09.02.07: Trailer: Take 1

We FINALLY got the truck and trailer hitched up. It ended up that we had to use the hitch that belongs to Mike and Trish. My boss's hitch was too low, and Holly's hitch was too rusty to get it into the mount. So Mike stopped by and helped us get their hitch out, and then guided me to hitch the truck and trailer. I did a good job, he was giving good directions, and the truck was already 95% lined up anyway. That's the first time I have ever hitched a vehicle.

I headed back in to get Storm out, and the high school students came over. I put some stuff out on the picnic table so that I didn't have to come back through the barn with Giant Horse(tm) since there were others in the barn. I found him lying in a bit of sun in the pasture. It was the first opportunity I've had to approach him while he was down. He was sort of behind the round bale feeder, so I swung wide so that I wouldn't startle him. He was dozing, and barely looked up as I approached, and finally blinked and said Oh Hi. I put my ropes on the ground and walked up, he seems even bigger when his bulk is all on the ground. :P He let me rub on him and I discovered that Nancy had been right, they are SHEDDING like crazy already! I rubbed on him for a bit, and then leaned against him. He shifted a bit, so I hung there. I leaned a little more and he decided to get up, so I stepped back and gave him space, and then rubbed him when he was standing again. I had thoughts of hopping on and sitting on him while he stood up since I've never had that opportunity. However, I really didn't think that was wise since he probably wasn't ready for it either.

I brought him around the barn, and the high schoolers were out there with Jim McDonald, and the horse learning put the saddle on. Storm and I came around the corner much to their amazement. One of the girls was struggling to get the hang of the 'swing' and 'hug' to set the saddle up on the average sized quarter horse. Jim turned around and said "she gets a saddle up on that Giant Horse(tm), and she's half your size (under the winter clothes...), so I KNOW you can do this!!" The girl finally got the saddle half way up onto the horse, which was good for her.

Storm and I started out with a little bit of focus work, and then began to move around a little bit, working our way away from the back of the barn. Storm was having trouble getting up into the parking lot a little bit more than he normally does. I had to back him up to snap him out of it a little bit, and when I did I realized that Mike left his car along the side of the lot right by the barn, which explained Storm's reluctance to continue. If I had insisted, I would have ended up backing right into the side of the car, which would have looked pretty stupid. Thankfully, Storm gave me a bit of a clue, even if it was in a nervous manner.

I readjusted our path, and we worked up into the parking lot. As I was almost to the gate, the old man and his greyhounds arrived like they always do. He came over and said hello, and I had to ask Storm to stand still again. Ernie caught on that he was supposed to not move, and did not try to approach him further. I was relieved since it kept me from having to interrupt our session. We continued on into the field where Nancy was working her horse Julius up there, in long reins, and Storm was concerned about that. We alternated between standing still and asking for focus and walking with focus, which was helping to keep him moving and preventing a blow up. There were only a few minor instances when I really had to get big and drive him backwards to regain his attention and get a bit of the jitters out of him. He had a few moments where he tried to throw a temper tantrum, but I managed to stop that before he really got going. In the field I just can't let that happen since there is no fence.

I slowly began working towards the trailer, which took a lot of long slow work because he was pretty unnerved by it. We had one setback when Ernie and his greyhounds walked along the edge of the woods right behind where we were working. Storm had a bit of a meltdown, but pulled himself together eventually. I finally got to the point where I could move Storm by the back of the trailer, I had to pause at one point and trust that he wasn't going to lose it (and pray that nothing big happened like a gust of wind or something surprising) while I opened the back doors and secured them.

Once I did that, we began to walk back and forth past the open back end of the trailer. He was rattling in his nose as we would pass by the dark opening, walk past, snort, turn, walk past, snort, turn around again. Turning him was also helping to calm his nerves a bit, as it is a natural thing. Jim came out after he finished working out inside, and then Mike and Jim McDonald came up too. They opened the side doors for me and swung the partition out of the way to add light and space into the trailer. This helped him a bit, I just couldn't get to those doors with as nervous as he was. My boss watched our progress for a bit, and asked how we were doing, I told him that I was pleased with things, he nodded, and then suggested that next time I "hide" treats in the trailer as a reward for Storm exploring the inside. I'll plan on that for sure, along with fresh hay in the hay bag at the front.

Slowly he began to want to pause while snorting a bit and look into the back of the trailer. I began to allow him to do that, and he began to explore a bit. Timing was tricky to move him away from the trailer before he chose to move away. We began to progress at that, so instead of walking perpendicular to the back of the trailer, I began to make an arc that brought him more facing the rear of the trailer instead.

After allowing him time to get used to the difference in position, I began to encourage him to move forward at the back of the trailer instead of only stopping to explore. It didn't take long for him to gain more confidence, and I used the whip to tap on his hip gently to encourage him forward. At first he balked and moved in every direction but forward, then he tried sticking his front foot out and pawing at the air. Let me tell you, when he sticks his leg out like that, its VERY LARGE and he can easily wave it at the height of *my* hip. Next time around, he actually managed to paw on the back of the trailer, instead of the air. Swung around one more time and this time I raised the whip to ask for forward, I did not have to touch him before he stepped forward and up into the trailer, with his other front foot hanging. He explored the floor for a moment before I asked him to back out. That was it for the day, and more than I asked for at one time.

Next Page:
09.02.10: Dappled Brown