Monday, June 2, 2014

HOLY SORE

When you have something nice, DO NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED.

Take for example, a horse that loads nicely. Or even, self loads. Like Yankee Pants.

I have forgotten how much of a pain in the asscheeks a horse who doesn't load can be.

My first eventer, Spirit, was terrified of trailers and when we went to go get him it took 6 hours to get loaded. HORRIFIC.

I worked with him for 2 years, combining feeding him in the trailer and a negative/positive response training method I learned from my first event coach (will explain in a bit). Eventually though he became comfortable with all trailers and would actually self load. HUGE accomplishment and many hours of turmoil with that beast.

That was a solid 6 years ago though and I have never had issues with Yankee loading. He shoots out pretty fast if you're not careful (learned that the hard way with several broken halters) BUT thats manageable.

Bacardi on the other hand....just awful in the worst kind of way. I'm almost positive he's not scared of it, just refuses. I've seen scaredeypants and I've seen assholes and he's definitely the latter. Who rears. Violently. AND KICKS WHEN PISSED. EVEN MORE VIOLENTLY.


Yesterday, Mom and I wanted to meet some peeps and go for a trail ride and planned to spend 30 minutes loading B for the 7 minute trailer ride to the trails. He's terrified of whips (learned that  lunging him) so I figured instead of tapping him with it, we would stand far away, because kicks, and just show him the lunge whip. Worked pretty immediately and he hopped in after 10 minutes of deliberation.

Mildly good boy.

Getting him off the fucking thing was a different story. I had no problem unloading him the first night he arrived so I was very confused.

He was terrified. Shaking, sweating, nervously scraping his teeth along the metal...I was like what the actual. After 30 minutes of trying to get him to back out we literally tried pushing him. Which was silly because we are humans and weigh like a 10th that he does but I ran out of ideas.

Finally, I just opened up the divider as wide as it could go (was hella nervous to even try to let him him turn around...he's massive) and got out of the trailer and just left him alone.

The second I was out of his sight he curled his big body up, turned around and bolted out. Okay cool.

Great. Now I have a loose horse, who if didn't mention before ISNT THE GREATEST AT BEING CAUGHT.


Finally I caught him 10 minutes later and after that stupid fuckery he was so chill I thought he was a frat guy at a pool. Totally in his element, looking like the Big Dawg on Campus.

Our ride was amazing. For a baby he sure is a rockstar. He was chill when we tacked up (brand new place, lots of smells and horses), gem on the trail- was happy to be in the back, traipsed through mud and water, jumped ditches and logs and cantered in open fields.

You would never know he just turned 5 and was a narrow minded racehorse just a few months ago.


UNTIL WE TRIED TO LOAD HIM AGAIN.

We did exactly what we did before, loaded Yankee first, gently coaxed him near the trailer and showed him the lunge whip.

Yeah that didn't work.

Add a second person and a second whip. Still no touching.

Cue Bacardi violence. Kicking, rearing, the works.

Awesome.

35 minutes in, getting pissed now.

He gets so close, with his butt all scooted up like he's gonna jump in so I start picking up a foot and putting it in the trailer, then repeating the coaxing. He repeats rearing and dragging my ass around the park.

Women next to us wants to try putting a rope around his belly and running it under his halter. I say ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NO. I know in my heart this will not work. I've only owned him 3 days but I KNOW this will be bad. NO no no.

My mom is at her wits end and asks me to try it once just because nothing else is working. Okay fine ONE TIME.

Yeah he flips over backwards twice after flailing about and breaking the lunge line.. I about die of a heart attack and start bawling and have to chase after my fucking runaway horse AGAIN. This time I unload Yankee and hop on bareback with just his halter and go galloping after him. GOD THAT HORSE IS A SAINT.

B comes right to him thankfully and we pony him back to the trailer.

This time we keep Yankee out and make the trailer as open as possible.

I decide to try my method I trained Spirit with. It takes time but I swear to the horse gods it WORKS.

I do not recommend this to someone who is green with horses. You have to read their body language and know exactly when to apply negative and positive pressure. I'm no expert but it has worked on several horses of mine who were absolutely impossible to load. What you do is lead them up to the trailer, if and when they take even a baby step backwards you come at them will loaded hell fire. Whatever it takes to make them get out of your space and MARCH backwards, you do it. It seems violent, but they understand it. You want to make going back uncomfortable for them. Backwards, BAD. For B, all this took was a shake of the lead rope and me walking at him all pissed. And I asked him to back up for about a minute every damn time. Very tiring and uncomfortable for both parties involved. Then you release "pressure" and walk forward, praising the absolute shit out of them. Forward, GOOD. I also crouch down a little and patted him, and give a thousand good boys as we head to the trailer. It helps of horse is clicker trained. It was about an hour long dance but everytime he decided he was going to refuse and take a step back we just kept going backwards. He got more and more relaxed each time and a little closer to getting in everytime.
At one point he got his front feet in and just stopped. For good. No forward or back. SO FRUSTRATING. You cant ask them to back up, because they have to take that step themselves, so we were in gridlock.

This was almost 2 hours now and I was sweaty, sunburned and exhausted and my poor horse was sweaty and tired too.

We opted to try and force him in. Something nearly impossible and not recommended. I pulled and pulled for a good 20 minutes until my arms were quivering with exhaustion. My mom and R pushed from behind with a lunge line...and finally it was like he decided, Okay, I think I will get in now, and calmly stepped up with his back feet.

JESUS CHRIST WHAT A MESS.

Most of our actions I do not condone on a regular basis but it was so hot and we were desperate.

Once we got home, AGAIN, getting him off was a chore. I don't understand this horse.

We have MUCH work to do trailering. We WILL figure this out over time but DAMN do not take your good loading horses for granted. It sucks!

Luckily, when it comes to Bacardi, trailering is the only problem, but it comes loaded (haha trailering  humor) with rearing and kicking. I will not tolerate a horse who is so dangerous with those actions. MUCH WORK TO DO.





5 comments:

  1. Ugh...sucks about trailering. If he is sweating out in the trailer, try giving him 90 cc of chill 30 mins before trailer loading, or Acid FX.

    Thoroughbreds are used to the chute...so get a person on either side with a lunge line....lay it on the ground to start with the ends clipped to the trailer. Walk him in the chute....have the person on each side lift the lines...anytime he goes one way or another keep the chute straight so he can't go sideways. One person can also hold a whip, and tap tap tap lightly on his bum so as to annoy him...(lungewhip if he kicks). You can close the lines behind him and he will quickly learn he has no where to go but in. My friend and I trailer about 30 bad horses and babies a year together...this method works wonders.

    I would also try taking him for little trailer rides around the block every day until he realizes its no big deal. I had a horse a lot like this and that really helped.

    Not sure if you need the advice but there it is anyways. Good luck.

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  2. I know when I mention Clinton Anderson, your mind might be like NOPE, but I promise you, his trailer loading method is the best damn thing out there. Much like what you were doing with your horse Spirit, but with a few added steps. It is magic. Really. Give it a look.

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  3. I use your exact same method for trailer loading and yes it can be vicious but it works! When you have a pissed off 1200 pound animal giving you the double middle finger, you can't always be nice. Congrats on getting him in, now the work really begins :)

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  4. Yay for having your own trailer so you can practice lots! Sounds like something the two of you will be able to work through.

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  5. Wow... that's crazy! I guess it's a good thing he's so handsome and awesome on the trails lol. At least the trailer loading is something you can fix. I've never tried your method, but it actually sounds like it works. I laughed when you mentioned clicker training because yeah that would be a lot easier. Maybe you can start feeding him on the trailer every day? That's how I always got mine comfortable on it. Good luck with him! It will be worth it after all the hard work is done hehe.

    Also after reading T Myers comment... could it be starting gate memories?? Poor guy!

    I agree, don't take your awesome loaders for granted. Or the horse you can jump on bareback and fetch a loose horse with. Yankee is awesome!

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