Monday, March 31, 2014

Trailer Loading and First Ride Outside

Today was beautiful - 60s with a lot of sun and wind - a big change from our recent weather.  Tomorrow we're back in the 40s for a while, but it sure is nice not to be freezing for once.

After a very nice early morning ride on Dawn, I brought Red in to wash and medicate his leg.  Last night was the first time I've left it unwrapped since the injury, and the wound is looking pretty good - not pulled open, just a little oozy, which was good.  We did our usual wash stall scrubbing routine, and then I put him on the lunge briefly to see how his soundness is doing.  He's not 100% at the trot, probably due to the remaining swelling, but I'd say he's about 90%, which is pretty good.  We'll keep walking bareback or under saddle until he's 100%.  He's also back on his double antibiotic regime again, so long as he doesn't redevelop diarrhea.  And I gave him a gram of bute today and will do the same tomorrow to help with the swelling.

Then since I'd hitched up my trailer to take it in for a spring safety check, Red and I did some trailer loading.  I deliberately picked more difficult circumstances.  He was by himself - no other friends, including Pie, nearby - they were all in turnout - there was lots of barn equipment coming and going, it was very windy and he was in a pretty unfamiliar area - the front parking lot.

I'd say he did very well.  He doesn't yet have a good "send" into the trailer - this is something we're going to work on and it shouldn't be too difficult as he will send into the wash stall.  A solid send will make loading in my two-horse straight load trailer easier.  For now, he needs me to lead ahead of him, which means that I have to swing the divider over in order not to get crushed when he comes in with me.  I think if Pie were in there first, he would send in pretty well, and we'll probably try that next time we practice.  He also doesn't stay in the trailer well but wants to exit pretty quickly - that also can be adjusted later.  I had goals for today that were steps on the way.

There was some initial resistance - backing away from the trailer, or turning to the side and trying to bypass it on an angle, but I used what I had learned from the wash stall and it worked very well.  I just kept my focus on where I wanted to go, didn't pull against him but kept light pressure on the line if he went backwards or sideways - I just went with him but keeping faced where I wanted to go - and tapped gently with the end of the lead on his side unless he was going forward.

We got some loads pretty quickly, but they weren't what I wanted - I had very specific goals for today.  I wanted three loads in a row where he walked in on a loose lead with very minimal asks.  It took about 15 minutes to get that, and then it was very nice, and we got three beautiful loads in a row and called it a day.  At this point, I expect I can load him pretty easily for our trip to Wisconsin next week, and we can work on refining things further once we're there.  Even if I can't ride him at the clinic, he's coming along and I'll use part of my time to work with him on the trailer loading.

I told him what a fine horse he was and turned him back out - he galloped off very happily - he's happy to move even if the swelling's still keeping him from being 100% sound.  Later in the afternoon, Red and I had a nice walk ride, this time under saddle.  The arena doors were wide open and it was very windy, but he was very relaxed and responsive.

And then Pie and I also had a very nice ride.  He also coped very well with the wind and noise in the arena, and then he said that he wanted to go outside.  We took a nice loop around one of the big turnout pastures - our first ride outside since last fall!  The footing wasn't great - mud and some icy patches - so we took it slow.  It had gotten extremely windy - gusts to 40 mph - but Pie was great.  He only startled once at all the leaves that were rattling across the ground down the hill.

A long, but very fine, day with horses.


  1. sounds like it went well. And glad to read Red is on the mend

  2. Nice that you got to ride outside! We are close, but not there yet. Mark's clinics are coming up fast! Hopefully Red will be healed up for the clinic.

  3. Those are the best kind of days!


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