Nay and the Big, Bad, Scary Trailer.

This is the story of the scary trailer or, how I accidently taught my horse to self load.

When I first got the trailer back in April, Nay said, “HELL NO.” And wouldn’t load.

I hired a trainer and he started hopping in. I could walk him in and out. And then he let us close him in.

Then she introduced self loading and he thought the concept was confusing but did it a couple times though it never clicked.

Then I tried to self load.

We lost the ability to load at all.

It took a lot of treats but he started loading again. As long as I walked him on, he would follow and I could do up the butt bar from inside the trailer (awkward, but it worked). Or, someone else could do the butt bar while I held his head.

Then, 4 weeks ago? He said nope right outside the trailer. Unlike all the other times, this time he wasn’t scared. He just didn’t want to.

It started off slow. He hesitated outside the trailer, but if I asked him to back up a few steps and then walk forward? He’d get on. Then that stopped working. After that? He’d ONLY hop on if someone got behind him with a stick.

Once he was on? Completely fine. He just didn’t want to.

So, Erik would help me load and then I’d get someone at the barn to help me load to go home. This worked. Until…

I tried to ride one Saturday morning and no one was home.

I tried everything and could not get my horse in the trailer. Nothing I did worked. Nay wasn’t scared, just convinced that he did NOT have to get in the trailer.

Finally, on the verge of giving up, I looped a long rope through the trailer slats, clipped one end to Nay’s halter and held the other. And annoyed the shit out of him.

For 3.75 minutes, Nay was one PISSED OFF THOROUGHBRED.

You see, when I held his lead rope, he was convinced he could exit stage right. But, now? The trailer added some strength that my arms didn’t have. He fought a good fight. He pulled and realized the trailer was stronger than he was. He popped up once or twice (not high because he’s Nay and he’s all bark), he stood with his head high pondering what bad life choices were out there for him. He gave me the side eye. And he walked on to the trailer and stood stock still while I did up the butt bar.

Normally, I’d have ended there and called it a day, but I was actually pissed off that I had to work harder than he did so I hauled him off and rode.

Going home, we tried the same rig. He was on in 30 seconds.

We continued that for about 2 weeks.

Then I forgot to set it up.

It turns out, this configuration of the pully and stick were exactly what Nay needed.

Because, the first day I didn’t set it up? We walked to the trailer, I gave him the same signals as I had before, and Nay walked right on. We’ve repeated this every ride and he’s been self loading with no issue ever since.

It’s almost like jumping. Once he figured it out, he really figured it out.


Lesson recap — the one with the dead horse.

Not too much going on here. Or at least no media. I’ve ridden and failed to charge my pivo since the battery died 2 weeks ago… Great, right?

Our rides have been pretty consistent. Nay has energy and I’ve had to pretty much ride through it. The deal is he needs more work than I’ve given him and I don’t currently have the time to fit in an extra day or 2 right now. Honestly, 2 days/week of PT is really helping out my schedule… I’ll get there eventually. But, we’re figuring it out.

Right now I lunge and/or free lunge pre ride. Saturday I free lunged and he was good but still felt like a canon about to explode. I wanted to pop over a couple jumps and, well, Nay launched into jumper mode. Up and down motion vs forward. So, I hopped off, lunged (30 minutes INTO my ride), and then got back on. He was an angel, shrinking back down to his normal size…

Sunday I rode with friends. He was quiet on the line, but a bit bothered by one horse we were riding with. We worked through it but we did canter a bunch of 10 meter circles to get over ourselves… After that? Much quieter. Honestly? It was more theatrics vs anything else, but based on where my friends were standing, Nay’s attitude, and his… exuberance, I felt the 10 meter circles were safer than trying to pass friends and risk kicking. Nay isn’t a kicker… most of the time. Unless he’s pissed off or feels boxed in. He was MUCH better over his fences (we just trotted some little stuff) and didn’t fall into jumper mode. Supposedly he actually resembled a hunter?

Which brings us to the point of this post. The dead horse.

I got out early on Tuesday for my lesson with a goal to lunge. I started to and had a quiet horse. But, see, things don’t go as planned.

I plan for a lot of situations.

But does anyone plan for a dead horse? Or, more accurately

A horse being gelded outside of the barn during your lesson?

So, here I am, holding Nay when suddenly a horse is sedated and on the ground, then on his back with legs flailing.

Nay’s response?


My trainer was not in a rush and suggested I lunge some more. Now Nay had energy and I got some good work out of him at the trot and canter (we’re still working on the walk). Increasing and decreasing circle sizes and transitions. But, he put his energy into that.

By this time the procedure was over and the horse was lying “dead” on the ground. We let Nay glance over for a moment or 2 before I hopped on and we began our work at the far end of the ring, away from the corpse.

Honestly? He was good. We had some really nice trot work, even continuing down close to the dead horse area. Cantering was decent, but to the left, there was a lot of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm similar to Sunday. So, lots of head tossing and all that. It turns out that, at this point, I need to just ignore this and let him toss his head and make whatever fuss he wants to make so that he can establish a pace on his own without me micromanaging. I sometimes get too involved and my trainer just wants me to let him take care of himself. Part of it is he’s looking for me to take the control and is becoming dependent. A few rides with me just not riding every stride should take care of this. As I was reminded, all he does is toss his head. He doesn’t move his hind end AT ALL. So, unless he takes off, let him figure it out. Like everything else, this should be short lived. We actually held the canter for a while, including several trips over an awkwardly placed pole, maintaining the lead (pole was across the center, but at an angle).

To the right, we struggle with a counter bend. Last week we discussed my need to pick up the lead a throw my head down to check, losing the canter, the lead, and ending up with the wrong lead in quick succession. Part of it is that Nay has developed this habit of throwing his hind end to the outside and once I feel that I panic and know I won’t get the lead. The advice I received was pretty much as follows: get the bend (if possible), outside leg/spur IMMEDIATELY followed by both calves. Only after we’re moving forward can I check my lead (I say this because I can easily feel the lead, but I NEED TO LOOK ANYWAY BECAUSE I NEED TO — don’t ask… old habits). Since I started doing this, our right lead success rate has improved dramatically. In fact, we picked the lead up Tuesday when we were counter bent (we had the bend, lost it, and STILL got the lead. Part of it was that I was confusing Nay by unintentionally pulling him out of the canter as he was stepping up into it. So, issue not fixed, but getting better? We had to work on bend in the canter, but it was better. I’m not sure why we’re struggling so much this way when we were so strong. Body work in the future? Need to find someone and $$ under a couch cushion. Pole work was harder this way but successful and we maintained the lead.

And jumping. This was hard. We trotted singles at the far end of the ring. Dead horse started to wake up so there was some action, but mostly Nay wanted to be a jumper and wanted to play. I struggled with the balance between slow and actually moving forward (vs up and down). We started with a small vertical off the left, landed, then approached from the right. We did that a few times, keeping the playing to a minimum.

Next? We did our stone boxes, landing and halting. First time I really struggled coming in as the balance between too slow (not stop slow but need put too much effort based on pace) and I want to bolt/side step/hop towards it. Then, based on too much jump, I didn’t quite release enough and we played on the landing. Second time was better paced but still playing coming it. But the pace allowed for a better jump, better release, and more control on the landing.

We called it there and decided we’d just live to jump another day.

Honestly? It could have been worse. After all? How many people ride with a dead horse next to the ring? By the end of the ride, the dead horse disappeared and Nay could NOT figure out where he went…

Inconsistent like the weather

Nay doesn’t need a lot. But the ONE thing he needs? Consistency. The one thing I’ve been? Inconsistent.

My last post I wrote that he had energy. Between being sick, I’ve only been able to commit to 3 days a week which just isn’t enough.

Then Memorial Day weekend came and it was gross. Like WINTER gross. Friday night I brought the horses in and Nay and Subi were shivering like crazy. I toweled them off and tossed fleece on Nay and wool of Subi and left them for the night. In the morning? It was 42 freaking degrees and still pouring. The boys got winter blankets on (thankfully someone hasn’t shipped them off for cleaning) and tossed outside. Same thing Sunday. 2 days when it didn’t even hit 50. WTF? Needless to say, I didn’t ride. I intended to ride on Monday, but I felt like crap and didn’t.

Tuesday ride? (No lesson this week due to a scheduling conflict). I lunged the snot out of Nay and hopped on. It was 76. Nay decided to join the ponies and hop and spin. I took my trainers advice and let him gallop around the indoor. It’s not my favorite thing, but sometimes you just have to. He bucked and galloped and galloped and bucked. Then I hopped back on and we walked, trotted, and cantered. The resident western trainer reminded me, consistency is everything. Do that every day and he’ll be back to what I want.

And then I got my migraine botox and was down for the count for 3 days. Seriously. My health is killing me! I almost managed to go Friday, but I couldn’t manage pressure on my forehead yet.

Tired Nay from too much work.
Dripping from too much work.

But Saturday we wandered out in 90 degree weather and rode through it. He had a run around the indoor (he needed it and free lunged himself). Then a good and solid walk/trot/canter.

Sunday? Even hotter. We skipped the free lunge. He was a champ and pretty much didn’t put a foot wrong except for spooking at the ponies spooking at motorcycles. I don’t even know. We even jumped a damn line because why not? That’s how quiet he was. I did a freaking related distance. I don’t do related distances anymore.

So today, I put my big girl pants on and I went out to ride. It was humid as hell though only 80 something at 9:45. I asked and Nay said yes. We struggled a bit with the right lead, but it was WORKABALE. My horse was good. He wasn’t crazy, he was solid.

Nay, fixated on a tree branch, determined to spook
Spooking at a tree branch because why not?

We walked, we trotted, we cantered. we cantered some more. And we jumped. Not much. We trotted in a single a few times then trotted in the outside line. It’s a horse show 6. We did a 10. Then we continued and cantered a long ride to our single that we’d been trotting a circle over. Easy. Peasy. I said collect, Nay said ok. From there? We did it the other direction. Trotted the short ride over the single then cantered INTO the outside line. It was just as collected though cantering in he did an 8.

We ended there. Nay was pronounced ready to give lessons. Obviously not really, but he was that good and that quiet.

Moral of the story? Ride my damn horse, or at least ride him every day it’s freaking hot. He does really well in the heat. Racing in Florida paid off.

FYI it’s pouring right now. It was 88 a few minutes ago and now it’s 76? But the rain can stop since I need to pick up my grain order… And it’s going to 88 tomorrow, 66 on Friday, and 77 all weekend.