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Backing Up a Horse Trailer:

Advice for New Truck and Trailer Drivers

If you have never backed up a trailer, it can be a confusing and non-intuitive maneuver. If you want the trailer to turn left, the rear end of your rig must go right. You often gauge your progress by looking in a side or rear view mirror, which reverses things. So, how do you manage it? By going slow, practicing, using a helpful ground person and/or frequently putting the truck in park, getting out and walking walking around the trailer to see what’s happening. Here’s some tips from Equipping Your Horse Farm that will help make the maneuver second nature:

Equipping Your Horse Farm by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh

 

  • Put your hand in the center of the bottom of the steering wheel. If you want the back of the trailer to move to the left, move your hand to the left.
  • If you want the back of the trailer to go to the right, move your hand to the right.
  • For a sharp turn, turn the steering wheel before you press the accelerator.
  • For a gradual turn, turn the steering wheel and press the accelerator at the same time.
  • Once the trailer is going in the direction you want, you need to straighten out the truck wheels to have your truck follow the trailer.

©  2010 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com


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Cherry,
I am having a problem with my horse who has picked up this habit of bolting out of the horse trailer when we open the back. Its at the point where it takes 2 people to load her since she will bolt. I’m scared that one of my kids will get hurt since she comes out so forcefully once the butt-bar is taken down. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. – Mitzi

Dear Mitzi,

To start fixing unloading problems you need to work on in-hand work and loading. You state in your question that it takes 2 people to load her which indicates that is where you need to start – with the loading. Start from square one reviewing all in hand work. Some of these things might be a quick review and others will show you where your horse’s “holes” are and where you need to work. Here’s a checklist to get you going:

  • Head Down
  • Whoa on a Long Line
  • Leading Next to You
  • Respecting Your Personal Space
  • Turn on the Forehand
  • Side Pass
  • Back
  • Backing Through obstacles such as rails, barrels
  • Turn on the Center in a Box
  • Crossing odd footing such as concrete, wooden bridge
  • Standing on elevated platform
  • Leading Under a safe low ceiling such as a tarp
  • Leading past the Traile
Trailering Your Horse by Cherry Hill

Trailering Your Horse by Cherry Hill

There are step-by-step photo instructions for some of these lessons on my website Horsekeeping and for all of these lessons and more in my book

Trailering Your Horse

Once you and your horse have mastered all of these things, sending her into the trailer will be a piece of cake, very anti-climactic. When you DO start loading here again in the trailer, just ask her to take ONE STEP AT A TIME. You might make her stand with just her front feet in and then back her out. This may take days or weeks but when you have finished, you will have a solid horse that will retain the good habits for life. Cherry Hill, award-winning author of books on horse training, riding, horse

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