Monday, April 30, 2012
Mezza and the Trailer
Mezza has already loaded several times for me in our 3-horse slant. She has also been in Dawn's 3-horse slant several times. She hops in fine, but twice now she's hesitated at getting out. Dawn turns her and lets her lead out. She said that most of the time where she's parked there's not been much of a step for Mezza to go down. Today I was in the dirt parking lot, and there was about an 8-in step.
This time when I did this she hesitated getting out the first time, and she doesn't seem to know what to do with her back legs once her front legs are down--she kinda pulls them off of the trailer after her!
So, I asked her to get back up, which she happily did, and thought we'd practice again. Oh boy...
One hour and with help from a 2nd person and a butt rope later, Mezza jumped off the trailer!
I'd worked with pressure and release, that worked right up until she got to the edge. Twice she tried to step down, but startled herself when her from foot didn't hit the ground soon enough, so she'd jerk it back up and back on in. If my timing was better maybe she would have gone then. It is what it is.
Since she'd never backed out before, I felt that asking now was a bit much for her. She also wanted to crowd me at the entrance as I stood in the corner, either when I was on the ground or in the trailer. This was not good. When Jerry arrived, he put a 2nd lead rope on her halter, which he used to help keep her from coming into me or turning. Each time she took a step forward, we gave her a release and praise, but each time she got to the edge she just stood there, and any pressure at that point, even though it was from behind her shoulder, made her want to turn or back, so I'd keep it on as she backed, and then stop as soon as she'd stopped. What we ended with was her staying at the edge of the trailer, but bouncing back and forth if we started to add pressure.
Neither of us wanted her scared, or rearing or injuring herself, so I got my long rope, and passed it behind her butt, handing one end to Jerry, and me holding the other. We each still had a lead rope to keep her straight, not wanting her to land on either one of us, as we stayed to either side of her.
Now we did pressure and release using the butt rope. We'd tried this earlier, but she had been too far back in the trailer until we'd worked with her for awhile. Now she was understanding, but she still had trouble right at the edge. So each move either forward or sideways I release the butt rope pressure. She was not agitated when she jumped out, and I'd have liked her to just step out, but I had no reservations.
Jerry said to me, "Do you want to do it again right away?" I replied, "How much time have you got tonight?" We decided to quit on that note and work on it again another day!
She ended up happily chewing on a partial flake of hay that I tossed in at the opening of the trailer. She obviously isn't scared of the trailer, and I'm happy about that!