I mentioned in my previous post that my gelding Finn was in serious need of a spring tune-up after hanging out undisturbed in the dry lot all winter. Recently I hauled him to my equine vet friend for his vaccinations. Getting into the trailer is one of his favorite forms of resistance. I attempted to load him the night before the appointment but he was having none of it. He did load when my boyfriend “flanked” him. After two hours of lunging the day of the appointment, he opted to load. Getting him back in the trailer after his appointment was not pretty. I made an appointment for a week hence to get his teeth floated. We had time to practice our trailer skills…
I left the truck and trailer parked out back and loaded him again that night. It required round pen reinforcement to get him in. The next evening we tried again… with the same result. I believe it was 10-15 minutes in the round pen to remind him of his options.
The next morning I again asked him to load. He refused. Back to the round pen we went. This time it was well over an hour, with options about every 15 minutes to comply. By this point, if I walked him up to the trailer and he refused immediately, I didn’t give him much time to think about it. He was either going in or he wasn’t.
He was once again dripping with sweat when he opted to cooperate. Once or twice over the course of the week’s lessons, he would load but then he would shoot out of the trailer when asked to unload. That was not an option either. He had to load nicely and unload nicely. After over an hour in the round pen he did just that.
We revisited this skill the next day. In and out twice, no problems! My daughter and granddaughter visited the next day so Finn got a break.
On the 6th day of this journey, I headed to the dry lot halter in hand. The boys had already been on the lush, green pasture for a few hours and they weren’t hungry and waiting for me to open the gate. The equipment in my hand was a deal-breaker, and they both decided they’d prefer not to be caught. There is unquestionably strength in numbers. However, sadly for them, I am the proud new owner of an ATV. I decided we’d have a contest to see who tired first, the horses or me on the ATV? Guess who won? And guess who was the first to surrender? It was Finn, who had quite recent experiences with my resolve. I haltered him and put him in his stall, and headed for Kadeen. He came to me readily at that point. Happily, Finn loaded in the trailer with little complaint. Three practice runs later, he was done.
Day 7… One week after we started this refresher course. I brought both horses in for breakfast. Before Finn had much of a chance to eat, we headed for the trailer. He went right in; however, when asked to back out he rushed it. Back in he went, and his exit was perfect. End of lesson.
Although I have not included any dates in this chronology of events, it was unfolding in real time. I intended to describe Finn’s visit to the vet at the end of this blog. However, we are apparently in need of an ark here in Kansas. We are expecting horrible weather on the day of the scheduled appointment so I changed it. He gets a break for a couple of days and I will let you know next week how well he did!