Friday, February 10, 2017

Trailer Loading Practice

On Tuesday I finally got my trailer back from the person who was borrowing it. They had met me at work to switch it over from their truck to mine, and naturally, I figured I might as well haul it to the barn before parking it to practice some loading with Annie.

"What are this?"
The leadrope was wrapped around her neck, FYI.

Need I mention this was during an arctic outflow warning and -19C weather?

We just roll like that in the north.

I pulled Annie out and stuffed a few handfuls of grain into a bucket (because I am the worst Horse Mom ever and rarely bring treats with me to the barn. But to be fair, Spud solidified my choice in not feeding treats regularly when he decided to try and bite Suzie while she was taking a treat from me and ended up chomping on my hand. Yah... not cool little pony. Not cool).

I let Annie investigate everything as I pulled open the doors and dropped the ramp - she softly snorted and looked pretty anxious, but was listening to my body language and assessing the situation. That is something I really enjoy about her - she won't freak out about something without first assessing what is going on.

Clearly, I traumatized her.
Other than some snorts and a brief moment where she stopped following me up the ramp to the trailer, she slowly made her way in and was pretty good about it. I know straight-hauls can be tricky and very claustrophobic feeling to some horses, so it's good that she was pretty quiet about it. I stood with her in the trailer, petting her and offering her goodies (the escape door was open during this time just in case something went awry).

The ground-work I had been doing with her helped immensely, as when I asked her to back out she immediately obeyed (even though she was kind of like "Why are we backing out of the trailer?"). I repeated the exercise three more times and each time tried to get her to be more self-sufficient.

For example, on the second attempt at loading, I attempted to get her to self-load (which was a fail), but I had her stand in the trailer quietly as I jumped out the escape door, walked around and did up the butt bar for her to feel it. She set back on the butt bar on our third time loading, but only because I think she was caught off-guard by the fact it wouldn't budge and she seemed like she wasn't totally sure how to fix it. I wandered over to the front of the trailer and grabbed her leadrope through the side window and clucked her up. She seemed pretty relieved that I had helped her, which was a bit hilarious since all she had to do was literally move one step forwards.

"But... but... I need someone to hold my hand... er hoof."
I also started to work on her self-unloading vs me going in through the escape door and backing her out manually and she did really well with that on the last attempt. She was certainly weirded out by the fact we kept loading and unloading without going anywhere, but the fact she entertained my odd requests made me smile a bit.

We will keep practicing with it, and little by little I know she will get the hang of self-loading and backing out on her own. I don't intend to make use of the escape door too much, as I don't necessarily want to be in the trailer with her as she loads/unloads, but for now it works for us and I am glad to have an "escape route" should things ultimately go south.


15 comments:

  1. Time well spent! Not sure I could do it in -19 though! I'm inside hiding from -15 :)

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    1. I think I would've regretted my choice had she been bad about trailer loading. It was an easy, breezy 15min session so thankfully I wasn't out there long!

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  2. Aww what a food baby mare!!! There's something sooo reassuring about an easy breezy trailer practice session!!

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    1. I didn't even catch the typo when I first read it, lol.

      And heck yes!

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  3. I think our weather has been accidentally switched on delivery. Its -4 today and will be +1 Monday. NOT normal for us! I am so glad trailer practice went so well!

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    1. So weird!
      We have had these odd cold snaps this year, which is super frustrating since everything turns into ice. -_-

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  4. She is too cute! Sounds like the first day of trailer school was a success. Hopefully next time it's warmer for you!

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  5. Trailer loading is one of those things so many people overlook but is so crucial! Great job. I bet she'll be self loading in no time.

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    1. For sure! Better to put that time in to practice than be late to a show!

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  6. I really need to practice my trailer loading by myself... I can always get it done with a little nudge from someone behind them, but what if someone isn't there?! I think you guys are doing pretty darn good.

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    1. It is always nice to have an extra hand, but I usually am on my own!

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  7. You did a very good job for the first trailer loading day!!! Good luck in the future:)
    Jessi

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