The never ending trailer loading saga continues. Because, of course it does.
Nay met with the trainer again on Tuesday and had a lovely session. He loaded every time and even made fabulous progress self-loading. While it took time, he did great self-loading and with some pressure, would get on every time. He was also fine with the butt bar and the door closing. This were going great.
Thursday the dentist came out and everyone got their teeth done. It was also cold. Freezing. Windy. 40 was the high. With everything going on, we didn’t practice.
Friday? Nay loaded fine with me leading. Then I tried to self load and everything went to hell. Suddenly he was pulling me across the lawn and I couldn’t even get him to load with me leading. I think this was the point that I decided to sell him and was writing up his sale ad. That’s how quickly things unraveled and how bad it got. Eventually my husband came out and with him leading and me getting him straight (and pushing his butt), Nay stepped up on the trailer and we called it a day. He wasn’t upset that he was on, he just didn’t want to set up on?
Saturday, despite everything, I decided if I could get him on, I’d go out and ride. He only had a month off… So, with my husband’s help, we got Nay on. Me leading, my husband behind with a touch of encouragement (just a tap with the stick to unstick him–it worked and he loaded). We made plans that when I was ready to leave, he’d come out to the barn and help me re-load.
So, off Nay went on his maiden journey. He was fine in the trailer. Being in the trailer isn’t an issue. Just getting on. We lunged. We rode. We popped over some fences. We tried to canter (I mean, we did canter, but OMG keeping the canter on an out of shape horse is HARD). We fell asleep. We untacked. We tried to come home.
I made the mistake of TRYING to load myself. Right when I was ready to leave, trainer’s husband pulled in with a trailer of horses and Nay got completely distracted. He ended up helping unstick Nay and he loaded no problem, but we’re going to have to figure this loading thing out…
Sunday, I planned to try again but Nay had a minor belly ache that resolved itself very quickly (he was pawing/stretching but by the time I finished brushing my teeth he had pooped and looked comfortable — probably just a little gas). Anyway, I just decided to give him the day. Later that afternoon I did a 15 loading session. Me on the trailer with treats and the clicker, my husband behind him with the stick. Load click treat praise. Off. Repeat. After 2 times, no stick was needed. We’re going to try again and just skip the self loading for awhile.
Self-loading is hard. If you don’t mind I’m going to give a bit of advice on helping Nay Nay understand (feel free to ignore it, it’s what I did with Carmen who self-loads really well). If the only time you ask him to step in front of you is when loading then he might be confused; thinking ‘hey wait, you’re supposed to stay at my shoulder’. I spent a lot of time teaching carmen to walk ahead of me with the phrase ‘walk in’ and a little tap on the but with a long dressage whip. I did it every day going into her stall for dinner and at other times. That way, at the trailer, this is not a new, unique ask but one she understands. I know your trainer can do it but that’s because she set that idea with NayNay. Now I can take off her halter in the barn and ask her load into her stall.
When I do load Carmen I ALWAYS have my whip, a pair a gloves and the patience of a saint (it is often my only time I have such patience). I never let her graze and I never let her lead me to the trailer. we walk up, I stop her, let her look (but not leave, if she leaves we do some circles), throw the leadline over the nect and say ‘walk in’ Rarely do I have to tap her. I tried a couple times without the whip and she would back out. If she does back up I go with her tapping until she changes to forward moving.
the consistency of expectation helps and the now feeling like a failure. Honestly, I am no profressional but Carmen did not load or self-load when she came. (neither did Irish). I believe it’s the teaching the command in all the the other situations. Trust the process and be okay with ‘failures’. If you stay the course it will work.
Thanks. None of this is new and he was self loading for me before he was self loading for the trainer.
Part of it has to for with his shoulders. He locks his shoulders and is super tight moving them one direction (same thing in the saddle) so he evades, roots, and bolts (not the right word, but the right idea). Then he learns, look what I can do! He does this with pros too. If I can get the shoulder moving against pressure then he is far more likely to respond. If I can’t, then I’m sunk. Pressure from the left to move over? He’s NOT a fan. We got there riding the other day but it took a lot to get him to respect my leg/spur and move.
He does self load into his stall. Only with permission (he waits until halter is off and gets the cue).
I’m fine with the not self loading. I’m not fine with the rooting and dragging.
Trailer issues are so frustrating. Keep at it! It sounds like he’s getting better overall.