Float phobia – how to load the spooky horse

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When you are buying a horse float and looking at floats for sale, are you wondering how you will ever load your spooky horse onto the float? Horse floats spook many horses, and loading can be a complicated and trying process. Establishing a strong groundwork foundation with your horse will help you load a spooky horse onto a horse float.

Foundations of Loading a Spooky Horse

Before you attempt to load a spooky horse you need to teach the horse to respect you and move forward when you ask him to. Put a rope halter and long lead line or lunge line on the horse. Tie a plastic bag or plastic flag to the end of a dressage whip. Equip yourself with gloves to protect your hands while working with your horse.

In a quiet, enclosed area, teach your horse to move forward when you prompt him with the whip. Much in the same way as you would lunge a horse, slowly bring the whip towards the horse’s rear end to drive him forward. If he doesn’t immediately respond, wave the whip up and down slightly to make the plastic crinkle; the sound will help to drive him forward. As soon as your horse moves forward, remove the pressure of the whip and let it be still.

Use caution in working with your horse; many horses react suddenly to the whip and may initially spook or bolt forward. Work with your horse until he understands that the whip is not something to be feared, but it is to be respected.

Continue to work your horse with the whip until he obeys it and readily moves away from the pressure you exert on him. You should be able to drive him forwards from both sides, as well as to steer and affect his front end.

Loading a Spooky Horse Onto a Horse Float

When your horse understands and respects the whip, lead him toward the open horse float in a confident manner. If he spooks, give him a few seconds to inspect the float, then ask him to move forward again. Try to walk directly onto the float; your horse may surprise you.

If your horse plants his feet and refuses to go farther, introduce the whip and ask him to move forward. You may have to get quite insistent with some horses – waving the flag behind your horse’s hind legs puts pressure on him to step forward.

As you use the whip, be sure that you are standing in a safe place and are prepared in case your horse should leap forward or sideways. Enlisting the help of a second person may be necessary with particularly spooky horses.

Once your horse steps forward, remove the pressure and praise him. Give him a few seconds to settle, and then resume the pressure, asking him to move forward again. As he gets closer to the horse float he may try to turn away and escape – do not let him, and use the whip to block his path and redirect him.

Be patient but firm with your horse. As he gets up to the float, continue to pressure him forward with the whip – he will soon step up onto the float.

Always use caution when training a horse. While using a whip and patience will help load many spooky horses, be sure to enlist the help of a professional horse trainer if you run into trouble with your horse.

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