Capricho left for his new home today, and took his first ride in a horse van. Because he had never been loaded into a trailer before his adopter Kelly and I decided to give him confidence by doing some exercises to teach him to load. Since the actual trailer he was leaving in was unavailable to us, we schooled him by breaking down the loading process into a series of simple tasks that he could easily master.We built an obstacle with a series of poles and rubber mats that we arranged in different patters on the ground, and set up a portal in the center of the obstacle.
His first reaction was to get a little clingy.He also wanted to do what many young horses tend to do when asked to load into a trailer for the first time, which is to look off in another direction.
This is probably a low- key flight mechanism, just checking to see if there is an alternative.
What we needed for him to do was to step forward keeping his head down so he can see precisely where his feet are and concentrate on the obstacle. With a few false starts he soon picked up confidence and began walking easily forward to carefully negotiate the pattern.
We did two sessions with this exercise, changing the pattern and heights of the poles.
At the end of each session we practiced “doors”, by stopping to stand in the obstacle, and also walking through our breezeway barn and arbitrarily going in and out of open stall doors, stopping for a few minutes until Capricho stood quietly inside each new stall.
This completed the trailer-loading task, which was broken down for him into three distinct parts:
1. Walking forward on to an unfamiliar floor.
2. Tracking straight through a door.
3. Standing still once inside.
Finally the big day arrived for him to put together his practiced tasks in a smooth sequence.Drumroll........!!!He waked right up the ramp and into the trailer and stood quietly inside like he was an old pro.I’m sorry I couldn’t get a “win picture” but I was busy loading the horse! We are so proud of Capricho and Kelly, another pair of horsefriends with a good beginning at Tranquility Farm.