Loading Your Young Horse Into a Trailer and Horse Box

it is important that you teach a youngster to load calmly and sensibly from the beginning so that you will be able to manage it on your own. Park the trailer against a wall or hedge. Take the partitions out if possible. If this is not possible, move the back of the partition over to make a wider space for the horse to walk into. Open the front, groom’s, door to let in more light so that the horse will not feel it is walking into a trap. Put straw on the floor.

Remove the breast bar so that the horse does not see it as a barrier and stop with its hind feet on the ramp. When the ramp is up, quietly replace the breast bar.

If your trailer unloads at the front, drop both ramps, remove the partition and breast bars and put straw in the trailer and on both ramps. If possible, lead a quiet horse, that is well known to your youngster, into the trailer and out again at the front, encouraging the youngster to follow very closely. If this goes well, next time through halt the schoolmaster inside and get the youngster to stand still next to it. Lead the youngster out first, then put the partitions and breast bars in. Now load the older horse, followed by the youngster. Quickly and quietly raise the back ramp. Tie the horses up and quietly close the front ramp.

Practise loading every day until the horse accepts it as part of its daily routine. If the horse still loads reluctantly after a few days, feed it in the trailer so that it associates loading with a pleasant experience. Make sure it is quite happy about being in the trailer before you take it on its first short journey. lt really pays to spend time on these early stages as there is nothing more infuriating than a horse that makes a fuss about loading or simply refuses to do it at all.

If possible, travel your youngster with a companion for its first few trips. lf lravelling the horse alone, it is better to travel without a partition because this prevents the horse from leaning on one side, bracing its feet against the other side and scrabbling on corners, possibly coming down, frightening itself and probably becoming difficult to load for the rest of its life.

When travelling a horse alone in a trailer without a partition, always cross-tie it using two ropes, one from each side of the head collar, so that the horse will not try to turn round. Always tie loops of baling twine to the rings at the front of the trailer and put the ropes through these, so that they will break in an emergency. Tie the horse so that if it steps back its hindquarters will touch the back of the trailer just before the rope pulls on the head collar, then it is unlikely to pull back and panic.

When travelling a horse alone in a trailer with the partition in, stand the horse on the side closer to the middle of the road. In this position it will be easier for the horse to keep its balance and, because of the camber of the road, the trailer will be easier to tow. lf travelling two horses, put the heavier horse closer to the middle of the road.

Loading into a Horse Box

When loading into a horse box, again, park close to something solid on one side to form a wall, and drop the ramp onto higher ground so that it is not too steep. Move the partitions to make room inside so that the horse can walk straight forward into an open space. It is too much to expect a young horse to walk up a ramp and immediately turn or move sideways into a stall. lf possible, load another horse or pony first so that the youngster can follow.

Unbroken youngsters that have not been handled much are safest travelling loose in a horse box.

Problems With Loading

If your horse is unwilling to load, tempt it in with food, using an assistant to encourage it forward with a hand on its quarters. Never pull on the lead rope or the horse may run back or rear.

If the horse will not go forward, one foreleg may be lifted and put on the ramp, the assistant again encouraging the horse forward.

If this does not work, it may be necessary to have two assistants holding lunge lines attached at one end to the trailer and crossed over just above the horse’s hocks.

An older horse that is nappy about loading, but should know better, may be loaded by the use of various, more forceful methods such as a prod from a stable broom, the use of a whip, etc. These methods should never be Used when teaching a young horse to load. A youngster is not being naughty just because it is doubtful about entering a box or trailer the first few times; it is being cautious. It is better that the young horse learns to do what you ask through trust rather than punishment. An older horse who has lost that trust, perhaps because of a bad experience, should be reschooled to load with the methods used for youngsters.

The second the horse has loaded, your assistant must put the ramp up, trying not to bang it too hard. (If the partition cannot be removed, it must be adjusted after the horse is in and the ramp is up.) Any delay will give the horse time to run back, and, once learned, the horse will remember this trick and repeat it.

Never tie a horse up in a trailer until the ramp is up, in case it panics and runs back. For the same reason, when unloading, always untie the horse before you bring down the ramp. If your trailer unloads to the rear, make the horse wait for a few seconds, with an assistant at its quarters, before backing out. If it should rush back, never pull on the lead rope; leave it slack so that the horse will not panic and throw its head up, perhaps banging it on the roof of the trailer as it rushes out.

If you travel an older horse with a haynet, remember to pass the drawstring through the bottom of the haynet and pull it up really tight so that it will not hang down when empty. Tie the net up really high and very securely. If the horse paws when travelling, a foreleg can get caught in a badly tied haynet, pulling its shoulder muscles or causing it to panic, come down and be badly injured.

Do not travel a young horse with a haynet on its first short journeys, wait until it is used to travelling and will not panic or try to rear. Even then, be extremely careful and use a small net tied high enough to avoid these problems.


Your youngster should wear travelling bandages or boots for protection. You may also feel a poll guard would be sensible. Get your horse totally accustomed to wearing all these things in the stable befire it travels in them.

Add your Comment