So I was a little dramatic. But sometimes you need to share your fears?
Our trailer loading session this afternoon was a complete success! The person who came out was very much like our previous trainer firm but kind. She started in the round pen and got Nay’s shoulders moving and kicked his butt. Well, not really, but she had a flag and he had a poor attitude and claimed he was going to die. She was quick to reward and he was quick to be dramatic. I also got to see his evasion on full display.
After round pen work, on to the trailer. The rope halter lasted only a few minutes before my diva of a horse tried to make a couple of getaways and it was replaced with a rope and wood contraption. Basically, it looked worse than it was but the blocks applied pressure on pressure points when he pulled and it was rigged that the second he stopped pulling, the pressure stopped. From where I was standing, I could see the pressure release. With the rope, you have to give. With this, he gives by stepping forward. He learned in 4 steps that exiting stage left like he did with the rope halter was NOT smart and did not attempt that again (he did this to me prior which led me to not apply too much pressure).
Pretty soon, he was offering a hoof, but not stepping the hoof on the trailer. Constant praise for every leg lift. Soon? Smacking the trailer with his front hoof in true Nay Nay drama. Next? Front feet on. She didn’t get greedy. Feet on? Praise, rubs, back off, ask again, repeat. Over and over. At one point he got nervous and hit his head (lightly) but we moved on and stepped back up and soon we were on.
Then off. Then on. Then off. Then on. He had some alfalfa and peppermints and lots of praise.
She worked a few minutes on self loading and he got on a few times but the concept was foreign. Not stressful just… foreign. So we have a future session planned.
Then we closed the divider and walked him into the smaller space to see and? All was good. He took the time the first time to process and didn’t care. All was good.
I walked him up once and we called it a day.
I plan to just practice this all week and hopefully we’ll just keep loading. But, I feel so much better. He seemed fine inside the last time and just wanted treats and snuggles from me so we’re on a much better path. If things go south? We call the trainer back out to focus on the basics vs self loading.