Forward and Back

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.

Nay Nay headshot
Always getting in face fights with Subi…
Nay Nay headshot
Good boy

Were.

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?

Nay Nay full body giving side eye
Side eye prior to our loading issues…
Nay Nay in trailer
Maiden voyage!
Nay Nay in crossties
We made it!

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…

Nay Nay between the ears
Missed this so much!

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.

Nay Nay in outdoor ring
Best boy (as long as he loads on the damn trailer!)

Escalation and de-escalation

Working with Nay over the last couple of weeks with loading has taught me a lot about him. He’s definitely an interesting horse. Especially when I compare him to Subi and Batt. Especially Batt.

2 weeks ago, I asked Nay Nay to load in the new trailer and he pretty much alternated between 3 answers: No, Eff off, and I’m scared. The situation escalated pretty quickly and Nay Nay got nervous, shaking, flying backwards, and all that goes along with it. Me? Pretty much the same. What can I say? I escalate too.

The instant we moved away from the trailer? Nay was calm, quiet, relaxed, and back to his old self. Like a 1 to an 8 to a 2.

Me? I went from a 1 to an 8 to 7 and stayed there until I went to bed and then I woke up and I was down to a 5/6.

The next day? More of the same. I managed to calm myself down and keep Nay Nay from escalating too much (until I ruined it all by applying extra pressure), but the calm we acquired at the beginning allowed the us only to escalate to a 7 vs 8 and when we were finished? back to a 1/2.

When we had the trainer out the first time? She worked on the ground with him a lot. He escalated immediately. He did NOT like the flag she was using (plastic bag on a stick). But, she was working on personal space and moving shoulders and showing him the second he did what we was requested, he got praise and a break. If you didn’t know this, Nay Nay is very big on praise and gets proud of himself when is ego is inflated. He did NOT like the flag and fought like crazy but then he’d allow her to stoke him with it before it was a monster again. After a bit (and some sweating and panting), he’d move his shoulders when required as required. 0 to 9/10 but back down.

At the trailer? More of the same. The instant he received praise? De-escalate. 9/10 to 1/2. Honestly? He ended up so calm that all the sweat dried, he was getting scratches in the trailer, and he had his hind leg resting.

I didn’t notice any of this until Saturday when I had a friend out to help with closing the trailer door. We worked more on loading and all that. Nay never got upset (honestly, not loading immediately is more an “I don’t want to” or a “why” vs a fear thing now) and despite being nervous when the door closed, he was actually better when the door was closed. He had a couple of moments where he escalated (Again, just a no and fighting some applied pressure and then giving in). But immediately was back to a 0. My friend was the one who brought all of this up. He has the tension and then immediately releases it once he does something. Her horse? Carries it all day.

Batt was the same. For a bombproof horse, if there was something he’d fight you about or he’d escalate about, he’d hold that tension somewhere for the rest of the day (hello bridge at fair hill!). Hello working over fences. He’d shut down and pretend you weren’t there. Then if you continued the pressure and eventually got through to him? He’d do what you wanted, but you’d never lose the tense in him for the rest of the day. This was why I really stopped jumping him. He was very closed off and you had to push him to get reactions so if you did get a reaction, he’d hold that tension forever. The more you pushed, the longer the tension would be around (1 day, then if 2 days in a row, it would be a 2-4 day thing, etc.). We faced it with loading until that was fixed with professional help too. And a few other things.

Nay just lets go once he gets it and/or gets praised. Yesterday, the trainer came back out to solidify self loading (in a single stall on the trailer) and work on the butt bar/door. She applied more pressure since he can load and will load every time if you are leading him. He said no. No. NO. And then, after a while (praising once his front feet were on and letting him hang out with his front feet on as long as he liked before adding pressure again), he was on (rinse, repeat several times), adding the butt bar. He was confused, but, like everything, ok. The first time he got a peppermint and scratches, but after that? It didn’t matter. We did close the door and he was fine. 0 to 7 to 1 to 8 (he had a brief moment when his timer expired) to 0 when we swapped halters and he knew he was done.

I will say, my trailer isn’t big. It’s not extra tall or extra wide. BUT if it was any bigger, even set up for 2 horses like it is now, I’d have an issue. Nay can just about turn around… he’ll be fine tied, but seriously horse?

There is a reason to hire trainers…

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.

With every success there’s a struggle.

I seem to have a common theme in my life.

My horses’ don’t like to load in my trailers.

Batt had so many freaking loading issues. And now, it seems, so does Nay Nay.

I’m writing this so that hopefully, a couple months from now, I can read this post and laugh. But right now? I’m crying. I mean, right now I’m not, but I was.

I was so freaking excited about the new trailer. I was concerned about unloading, little did I know I wouldn’t be able to get Nay ONTO the trailer.

The new trailer is about 3 inches higher than my old trailer. But I’m not sure that is the issue. It could be anything from “I don’t want to” to “I’m scared because the last trailer ride led to a broken axle” to “this trailer is different” to “hell no you crazy person!” to anything else. I’m not helping matters because I let emotion get in the way. I know that.

I reached out to the fabulous trainer who helped Batt only to find out he moved to Florida. Because OF COURSE he moved to Florida. He did give me 2 names and both are willing to help. Hopefully one will be out today and the other will be helping pending the outcome of today. Batt took 2 trainers so we’ll see if Nay Nay is the same.

We worked a bit this weekend on pressure and release and did well but I can’t get the next step. I can get Nay standing up at the trailer looking inside. But I can’t get beyond. I could get Batt to this part too. So, hopefully, with help, we can move forward.

Wish us luck.

Signed,

Completely depressed and dejected about trailers.

1989 to 2021?!?!

With my trailer sitting in the shop, I did what any overreacting horse person does. I went shopping.

With no news about the state of my trailer, I decided to see what was out there. [it’s been 2 weeks since I dropped my trailer off… maybe I should call?] I emailed a few dealers and crickets.

Then last week Michele sent me a listing. Well, she sent me more than one. But forget the others. She sent THE ONE. New 2 horse stock. On the lot. In my budget. So I emailed and got a call the next day. Trailer was available. They’d hold it it for me until Monday if I wanted it. I tried to offer money to hold it, but nope.

And like everyone else, they knew Michele.

I went bright and early Saturday to see the trailer and it was perfect for me. I tried to leave a deposit, but I’ve never met people who didn’t want my money.

And today? The trailer is home.

[I did hear back from the other dealer offering to order me what I bought. Cost? About 4K more than I paid with a 3-6 month wait time]

I’m so excited! Now I just need to get my old trailer back and sell it…

This is the one time I’m ok with Michele spending my money!

Happy 24th Birthday Subi!

We skipped the hats and balloons and wild celebrations this year. It was raining. And now it’s cold and windy. Honestly? I didn’t order anything and just don’t feel up to it. But, Subi had 1.5 oatmeal cream pies and a carrot before turnout so I’m pretty sure he won out.

Old Man is 24! For some horses, that’s young. But Subi has been retired for a number of year and he’s an old 24. He has arthritis and just looks older than he is. His teeth are starting to fail and we’re just enjoying each day. It’s fine. He’s happy and healthy and enjoying life. His solid racing career took a lot out of him. And then he became a riding horse. Life takes its toll.

So today we wish Subi a happy birthday. And we celebrate with oatmeal cream pies and carrots. And later? GINGER SNAPS and peppermints. Ginger snaps are slowly taking over top spot as Subi’s favorite treat…

2021
2006

Well, crap.

I was planning to post all week.

First about my fantastic ride on Saturday where I cantered into my first fence (not including the second jump in a line) since sometime in December.

Then I planned to write about my failed attempt to ride on Sunday because of my jackass neighbor, his ATVs, horse spooking antics, and Subi going lame.

I hoped to write about my lesson on Wednesday which ended up not happening due to rain (so much rain) and a massive migraine. This would have been my first lesson since December.

Then I planned to write about my rescheduled lesson on Thursday. The lesson, by the way, was great.

Instead? I’m writing about my trailer. My trailer, my lovely OLD beater of a trailer which was purchased for Batt but also with Hayley in mind has been a lifesaver. Subi will load in it as well. But Batt? That was HIS trailer. He self loaded with confidence in that thing. Nay Nay? He dislikes it, but loads without issue. He likes the step up, but it’s a bit rickety for him. Still, he is willing to eat the world’s best alfalfa in the trailer so it’s not all bad…

At least until my drive to my lesson. Then things got bad.

Keep in mind my trailer is old. It’s a 1989. But it was refurbished in 2013? It was serviced/checked out when I got new tires the end is 2019 and I planned to get it looked at this year (last year… Covid). It’s basically the most basic steel box. But it works as I regularly drive 3.5 miles ROUND TRIP and that might be being generous. 1 mile to my lesson, 2 home if I take the long way… yeah.

So, driving to my lesson yesterday morning and in the side mirror I saw the rear trailer tire wobbling… a lot. Shit. It looked like it was going to come off. I had 2 choices, well 3. Stop in the middle of the road, continue to my trainer’s driveway, or go home. I could see the driveway so I continued on to my lesson as that seemed to be the best option. I parked, checked the bolts (tight) called my husband who also checked the bolts, and tacked Nay up and rode.

Ultimately, the group of us uneducated auto people determined it was the axle. At some point I lost the hub cap. And the wheel wasn’t straight. I called a few garages and found one close who would take it. The US Rider to arrange a flatbed.

Fail. They couldn’t get a flatbed. They did find someone to tow it slowly. Fine. If something went wrong, it was on them. Except the wrong hitch was given to the tow people (I specifically said I wasn’t looking at the ball size and I didn’t know). They told the company 2 5/8…

I went out to wait and then waited over an hour. Then we couldn’t get it hitched… then we tried to use my hitch but rusted on my truck. Ultimately, I had to drive it the 4 miles to the garage with the tow guy as my escort with his 4 ways making sure no one died or that the wheel didn’t fly off. We averaged 10-15mph but the wheel stayed on (his boss basically said we had to keep going if we lost the wheel but I didn’t know it)… we made it to the world’s tiniest parking lost where thankfully the shop owner parked for me. He said he hoped it would be about a week…

All of this of course is assuming that the repair costs aren’t so extreme that they are more than the trailer… I’m casually searching for a trailer. Used. Newer. I say 2000 is newer but my mom is encouraging 2010 or newer. Anything is new compared to 1989! Nay got a ride home from the haul in that rode after us. He was very unsure of the ramp, but he’d be ok with time. Still, I think he’d prefer a step up at this point. Straight or slant, no preference. So if anyone knows anything in the midatlantic that is affordable, let me know!

Riding recap.

Nay Nay-face looking out his stall door
Always Mr. Goofy Face

And just like that it’s been 2 weeks since my last post.

Where to start?

2 weekends ago things were… awful. My trainer was back from FL and while not ready for lessons, I was determined that I would ride my horse. Saturday was not pretty at all. It was windy and ugly but damnit. I was going to ride.

I pulled into the barn and I realize right away I should have just turned around and kept driving. I was immediately greeted at the end of the driveway by a horse. Not normal. So I stopped, put on my 4 ways and caught the gelding while everyone around me ran around like fools. He was quickly handed off and I pulled around to park. But if that wasn’t a sign? In the barn, I groomed and tacked up. Nay was fine until some ponies came in, spooked, and bodied slammed the wall. Nay was done. In the indoor a lesson was going on and Nay decided that rearing was OK. It was not. I tried some ground work but never got through to him. I accepted some chemical assistance and was at least able to get on where I spent my ride trotting him down (there were 5 horses in the ring by that point) until we came to an agreement that we don’t jump sideways at every noise, sound, or movement. Moral of the story? Loose horse? DRIVE AWAY.

Goofy Nay Nay photo
“Is this my best angle?”

Sunday the barn was emptier. Western trainer was finishing up a lesson and rides. Nay was quieter so I got right on and one of the riders stayed in with me so I could work on getting Nay used to riding with other horses. Except, he had too much energy. After trying to work through it where Nay tried SO HARD to be good but where all he really wanted to do was buck me off (he didn’t but you could tell he wanted to), I finally hopped off and lunged him. Nay NEVER plays on the line. The first thing he did was explode. So out of character but he was holding it back and trying to be good. So, after one good buck, I let him canter and then did some canter trot canter transitions each way and by the end of our lunge session? Nay’s head was about 18 inches lower. His eyes were relaxed and he just looked… happy. After that? we had a nice, relaxed ride. That said, as we were leaving? Another freaking loose horse. Turns out part of the fence was down… But, horses were crazy which made leaving a stressful experience.

Nay Nay riding photo
He’s such a good boy.

With all of that in mind, I set out this past weekend to ride a little later in the day. Due to work, I was unable to get out and ride during the week (work has been hectic). By the time I made it out, lessons were over and the barn was quieter. I’m OK sharing the ring, but I wanted to make sure that we had access to either the indoor OR outdoor to lunge. Because, my new plan is to lunge before we ride. So Saturday we had a nice lunge in the indoor before we rode.

Sorry for the orientation… I left my husband in charge. Yes, I missed the first 2 distances…

It was nice enough to ride outside, but I haven’t been riding and didn’t feel like introducing a new ring on a cooler day. My plan was to ride outside Sunday but that didn’t end up happening. I went out Saturday with a touch of anxiety, but Nay was a doll. We did what we felt comfortable doing and he was a gem. I haven’t been asking for the canter because it takes a lot out of me physically, but as he landed IN the canter after a couple of jumps, I decided I’d just let him canter. It worked out well and was a lot less work on my part.

The right lead will always be the right lead… what happens when I don’t remember to set it up. Ignore my head.

Sunday, more of the same. Except, warmer temps and high, high, high winds. Every jump in the outdoor blew over and everything was banging around. I was exhausted from the ride the day before, but despite all of that, Nay didn’t care one bit. We had a pleasant ride INSIDE thanks to the weather though did a little less than the day before (my confidence wasn’t quite as high thanks to shaky legs from the day before).

Eventually I’ll canter in, but for now…

What I’ve found is that lunging right now is key. It puts BOTH of us in the mindset for work. Nay gets to warm up without me (he’s sometimes a little cold backed) and I get to see what his energy level is (physical and/or mental). Depending on how hard we work on the ground, we adjust how hard we work under saddle. As I’m not riding him very hard right now, the ground work is probably a good thing. He’s also improved A LOT on the lunge line as we work on transitions. Walk is now in his vocabulary (though downward transitions from trot to walk are still a work in progress). Good boy doesn’t mean woah anymore either.

Hugging Nay Nay
I adore this horse. Even when I don’t.

Slowly getting back at it

Happy March everyone! Who knew 3 months after getting sick I’d still be in recovery mode? The good news is the full body weakness is gone. The bad news is, my immune system sucks and my asthma isn’t exactly under control… and endurance is non existent.

Forever a problem child

The weather has also sucked. Nothing like the south, but the Mid Atlantic/southeastern Pennsylvania has had one snow storm after another. Nothing crazy, but enough. Actually, some of them have been sleet storms for my portion of the county because totals have varied upwards of 12-15” for some storms in the same county (45 miles apart) due to the snow/sleet line. But, either way it’s sucked. Even worse because we still haven’t fixed the snowblower and my driveway is evil (I can only afford plowing every so often). And yesterday? Rain. So much rain and flooding. I’m surrounded by creeks. Between the melt and the rain…

I hate my driveway.

But enough about weather. The horses.

Nay hasn’t been eating as well as he should. He’s not loving this batch of orchard grass (2 bales left if he’ll just eat them) plus Subi deciding he can’t eat breakfast inside… I’m not sure if his weight is awful or if he’s lacking muscle… anyway, horses. I just don’t like how picky he is. I’m treating him for ulcers again, but it’s not helping so I’m pretty sure that’s not it. Subi, on the other hand, is night and day since starting ulcer treatment.

He is cute though

But, due to weather, I hadn’t ridden since the beginning of February. Wednesday we reached a balmy 52 and finished shoveling out the trailer (I don’t haul in snow and that Monday it snowed) and off Nay and I went to the barn to ride. We lunged and I hopped on.

The ride was nothing exciting. We trotted a bunch and did poles (a favorite) and worked on a puddle from the leaky roof. We were joined by another haul in and found out about monthly caveletti clinics in town so we might try those as well as Friday night dressage schooling shows. I have no interest in dressage, but it’s a low key way to get him hauling elsewhere in town. It maybe adds 5 minutes to our current trip. So something to think about for this year.

Thoughts about work

We rode again Thursday, this time 100% solo. More poles. There were several set up thanks to the resident western trainer so we just played with what was there and changed our pattern constantly, circling, bending, changing direction, etc. we added in some 2ft fences here and there as well and Nay had a grand old time. I don’t know what it is, but this kind of ride really suits him. I did canter a couple of circles and found myself heaving a touch but I survived? Lol

Friday was COVID shot 1 and Saturday I was just exhausted so I waited till Sunday to ride again. In the pouring rain. Not ideal. I’m a fair weather hauler, but we did it. There was barn activity and Nay was a touch up and cold backed so I tossed him on the line. The other trainer ended up dismantling the ring ( so he could drag ) as we ride (left us piles of poles) but of all things Nay cares about), moving jumps/standards/boxes is not one of them. Didn’t even give them a second glance. Go figure. We had a nice walk/trot ride and called it a day.

Always a good boy. But if he’d just eat breakfast…

Trainer is back Tuesday from Florida. Honestly? I’m enjoying playing right now and might wait a few weeks before I start lessons. I mean, I don’t really have the strength to canter yet… so why bother? We could use help at the trot, but I just want to enjoy my rides and not make them work while I’m trying to come back.