One of the keys to helping a horse accept the trailer is to play in and around the trailer without making it a big deal. For example, I will ignore the open trailer gate and play with the horse somewhere in the vicinity, then maybe have the horse touch the side of the trailer with his nose, then move off and do other things, and only then come back to rest near the back of the trailer. Over time, the horse will be able to put his nose, neck, front feet, and eventually his entire body into the trailer — and then step calmly out again.
In a recent lesson with Margie and Quest, I brought Dave along to help me introduce Quest to the trailer. Dave’s confidence with the trailer encourages Quest to become confident as well.
Once a horse is comfortable getting in and out of the trailer, I’ll have them spend some time inside with a hay net, without going anywhere. On days when do go somewhere, I’ll load the horse and then hang out for a while while they relax and eat their hay. That way, we don’t create a pattern of anxiety or stress, rushing and pushing the horse into the trailer and then immediately setting off.
The trailer becomes a place of relaxation and fun, and the horse has time to get his balance mentally before we ask him to keep his balance physically.