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To Thine Own Horse Be True --- Trailer Loading Your Horse

Annie gets on the trailer when she is asked to.
photo: Victoria Pinner

This morning I was restless. My husband knew it too. "You want to get out there with your pony, don't you?" I just grinned. And off I went to set to work on my "lesson plan" for Annie. I wanted to trailer load her, but I wanted to make her WANT to be in the trailer not force her in.

All the other mustangs were getting on without a hitch, but Annie refused. Yes, she has had issues in the past and one very traumatic incident, but this had nothing to do with fear or lack of trust. Annie is a princess, and she does not like to be forced to do anything. Yesterday and the day before, I tried several tactics with her. Each was met with temper tantrums. Annie's lips were moving a mile a minute, and I am pretty sure she was cussing me out under her breath. She would put two feet on the back of the trailer, but no more. We had a stare down and a tug of war. Nothing! And don't let anyone tell you that a horse steps on your feet by accident. That is simply not true. Annie knows exactly where she puts her feet, and she knows where I put mine. We've been through this before though, so I know to keep her guessing, or she will step on them after studying just exactly where I have them.

Just as I used to occasionally study my students who were having problems in my classroom, I studied Annie. I know her through and through. Annie likes to be asked. She also wants a reason for anything she does. The last couple of days, there was no reason for her to get on the trailer, nor was I asking....instead, I was tugging.

This morning, I decided to change the whole plan. If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always gotten. That's the truth!

I put a flake of hay in the trailer, took my stool out too, and Annie, my coffee and me went out before breakfast. I sat on the stool and drank some coffee first. After all, I needed to be awake, though I had to work really hard to keep my adrenaline down. I was excited, and I felt like this plan was going to work---based on past things I'd done with her. As I sipped my coffee, I pointed to the hay inside, and asked her if she wanted some. Annie looked bewildered. It was amazing that she willingly went out with me, but I could tell when she got to the trailer that she was preparing to do battle. Her breathing increased and she felt "stiff." When I sat down, I could almost hear her saying, "Wait a minute!"

I finished my coffee. By that time, she was standing on the back of the trailer---front feet only looking in. So I walked on too. The entire time, I kept the lead rope loose. As I usually do with Annie, I kept a running conversation with her. That's to keep myself calm rather than because I think Annie understands---though I do think she understands my tone if not the words.

Then I asked her, "Annie, do you think you can walk up on this trailer and get this hay?" Annie stepped right up on the trailer. She ate some hay, and I asked her to step off. I asked her back on, and she came back on. We did this several times until I got off, pointed at the trailer, and she stepped right on.

But today, we moved the trailer again. After all, we needed it to get some hay. We have put it in a different spot. This means that it is a different trailer, and I will have to go through the process again. I'll let you know what happens, but I guarantee that I will have a plan when I do it.

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