- Be safe: Wear gloves, boots,
- Protect your horse’s legs during training with standing wraps or shipping boots. Use a head bumper if your horse elevates his head when he enters the trailer.
- Choose a suitable environment: Use a trailer that is safe, well ventilated, brightly lit, and appropriately sized for your horse. Put hay and treats in the trailer while you’re training (hauling, too).
- Train in a quiet location with no distractions.
- Choose a time when your horse’s demeanor is calm.
- Practice excellent horsemanship skills: Breathe deeply to release tension. Let go of expectations. Interact with your horse in a quiet manner.
- Communicate clearly: Begin with the lightest amount pressure. Release the pressure completely the moment your horse responds correctly.
- Reinforce your horse with rewards such as wither scratches, treats, going for a walk, or a chance to graze.
- Short sessions will prevent cognitive overload. Take steps to reduce stress that triggers fight or flight mode and prevents your horse from learning or processing new information.
- End each session on a positive note.
This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!