Saturday, February 20, 2016

lessons of the day

Today I had a horse filled day.

Started out with Tesla getting a trim, then off we went to a local trainer to spend the day working on his trailer loading. And lastly barn chores this eve with time to groom and massage him :)

I had help loading leaving the barn, which he was surprisingly calm about doing. He actually seemed upset I put him away after the trim for a few as he knew the trailer was right outside his window and was waiting to go somewhere.

I went with ability to be there ALL day, and we worked from 11-2 on this!

We started out with a few arena games after unloading to give him a break from the ride over . Easy stuff for him - over bridges, over a teeter-totter, then stop and back up off both. No issues there...asked him to get back on the trailer, his brakes went on like usual for me.
ON went the brakes
a few rearing attempts
 The trainers stepped in, and the good news for me was that he was pulling all the same tricks on them he did to me so I didn't feel like it was a "just me" issue!  After several attempts to move him to put a foot up, and talking about what we've done previously, what's worked and not, we figured out his problem wasn't getting ON the trailer, or being in it, but backing OFF!   Lately he's been more apt to rush off, and he reaches a point when backing in hand that he tries to turn and see around - which he can't do coming off a slant load.  So the 'work' continued - now knowing he's a bit claustrophobic - it started with a second person helping to ask him to load, but the leader stopping him at front feet - letting him have just two feet on and back off at his speed for a while, then have him to wait till he's asked to back off. Then all the way up and off at his speed and then ours with only person loading.  3 of us worked on the load/unload - he would let all of us, then balk for one of us, and we'd start again.  Once we got that down, we moved the rig to another location and began again, and moved on to also working on him standing there for me to close the divider, get out and tie him from the escape door.  He stopped rushing off the trailer and trying to constantly look over the divider when standing. All throughout the process he got breaks. Sometimes of grass, lunging indoors, a chance to play with giant ball, and watch a not yet gentled mustang be worked with.

Lunge work

Barrels to simulate tight spot

both directions

Two feet on and off

Even got a few "self loads" from him!

Checking out the ball

I feel like I know the root of the issue now, and can continue to work him on it - and also discovered I was missing a key point where he literally could not take a step forward due to his positioning so our 'give to pressure' battles could never be won when he locks up.  Now I know the signals and when I need to back him a few steps or take him away from the trailer and regroup.  I also found my "mean mommy" attitude which he needs to be reminded of on occasion that I am in charge and his antics can't be tolerated.

So I feel freer to 'move about the cabin' and take him out alone. I will have to plan for extra loading time but hopefully not have to rely on a second hand to be around. The key is to be willing to have the mindset of missing a meet up or being late and not feeling rushed and let that convey to him.  Easier said than done of course...hopefully we will be early to things due to "easy" loading! :)

The final result...Calmly following me up and
then stood quiet for 20min before we left.

Hoping to go back after we get some more trailer time under out belts and work on a 'self load' next.  But, I'm happy to just be able to walk him on so that will come in due time :)

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