Clinton Anderson from Downunder Horsemanship has developed an effective method to train horses, regardless of their age, history, or any behavioral issues and past traumas. Join him on his weekly endeavors of tackling some of the most challenging situations with problem horses, and with problem owners. This week, we’ll see Clinton as he gives us a preview of how to load your horse in your trailer quickly or in the presence of an emergency.
Sometimes, emergencies occur. If you’re in an emergency with your horse, keeping your wits about you is essential. You also need to trust the training you’ve done. Teaching a horse to willingly load on a trailer is the hallmark of good horsemanship, but sometimes a horse may refuse to even get near the trailer. To avoid any problems, there are a few things you can do.
To start, Clinton gives us an example of an emergency. Imagine that it’s 1:00 a.m. and there’s a bad storm. You go out to check on your horses and you find that one of them has a deep cut on their leg or somewhere on their body. You know you need to get the horse to the vet as soon as possible, but when you go to load him on the trailer, the horse doesn’t budge. Maybe he’s never been in a trailer before or he’s just being stubborn, but time is of the essence. You need to get your horse on the trailer now.
While sometimes you can utilize a transport company, especially if you’ve never put your horse in a trailer before, that’s not feasible in an emergency. To make sure your horse is safe, Clinton tells us a quick fix—how to get a horse of any age, size, or training on to a trailer in a minimal amount of time without hurting the horse, without the handler getting hurt, and without getting your trailer or your truck torn up in the process.
Although this is a quick fix, Clinton reminds us that it does not replace the actual way of thoroughly teaching your horse to be trailer loaded for life. The proper way involves a step-by-step approach and retreat method that will get the horse craving to go on the trailer. It may require a little ongoing polishing, but it’s the best method to build a horse’s confidence long-term. Today’s training is not that. It’s simply a way to get your horse on the trailer safely without hurting anyone. It’ll work every time, but Clinton does not recommend using it consistently.
To demonstrate the emergency loading technique, Clinton and Professional Clinician Jeff Davis work with a few horses. Ideally, when loading a horse on the trailer in an emergency situation, you’ll have two experienced people who know how to handle horses. That’s the ideal situation, but not always the case. However, utilizing two people will make this easier. If one of them is inexperienced, have that person hold the horse and get in the trailer. You’ll want the person with the most amount of experience to be on the ground. The experienced person needs to create motivation for the horse to get in the trailer while the inexperienced person simply keeps the horse looking in their direction. Never have the person in the trailer try to pull the horse in. All that does is make the horse want to rear up or run backwards.
When the horse is looking in the trailer, the person in the trailer will keep a little bit of slack in the rope. They will only apply pressure to the lead rope if the horse looks left or right. Their goal is to keep the horse’s head straight and looking ahead into the trailer. The person on the ground will motivate the horse to get on the trailer by creating pressure behind the horse. Anytime the horse takes a step closer to the trailer or if he smells the trailer, looks at the trailer, licks the trailer, lowers his head, or gives any other indication that he’s inquisitive, the person outside the trailer will take the pressure away. This process of applying pressure and releasing it is repeated until your horse is in the trailer safely and you can close the door.
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