Plenty of folks don't spend a ton of time practicing trailer loading before hitting the road with a horse. And many horses are totally fine with that. Especially OTTBs, most of whom have spent a not-insignificant amount of time on the road.
|Majesty! Thy name is Thoroughbred!|
The most important (and most obvious) is that I need to know the trailer is a sure thing. When I'm juggling a schedule and squeezing in lessons here and there with my trainers (who themselves are juggling busy schedules), the trailer can not be a question mark.
Additionally, the objective of some travel can be anxiety-inducing in its own right (think: the earliest outings with an unknown and very green horse; or, farther down the road, nerve-wracking horse shows). A consistent, routine, predictable trailering experience makes for one less thing to worry about.
Plus. Ya know. Ain't nobody wanna be stranded alone with 17h of OTTB that won't load.
There's more to it than that, tho. Upon further reflection, I'm realizing that our practice at this ground work is driven by a greater purpose than just trailer loading.
|does this count as ground work?|
See, as many of you pointed out in that earlier post, Charlie seems for all the world like a good dude with a good brain and a good temperament. Which is exactly why I bought him - knowing little about him beyond that.
And that's exactly the qualities about him that I want to continue to foster.
The horsemanship pro confirmed in our first session that Charlie is incredibly good natured. But he cracks a little bit under pressure. Specifically - his inclination was to get defensive when he didn't understand what we wanted from him.
Which is totally fine. This is horse training. He is learning. And I want him to learn that he doesn't need to be concerned or worried or defensive if he doesn't understand. That we will take the time to show him how to get the answer right, without him getting in trouble.
Because that feels like the type of situation that will crop up in our training together again and again and again. Every time we try something new, I'm going to get something wrong. Charlie is going to get something wrong.
So this slow incremental process (that in some ways is freaking me out bc omg I want to go to lessons soooooo baaaaad!!!) somehow feels like a very important learning opportunity for both of us. It feels like a really good opportunity to build trust and understanding in a very safe and low-pressure environment.
That way, when we do inevitably end up in some high pressure and potentially ugly situation, hopefully we'll have laid the foundation such that Charlie's already prepared and practiced at putting his good brain to work. In an ideal work, it'll always be the easiest choice for him to just be a good boy.
At least that's my hope haha. I wanna do everything I can to bolster and buttress what is already a good quality in this horse (his brain), rather than run the risk of undermining it by pushing him when he's not ready to be pushed.
|does he not look cuddly AF tho?!?|
We'll see tho. It's always a balancing act, right?
What are some of your favorite trust building exercises with horses? Have you had more success just getting out there and getting miles or taking the path of slow and steady build up? Or some combination?
Does it depend on if they're green v broke? Young v mature? Do you prefer ground exercises or ridden exercises or both?
ALSO - stay tuned tomorrow for the official list of the October 2016 Two Point Challenge contestants and baselines!!!