Saturday, November 13, 2010

Horse trailer Friday

Since I had yesterday afternoon free after the guys got on the road, and Sunny was squiffy about the trailer last week, I decided to spend a couple of hours working on loading. Not just with Sunny, but with the other four at the farm, as well.

Every time Sunny's gotten in the trailer lately, he's gotten a workout. So I figured it wouldn't hurt to let him be the "monkey-see, monkey-do" horse with no actual work involved except hopping in and out of the trailer a few times. Too bad for him he decided to be uncooperative, as he got a workout anyway!

Rather than stepping in nicely, he tried angling himself around the trailer. I circled him a few times with no joy, so rather than let him continue to be sticky about it, I retrieved the dressage whip and used it to extend my arm so that he knew swinging sideways wasn't profitable.

His highness enjoying some trailer time.

Even with Sunny being a pill (although by the end of the afternoon he was walking in and out as per his usual) Star watched with interest, thought hard, and then decided that inside was by no means a bad place to be.

Taking a moment

Her trailer experience has been very limited, and was a long time past besides, so walking in and out politely was great.

With Solitaire, who has never been in a trailer, my goal wasn't actually loading but just familiarizing her with things without traumatizing her. When she's afraid she tends to freeze, then freak out (which has in the past involved flipping over). Not a horse that does pressure situations well. I just asked her to step up to the trailer, let her investigate, and then backed her away. Then I did "touch-it" with the clicker and the end of the dressage whip from inside the trailer, but never asked her to step in. From snorting and blowing, she gradually started checking things out, and when she was visibly relaxed about things I put her back.

Sunny got loaded and unloaded in between each horse. Thankfully, his initial "I don't wanna," behavior was short-lived.

Thunder, bless his heart, remembered the trailer being a very rewarding place to be, and stepped right in with no hesitation whatsoever. He's ready to go for a ride. :)

The last victim was T's Amyra, and she loaded, albeit with a bit of snorting, nicely, as well.

Considering Sunny's reluctance to load...

Not wanting to overthink things here, but - I know a bad trailering experience can make a poor loader. But T and I are both careful drivers, especially with horses on. I don't think he's been banged around any more than would be caused by road conditions - yes, we do a fair amount of hauling over gravel, but we do our best to avoid any that are badly washboarded or full of potholes and ruts.

But Sunny's generally the first horse in, and he's right up next to the front wall of the trailer - I wonder how much noise the halters and bridles hanging on the hooks in the tackroom make? Trailers aren't the quietest places to be anyway, but I might try hanging some rugs against that wall for padding to maybe cut some of the racket. It can't hurt...

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Sounds like a good exercise for all of them. When I got a new trailer this summer that has a ramp, my horses freaked. My point and click loaders were now resisting. I had a trainer friend come out and help me and it was amazing what a little practice could do. They haven't refused me since. Great way to spend your day!