4 - Four Feet On
Now that the horse understands go forwards and backwards up the ramp we can begin to get all four feet on the ramp and move the horse further into the trailer.
Trailer loading is not hard because it is complicated; it is difficult because if you don't get yourself right and ask correctly then it doesn't happen. These are the things that you have to have done correctly to make it to this stage:
- Hold the horse very close to the bridle.
- Keep the horse's nose in the centre of the trailer.
- Don't pull the horse forward - ask him forward by tapping him on the hip.
- Release on each step or thought of a step forward - that means any pressure you may have on the rein and stop taping (better still, point the whip to the floor).
- Make the ramp the nice place to rest.
- Ask him to back up before he starts - this teaches him to wait for you to ask.
- Continue with exactly the same pattern, now moving each of the feet on to and off of the trailer (or at least the ramp to start).
- As the horse starts to step further up the ramp and into the trailer, you should start rewarding with your pat lower down the neck and on to his back. Eventually we want the horse to self-load, leaving you on the ramp to do the back up and not requiring the help of another person. By patting him further and further down the body, the horse starts to look for that reward and move that part of his body to you. The only way to get his hindquarters to you is to load into the trailer!