Backing off the trailer at full speed

The trailer can be a very scary place for some horses. Some horses (eventually…) do load on to the trailer, but immediately shoot off backwards again like a cannonball. Sometimes, in these cases the horse experiences so much stress that they run backwards in a blind panic and dangerous situations can occur, for both horse and handler. We give you 10 tips that might help you when your horse runs off the trailer backwards at full speed. 

  1. Always work with a hard hat and a long line. Safety is always paramount! With a long line or leadrope you don’t have to let go of the horse when they fly backwards, but you can let the line slide. 
  2. Start with groundwork. Make sure the horse walks with you, stops and backs up with as little pressure on the line as possible. 
  3. Position the trailer in a safe place with a good, safe footing. Concrete or stone is less suitable when working with these types of horses because the horse can slip very quickly when backing off the trailer at full speed. Also make sure that the area around and behind the trailer is clear of obstacles so that the horse cannot hurt themselves. 
  4. It is often easier to remove the front bar from the trailer. The horses will follow you into the trailer better and you will have more room to move yourself. Do always close the front door. 
  5. Be very aware of your own position in the trailer and how you reward the horse. Often without knowing it we turn around a bit with our shoulders, which can be a reason for the horse to run out again. So stay in a good position with your shoulders facing forward until you decide to leave the trailer yourself. 
  6. Take all the time you need. Spread the training over several days and stop each session at a time when a horse confidently and relaxedly performs part of the exercise. 
  7. If the horse runs out or backs off the trailer at full speed during your training, let the line slide through your hands. Do not try to hold the horse, because that often only achieves the opposite. Let the horse run back. As soon as the horse’s head is outside the trailer, take some pressure on the line again and ask the horse to come back inside. Then ask the horse to back off the trailer again and reward. Repeat this until the horse is able to stay in the trailer longer and longer. 
  8. It is very useful to practice closing the back bar and ramp separately, without closing the trailer yet. For this we recommend asking for help from someone who has experience with this. Timing and calmness are very important in this phase of the training to guide the horse well. On our website you can find our instructors who can help you with this, but you can also always email us for help and advice. 
  9. Is your horse ready to hit the road? Don’t forget to close everything at the back before tying the horse at the front. This of course also applies to unloading: first untie the horse completely before you open the ramp and back bar. Never let anyone stand directly behind the ramp! 
  10. Rememberto open and close the ramp and any top covers gently. Make sure you stay calm and don’t make sudden noises that could startle the horse. 


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