Monday, November 9, 2015

Sunday Fun Day - Copper

After both Skeeter and I had been exercised adequately and ended on a good note, it was Copper's turn. As you might recall, the horse switch did not happen on Thursday because we couldn't get Copper into the trailer.

We've not worked with a flag with him because he hated it, and we didn't want to make things worse, so we just let him be when it came to the flag. I understood it was a problem on Thursday when we couldn't drive him into the trailer with it. His default escape plan is to back up, so when I tried to put pressure on him with the flag, he'd bolt backward.

Jessica had her hands full working him out of reverse; it seems to be his favorite evasion, followed by rearing. He dragged her all over the property going in reverse for a very long time, but she couldn't let up with the flag. We had inadvertently trained him to back up with it because when he'd go bolting backwards, we'd stop, thinking we were doing something wrong. We were - we stopped. If we had stayed with him until we got forward motion - no matter how long it took - we could have probably gotten him into the trailer ourselves on Thursday.

Unfortunately, we reinforced that back was the right answer and she got to undo that training. He's one stubborn redhead, so it took easily a half an hour before the thought to move forward. As soon as he did, she stopped badgering him with the flag. It took a good bit more time before she could reliably get him moving forward off of the flag.

When she did, though, it was time to take him to the trailer, where she completely screwed with his mind. The trailer became a place to rest. As long as his head was in the trailer, she didn't bother him, but when he moved away from the trailer the flag started up again. Copper is a smart horse, but sometimes it takes a while for him to shed his stubborn pants. Once he realized that the trailer was a good resting place, he started asking to go put his head in.

Eventually, the head wasn't enough, so she started pressuring for the front legs, then the back legs. It took about twenty minutes to get him in the trailer the first time, but after that he pretty much self-loaded. When he loaded and unloaded two or three times, Jessica deemed him trailer trained enough to haul to her place.

It took a while to unload him at her place - he really, really likes the relaxation of the trailer - but he unloaded nicely and followed her up to his new home-away-from-home.

(The video is very long and at times like watching paint dry, but it's cool to see his progress.)


Linda said...
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Linda said...

That's some impressive first trailer loading in that video! I will be referring back when it comes time to haul Beautiful Girl. She used to back up a lot, too, but has learned to be more forward with time.

GunDiva said...

It was amazing. By the time he got into the trailer, I had all but forgotten what a rough start it had been just an hour earlier. Seeing the videos of him stuck in reverse was kind of shocking considering how quiet and calm he was when he loaded.

lytha said...

Wonderful video!! Thank you for posting it and captioning it! I kind of wish it wasn't a little condensed, it wasn't boring at all. Isn't it fascinating that the horse was enjoying being in the trailer? Wow. I've ridden back there, it's no fun.

I am trying to buy a horse from a breeder who sold my friend a horse who hates trailering and always takes a lot of people to get him in. I mentioned this to the breeder, saying if I buy this horse, I expect him to load on request. The breeder said, "Trailering is actually simply a leading exercise. If the horse is trained to lead well, it will get in the trailer for you."

I thought about that and kind of disagree. Although horses should learn a forward cue, and sending the horse between your body and a fence, a tight spot, is helpful for prepping to load, I think the trailer itself can be overwhelming for a horse.

Now if only I could find the magic method of getting my donkey into a trailer. The difference with donkeys is, they shut down and no amount of anything will get them to move again. They just go immobile.