After watching your demo I decided to try loading our 20yr old cob that hadn’t been loaded in over 10 years. He had many issues with loading but using your techniques, he loaded perfectly in 20mins of trying, even walking calmly down the ramp afterwards! Thank you for your sharing your loading training technique and encouraging me to do something I had been dreading for a long time!

Amy Knibbs

Having a horse that is difficult to load is a very common and frustrating problem! Jason travel’s out to those having these problems on a weekly basis and over the years have solved a wide range of loading and travelling issues detailed below.  Please also look at the loading section on Jason’s online training programme, Your Horsemanship where you will find videos and printable downloads for you to see how he helps horses with this problem:  Your Horsemanship

Refusal to load. This is generally caused either by the horse not understanding what is asked of it or because the horse has had a bad experience and does not want to repeat it. They work out how to avoid the situation usually by either by rearing, planting or bolting when asked to go onto a ramp and a habit is then formed.

“Bad Travellers”. Horses are naturally claustrophobic animals and those that that are deemed “bad travellers” tend to panic and start to scramble as they lose their balance and footing. Some react in a different way and plant themselves against the sides or the rear of the trailer. These horses are likely to be highly anxious on arrival at an event and will often lead to a refusal to load.

Unloading. It is not just loading that can be a problem. With young or inexperienced horses it is often the unloading that can cause issues and has the potential to lead to very dangerous situation for both horse and handler as the horse suddenly decides to leap or rush out of the horsebox or trailer.

Trauma. Some horses that Jason has dealt with have suffered severe physical and mental trauma through being in a horsebox or trailer that has been involved in a traffic accident. These horses often need a program or rehabilitation in order for them to be comfortable in the horsebox or trailer again.

The downright unusual! Jason is often seen as a last resort to those facing unusual problems with their horse they can’t solve. A case in point was Alison Scott’s showjumper whose performance was being affected by his refusal to urinate in the horsebox on long journeys. Jason asked her to leave dirty bedding from his stable in his stall in the horsebox and take out a partition, which solved the problem!

Jason explains, “It goes back to thinking of how the horse behaves in his natural environment. A lot of horses, particularly stallions, or ‘colty’ geldings, like to urinate on the same corner of the stable, or the same patch of grass in the field. By leaving bedding that has his distinctive smell on it reassured him, even if to our human eyes and nose it was a bit disgusting! Also, by opening up the partition, he could move his legs apart to give him stability. This is also the first thing I recommend to people who have horses that travel badly.”

Horse Loading Training Techniques

Jason’s loading techniques focus on developing a strong “forward” cue and never forcing a horse onto a trailer or horsebox. The preliminary loading training work is done on the ground away from the vehicle and the horse will only be presented to the ramp once he fully understands the forward cue and reacts to it quickly and with no resistance.

When the horse is taken towards the ramp, Jason will ask for a forward cue and will be looking for the horse to show curiosity by lowering his head and sniffing at the ramp rather than looking at his surroundings and looking for a way out. Some horses will only take a few minutes to be happily walking on and off the horsebox, whereas others may take an hour or two. Whichever the case, it is the horse’s choice to respond correctly to the forward cue and walk up the ramp.

Once the horse is willing to load on cue, Jason will spend time with the handler teaching them the same techniques. They will only consider the job well done when the handler is confident in the horse’s acceptance of being loaded.