Trailer loading is seldom a problem with a trailer …
I will use Hudson as an example how escalating problems with loading him on a trailer had nothing to do with the trailer.
So what was happening and why did the loading into a trailer got so challenging? He had never been a fan of being loaded onto a trailer, but with some doing he usually got on fine. Over the span of a year he had been getting fitter. So his surly reluctance changed into a more expressive NO. Hence the “escalating” of the trailer loading problem.
But why the NO to start with? My analysis was that basically he said NO as soon as he got pressured/pulled or perceived actions as such. It also was clear that this was a long standing behaviour. So to tackle this “trailer loading problem” I started with some lunging where he showed similar behaviour. He would say NO by bolting off or trying to. My job was to let him know I would not pressure him into anything he could not do. I would invite him to work with me and if he, out of habit of years, said NO I would just stay calm, listen to him, give him a moment and then invited him again to go on. I also made sure we did not by “accident” get into a situation that could be interpreted by him as pressure. This does not mean I do not put him to work!
Since being in a trailer was no problem I was confident that after three lunging sessions in quick succession we could progress to actually loading him on a trailer. My objective is that a horse can load himself onto a trailer and I am only there to invite them to load and to close the trailer.
It took 20 minutes the first time. Going home it took 5 minutes. Next day it took 20 minutes but he was becoming more confident that he could actually just walk onto the trailer by himself. Going home the owner could load him without any hesitation. So both the horse and the owner have been changing their habits and are coming together more and more.
The “trailer loading problem” was actually a combination of old habits and no clear communication between human and horse.