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Trailer Loading a Formerly Wild Mustang with Trailer Issues

Sophie likes getting on the trailer.  It is her special place.
Sophie likes getting on the trailer. It is her special place.
photo: Dennis Pinner

Having been a school teacher for thirty one years, I have had a lot of experience with individualizing for students-especially those with disabilities. Sometimes the disability is as simple as having a bad past experience. If I, as a teacher, could individualize a lesson for a student, why couldn't I individualize a trailering lesson for a formerly wild mustang with a trailering issue?

I am not an equestrian; I am simply a person with a life long love for horses -- especially wild horses. I got into them late in life, and I am learning from them. One thing I have learned is there is not a lot of difference between a seventh grader and a wild horse. Just as no child is the same, no equine is the same.

Yesterday evening, we moved our horse trailer. All four mustangs and a donkey had been loading fine. However, no one had been loaded in awhile.

It had not been of great importance to me as I do not ever take my horses anywhere. Yet in the event of an emergency, I need to make sure that each mustang and donkey will load. In an emergency, having an equine that won't load could result in its demise: either in getting left behind or in losing valuable time, which could mean a matter of life or death for it.

I decided to load the horses. First, I took the donkey, Sophie. She had no problem getting on. She remembered her lessons well, but then Sophie loves the trailer. Next, I took Mustang Sallie, the wildest one of the herd. I thought she might have a problem, but she too got on.

By time I got to Annie, the sun was disappearing behind the trees. Annie is the "teacher's pet," but Annie has a past traumatic trailer experience. I knew this, but I really did not think she would have any problem. After all, in the fall, Annie was loading at liberty. I would point, and she would hop right on.

But just like a student forgets everything over vacation, Annie forgot everything. No way was she going inside; she would only put her two front feet on the back of the trailer. She would not budge any further. Nothing I said would entice her.

Now, I can see and hear the established horse world shaking their heads and groaning. "You didn't MAKE her?" No, I would never force a student to write, and I would not force Annie inside the trailer. Instead, I left on what I thought was a good note with the hope that she would get on today.

I was wrong! We got no further today than yesterday evening. I am going to have to make Annie want to go inside the trailer rather than make her get inside the trailer. The next few articles will be about what I do in the search for the key that unlocks Annie's motivation.