In the past, I used to go out on the road often, to help people with the challenges they faced with their horse at their homes. Secretly, I miss those days. One such day, I went out to four or five addresses with many different challenges. One horse could not be turned out safely, another horse could be haltered, would not pick up their feet, you name it. But the most common challenge is not loading onto the trailer.
During one of these house calls, I worked with a horse that had been seen by other trainers already. On the backyard of the property, I set up my trailer and panels on a secure footing and then I went to the horse with owner Simone. A sweet animal, not too big, was already looking at me with kind eyes. Simone told me his story; “Annemarie, don’t be alarmed. When you walk to the trailer he will walk with you calmly. You walk onto the ramp and he does that well. But then it comes. He will stand still for two seconds, run backward, do a backflip and land on his back…” Well, I thought to myself, ‘she just held on to him too long, he won’t do that with me…’ Often when horses shoot backwards off the trailer, the owner keeps too much pressure on the line, the horse will go against the pressure and rear. I was sure I could do better!
Full of confidence I walked to the trailer and walked in. And indeed, the horse followed me happily, without any problems. I walked into the trailer, stood still for two seconds… And there he went! Shooting backwards like a cannonball, a textbook backflip, and landing on his back. Then he got up quietly and shook himself out for a bit, not impressed at all. You could tell he had done that before!
We fixed the problem in an hour by no longer asking him to load. So he would put one foot on the ramp, and we would back him up again. A little further each time, making him forget his old behaviour. But I will never again think: “Ah, that’s the owner’s mistake, he won’t do that with me…