Trailering Young Horses: The Dos and Don’ts
Early trailering can set the tone for how a horse hauls for much of its life. Therefore, it’s helpful to provide positive early experiences. Here are six dos and four don’ts for trailering young horses.
Trailering young horses can be difficult. It can create anxiety for you and your youngster as you try to provide great experiences to make them more comfortable with the experience. Providing less than desirable situations can create a horse that tries anything to stay out of the enclosed, tight quarters of a box on wheels.
But how exactly do you make this an experience that becomes familiar and insignificant to your colt?
1. Put Planning into the Trip
Allot plenty of time to load your young horse. Think about the route and make an emergency plan for if something goes wrong. Bring essential items for safety and first aid.
2. Take Your Time
Be patient with the loading process. Give the young horse time to think and process what is being asked of him rather than rushing him on the trailer. Also, drive a little slower than usual to allow the young horse time to adjust to the trailering experience.
3. Bring a Buddy
Bringing along a companion that is familiar with trailering will decrease anxiety levels in your young horse. This buddy can also aid the young horse in reacting in a calm manner to the experience.
4. Keep the Buddy In Sight
Keep the seasoned horse in close proximity to the young horse during the entire experience. This will aid in a more relaxed environment. Load the buddy first to give the young horse more security when loading. After unloading the buddy, keep him in eye sight of the young horse rather than immediately walking him away.
5. Be a Responsible Driver
Use your tow mirrors and check them frequently to stay aware of your surroundings. Know how to back up proficiently before hauling a young horse. Be cognizant of all truck gauges to remain aware of truck efficacy while trailering.
6. Provide Training Before Attempting to Trailer
Teach your horse to move off of pressure and be respectful of your space. This provides safety so that the horse will not jump on you when loading. Your young horse should know how to tie and to give to that pressure as well so that he does not pull back once tied in the trailer.
1. Leave Doors Open
Once your young horse is loaded, make sure to close all escape doors, manger doors and drop down window doors to provide safety so that the young horse does not try to escape out of one of these options if it suddenly gets claustrophobic once in the trailer.
2. Tie to an Unattached Trailer
If a young horse pulls back in an unattached trailer they have the ability to move the trailer. Only tie to trailers that are hooked to a truck.
3. Load with Tack On
A young horse is stressed enough by the trailering process and has the possibility of freaking out. Do not put tack on the horse because dangling items could get caught on the trailer.
4. Lure with Food
Your horse is not ready to load if luring with food is the most effective way to get him on. This most likely means he does not respect pressure enough to maneuver him safely into the trailer. Luring with food can create an unsafe environment as the young horse may jump onto the trailer potentially jumping on you or trapping you without a way to safely get out.
The first trailering experiences a young horse has can set them up for success or failure and that decision is in the hands of his owner. Educating your young horse to give to pressure and creating a working relationship with him will give him the fundamentals to load and trailer with ease. Coaxing or forcing an uneducated colt creates less than desirable trailering situations that will become a larger issue as trailering becomes more frequent.