Loading a horse into a trailer simply and safely

10. June 2020 / Guide / 4 Minutes
Loading a horse into a trailer simply and safely
If show day always begins with sweaty, tedious and perhaps even dangerous loading, stress and a bad mood are bound to happen. Unfortunately, this greatly reduces the chances of a good result. Even with leisure horses, it is very important that they can be loaded without great difficulty. If your horse has to be taken to a clinic, quick loading can even be vital. Since both loading and trailer driving always involve risks, it is important to keep them as low as possible by providing your horse with the right protective equipment, maintaining the trailer properly and giving it the right training. We wish you much success with your loading training and a safe and pleasant journey!

Travel boots - protection for the horse's legs

The most important protection for your horse is the use of boots on its legs. Travel boots are thickly padded leg protectors, usually extending from the hoof up to the tarsus or hock joint. Unlike regular boots, which are intended for training, they also protect the fetlock joints, the hock, and the sensitive ball and coronet band area. Without suitable leg protection, slipping on the ramp or kicks that the horses inflict on themselves in the confined space of the trailer can very quickly lead to serious, yet easily avoided injuries. Transport boots eliminate the need for thick bandage pads, bandaging and bell boots on all four legs. Easily fastened with Velcro, travel boots can be put on in a flash and should never be forgotten out of convenience.

Before loading, it is important to walk your horse on non-slip ground for a few rounds with the boots on until you bring it to the trailer ramp. Most horses are a little uncomfortable wearing the long boots at first, and so the first steps with them usually look a bit uneven. Young horses in particular are often so unsettled by wearing the boots in the beginning that loading is out of the question. In such a case, get your horse used to the new situation long before you want to load it for the first time. Start with the boots for the front legs only and practice putting them on and walking on non-slip surfaces until it becomes routine. Only then should you put on the protectors for the hind legs for the first time.

Headcollar and lead rope - Into the trailer without panic

If the horse often runs backwards when loading, some riders like to use a bridle or halter with a lead chain for loading. This may seem sensible at first glance but is actually very dangerous!
Your horse should never be loaded with a bridle and certainly not with a lead chain. If your horse suddenly pulls backwards and runs down the ramp again, a lead rope will tighten in a flash and can panic your horse. Since a lead rope is not designed to break, it is not uncommon for such a situation to cause a horse to roll over with serious injury! A bridle is unsuitable for the same reason.

Your horse should only be loaded with a well-fitting, padded headcollar and a lead rope with a panic snap. Such a rope will loosen by itself if your horse panics. This prevents serious injuries to horse and rider. When your horse has gone up the ramp and is standing in the trailer, the rear bar should be closed calmly but quickly by a helper while your horse is calmed and praised in the trailer. Only then may your horse be tied up in the trailer with the lead rope. It is quicker to use a special tether for the trailer, or simply to permanently attach a rope with a panic snap and a horse-proof knot in the trailer. This way you can easily tie your horse with the panic snap of the rope in the trailer and remove the lead rope. The length of the tether should be chosen so that your horse can comfortably reach the hay net, but there is no danger of it tripping on the rope.

Appropriate equipment for transporting your horse

Rugs and mosquito repellent - for a comfortable ride

Obviously, you want to make the journey in the trailer as comfortable as possible for your horse. This also includes making sure that your horse neither sweats nor runs the risk of catching a cold in the draught. In very cool weather, or if your horse has sweated a lot, it is therefore necessary to put on a sweat rug during the journey. This rug must not slip on the way, so it should fit very well. The chest buckle must be securely fastened, and the tail should be pulled through the crupper. Sweat rugs that already have an integrated belly strap are particularly slip-resistant. However, a sweat rug without such a device can also be retrofitted with an elastic rug strap.
The same applies to fly rugs. This fly protection is especially important in summer. This way your horse can relax much more in the trailer during the ride or on the showground. The use of a bug and horsefly repellent spray is also advisable.

Footwear, riding gloves, riding helmet - protection for the rider

Since loading is not only dangerous for your horse, but also for yourself, it is essential to prevent your own injuries. It should go without saying that you should never enter a stable without riding boots. During loading, your horse may accidentally step on a foot in the heat of the moment. Without sturdy footwear suitable for riding, this accident may lead to a hospital visit. Even if your horse is well-behaved, if you load up with sandals, you risk serious injuries to your foot.
You should also bring riding gloves. If your horse unexpectedly runs backwards, your hands will be protected from serious abrasions. Even if you wear gloves, you should never wrap the rope around your hand. Your horse has many times your strength and would definitely pull you along. Wearing a riding helmet when loading is also recommended for safety reasons.

Food, water, hay - basic needs on the journey

Your horse should have a pleasant memory of the journey. Therefore, you should reward your horse for every calm step forward with the help of some treats. Finally, inside the trailer your horse should expect a special treat, e.g. a feed bucket with food. When you train loading, it is advisable to feed your horse only in the trailer the first few times, leave it on the trailer for a while and then unload it again. Only when this has become routine should you drive with the trailer for the first time.
During the journey, it would be good to have a full hay net available for your horse at all times. The steady, slow intake of feed will keep your horse occupied and calm. You should always have a large bucket with you on the journey so that you can offer your horse water or feed it on the way. Some horses do not like to drink new water. In such cases, simply take the water from your own stable or mix the foreign water with a splash of apple juice to change the taste. In the summer months, it is also advisable to mix electrolytes into your equinesuppl to compensate for heavy sweating.

Other products for trailer transport