Q&A with Jim McDonald – How to address a horse pawing on the trailer

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“My horse paws on the trailer once I load him on there. He loads and unloads calmly, but once standing on the trailer seems anxious and won’t stop pawing. How can I address this behavior?”

First lets recognize that it is natural for a horse to be anxious while confined in a small space. They are naturally claustrophobic because their sense of self preservation is completely taken from them. So we must help them learn that they are not at risk in the trailer. Another thing to keep in mind is when driving take it slow especially on those turns!

The first thing to do is to have your horse go into the trailer and take him off before he paws. Gradually extend the time in the trailer before you take him off before he paws. I know what you are thinking “what if he paws before I take him off” don’t worry he will! If he paws watch carefully and when he stops pawing then ask him to come off of the trailer. Do not take him off while he is pawing. It is also good to feed him in the trailer and make it a place where he wants to go. What is important is that you make this part of a daily routine and then when it is time to go somewhere life will be better for your horse and you too by the way!

Learn more about equine behavior and building better horse/human relationships at one of Jim’s nationwide clinics, horsemanship courses, or individualized training opportunities. Get details here.