I’m so grateful to Molly for letting me borrow her trailer. Giving Z a few sessions before we leave will make a world of difference in how the trip to the trainer’s goes two weeks from now.
I guess it’s a Murphy’s Law that as soon as you start trailer training, a crowd of people are attracted to the trailer like a magnet!
When I was trying to trailer my very difficult Arab, Beautiful Boy, the person helping me was an idiot (she was the BO at 3HF). Here was a horse with a high degree of flight instinct and distrust of people. No amount of work ever convinced him to get into my straight load trailer.
On that day, instead of just standing quietly in one place, keeping her voice free of tension, the 3HF BO starts moving about, around the sides of the trailer, and messing with the trailer doors. Because the trailer was a stock version it had open horizontal viewing areas. This helps in making the trailer look inviting but when you have someone flitting around, in and out of the line of vision, it just makes it look like a creature is waiting for you to position yourself so they can kill you!
It didn’t help that bozo let go of the trailer door and the powerful wind almost closed it on top of me and the horse as we were standing midway to get in! That was a day that I almost got killed — so it’s not surprising that the 3HF BO is the one who caused the accident that gave DH a dislocated shoulder.
Yesterday we were working with a trailer that was a 2 horse slant load with windows on one side but otherwise solid. It does not have a ramp – which in my dream world – I would get one with a ramp. Z rode in this trailer with Big Guy when we moved to FR (about a year ago).
Z readily put her two front feet into the trailer. It took a little bit more time to convince her to put the hind feet in (aside – BTW we were just working in a halter and leadrope, no whip, and lots of carrots). She had conflicted emotions about that – there was hay in the feeder and she tore it into it angerily, shoving her nose deep into the hay and then grabbing a bite, tearing a hunk off aggressively.
The biggest problem we ran into is that she does not feel comfortable backing off the trailer.
When we had trailered her over to FR, she spun and want off head first, which caught me by surprise, causing me a shoulder bruise when she bodyslammed me (we had an audience that day too!).
Yesterday she pulled that stunt again on the first try. On the second try, I was extremely firm with her and not letting her turn her head to the back, which would have caused a spin. This stressed her and asking her to back just caused her to hump her back and put her hind feet even further under her.
It took several more minutes to convince her that she could take a step back. Eventually we did back off the trailer and that ended that session for the day. I took Z on a walk and she did some strutting about “yeah, I did it! I did it! So what to you!”
Backing is what we will be working on today. I want to get her feeling comfortable and confident about this before we move on to a road trip.
Molly and the FR BO suggested we take her for a short road trip – and that is in my plans for the next week when we will have the trailer again – before we leave for the hour and a half drive to the trainer. For now, this is still very new to her.
My goal is to build confidence and ease with the process by cutting it into chunks that give her success – not overwhelm her.