Be consistent with training both your horse and yourself to be comfortable with the loading and unloading processes. Practice makes perfect. Remember that safety is paramount, so it is never silly to ask for a helping hand from someone with a little it more experience than yourself if you need to do so.
When it’s time to unload, don’t lower the tailgate when your horse is still tied inside the float. It’s so important to ensure that untying is the first step in your unloading procedure. Doing this will help reduce the risk of injury to your horse and the risk of future reluctance to be loaded.
Wear sturdy enclosed shoes. Regardless of the weather, sandals and thongs are a bad idea. You want to be sure footed at all times and as protected as possible if your horse treads on your foot.
Avoid wrapping rope around your hand. In the event that your horse pulls back, you want your hand to be free of the lead rope pressure so you don’t end up breaking or losing a finger.
If your horse insists on backing out while being loaded, avoid pulling their lead rope forward or down as this will likely cause them to throw their head up, risking injury to both the horse and the float. Have a longer rope (around 3m) so that your horse can back out safely while you’ve still got a hold. Once the horse is out, immediately try again.
Don’t hang on to your horse while you’re on the other side of the chest rail, especially if your lead rope is shorter than 3m. Hanging on to your horse as it backs out with the chest rail between the two of you could result in serious injury.
Keep everyone else well away. It is not uncommon to witness a horse being loaded by one person as others are standing close enough to receive a kick to the face if the horse were to be startled. Float loading is a serious safety matter and should always be treated as such.
Don’t become complacent. As soon as you start thinking it won’t happen, it will. Although you know and love your horse, you cannot always predict their next move or factors in the surrounding environment which may startle them. A startled horse doesn’t process thoughts like it normally does, it just reacts.