Fancy and Gracie’s spring vet appointment was pushed back to the end of April, so luckily, we have a few extra weeks to work on trailering!
I haven’t loaded Gracie on the trailer since her big trip to my neighbor’s farm, and I realized the other day just how important it is to follow up on everything, not just the things that need work. She was loading in without hesitation, but on Saturday, she didn’t want to load up at all. It took several minutes of forward pressure and eventually I ended up lifting one hoof on to the trailer. She did walk on, and she didn’t seem to mind actually being in the trailer, at all. It’s like she gets discouraged – she forgets that she needs to step up, not just forward. She bumps her leg on the bumper, then stops and gives me a look of, “Well, I can’t get up there… it’s impossible. I tried.”
She unloaded fine, and after another several minutes, she walked back on to the trailer a second time. I had to lift her hoof on to the trailer that time, too. She slipped her front hoof off when she walked off, but other than that, she unloaded fine.
Fancy also wasn’t too excited to get on the trailer. While I didn’t have to lift her hoof on to the trailer, she did also take a bit of time to load up. I was able to get her loaded up twice right out of the field with nothing more than some encouragement, patience, and a treat waiting inside the trailer.
I’ve also been working on loading her after riding, since she’s almost always worse when I try to load her up to go home. Luckily, Fancy seems to be making great progress and walked on with little encouragement. She gave me a look like, “I know we’re not actually going anywhere, so sure, I’ll play your game.” I guess I can’t complain!
Thank goodness my girls seemed to remember yesterday’s work! I started with Gracie, and she loaded up without much issue. She didn’t walk right on with me, but she did walk in just a minute or so later. She takes a big stomping step on to the trailer, and I swear she does it on purpose to be noisy. She somewhat slid her front hoof off the trailer again when she came off, but didn’t trip.
She walked on the second time, again not right with me, just very soon after. She keeps her calm look when she’s on the trailer – she really doesn’t seem to mind being in the trailer at all. However… I thought she wasn’t going to come out! She would not take the step off the trailer. I tried backing her out, but she’s never backed out of a trailer before. She dropped one back hoof off the trailer and quickly scrambled back on. Since I didn’t have anyone with me, I didn’t want to push my luck. Eventually she half walked and half leaped off the trailer.
She seemed to realize after coming off that second time that nothing was going to eat her and it was actually a pretty small step. She seemed to gain her confidence back and was fine to walk right back onto the trailer. I closed off the divider, since she will be riding in the back, and even in the smaller area, she loaded up and unloaded just fine.
We loaded up a fourth time without any issues and in a timely manner. I decided to end on this positive note. A huge improvement just from yesterday!
Fancy also got to follow up on yesterday’s lesson. We loaded up twice straight out of the field, and she didn’t walk on with me, but walked on shortly after. She’s not as relaxed as Gracie is on the trailer, but stood patiently for me until I was ready for her to unload.
After our ride, Fancy wanted to show off how good of a mare she is. She loaded right up just fine, twice! She got lots of “good girl”s and neck rubs, plus a few treats, and then she got to go back out to her field.
And then she rolled. Why do I even bother brushing her?
Today I didn’t want to spend a ton of time loading the girls up, I mostly wanted to make sure they keep fresh in their mind that the trailer is a normal part of daily life. Gracie was loaded up first, and she did step on within about 30 seconds to a minute, twice. She stood quietly in the corner while I loved on her and unloaded without issue both times.
Fancy got off easy, because she went on a pretty long ride and was definitely tired. I only asked her to load up once, and she loaded right up just fine. She also stood nicely until she was asked to come off.
After just three days, I’m seeing great improvement. Once I have another hand, I plan to get them loaded up together and close them in for a few minutes. After they are comfortable with that, we’ll start going on short round trips, and then maybe try bringing them both to my neighbor’s again. I’ll need to remember to keep up with this, and make sure they know the trailer is a nice place to be! Hopefully they keep up the forward progress!