as calm as possible when loading and to take some of the pressure off, leave yourself plenty of time.
4. Make the experience a positive one
It can be tempting to use more and more persuasion as time ticks on. But before you reach for the lunge lines, think again as this could easily make the situation worse. Try using food to tempt them to make positive, forward steps and reward them when they do as you want. If the experience is stress-free, they are more likely to go straight in next time!
5. Give them company
Some horses are happy to follow one of their friends in. If you are in a position where someone will let you borrow their horse, or you have another confident horse, this may work. However, some horses prefer not to have other animals in their space in such close quarters so this really does depend on their temperament.
It is not just the loading experience that is important but also the travelling. Horses have an excellent memory for things that they perceive threatening or scary and do their best to avoid it happening again.
If you load your horse up and then take him on an uncomfortable, bumpy drive he will be very reluctant to go into the lorry or trailer next time. Aim to travel at a steady speed and avoid breaking sharply.
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