2 - Back and Forward
The first thing to do is to teach the horse the basic cues - go forward and backwards.
- This lesson is taught in the bridle (although the horse does not travel in the bridle) because it gives the handler considerably more control. If your horse has not yet been taught to wear a bridle then teach it in a webbing halter (rather than a rope halter as the pressure is more evenly distributed) and be sure to hold the lead rope close to the halter.
- A simple snaffle is ideal for this purpose. Simply tie the reins up or take them off and attach the clip of your long lead rope to the left hand side of the bit.
- Have the horse in a bridle with a long lead rope attached to the bit. Wrap the lead rope around his neck if necessary to stop it from dragging on the ground. You will need your dressage whip for motivating the horse to go forward.
- Don't think about the trailer at this stage. Concentrate on the left front leg and get that to move back and forward on cue. We often complicate this lesson by trying to get the whole horse on to the trailer - it is a BIG horse and the trailer is SMALL. Try not to fall into that trap - one foot only (the left front)!
- As you have probably already realised, I am always trying to simplify things and it doesn't matter if it is piaffe (let's be honest, it is just trot) or trailer loading (walk forward and back), if we can make it simple and break it down enough for the horse to understand he will not only do it but gain confidence in the process.
- Now start to move the horse closer to the trailer. Try to 'ignore' the trailer and continue with your - 'step forward; step back' lesson.