Sunday, April 8, 2018

On my Own: Part I Is She Ready to Trailer

I had my day of reckoning, last Friday, when I was tasked to load, trailer to Riverside State Park, and unload Beautiful Girl all by myself, then take her through the obstacle course.  I had prepared my mind by re-reading True Unity by Tom Dorrance, and writing a blog post about it.  One of the things he said was--
"People have to rely on themselves. I tell people that it has to come right out of the inside of themselves, the end result. There can be some direction, or support and encouragement, but the feel itself can come from no one but themselves."
My trainer, Rebecca, seems to be moving into that part of the training experience.  She pushes me out of my comfort zone and then hovers nearby, but otherwise, leaves me to myself to figure it out.   She made it clear, she wasn't going to be with me during the trailer loading and unloading.

Dorrance also said--
"The rider needs to recognize the horse's need for self-preservation in MIND, BODY, and, the third factor, SPIRIT. He needs to realize how the person's approach can ASSURE the horse that he can have his self-preservation and still respond to what the person is asking him to do."

Thinking of all the reasons why what I was asking her to do would violate EVERY rule of her self-preservation--load into a trailer, leave her herd, go to a strange place, put her trust in her human, be around other strange horses, go over scary obstacles--I developed a checklist to make sure I had, truly, prepared her for it.

1. Getting in the trailer.  Check.

As Dorrance suggests in the book, after the bucking incident last summer, I analyzed the good, and the bad, and did my best to discover why it happened, so that I could set her up for never having it happen again  Here is one of my posts on bucking.  Toward that end, we worked on standing tied--because you have to do that in the trailer, loading and unloading, and trailering away from home.  I even attended a clinic on trailer loading and discovered things I ended up needing for this day.  That post is here: Tips on Trailer Loading a Horse.

2. Leaving the Herd. Check.

It was abundantly clear last summer that Bee did not have enough experience leaving her herd.  The first trip away from home was just too much for her and led to the bucking incident.  I immediately started training her by pulling her from the herd and walking her to the barn next door.  A post on some of that is here.  We also did winter clinics at the barn next door--driving over obstacles, riding over obstacles, going through the scary tunnel, standing tied, and meeting new horses.

3. Trusting Me.

Dorrance said--
"I'm not trying to get everything completed, but to get enough there to where if the horse gets troubled he will come to me; or to where I can get him to come to me for security and cover. Without that foundation I feel very insecure with a horse."
But trust can only be tested under stress, so I wouldn't know if I'd accomplished that until after the day was done--after the trip away from home to Riverside.

I was scared for Beautiful.  She's my baby mustang I adopted from the BLM. I've always been afraid for her.

I had gone through everything in my mind and decided that YES, I  had prepared her for what I was going to ask.  I couldn't do anymore than I did.

And yes, what I am doing is the right thing to do! I have to get her trained for her own good--so that if anything happens to me, she can go and be a partner to someone else. So far, she has shown herself  fully up to the task.  She is eager to do this!

I have to give her the chance.

Set her up for success, yes, ....

but also give her room to make mistakes.

(To be continued.)


  1. You set her and yourself up for success. Now we just have to wait for the results!😊

    1. I have done what I can, as you well know following this journey of ours all these years. 😃

  2. You also have to trust yourself.

  3. You wrote:
    "I have to get her trained for her own good--so that if anything happens to me, she can go and be a partner to someone else"
    Exactly so Linda.
    While you & I may have made provisions for our horses in the event of our deaths, not everyone does. Until I had a discussion with our son about what is to happen to our horses, he had thought (if anything happened to the both of us at once) that he'd just take them to an auction & sell them -- the top of my head nearly blew off when I heard that. He knows better now... & he knows where to find the documents with our provisions.
    When we raced, we lost horses to claims & I often worried for them. I can recall one of my favourites that we claimed back, who was then claimed away again, and we claimed back.... many times over (that horse cost me almost as much money as he ever made), but I won out in he end and when I retired him from racing he went back to his breeder who had always kept in touch and kept him until he naturally passed.

    I once 'gave' a horse away to someone who purported themselves to be a trainer - I say 'gave' because that gift cost me quite a lot of money... I thought I was doing right by that horse, but it remains my biggest regret (in horses) to this day, despite the fact that the horse DID make it to a REAL trainer who had great success with him, and he later sold for high dollar.

    I am happy to see Bee learning & growing with you & I am avidly following her story.

    1. What happens to our beloved horses should anything happen to us—what you said is important for all of us to think about. We need to try to give them the tools to make it in this world, with or without us. I’ve had a few heartaches myself in that department. I’ve written about them here before. The first horse I raised and trained was sold and I tried to find him later, but couldn’t. My only consolation is that I’d given him a good start and I imagine he did well wherever he went. But I’ll never know.

  4. You can do this! So can Beautiful Girl... waiting. waiting.

  5. You have gone above & beyond, and I have no doubt Beautiful will continue to respond favorably to all that you ask of her. There may be some bumps along the way, but in the end you'll get through it together. I can't wait to read how the trailering & obstacle course went for both of you!! I (we) couldn't agree with you more about setting our horses up for the best possible future, should something happen to us.

    1. Thanks! Yes, there’s a guarantee of a few bumps. I prefer no bumps, of course. 😂

      The best guarantee for our horses to survive and thrive without us is their training. Look at Old Red and all my other old horses—they do (did) a job and I can (could) trust them with the kids and grandkids.

  6. *sniff* This is just beautiful. :) If only all horses had such loving caretakers and considerate people in their lives. Tom Dorrance is one of the best who has passed time on this planet, so far. "Have faith and believe in your horse, so he can believe in himself." You guys are going to do just fine.

    I absolutely believe with my entire heart and soul that you're right about the education of a horse being the single, most important thing we can give to them. Other than food, water, shelter and love.

  7. So I read this whole sequence backwards. And loved all of it. Good for you- you had a plan, you trusted the plan, you executed the plan. If I could I would give you a gold star.


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