Monday, June 21, 2010

Trails and Trailer Loading Progress

Cibolo, trailer loading horsey work in progress

Sunday Cibolo and I went on another trail ride at my old barn. Driving back to that place, with the beautiful fields and nice wash rack area (at my current barn it’s a bit of a difficult proposition to wash off your horse) and the gravel filled arena, was bittersweet.

There’s a great deal I miss about that place – for one, it’s a place the kids love to go because they love Sharon so much. There are no big dogs around to scare Mireya (who has a distrust of all dogs other than ours) like there are at our current barn. I can’t even get her to come to the barn with me anymore.

And those big, beautiful pastures. I can just see my horses running through them daily.
Yes, it’s tempting to move back. But not practical.

It is nice to visit, though.

(If you are sick to death of reading about my tiny strides with trailer loading, skip to the next Cibolo photo...)

Cibolo and I had a trailer breakthough. I followed Kate’s guidance and thought of how I could replace the rock suggestion she made.

If you missed it in the comments, Kate explained how when she was at a clinic with Mark they worked on trailer loading. Mark would keep the horse’s feet moving by throwing little rocks at the horse’s feet at the precise time the horse froze in space, like Cibolo is doing.

One problem. 90% of the time, I’m alone. 5% of the time my daughter is with me and her accuracy with thrown objects is such that I’d probably come back with gravel in my hair.

I decided to take my riding crop in. I didn’t want to use the carrot stick because it’s large and obvious. I know it might sound silly, but not using it is how I’m conveying that we are doing this the partnership way.

As we prepared to go on our trail ride, Cibolo did his rope test. It’s getting better, this time he only pulled for 4 seconds. He’s a rope tester by nature, I think one must have broken on him and he has untied himself before. I don’t know that he’ll ever let go of that one. After a moment he stepped in the trailer and I moved the divider. He backed out. But then he put himself right back in!


This time when he stopped, I tapped him gently and he moved into position. It was like a light bulb went off. Still not all the way forward, but very nearly there.


He doesn’t like that scrunched up feeling, so the last step is still a challenge. But coming home we had the same relatively easy load.

I’d say we are 90% at this point. Friday we were probably at 70%.

Tapping didn’t quite get that last step. But I’m pleased. I’d love to get this all done in one session, but given that I’m on my own, I think I’m going to call it successful so far:

  • Now my horse gets in the trailer without worrying.
  • Now my horse steps to the side without backing out.
  • Now my horse looks relaxed and willing during loading.

(Now if I can just get his butt in one more step!)

On the trail Sunday Cibolo showed that he’s just a fantastic trail horse.

At one point he got caught in some slick wire and simply stepped out of it. He was willing to go anywhere and do anything. My foot only bothered me in one trot – I think the padding on the stirrups really work well to protect my weird little bone.

Sooo, I think we’re ready to experiment with some of the trail obstacles that Lisa described. I don’t know that I’m interested in a Competitive Trail Ride, mostly because I can’t spare the time these days and am saving up my mommy time off for another endurance ride in the fall.

I'm back in DC. Mireya had a total melt down and I promised her I won't be going out of town without her anymore - a good bet since our budget has been nailed by all this activity we've had lately.

But here's my companion on this trip. Remember this guy? :)

We waited forever at baggage claim.

Hope you are well and riding (or hugging) horses!


Cactus Jack Splash said...

Wonderful progress. You should be proud of your hard work!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Cute companion...and no manure to clean up. hehe!

Great job on the forward moving trailer progress.

You might be surprised once you and Cibolo start working on obstacles at home together.

I found that I was so curious to see how, what we worked on at home, would transfer over to a totally different location with strange sights, scents, and noises.

I wanted to know if what we worked on at home would help my horse remain focused only one me during the obstacles.

It's such a rush when it all comes together.
Just wait and see! :)


Anonymous said...

Glad things are progressing so well! (rocks at butt . . . not feet . . .to keep feet moving - sorry, couldn't help myself and had to offer minor adjustment to wording!).

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You know, every time I get off a plane I stop at the restroom. The stop is no more than a 3 or 4-minute detour, but by the time I get to the baggage claim, my bag is the only one left and there is usually a security guard watching it. It blows me away how fast things usually move in the airports I've been to, so I'm surprised it was a long wait. I suspect the difference is that I usually use small airports, so there aren't all these different flights competing for baggage claim areas. It's good to hear the Cibolo has some good trail sense.

Wolfie said...

Wow, what progress with Cibolo! I admire your patience and tenacity.

Michaela said...

Cibolo is actually smiling in that first pic. Awww, what a sweetie! You can really see his personality in those alert ears and shining eyes, and that very cute mouth! xxxooo

Leah Fry said...

Whatever it takes. We all have our issues. trailering isn't one I deal with, but I have plenty of other. Congrats on the progress.

Hahaha! I forgot about Pokey, er, that one anyway. I might have to go find one of those.

You made my day :-)

Beth said...

Progress! Progress is good! Sounds like everything is going really well!

I personally find a whip to be a handy tool. Just an extension of my arm, hand, or leg depending on the application. Nothing to be feared.

Pokey makes a good traveling companion! ;)

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Looks like really good progress. I think you will have it all together real soon. Sounds like Cibolo is beginning to understand -- "the light bulb going off" -- best of luck!!

Unknown said...

Hey glad you made some progress on the trailer thing. All horses are different and there is no magical trailer loading technique that will work for all horses and its way cool that you worked with yours and found something that works for the both of you!

Unknown said...

On the weekends, I often just load up two or three horses and feed them in the horse trailer then unload and put them back in the pasture. Really helps when you need to load one.