Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trailer practice

I meant to post about this yesterday after the session with my trainer, but getting the word out about the stolen horse seemed more important.

In preparation for the schooling show in June, my trainer and I decided to practice trailering Panama. Those of you who have been reading my blog a while will remember that Panama had a very bad experience with a trailer when he was very young (story and pictures). You'll probably also remember all the work we've done, and all the ups and downs, with trailering.

With all this in mind, I wanted to start practicing early and get Panama comfortable not only with trailering, but also with the idea of going somewhere, working, and coming home. This will be a fairly new concept for him, since every time the trailer comes out, it means he is leaving his home.

We did our first session of trailer practice yesterday, using the same trailer my trainer borrowed to bring him to the new barn back in October. It is a very nice, roomy, two-horse slant-load. Panama likes it too, judging by his relative willingness to get on it.

After I turned him out (he bucked and ran in circles with his tail in the air, so he definitely needed it today), we started working with the trailer. He actually got all the way on within the first couple of minutes, but then scared himself by turning all the way around inside — the wrong way — and charged out once he realized my trainer still had the lead and was now standing behind him. After that, he was unwilling to get back on, but eventually — with some coaxing, and a few mental breaks to let him eat grass as a reward for progress — he did get all the way on.

Once we got him on, my trainer worked on getting him to stand there with her for progressively longer amounts of time, then to load and unload with one door shut, and then to stand there while we closed the partition. Once he started getting on, he acted like a pro about all of the rest. We ended the session when he permitted me to shut him up in the trailer, taking the whole thing like a champ — he was more interested in sticking his head out the window than in the fact that I was closing the partition and shutting him in.

Next time we are going to drive him around a little, and I think I'll ride him immediately afterward so that he gets used to the idea of trailering, then riding. After that, once the results of the Coggins test come back, we will trailer him over to the barn where the show will be held, and have our lesson there.

It's all very exciting, and I am very proud of him for how well he handled everything yesterday. I also have a funny story to share. After I turned Panama out, and before we started working with the trailer, my trainer was talking to another boarder next to the truck and trailer, so I walked Panama over there. He had been very interested and concerned about the trailer, both before I got him from his corral and during turnout, as if he knew it was for him. He gave it a wide berth when we walked over, so I encouraged him to walk up and sniff it.

My trainer had one of the window grates down, and within a few moments Panama had figured out that he could swing it out and drop it back against the side of the trailer. Of course, every time it banged back down again, he jumped and pulled back — only to reach forward and do it again. I swear, that horse enjoys scaring himself sometimes — like a kid wanting to hear scary stories before bedtime, despite knowing it will give him nightmares!



At May 19, 2010 at 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good trailering work! and funny story about him banging to scare himself - he sounds curious and funny!

At May 19, 2010 at 2:10 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks, Kate! He is very curious, and I've encouraged him to always check out things that scare him. There is also a goofy, playful side to his personality that is coming out as he gains maturity and confidence. He is such a clown sometimes!


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