Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lily, loading and walking

I took a few hours and went to the stable to spend some time with Lily on my own. Nancy, a wonderful woman who boards there and one of my favorite people, was at the barn.

"Lily is getting in the trailer all by her self!" she said. "She just goes in on her own accord and backs out as nice as can be."

She did so well on her last lesson, but I didn't imagine her just hopping in there for fun!

So I went in with the halter and she followed me in, then she unloaded just fine. She loaded again and waited for me to tell her to back out. And she did, calmly.

But the issue I'm concerned about is she is in the trailer and taking up the entire thing. Suddenly it's a one horse trailer.

I think it's time to move onto the next step - loading and putting her in place with the butt bar.

This is the part I'm a little nervous on, so I'm considering asking the trainer to give me some lesson time on this. We'll see how it goes.

After our triumph of the trailer I took her over for a hosing down in the wash rack. It's so oppressively hot - it's been over 100 for weeks and weeks - ever since June. I've never known the heat to be so intense here. Sure we'd get over 100, sometimes for 30 days. But here's the report from NOAA:

So we are at somewhere around 40 days and it's just the start of August.

I can do upper 90s, but something changes when it's over 100.

But I've been really, really missing horse time. Just time to hang around with our horse. The kids are miserable in the heat, my husband is in a hurry to leave.

I never want to leave horse time. So this time I went alone.

Lily's coat isn't doing well in the heat, but there's little I can do. It's just ridiculously hot.

I hosed her down in the wash rack and didn't even bother to scrape off the excess water. And we went for a walk together, just up through some area with lots of odd scraps from a neighbor that seems to collect old boats, the shell of a mobile home (now demolished in a pile), just lots of scary stuff.

Lily is so good with things. She was a bit concerned, but about mid way in our brief walk she just relaxed.

She's moved into a new place, and I can feel a level of trust that is new. She's doing so much better raising her rear hooves, she's willing to connect like I never saw before. She has always held herself at a bit of a distance when I knew her before and I wondered if that would ever change. I thought maybe it was a quarter horse thing. But now she welcomes an embrace.

Something has changed.

Sweat poured off me as we wandered around, remembering how to lead / follow respectfully. The water on her coat faded into the heat until only her belly was dark from the little moisture that remained. I brought a wash cloth to her face and at first she put her head up, but one soothing word and she dropped it and softened so quickly I was almost taken aback. Usually that would have taken a minute or two.

When I put her back in her pasture, she just dropped her head to the hay pile.

Usually she walks off, needing the distance from us for a second, then sometimes comes back, sometimes not.

But this time I let her go where the hay was and lingered. She was content to just eat, didn't seem to need to run off.

I remember this feeling with Canyon, a little connection. For all his issues, that horse got to a place where he trusted me. I couldn't leverage that enough to solve the problem, but there was no question about trust.

Lily is coming close to that place. At least, I think she's opened the door.


I got this from the woman who is sending me the saddle. I got a little confused about the rigging, and so asked a few more questions (I'm keeping the saddle, I just wanted to clarify).

As stated in my ad, this saddle has 7/8 position rigging, not center fire. If you look at the picture on ebay, the rigging is right below the pommel. I had it changed by a professional saddle maker. The center fire rigging did not suit my stocky QH at all. When I first bought the saddle and rode with the CF rigging the girth would eventually slide forward and find the "natural" girth line (behind the elbows). This made the saddle creep up onto his shoulders/neck. I investigated this problem both with the saddle maker and several online resources and found that CF rigging rarely works well on stockier breed horses (typical endurance breeds are leaner and have a more uniform barrel/girth line, whereas stocky breeds tend to have a narrower girth than barrel). Everyone recommend I either sell the saddle or have the rigging changed. I really didn't want to sell the saddle since it fit him so well (other than the rigging). I only sold now because I bought another Big Horn saddle with a memory foam seat and don't use this one anymore.

Personally, I'm fine with this response - honestly I know this is the kind of thing you get with buying used stuff (I almost always buy used stuff, I don't need that new saddle smell). Half the time people have solved a problem for you, half the time it doesn't work out and you end up with little less than you wanted.

What do you think?


Kate said...

Lily sounds very sweet, and she's cute too! It's nice when you start to make that connection. It took me a long time to connect with my mare (years in fact), and I'm still working on building it.

Can't say much about the saddle, but good luck with the rest of the loading - my only advice - a safety one which you probably know already - is to never tie the horse up until after it is securely closed in and to always untie before unclosing butt bars/partitions. That seems to be a mistake a lot of people make, for some reason - but as I said you probably already knew that!

Life at Star's Rest said...

It sounds like you had a lovely day with your girl in spite of the heat, and hurray for such great trailer progress! That persistant heat and humidity was why we left Texas BTW. I was spending way too many months of the year hiding with the AC.

How is her foot doing? I was going to say that you think conflicting diagnosis between farrier and chiropractor is bad...try telling your farrier you're going barefoot and he doesn't do it right!

Don't know nothin' bout them western saddles. If it's comfortable for you and your horse, not much else matters.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I was going to say what Kate already said. I usually either thread the lead rope through the window and close the butt bar or have someone stand outside the window and hold the rope loosely while I close and open the butt bar. Then once the horse is settled and secure, I attach the trailer tie, which has a quick release snap.

I understand what the seller is saying about the rigging. Arabs are the most common endurance breed, yet the cinch always rides forward to settle against my Arabs' front legs due to their body shape. If a saddle had center-fire rigging, the saddle would get dragged up onto their neck and withers. It's probably a good thing that she moved the rigging forward. I suppose if my horses were exercised more often and actually did endurance, they wouldn't have such rotund bellies.

Trailrider said...

The saddle will probably be fine. But since the rear D-ring is angled forward, use of the rear D-ring for a flank cinch may mean the rear cinch is a little more forward than it would be otherwise. In other words, it may be 2-4 inches closer to the front cinch than it would have been if the rear D-ring was not angled for the center-fire setup for which the saddle was originally designed.

But you may not even need the rear cinch. A rear cinch is more often used when the rigging is "full", to keep the saddle from tipping up in the rear.

But I ride often in the 7/8 position, and I like using the rear cinch, because I do feel the rear end come up during vigorous riding. And I don't ride with the rear cinch loose; it keep it snug enough that there is little room for the saddle to come up off the horse.

Also, I don't like the cinch coming close to my horse's front legs, because for my saddle, that means the front of my saddle is impeding the horse's shoulder movement. I position the saddle to be free of the shoulders everytime I ride. I use a neoprene girth with a roper middle to ensure the cinch doesn't slide up, and thus keeps the saddle in position. If the cinch on a particular can be close to the horse's front legs and NOT impede the shoulder movements, fine...but my goal is to keep those shoulders free, and find a saddle that stays put, a rigging that keeps the saddle in the proper position, and/or a girth that keep the saddle in it's place.

Trailrider said...

I'm glad to hear Lily is getting more comfortable with the trailer. It's nice that you have a set-up that allows you to let her roam in and out of the trailer. I love training techniques that allow the horse to learn on their own time.

I screwed up ONCE and didn't untie the horse before I opened the rear doors. Never again...I'd rather have the horse rushing to get out but be free, than be in the position I found myself in with a horse straining against the lead rope that was still tied in the trailer. Thank goodness he figured it out, and moved forward to get free of the pressure, but that could have been a disaster and a real danger to me to try to release him. Live and learn, I guess.

Breathe said...

Kate: Actually I only heard this advice about Lily, didn't think it applied to all horses. I'll keep it in mind!

Carmon: She's still tender. I'm taking her in next week and then the farriers will weigh in.

NZ: Sounds like a good approach. And I appreciate the explanation on rigging. Makes sense.

TR: I remember when you had that incident with Vaquero. Glad he figured out to give to pressure - if he had broken loose he'd have learned a very bad lesson!

I have a question for all of you. Why even tie them in at all? I've read different places not to tie them, tie them... I just don't understand the logic of tieing them in at any point, particularly once you have them secure with the bar. Are we worried they'll drop their head or something?

Trailrider said...

"Another trailer debate is should you tie your horse or not tie. Tying helps keep your horse’s head from falling on the floor, it prevents your horse from tucking his head too low and if you hit the brakes could cause your horse to fall. If your horse is tied, the rope may help prevent a horse from falling and will help him get up if he falls. I think tying may also give a horse a little more security since he is used to being tied to other things, this is just another place to get tied. Don’t tie too short, a horse needs to lower his head to clear out debris from his nose, if he can’t lower his head at all, he can’t do that. A reason I hear a lot is don’t tie in case you are in a accident, then your horse can’t get free. The chance that my horse will fall is greater than me getting into a wreck, I tie my horses when I trailer them to help them balance. "

This is from an internet source, not my quote.

Trailrider said...

"ALWAYS tie you horses. I will not haul for anyone unless they agree that their horse remains tied. I witnessed, once, the death of a horse resulting from not being properly restrained. The owner insisted that the colt was fine untied, and that he had been on several long trips without restraint. Unfortunately, not even five minutes away from departing, we watched from behind as the long yearling spooked, reared, and fell backwards with such force that the entire rig lurched. He ended up hitting the loading gate in such a way that he quickly broke his neck. He didn’t even struggle. Horrified, we stopped, ran, and found him stone dead, his head twisted to the wrong side. We suppose that the forward motion of the trailer forced him off balance as he spooked, and without being hooked up to anything, flipped backwards.

I’ve also had several horses set back in a trailer after being tied. With the help of good halters, good tie rings, and trailer ties with panic snaps, they can throw all the fit they want without hitting the roof or falling and becoming cast."

Another quote, not mine...

Trailrider said...

I will add that tying my horses allows me to control the order of UNloading, especially in my stock trailer where I can't always keep the horses partitioned.

Breathe said...

okay, I'm sold. I'll tie her on her next trip...