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If just the thought of trailering your horse causes a hard lump to form in the pit of your stomach, you’re not alone. Getting a horse to confidently get on a trailer is a problem that haunts all equestrians on their horsemanship journey at some point, including Clinton.
“When I was a kid, I’d ask my horse to step onto the trailer, and she’d fight the halter, rear and back up,” Clinton says. “My entire family would get involved; we’d run a rope behind her butt and try to push her on the trailer. We tried bribing her on with treats. We yelled at her and waved our arms and stomped our feet. There would be dogs and three or four big rednecks swearing and cussing. The whole ordeal would turn into nothing but a big circus.”
When Clinton attended his first horsemanship clinic taught by Gordon McKinlay, he learned how to teach a horse to load on a trailer without it turning into a big tug-of-war. “What Gordon taught me was to look at trailering from the horse’s perspective. As prey animals, with a flight or fight response, horses prefer to be in big, open spaces where they can easily see predators approaching them and then be able to make a quick getaway. That’s why, as a general rule, horses don’t like trailers—they make them feel trapped and claustrophobic,” Clinton says.
In the training resource, “Nix Trailering Troubles,” Clinton shares how to build a horse’s confidence about getting on a trailer and relaxing once inside it. The process starts by working with the horse outside the trailer before attempting to ask him to get on the trailer.
Read the detailed training guide on the Downunder Horsemanship website.