Monday, March 18, 2013

A step in the right direction

I have been very busy lately, although it's mostly of the 'boring busy' sort.  All the mundane, day to day chores that having a barn (and too many horses) involves, along with keeping the family at least mostly happy.  I will say that my arms have been getting a great workout with all the shovelling I've been doing.

Anyway, we have snuck in a few trail rides and I've been giving some lessons, so my riding is progressing and I'm enjoying the teaching I'm doing.  Yesterday, I had the trailer hooked up and the sun came out (and I wasn't otherwise engaged), so I brought out some of the youngsters for trailer loading time. 

I have a nice big 4 horse stock trailer that is a great one for first loading.  It's a step up, so I put it in a spot that makes the usually 12-14 inch step up into about 6-8 inches.  I tied the doors back, so there would be no banging and slamming, opened all the feed doors and the escape door and then got my grooming tools.  Yep, grooming tools.  All these youngsters have had quite a bit of leading practice, round pen work and depending on the horse, lunging, but not much exposure to getting in and out of trailers.  So, it is time. 

First was Scooter.  He was all for standing with his head in and getting groomed.  No problem.  When that was boring, I asked him to put his front feet in and get groomed.  No problem.  We then backed out and came in several times with grooming in between.  Yawn.  So, all the way in, more grooming, all the way out.  A few bites of grass and he's back in the paddock telling his buds all about it.  Reggie decided he was next.  He hasn't had as much work as Scooter (a year younger), so was much less enthusiastic about it.   So, we stood with his head in the trailer and groomed for quite some time until that was boring.  I asked for a leg in, he did it, but wasn't sure about leaving it.  No big deal.  We got both front legs in and him pretty relaxed and I called it good for the day.  We don't have anywhere we need to go soon, so we'll just set up the same thing another sunny day and do more. 

Then it was the filly's turns.  Mahri was first (of course!) and got her front feet right in.  We did some grooming and backed out and came in a few times.  She would have gone all the way in, but I figured we'd stop on a really good note.

Same with Slari.  She was a bit more hesitant and I spent quite a bit of time grooming before she put her front feet in.  Back out, back in, all done.

While in the whole scheme of things it was only a small amount of work for each horse, it was a step in the right direction towards happy, self-loading horses.