So - I've been thinking about a skeleton for a trailer loading program, and what's important. Confidence! General confidence, the confidence to stay straight, to back out, to be tied if necessary, to stand relaxed when partitions and doors get swung, and when people or other horses enter and leave. That's all. Simple, but not necessarily easy. Hehe. And I figure that if I want to travel them loose, being able to do everything at Liberty would be good, too.
This is what I've come up with:
- 7 Games outside the trailer OL (On Line) Every OL section will include a section on tying preparation. That will include me going to the places and doing the things that I would normally do to tie the horse, plus running the rope through something and playing with a live feel on the rope.
- 7 Games outside L (at Liberty)
- Loading OL
- Loading L
- 7 Games inside the trailer OL
- 7 Games inside the trailer L
- Loading without turning OL (I will probably use a row of metal barrels up one side of the trailer for this. First in the back section only, with the partition shut, then with the barrels moved to the front section.)
- Loading without turning L
- Loading straight OL (No barrels now, just communication!)
- Loading straight L
- Loading and: 1 ground tying; 2 having halter removed and standing; 3 being tied.
- Loading two horses OL
- Loading two horses L
It's quite a program, but I think it will be fun, and really beneficial. too. I'm sure I will learn a lot along the way! I'm really grateful that we have this nice big solid stock trailer to play with.
Today's Session with Iona
We had a really nice time together today. We started off playing with some S Patterns and Zone 5 Driving on the way out to a spot where two paths meet at right angles, each with a small ditch along it. This is a fun place to do circles, with a little natural obstacle of the ditches. Iona had her own games in mind, like stopping and eating a lot and/or running off. Ha Ha! I had a 45' line so plenty of drift. So we spent awhile playing a combination of if-you-look-out-on-the-circle-I-will-disengage-you and wipe-that-look-off-your-face! This resulted in (finally) quite an exuberant horse! Cantering around throwing bucks of joy and having great draw. More and more I realise that the eating and running off is play - I just need to encourage more positive games.
As it was pretty windy we then headed for the shelter of the little back arena, where we played with Figure 8 and Weave patterns. Thanks to the good circle warm-up these went much better today! We are back to getting simple changes on the Figure 8 and not acting like a pony who has never done a Weave in her life.
On to the trailer. For a horse who was acting pretty upset at her last trailer session, Iona was pretty keen to get in there today. Of course I wasn't asking her to! "Hey, what are you doing? Don't go in there, we're supposed to be playing outside!" So we did all 7 Games no problem - the hardest was getting her to notice the treats I had hidden for Touch It.
Back in the arena I mounted up for some Freestyle. I have a bunch of 5 gallon pails with lids and a couple of stones in each to stop them blowing away. I put one out to circle, and I'm glad I decided to make some marks in the sand with my heel to sort of help us find the circle. I think it really helped. She was a little distracted by the herd moving around nearby, but they went fairly well. We also did some sideways and a little jumping. I didn't have a log big enough, so we jumped a row of pails laid on their sides. Maybe next time I'll set them upright if I'm feeling brave. LOL!