Trailer Loading - Day 9

We took yesterday off. Ansel had a massage and got some of the kinks out of his back and hamstrings and tummy. This morning I was a little pushed for time after riding, but I still wanted to work on loading. So I grabbed a scoop of grain and his rubber bowl and headed over.

With Ansel in tow, I popped the bowl and grain into the manger and then undid the ramp. I grabbed a handful of grain and positioned his cone for an easy, two feet in load. Then did a two feet + rear feet on the ramp load, then moved the cone all the way in. He stepped right in and started munching - but backed out when I pushed on his rump to try to close the butt door. (He fits in this trailer - but he does have to stand all the way up to the manger to get his rump in.) No big deal. I rearranged the bowl so it was further forward in the manger and then asked him in again. Closed the door. Let him stay 10 seconds, then opened it and signaled 'out' by pulling on his tail. Led him in one small circle to reset and asked him in again. He went right in. I closed the door and then went up to the open manger door. Watched him take a couple of mouthfuls of grain and then start looking around through the door. I probably let him stay in 30 seconds or so, then went back to open the door. He was still looking around, so I asked him out again and led him around the trailer to retrieve the bowl. He finished off the last crumbs while I closed up the trailer and then we went back to the feed room to prepare his real feed bucket.

I can understand how folks will think this is lumping a lot of behavior together and asking for quite a bit more each time. And I wouldn't be able to do this much in a week with a horse who was new to trailering or a confirmed bad loader. But I have a soft deadline of a month to get him loading on his own (that's when the trailer goes back to its normal storage location a few miles away) and, with all the other stuff I need/want to do at the barn, limited time to practice. I am less worried about the next steps - closing all the doors and actually driving around - so we'll probably spend the next week or more solidifying what we have done so far. Lots more getting on and off and some standing in the trailer until that's old hat and he stops gawking. Oh and I should probably move the trailer to some place else on the ranch and do some more loading and standing before we actually go somewhere.

Published August 1, 2007