Sunday, 11-2-14, I wanted to see if Atty would load and how well. Friday had been windy and he seemed distracted or nervous. He loaded well and, while, he backed up a step or two, he didn’t back off. I’m keeping in mind that he might think he’s to follow me off the trailer, so I’m trying to focus on having him stand still on the trailer.
After walking to the back several times, turning around at different points, and coming back to the front to CT, I walked to the back, hooked up the butt bar and then continued in our routine.
Then we went in reverse and he did just fine.
The next day, Monday, I loaded him up and then Ollie, too, and fed them their breakfasts in the trailer. Atty self loaded right away but Ollie was stickier. I know that he doesn’t like the trailer much, either, but I also have spent the time with him that I need to in order to get him where Atty is now.
With Ollie, I had to pull out the Stud Muffins, broken into pieces, and shape him on. I also had to walk on the trailer in front of him and go through the breast bar. I also had to use a little, light pressure on the lead rope. I don’t want to, but I did, as light as possible. However, once he was on, I could leave him there and go to the back to hook up the butt bar.
Ollie is nervous enough that he would take the Alam cubes and the Stud Muffins but he would not eat his breakfast. After a period of time that I didn’t keep track of, I decided that it was time for them to come out. Atty had finished his breakfast and it looked like Ollie never would.
While they were in the trailer, I was on Ollie’s side with the side door open and I tossed treats into Atty’s hay/feed bag.
When I asked them off, Atty was his usual good-as-gold self, but Ollie simply rushed off. As I said, this is understandable since I haven’t worked with Ollie on this the way I have with Atty.
They then got to go out the field and eat fresh grass. 🙂
This morning, Tuesday, was the day I took them to see the veterinary chiropractor an hour away. Atty self loaded right away, but Ollie decided that yesterday’s experiment was enough for him and he went the other way. Again, I brought out the Stud Muffins, CT’d, and used a little pressure on the lead rope. And once he’s on, I can go to the back and hook up the butt bar.
However, I didn’t know quite what I would do at the other barn since I wasn’t sure how he would load and if I’d have to lead him in. I know that I don’t want to tie him without having the butt bar up because Ollie will back off and break his halter that way.
But in he went and off we went.
The best part was when we were to load up again to go home.
Their chiropractic adjustments went well, especially after I had both of them in the barn, rather than leaving Ollie on the trailer and having both of them screaming for the other.
Since Ollie had been worked on last, he was the easiest one to take to the trailer – he was already in hand. He walked out the trailer calmly, but he did stop once outside the barn and hand to look around. Then we walked to the trailer and Ollie actually self loaded – I did not have to walk in ahead of him. I was able to hook up the butt bar right way and not have the worry of having him on but my having to run to the back to hook up the butt bar before he backed off, in case he decided to do that.
Atty was next and it was so near to perfect, I was really pleased. He walked out of the stall he was in calmly. He stopped once outside the barn, just as Ollie had, to have a good look around. Then I walked him straight to the trailer so that he could see that Ollie was already on the trailer.
Atty sniffed the floor of the trailer and Ollie. Then he offered a foot and then two feet on the trailer. In the past, we would have had to hand graze for awhile and go past the trailer several times before even thinking about getting on. Atty backed off again, then got on again. He did this a couple of times and liked to sniff Ollie’s back, or maybe even his nose if Ollie could reach back far enough, while he was half on. When Atty was not on, he’d poke his nose under the divider and sniff Ollie’s legs. The first time, Ollie jumped so I don’t think he was expecting that.
Atty and I did take a short grazing break and then went back to the trailer. Another couple of half-ons and back-offs, then he offered all four feet on, but not far enough in to hook the butt bar and he backed off again. Then he got on all the way and I could hook up the butt bar and then close up the trailer.
I think it took maybe 15 minutes for him to load. The last time we were at that barn (June 2013), it took over an hour and it was pouring rain. The noise on the trailer roof scared him that day. So I’m very pleased with today’s efforts.
When we got home, he unloaded the way we’ve always practiced but Ollie rushed off again as before. I definitely have to schedule some trailer training time for him.
Also, while I was loading him, the vet’s helper for the day, came by with the paper work and to watch. She made a comment about needing patience, which is so true.
But then she said something about, “Wouldn’t you think they’d want to get back on the trailer to go home?” I answered with, “No, they don’t know they’re going home for one thing and the getting home part is too far away and separate from the act of getting on thet trailer for going home to be a reinforcer. If they don’t like to be on a moving trailer, they don’t like getting on a trailer that moves.”
It’s that simple. WE know we’re now going home, but THEY don’t. They have no idea where they’re going to end up next. We need to remember that they don’t think like humans and they don’t know what we know.