Treatment Type: Training Techniques
Rated for: Thoroughbred x American Quarter Horse Cross
Somers, Connecticut, United States
Posted Jan. 11, 2019
Positive reinforcement is the only technique that taught my horse to load into the trailer. At first it was impossible, but consistent daily exposure to the trailer while being fed treats finally convinced him that it was not, in fact, a horrible monster. I think that this kind of gradual, positive approach is the way to go, as I cringe when I see people trying to load horses with lunge whips or even McGuyvered winches.
While I'm not saying that you can't use a crop to motivate your horse to go into the trailer, I think that more extreme methods simply whip your horse into a frenzy and are actually counterproductive. If a horse is terrified of the trailer and then remembers that he's going to be even more scared by the people around him, it's going to make loading even more difficult in the long run. These methods also run the risk of your horse injuring himself by rearing and potentially flipping over.
Overall, I think that teaching your horse to load includes a balance of positive and negative reinforcement techniques, but in my opinion, the most important thing is that you go slowly and start preparing way before you actually need to trailer your horse anywhere.