Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bee Works to Overcome Her Fears, as I Work to Overcome My Own

The terrible air quality, with all the fires in our area, slowed us down, but it didn't totally stop us.  I've continued to work with Bee--as we call her now--on trailer loading, hauling, standing tied, and driving from the ground.

We had a wonderful all day clinic Saturday with my trainer, Rebecca.  She taught us her system of teaching horses to self-load and unload--which is a much safer way to do it, and much needed.  Bee had gotten to the point that she was trying to turn around in her divider before the divider was open.  She was also rushing out of the trailer backwards.  We needed some tools to teach her to slow down and to also be prepared for the "just in case" moments.

While we went over the lecture portion of the clinic, I let Bee out in the arena with tried-and-true Money Penny, aka, Penny.



And, we practiced standing tied, which is a prerequisite for being able to stand tied in the trailer.


Rebecca introduced her to the "Be Nice" halter.


It worked wonders for Bee.  She immediately gave to the pressure.  I'm going to buy one.

Rebecca showed us the technique for teaching to self-load.  Two long lines hooked together and ran through the front window.  The horse is on the line and you're allowing them to choose to go in.  If they run backwards, you have enough line to hold them (wear thick gloves!!), and then you just ask again.  Unloading goes the same way.  You have the lead rope on the horse, but you also have the long line and you ask them to step backward while giving more and more rope.


Here she is working Bee into her small 2-horse slant.  That went well, loading and unloading.


We moved on to my trailer.  Bee loaded, but wanted to turn and bolt out when she got in there alone. Rebecca had control of her with this long line.  She's asking her to stand in the trailer at this point.



She also closed the divider and opened it, which is when Bee has wanted to bolt, but she kept her head around.

When she asked Bee to back out, Rebecca exited the trailer to the side. Bee ran backwards as fast as she could and kept going.  She would have lost her with a regular lead rope, but the long line held.  She loaded and unloaded Bee again and again until this last phase, where she did much, much better.



Today, I went out and worked on tying, loading, self-loading, unloading, driving from the ground, and getting on her myself.

The self-loading didn't go well because I didn't have long lines.  I asked her to self-load from her side, but she would only put in her front feet.  We did that over and over.  Then, I got in and asked her to follow.  She did.  We stood around for a while and I asked her to unload politely.  She did.  We repeated that over and over.  I closed her divider, then opened it, untied her, and asked her to back out nicely.  All good.

From there we moved to driving her from the ground.  I did that with the reins in hand, rather than long lines.  It was awkward, but she allowed me to turn her, back her, whoa and move out.

At that point, I took her to the mounting block and she was excellent at letting me on.  I may have a broken toe from slamming my foot into a barbell, so I chose to go bareback, as to avoid the pain of a stirrup.

I was very scared and my heart was beating like crazy.  I petted her, jumped off from both sides several times, and remounted, and bent her in, but I didn't ask her to move out.  I knew that, at this point, I wouldn't be able to get back on if something went wrong. I don't think I'd have the nerve, and continuing forward is a must. She has only had four rides, and I don't feel ready.  When I know we're communicating from the ground, and she seems more relaxed, I may feel  more confident.

But until then, I'm going to keep filling in the holes.  Everything she's doing is much better than before.  She stands tied better, she was better for the farrier today, she loads better.

This winter I'll be doing a colt starting clinic, with Bee, next door.  I'll also do a follow-up clinic with Leah, for more advanced horses, on a following weekend each month.



One step at a time, but Beautiful Girl and I will get there--together...

each of us having to overcome our fears.




11 comments:

  1. Good progress. It all takes time and patience. She's learning quickly and moving forward. I'm sure she's not bored anymore and has a lot of new things to think about to keep her occupied. Hope your toe isn't broken.

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    1. You're right about that! She doesn't seem bored. I think what I am really working on is her not being anxious. It did help to have Penny there with her. And, it gave me an idea for my first ride on her tomorrow. I think I will have my granddaughter ride Penny and I can ride beautiful behind her.

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  2. The other day I was working with Tex and took him to the mounting block -- no tack, just walking around. I had him line up and then laid across his back. I wasn't ready to sit - if he scooted, I'm not sure I'd stick. So, I'm going to just take my time until he's bored with me draped across his back. Slow is good. Slow builds trust and confidence. For you both.

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    1. I couldn't agree more! I think tomorrow night I will ride her a little bit, but I'll have her follow a buddy. I've noticed that she is extra calm when she is with a friend from her herd. And, I think it's best to build confidence in little steps. It wouldn't be doing her any favors to put her in a position where she gets scared and I either jump off or fall off. She has a sweet heart and does not want to do anything wrong.

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  3. It may feel slow to you, but it does sound like you made a lot of progress during trailer loading. I had a trainer come to my house to teach Bombay to load, and it took two visits from her before he'd put a hoof in. I was following her training technique for weeks before he was going in and out properly. I remember being scared to get in the trailer with him, because he'd have such violent panic attacks and run over anyone in his path to escape.

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    1. Trailer loading is possibly the most dangerous thing we do and sometimes we don't practice it until we want to go somewhere. My trainer pointed that out at the clinic, and she was right. When a horse panics in such a small space it is quite frightening and truly dangerous. I think that self-loading is absolutely the best. Unfortunately unloading does require me getting in there to release the bar. She will have to learn to stand calmly and wait. She did that during this training session. But I could not get her to self load. She likes to follow me into the trailer. It's not horrible because she is very calm loading when I'm with her. I will keep working on it and she will self load eventually.

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  4. I remember doing this work for years, but I have to admit that I don't miss it any longer. I doubt we'll ever have a new horse, never say never, but I do admit that I now rather enjoy the ease of our reliable, well trained little band of 3.

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    1. That is probably why I put this off for so long. I was having so much fun with my broke horse. But a couple of years ago, I got the bug to work with green horses again. I have enjoyed it, but like you I don't think I will buy another green horse in my lifetime. However, I hope I can help other people with horse issues as they come up. That does not mean I will be putting rides on any green horses for anyone. 😂

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  5. I haven't seen that method of teaching trailer loading - looks like it works quite well.
    What does she do with a horse that refuses to back out? For example, in a trailer that has a rear tack compartment and the horse has to back out because there are other horses loaded in the front angle stalls.

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    1. The first one we loaded into had the rear tack room, but no other horse was loaded. It gave her enough room to get in there with them. She got in front of them and to the side. She said you could also have a helper ask from the window as you hold the line. You might have to get creative if they absolutely won't budge. But she stressed being patient and giving them all the time they need. I may have another video that shows her asking from the inside. You couldn't do that with every horse. One of her side jobs is loading "impossible" horses for people. She gets called for the worst of the worst.

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  6. Trailer loading is so important. It can be difficult & dangerous for both horse & human, especially with retraining. We used a long rope through the window when our horses were young. Patience & repetition are key with trailer loading, as with anything horse. Like mentioned, too many wait until they have to go somewhere to even try. You are making great strides, and growing together with Bee!

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.