I was first going to write this post about how it’s important to pay attention to the little details because PJ was acting strange when I first picked up the reins – he was leaning on the right rein. Very unlike him. Of course I immediately thought it was because of the scrape on his knee and he was lame. Nope. When I looked down I saw that I had looped the flash around the rein.
Then I was going to write about the importance of precision when we ride. I didn’t realize how much I just turn whenever, even when I planned on turning right at E and left at B. If I want to do a 20-meter circle, I shouldn’t do an 18-meter circle. That includes my body control. When I post it should be a distinct up and down, and when I put my leg on, I should mean it, not just hope it.
But instead, this post is going to be about how brave PJ was today. He’s been horrible to load and trailer. Last year at our first show, he got on the trailer okay. Was awesome at the show. But when it came to going home, after and hour of him rearing, spinning around like a top, and backing a half-mile through the parking lot, we were at our wits end. A nice woman gingerly asked if we would like some help. Yes! She showed us a technique of putting gentle pressure on the horse while looking away from him. Within 10 minutes he was on the trailer and we were on our way home. For the two other outings we went to, my friend Jane used that same technique to get him on both going and coming. She had to use a chain over his nose and unload her horse, so he had the entire trailer, but I couldn’t do it no matter what. Each time, though, PJ would get off the trailer in a sweat.
Unfortunately, there are not many opportunities to practice loading. Whenever Bridget has her trailer hooked up she’s going somewhere and is in a hurry. And there are only so many hours in the day, so that it would have to be a ride or a practice loading lesson if Maryann was to bring her truck and hook it to Barbara’s other trailer. Well, today a Pony Club kid and her mother had trailered in for a lesson and they were so nice to let us practice using their trailer. At first PJ would just walk up to it and put his front feet on. I was patient and used the technique the woman had showed us. I found that it had to be very light pressure on the lead but eventually PJ got on all of the way. I gave him every treat in my pocket. I backed him off and tried again. It took a lot less time for him to climb back on. We hung out for a while and then he had enough and unloaded himself (nicely, though). I got him on two more times. The last time I backed him out, so that he didn’t think he could always decide when to get off. Unfortunately, I slipped going down the ramp and scared him a little, but he had been so good I didn’t want to press my luck and try to load him again.
He was very nervous while on the trailer, so I tried to make it as low stress as possible. Talking nicely, patting him, feeding him hay, even though he wouldn’t eat it. It’s going to take a while and I don’t know if he’ll ever be comfortable, but he does need to learn to trailer. These nice people come every week for a lesson. I’m hoping my schedule allows me to be there at the same time again next week to try again. Good pony.