Trailer loading has been fascinating to me over the years that I’ve worked with the public, because it’s where people’s emotions seem to come up the most. Trailer loading shows you with crystal clarity what you really have going with your horse, in terms of lead rope work, and your relationship. It also shows what’s really inside of a person. It’s where horses start shoving, panicking, avoiding, or are responsive, willing, and soft. It’s where people get frustrated, push, bribe, force, or wait, direct, and stay calm.
Another fascinating aspect of trailer loading to me is how often people need help, but are unwilling to turn over to someone else completely. Maybe they feel the whole process isn’t happening fast enough, so they might try to help out by bribing the horse with treats, pushing or pulling, while someone else is working with your horse to get in the trailer. Sitting and waiting and watching might feel difficult to do, especially if you’ve just spent some time frustratedly trying to get your horse in the trailer. The thing about trailer loading, though, is that it absolutely does not work if the two people working on loading are not on the same page, and if both aren’t willing to give it the time and space it needs to happen. You can’t set the horse up to wait, but just get in there for one little nudge or push. If emotional control is out of reach in this task, if you can’t watch without interrupting, or getting frustrated, it’s better for you to go inside and have a glass of water, or better yet, a glass of wine. Negative emotions and horses do not mix well.
Sometimes people ask me when there are folks around struggling to load their horse, why I don’t offer to help them. I’m happy to help anyone, but if you have different ideas about how loading should go, what I do will not work. It’s less confusing for the horse if I just let them keep doing what they’re doing, until they’re ready to give something different a shot.