Scary Moving Metal Boxes
Also called horse trailers, these scary moving metal boxes can cause massive headaches for horse owners. Most equestrians have had that terrible experience with a horse who refuses to load on a trailer. Whether it’s going to a show or moving across the country, a horse who won’t load can severely delay travel plans. The Manor has a way to handle that.
Each quarter, the training classes take two days to work on loading their horses into trailers. The trailers are parked in the arena and the students work their horses around the trailers until the horses are relaxed and focused on the students. Then they load the horses on the trailers. Over and over and over again. It makes trailer loading a snooze for the horses here and tests the students’ skills and patience. It’s also hilarious to watch.
I’ve always had luck with my training horses. Perhaps luck isn’t the right word. I watched and listened very carefully as other students loaded their horses. As part of the Training One class, new students are required to observe the upper level training students work on trailer loading. When I did this I took note of everything Jen was telling her students and watched for the changes she was working to affect in them. That helped me greatly when it was my turn to participate in the exercise. I did everything Jen had told her students and my horse walked right in with me. In subsequent quarters, my horses behaved beautifully. Some of my other classmates were not so fortunate. But that’s what makes it so hilarious.
Boy, this little introduction was longer than I intended. I suppose now I can get to the real topic, which was how my lovely little Studly handled trailer loading.
I was worried about it for several reasons. Studly and I have been working in the smallest arena on campus by ourselves. Trailer loading was taking place in the second largest arena, which Studly and I would be sharing with several other horses. He had never worked near another horse. He could barely handle walking past other horses on the way to and from the arena. Jen gave me permission to work him in his usual arena before bringing him to the one with the trailers. This was a big deal because the rule with Studly is that the Training One class has to watch everything I do with him, but they wouldn’t be watching this because they were watching everyone else work on trailer loading. I did some lunging and relaxation work, getting him really connected to me. I wanted his full concentration because his whole world was about to explode. He was excellent, showing the best stretch and swing I’ve seen from him yet. Once he seemed settled, we walked over to the big arena. I had to have someone else open the gate for me and we had to stand and take in the sights for a while. When he wanted to walk, we went to the rail and practiced some walk-halt transitions. A few times he turned around to stare at a misbehaving horse, but I just scratched him and brought his attention back to me. He had to stop and listen to the noise of horses walking in and out of the trailers, but he wasn’t nearly as upset as I thought he would be. We waited for most of the horses to leave before approaching the trailers.
As we headed to the empty trailer, I focused on keeping a steady rhythm. Studly stayed right next to me, not bothering to question anything we were doing. He wanted to stop and sniff the ramp when we got close enough, so I just hung out and waited for him to check it out. As he was sniffing, I shifted myself up the ramp. He noticed and climbed up with me, exploring everything as he went. I kept moving in and he kept following until we were both fully inside the trailer. I praised him, we stayed still for a minute, then backed off. He turned around sooner than I wanted him to, but he waited at the bottom of the ramp for me. We walked up a few more times trying to make the process smoother each time. It worked, until another horse came by to load in the other trailer. She and her trainer were arguing about something, which upset Studly. His reaction? Trot into the trailer. It had become the most relaxing place in the arena. I was so proud of him! We had to load one more time just to make sure he could focus with the other horse working next to him, but then we were free to go. Some of the students watching found me later to tell me how cute Studly was during the process. I had to agree. I’m pretty impressed with the little dude.