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Horse Will Not Trailer

A horse trailer is, essentially, a dark, metal box on wheels; therefore, it is not uncommon for horses to refuse to trailer. Whether the horse is new to trailering, has had a bad trailering experience or has trailered without issue for years, at one time or another your horse will be fearful and have issues trailering. As with all issues concerning your horse, maintaining a calm, controlled atmosphere with no unnecessary surprises will allow your horse to become comfortable with the process. The goal is to get your horse to trailer without anxiety.

If your horse has had a bad experience, it is important to approach trailering as a new thing. Start from the beginning and re-introduce the trailer to your horse as if he has never been trailered before. If you know what caused the bad experience, try to ensure that this experience will not be repeated. Make sure your mats are laid and that there is proper traction. Try to make the trailer a pleasant place. If it is dark, try to find ways to lighten it up. Confirm that there are no sharp edges or loose pieces. Noises can easily frighten horses. Check for anything loose that may cause noises. The last factor that may need addressing is your driving. A horse in a moving trailer is unsteady at best. Your driving style may aggravate the unsteady feeling. Be conscious of you stopping, starting and lane changes. Remember, that even a securely tied horse will feel wobbly.

Forcing your horse into the trailer will only cause trauma and a lasting memory that will make it difficult to get your horse to trailer in the future. If the horse becomes fearful when approaching the trailer, allow the horse to “escape”. Do calming, normal things near the trailer. Walk in circles, talk to your horse, groom him, etc. Then try to approach the trailer again. Allow the horse to get use to the trailer. Let him inspect it and see it is of no danger to him. Place a bag of hay at the front of the trailer and allow the horse to eat while in the trailer. Stay close to your horse throughout the trailering. Your presence will help allay your horse’s fears. Stay at his shoulder and be there for comfort. Walk into the trailer with your horse. The trust your horse has in you will be your biggest asset to overcome this issue.

Again, remember to remain calm and patient. It may take some time, especially if your horse has been traumatized, but the relationship and trust built between you and your horse will allow you both to master this with time.