Work To Do

I was supposed to be writing a mostly triumphant post today. My plan was to haul to McIver and try our newly booted hooves at our first out and about trail ride together. Maybe a few bobbles, some lessons learned, but I was optimistic…overly, as it turned out.

Remember when I mentioned building that partnership is occasionally at odds with the stupid human things I need to ask Tarma to deal with? Today was a “back to square one for a bit” sort of day. I washed Tarma’s legs down (she’s already getting more comfortable with this, bit by bit), put her boots on and lead her down to the trailer. Success today was not an easy haul to McIver; success today was two front hooves in the trailer and a very long cool down period (plus a wrenching cry), followed by a successful at home trail ride.

I really struggled today ya’ll. All my hopes and plans with Tarma include that trailer. I can’t have her convinced she isn’t safe on it or that it doesn’t lead to good things. I had a real battle today, not necessarily with Tarma, but with the training methods I know and the training methods I think will relax her enough to trust me. Neither worked today, and I think back to what a friend told me, and the real struggle between learning the better methods: you can’t build a trusting relationship if you can’t take no for an answer (hope I got that close enough V!) Of all the stupid human things I ask Tarma, trailering cannot be optional; evacuating Flash from the wildfires, though the barn was never quite directly threatened, showed me that. Her farrier is also in Washington, so she needs to load at least once a month.

New ear warmers worked perfectly!

Clearly we’ve got a lot of work to do. My barn owner, who had a similar mare, pointed out it could be Tarma’s sense of self preservation that kept her off the trailer today, as good a guess as any. I lost hope for a bit that we can reach my dream of hopping on the trailer and exploring far flung trails together. There’s still hope however. After a solid cooling off period, I tacked Tarma up and we once again wandered down along the river, on a loose rein with no reservations, no resentments. Tarma still checked in with me, accepting carrots and rubs, and moved out without hesitation.

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After years of borrowing horses, working to ride and catch riding, I finally have my own horse, a spicy chocolate mare...but also a demanding day job (who doesn't?), a nerdy husband, a soccer loving kid who needs to be parented (by me, duh), and the ultimate trail buddy, a chocolate Labradork!

11 thoughts on “Work To Do

  1. The Dragon was HORRIBLE at loading when I got her–it literally took 3 people and 30 minutes every single time. Then, gradually, 20 minutes and two people, then 2 minutes and two people.

    And now, just get out of the way, she loads herself.


    You will get there. I promise!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Been there, done that! I’ve had plenty of times with a similar loading experience with various horses (or should I say not-loading experience). I know how disappointing and frustrating it can be. I have also put the horse back in their paddock (when it became very clear we weren’t going anywhere after all) and then sat down and had a good cry. I really like how you didn’t let the experience stop you from going out and having a great ride afterwards, even if it wasn’t in your originally intended location. That’s not something everyone can do with a new horse (or even an old horse). And what a beautiful photo by the creek river! Sounds like you had a negative experience with the loading, but you still maintained the relationship with your horse. That is worth IMHO.

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  3. Oh how VERY frustrating. I remember those days with my Q mare. It used to take hours and may or may not happen. But then with time and patience (and when I had emotionally just given up entirely) she taught herself to self load. Now she’s my most reliable loader and traveler of the bunch. Tarma will TOTALLY get there. You’ve GOT THIS. A little bit of trailer “play” each day at home and you’ll be exploring all over the place. ❤

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  4. Not sure if o understood the sequence well but I know that Cassie wouldn’t load with her boots on. Find without but with hoof boots on she would have none of it. Hope you have a better experience next time. We love them because they have their own minds and souls but oh that makes for frustration when we have a plan!

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    1. She loaded last week with just her front boots on, but this time I did have all four on first. I like to do that as it’s extra cushion for the haul, plus they don’t have to deal with the big gravel of the parking lots where we ride but a good catch, thank you!

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  5. One time I had 3 days to teach a fairly feral 3 year old to load for a 4 state crossing trip – the owner was being rescued from her own verging hoarder situation and since she literally could never face anything hard, it fell to me to get that young man out the door. Day 1 I did not feed him any hay all day or dinner, in the morning I threw all caution to the wind, parked the trailer in the round pen and sat in the back peeling apples and throwing peels and wedges out the back and windows. I put sweet corn with molasses in the feeder tray, baby carrots all over the place and left him alone (not like alone alone – I wandered off to do barn chores, eat lunch etc. that night back to his stall, no dinner. Morning day 3, sweet feed in the trailer again and I waited until nearly noon, led him to the pen. He loaded himself and I shut the door and let him hang out for about an hour – praised him, loved him hard, stuffed him silly with treats. Morning of travel day he loaded like he had been traveling all his life and the trip to Colorado was smooth – sometimes just straight up bribery is a powerful tool 🙂

    As long as you did not break trust, you will get there.

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  6. Keep the faith–you will get there. The problem with horses vs. trailers: horses do not have a watch or a calendar. They can devote the rest of their lives to avoiding getting in the trailer.

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  7. You will get there. I pack a lunch and plan to be out there all day if i need to. Each place of proximity to big box where she relaxes is one step closer to “in”.

    Then ask for “a hair closer” “one more half step”

    Breathe 🙂

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  8. I really hope that, eventually, Tarma gets good at loading. Tavelling with horses is a whole new world of opportunities because you can do horse riding virtually anywhere in the country. Last summer we went on a hore riding trip on the beaches of California and, frankly, it was one of the most memorable trips in our lives!

    Liked by 1 person

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