As creatures of grasslands and plains, horses prefer bright, wide open spaces to enclosed, dark areas. In the wild, horses are one of the prime prey animals of large carnivores such as wolves, and their flight-or-fight instinct is correspondingly well-developed. This is one of the reasons why acclimating young horses to traveling in trailers may be challenging. Following are five ways you can make trailer travel as easy as possible on your young horse.
Choose a Trailer With Plenty of Interior Light
Besides having an innate dislike of small, enclosed spaces, horses' eyes adjust slowly to changes in light, and entering dark trailers may feel to them as if they've suddenly gone blind. Choosing a trailer that features lots of light via windows and open ceilings will make learning to enter a trailer easier on your young horse. Interior paint in light colors also provides a brighter space, and a carefully placed small interior light bulb will make the trailer more welcoming when it's necessary to load after dark. Trailer training will be much easier if the horse feels as if it's entering a friendly space.
Let the Horse Get Used to the Trailer
Effectively training horses involves allowing them to get used to various objects such as items of tack and equipment. Young horses are much more amenable to being ridden, for instance, if they are introduced to bridles and saddles one item at a time over a period of several weeks. Parking your horse trailer within easy sight of your young horse will provide a degree of familiarity.
Practice Getting in and Out of the Trailer With Your Horse
Practicing loading and unloading your horse from the trailer will make things go much more smoothly when the time comes to hit the open road. Don't overdo it -- young horses adjust better when they aren't overwhelmed, so only practice loading and unloading two or three times per day until the horse seems at ease with the process. Patience is key when trailer training your young horse, so take it easy and stop the training process if the animal becomes agitated. Always practice trailer training in fenced areas in the event that your horse becomes spooked, and always have a human companion close by.
Provide a Tasty Reward
One of the most effective ways of training your horse that there's nothing to fear from entering a trailer is to provide a tasty treat as incentive. A small handful of oats, a cube of sugar, an apple slice, or a piece of a carrot are all good reward options when working with your horse on trailer training.
Contact a company like Colorado Trailers Inc for further information about the best types of trailers to use with horses.