Trailering Session, #174, 9-27-2014, #thevolunteeringhorse

Well, today was one of those days where I had my plans and the universe had others.

My plan was to turn my rig around so that I could load Atticus in the parking area.  But I forgot how difficult that actually is.  The easier thing to do is to back the rig back down by the barn and start from our usual place.  That’s really just find as it’s less challenging for him, which is probably a good thing.

However, the truck decided not to start again.  We still don’t know why it has this problem but hubby did a couple of things including a charger on it because all those attempts at trying to start it was wearing down the battery.  A couple hours later, it started and I could move it back to the barn.

The other part of my plan was to take Atty on another little trailer ride around the block again.  And, while he loaded fairly well, we didn’t go anywhere.

He loaded fine the first time, but then got off again.  I can sometimes lure him on by tossing treats into his hay bag, but not so much today.  He came up beside the trailer to where I was and tried to graze on the few bits of grass there.  Then he backed out by himself and I CT’d the backing up.  Then I shaped him to look into the trailer and went back to the front to try tossing in more treats.

He loaded again and stayed until I walked back to the back to see if I could hook up the butt bar.  He got off at least three times that I tried this even though he touched the boat bumper in our usual routine.

Then I tried putting a Stud Muffin in the hay bag to see if he would stay a little longer.  He did and I put up the butt bar.

However, he would not touch the boat bumper more than one time in a row when I wanted to close the side door so that we could drive off.  He kept acting distracted by the neighbors talking.  If I put treats in the hay bag, he’d eat them, but he wouldn’t offer to touch the boat bumper.

After three attempts to get him to do that by just tossing treats in, I gave up and we practiced the unloading routine.  That involves going to the back and opening the back door, them coming up front for treats.  Now he would touch the bumper.  Then I went back and unhooked the butt bar.  He stayed on while I went up front to treat him.  He touched the bumper three times so I went back to ask him off.  I had to cue him at least twice for him to back off.

He got on again by himself and I tried again to see if we could close up and go.  The first time I went to back to hook up the butt bar, he backed up.  I tried holding up the butt bar in the way, but he kept backing and backed off the trailer.

He did get on again and we worked through the routine to again hooking up the butt bar and closing the back door.  But, again, he would not settle for closing the side door.  He would not offer touching the boat bumper.  So, once again, I let that go and we went through the unloading routine.

While on the one hand I’m disappointed that we couldn’t repeat a little drive, I find it interesting and enlightening that he still has his worries and where they crop up.  We will continue to work on them even though we have a deadline on October 7.

Onward.

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About Laurie Higgins

I play with clicker training - with my horses, dogs, and cats. I also attempt to grow vegetables with the hope of one day being able to feed my family from my garden. My daughter and I are learning ballroom dancing. Well, we were. But she left me for a paying horse job, so now my husband and I are learning ballroom dancing. I'm also now helping Peggy Hogan, of Clicker Training Horses (and The Best Whisper is a Click) to teach people how to train their own horses using "clicker training".
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