If your horse trailer is new, often the strong
new smell of the rubber floor matting can be off putting for
him, so before introducing your horse give the trailer a good
airing and maybe for a couple of days stand a barrow of your own
horses droppings in the trailer. Sounds off putting but it is
effective as this is familiar smell to your horse and it will
detract the rubber odour.
If you have
just obtained a used trailer give the trailer a good power wash
internally and then disinfect it using products such as ‘Virkon’
that is specifically designed for this to kill of bacterias and
organisms specific to horses and other animals.
Do not use
products such as Jeys fluid or bleaches or any other strong
disinfectant because not only will it distress the horse in the
lasting smell but it can also badly stain the rubber flooring or
sides of your trailer.
Introducing your horse
Park your trailer up attached to your tow
vehicle in the yard or in the field and open up both the front
and rear ramps and let the horse freely wander around the
trailer and tow vehicle. Your horse will be naturally
inquisitive so leave them to familiarise themselves with the
trailer and tow vehicle, let them have a good sniff.
The next step
is to practice loading your horse. Park the trailer on a flat
level service attached to the tow vehicle and open up both the
front and rear ramps. Don’t rush the process let your horse take
it slowly when walking up the ramp and if need be in the early
stages tempt them maybe with a treat.
Then walk them
through the length of the trailer very slowly, talking to them
and then down the front ramp and out. Repeat this process
pausing in the middle or travel position in the trailer longer
each time you do this until finally you can stop and your horse
will stand for as long as required. Obviously then secure the
lead rope to the internal tie ring using bailer twine and ensure
that the horse has sufficient movement to reach a hay net
positioned at the front of the trailer which you should now
first the breast bar in place. Show this to the horse first and
let them have a good sniff and let them see you putting it in
place, then introduce the rear breaching bar. It is not usually
the actual bar itself that panics the horse when doing this but
any actual noise made in doing it. Some trailers are noisier
than others in doing this process.
The next step
once your horse is happy standing in the trailer for reasonable
periods is first close the grooms door and get your used to the
noise of this taking place. Next introduce closing the rear ramp
and do this slowly.
Close it slowly
because if there are any stones on the ramp they will roll down
into the trailer plus also the rear ramp, springs create a
certain amount of noise and doing it slowly reduces the noise
this. The next step is to close the front ramp again slowly.
Next step is
closing of the front ramp top door and certainly we advise never
closing both the rear ramp top doors. We also recommend not to
travel your horse with the front ramp top door open as not only
is there a danger of your horses head striking on a object
outside the trailer but there is the danger that your horse
could receive a serious eye injury from fly’s and other insects
Never attempt any of the loading processes we have described
above whilst alone. The reason for this is that whilst
introducing your horse to the trailer you do not know how your
horse is going to react and if you are alone and the horse
panics you could suffer an injury.
If you are
alone and the injury is serious or you are knocked unconscious
or trapped then no one would know this has occurred, at all
times think safety.
Once your horse
is used to loading and you become more experienced there is then
no reason for undertaking the process alone.
The first few
times you have loaded your horse before you go anywhere start
your tow vehicle engine and leave your engine running and let
your horse get used to the noise of the engine. Then introduce
revving the engine so the horse becomes used to it.
Then move off
slowly and drive around your yard or secure flat level area for
around five minutes before stopping and checking your horse and
giving them reassurance. Then gradually increase the time you
drive for until you can then actually venture onto the road for
the first time.
The above is an
article that we produced on behalf of Horse & Rider Magazine
that appeared in their June 2007 issue. Our thanks go to them
for allowing us to re-produce it.