Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 14-15: Trailer Loading and Mustang Demo.

The heat was back again today (Tues) I decided it would be a good day to work with trailer loading. As you recall for the pick up we used a open stock trailer that is wide and inviting compared to other trailers. My personal trailer, which will be the one that I will be taking to the Saddle up Cobb mustang training demo tomorrow, is a two horse straight load which is narrow and less inviting. We haven't worked on loading directly however, we have been working on ground exercises that simulate some of the challenges of loading like backing, crossing bridges and going between tight spaces. So when I walked over to the trailer Eclipse was initially skeptical at the big metal box but, with a little encouragement he walked up to it and sniffed it. I first asked him to go back and forth between myself and the trailer letting him explore it as he went by. I then opened the doors front and back and asked him to step up into the trailer. At first he rather not, snorting unconfidently at the inside. After a little persuasion I was able to get him to put his two front feet on the inside floor board. To encourage him to get all four on board I walked into the empty slot next to him and encouraged him forward. He initially back out as soon as I walked in but, I was able to invite him in again petting him reassuringly. This time after his front feet were on he made the effort to with his back feet. A couple of tries later he managed to get all four feet on. Now how to get them all back off with out turning around! No problem, I just wiggled the lead rope and just as he has been taught on the ground and he carefully felt his way backwards and out of the trailer. We did this a few more times until he was relaxed. Mission accomplished for today, we are ready for tomorrow... the demo!

Several months ago I was asked to be the speaker for the Saddle Up Cobb meeting which is held the first Wednesday of each month. They wanted me to talk or demonstrate on the mustangs. I kept my fingers crossed that my new mustang would be far enough along that I could do a live demo for the group and I am tickled pink that not only could I do a ground demo but a riding one! I got the trailer hooked up and loaded all of the tack that I would need, then Kelsey and I grabbed our mustangs and loaded them up. I was impressed that we were able to get both horses on in a couple of minutes. They hauled quietly the hour it took to get to Wild Horse park in Powder Springs. Once there we took them off both wide eyed and noses flared at their new surroundings. We both took about 20 minutes to let them explore the park area and get accustomed to the noise of the football teams at practice near by. Both mustangs were on edge, we could tell they were getting more relaxed when both showed interest in rolling in sandy, inviting footing of the arenas. I let Eclipse out on my twenty two foot line to stretch his legs and start getting warmed up. By the time the demo started, both horses were feeling pretty settled in. I greeted the crowd and told them about the Mustang Heritage Foundation and how we both were working to help the mustangs find good homes off the range. I then tacked Eclipse up and continued to prepare him for his ride. Still not as relaxed as he is at home, he decided to give the audience a show and started crow hopping as I moved him about the arena. I told the on lookers that he just wanted to make sure they knew he was wild! When that had dissipated and he looked more rideable, I got on. I could tell that both he and I were both a little on the nervous side. As we trotted off he felt a little faster and tighter then I was used to. We worked some transitions and changes of directions to help both of us relax. I still have not mastered the multitask of talking to an audience and working with a horse. My mounts always know when I am not 100% focused on them. Having Pandora in the arena as well was also a distraction for Eclipse. All in all we had a successful ride walking and trotting only, I didn't feel comfortable cantering with all of the distraction. We entertained questions from the audience about the horses and the program, then loaded up to go home. By now it was dark and Eclipse went on the trailer nice regardless, however Pandora wasn't so sure. It took some encouraging and both Kelsey and I to get her on, but in the end we got it done. I am sure Kelsey who has done a great job so far with her challenging youngster will have her loading like a champ by competition time.

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