Here is a recap of the second day of trailer training – it was an adventure 😮 –
First 15 minutes, Z did very well. She willingly came up to the trailer and quickly put her two feet up on the floor. She backed out easily, without fear.
Because this is a two horse slant, it’s not really deep. Horses are supposed to come up at an angle and then move sideways. Z quickly learned that she could really stretch her nose and body pretty far to get a carrot without getting her hind feet into the trailer. Occasionally, she would lift one hind leg off the ground and put the toe on the trailer floor but would not completely step up.
While all this was good, I really wanted her to get into the trailer! This is where human aggravation starts to escaluate. Human View of the situation: just get into the damn trailer and then we’ll be done and I can go get some lunch and stop being embarrassed in front of the people watching me not get you into this trailer. Horse View – I don’t want to do this and see no reason to do so.
After some time, Z decided she had had enough. I’ve seen this happen with horses in training and it reminds me unpleasantly of Red, who would rather hysterically flip over backwards instead of complying with the most simply request. The horse has reached their limit of playing this new game – and decides to lodge a protest. Depending on the horse the protest could be rearing, backing, pinning ears, biting, running away, bucking etc… It’s the “had enough of this crap leave me alone!” response.
I call this flipping the switch — when it happens in a good way the horse has an aha! moment and after weeks, maybe months of work, finally comprehends what you have been trying to each them. When it’s negative – the horses’ mental state switches to non-compliance and a battle begins – not No…. but HELL, NO! It can happen very quickly and so it did with Z on the second day of trailer training.
Suddenly we couldn’t move forward. We couldn’t follow mommy. She had never heard of following mommy. The whip (which I had husband tap on her butt to signal move forward) she had never seen before in her life and must be dealt with! We got rearing, pinned ears, butt turned to me etc… and I realized, probably a bit too slowly, that we needed to dump the idea of getting into this trailer today, and re-group.
A month off from work – spring in the air with mares discovering the boys over the fence – and being the Bad Girl of the BFF club had swelled Z’s head. Not that it takes much to swell this horses’ head. But boy, she decided to dish it out in spades.
We ended up going over some leading and lunging in the commons area. We had rears, we had pinned ears, we had I want to punch your clock! attitude and I was like WTF is wrong with my horse??
Back to the Rules: follow me when I ask; when I ask go forward, go forward; and any behavior that endangers my life will be dealt with quickly. With a horse like Z there can be absolutely NO GRAY AREAS in what you mean.
When I put her away, I’ve isolated her in the north paddock with Dee. She can visit with Dee over the long fence that adjoins these two pastures but no more hang-out, Girl time. Dee was moved to T-man’s lot and T-man was moved to join another gelding next door to Dee.
I’ve also put Z on “hay and water” – so I’m sure she is telling everyone over the fence that she is doing hard time in the Big Mac now. The BO sent me an email this morning asking if she can put Z back on her grain, and I said no. The reality is that she is an easy keeper and the ONLY reason I even grain her now, is so she can have a snack (she gets about a cup of feed a.m. and p.m.) when the other horses do. She has a fresh round bale all to herself to eat whenever she pleases.
My thinking is that when you get a chance for a special treat, whether that be a handful of grain, a carrot or a flake of alfalfa, that ME WANT THAT will be much stronger.
If she wants to play a psychological war, I will win it. She is getting on the trailer….