Trailering Skills – Ollie’s Version – Overview 12-27-15

Kelsey on Ollie Summer 2008While Atticus was still lame but recovering, I finally decided that Ollie needed to relearn his trailering skills.  Even though he is easier to coerce into a trailer these days, he is still reluctant to get on and he definitely doesn’t OFFER to get on all by himself.  We also have a history of having to retrain Ollie several times to load.

I do think that the problems he had in the past had to do with physical problems, such as pain, and that that is why he didn’t want to load.  Several years ago, there was one day where it took me more than three hours to get him back on the trailer using positive reinforcement.  To say that I was challenged by that commitment is an understatement.  I was VERY frustrated!

But that was then and this is now.  I have the time (no pressure on me) to retrain him to load willingly.  I do think that he still has physical challengers, such as weakness in the hind end or possibly pain or lack of proprioception or all of the above or something else entirely.  And Ollie is just a different horse.  His training will undoubtedly be different.  He trains differently as it is.  He is faster in some ways and more stuck in others.  He is very sensitive and easily frightened.  He is not sure of himself in any way.  This is the horse I cannot ride safely in my own arena but I can take him to someone else’s arena and he’ll be just fine.  He’s an anxious hot mess.

Here is the overview of what we’ve done in the last five months:

August 10, 2015 – Shaping at liberty, but only the front feet got on the trailer with the divider open wide, and I’m outside next to Ollie.
August 12 – Shaping, but only the front feet got on with the divider in place, and I’m outside next to Ollie.
September 16 – Shaping, but only the front feet on, the divider in place, and I’m inside the trailer on the opposite side from Ollie.
September 19 – Only the front feet on.
September 20 – Only the front feet on.
September 21 – Only the front feet on.
September 22 – Ollie very deliberately offered his front feet on (“Is this what you want?”) and one hind hoof.  (video)
September 24 – Two and a half feet on (one hind).
September 25 – He got all four feet on!  But I think he scared himself and bunny-hopped off right away.  (video)
September 28 – Two and a half feet on.
October 16 – Two and a half feet on and we practiced backing onto a short pedestal (video)
October 27 – Ollie got two feet on using two pedestals on the approach to the trailer.
October 29 – All four feet on the trailer!  Used two pedestals to get there!  I had to use Stud Muffins to slow he backing off or he rushed off very uncoordinatedly.
October 31 – All the way on two times using just one pedestal!
November 6 – All the way on two times, one pedestal, and practiced walking onto a mattress (video).
November 9 – On twice with one pedestal.
November 10 – On three times with one pedestal but very distracted that day.
November 13 – On twice, one pedestal, shaping with me up front.
November 20 – On three times, no pedestal, and the right-hand back door closed, with  me up front.
November 21 – On twice, no pedestal, nearly dark.Atty on Trailer PH
November 28 – On with Atticus, trip to see Wendy Murdoch and back.

I would like to share the listed videos with you in the next blog posts with more details about what we did and how.

Now if only my memory will come back to me in detail.

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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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