Trailer Training

Training your Donkey to  Trailer Load

Tools needed for this training

  • Trailer
  • Halter
  • Lead rope
  • Crop or short whip

Now you are ready to begin:

1. Halter the donkey.  Attach a lead rope. The donkey must be willing to move forward with simple “go forward.”

“Forward cue” (slight forward pull on lead rope at halter).  If not, train donkey by giving forward cue with lead rope and raising a crop in the other hand that is visible to the donkey.  If no forward movement, smack donkey lightly on upper rear leg.  If no response, pause, and repeat until donkey makes a forward movement with any leg.  Reward donkey.

Repeat.  Donkey will learn to move forward BEFORE crop makes contact with his body.

2. Once the donkey leads, walk to and past the trailer.  Walk the donkey back and forth across the door opening of the trailer, gradually getting close and close to the opening.

3. Next lead the donkey in small (6 foot) circles in front of the trailer door.

4. When the donkey is relaxed with the circle, lead the donkey STRAIGHT out of the circle to the trailer opening and pause at the door.  The donkey may want to put his head down to sniff the trailer floor to be sure it is solid.  Allow this.

5. With a forward cue at the halter (and initially with the crop if necessary), ask the donkey to load.  If the donkey refuses, lead in circles again and repeat #4.  If the donkey starts to load but only loads the front hooves, pause, ask the donkey to back out and repeat #5 until the donkey completely loads.

Once the donkey is inside praise him/her verbally and physically.  Treats work too.  If the donkey wants to off load right away, ALLOW THIS.  DO NOT attempt to immediately shut the donkey inside if he/she is afraid.  Rather repeat the loading until the donkey is comfortable inside the trailer on a loose lead.  Then go inside and give praise.  When the donkey is at ease, have a 2nd person close the door while you and stand inside and comfort the donkey.  DO NOT latch the door.  If the donkey panics, open the door and let the donkey out.  ALWAYS let the donkey know you are willing to give him his escape route.

When the lessons have been successfully assimilated by the donkey, he/she should be able to walk up to the door of the trailer and jump in with a minor forward cue.  A donkey that ABSOLUTELY will not load despite your best efforts may need to be desensitized by taking him/her across a black mat on the ground, or a pallet or bridge or ramp first.