There is no worse feeling as a horse owner, than going to load your horse after a long weekend at a show, and low and behold, your best friend has decided they don’t want to get on the float. We have all been there, and have acquired a few tips and tricks along the way that may help you...
- Most often difficulty to load can be fixed with groundwork. If you have an inkling your horse may not want to load, work on the ground first. Get them to swing their haunches away from you, go backwards and forwards. The key point here is to release all pressure as a reward when they do as they are asked.
- Remove dividers or angle them, open the front doors if possible, and make the float as inviting as possible. It is after all, a scary dark box!
- If at home, park it so that it faces their stable or paddock, so it looks like they are heading home!
- When going to load, keep them moving. This means keeping a firm tension on the rope and then giving when they step forward. Stay calm and have a passive body language.
- Keep them facing the float at all times. Don’t let them turn away, back up if needed.
- Often offering food/treats as a reward can help them and ease their nerves. Don’t offer feed if highly anxious and stressed to avoid choke
Floating can be very worrying, and it’s important to make it a pleasant experience for them, this includes driving slow once they are on, especially if they are anxious.