The adventures of Gilly the rescue horse and his side kick and partner in crime, Pokey the donkey.


Being with a horse is a journey that never ends. What they have to teach us is amazing; but we must quiet our mind to hear them. ~ jca


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mind reading horse.......

After Gilly's backup experience I was hoping that we had the trailering issues all under control. WELL....NOT....SO .... This horse is the most exasperating animal I have ever worked with in my life!!! I so wish I could climb inside that head to see just what is going on in there. I swear he can read my mind.

He has loaded consistently since we had our problems the other day. Walks on, gets a bit to eat, stands there resting on hind foot just as relaxed as can be...not a care in the world. You can bang and clang around in the trailer and he could care less.

Today I had a riding lesson scheduled eight miles from here at the really neat Coverall arena. Kim came up with the trailer, Gilly was standing tied and we started loading up the trailer with his tack. (Now Gilly likes to go and visit, even if he does have to do some work, he very much likes to socialize. He has never been worked that hard anyway, so I can't think there is a problem where he is going.) He is just standing not a care in the world, I untie him ask him to back up and we do some work backing before I ask him to get in the trailer. No one was in a hurry, we had plenty of time so there was no pushing him to hurry. I walk him up to the door and "you think I am going to get in there, not on your life lady!" I so wish I had gotten a picture of his face when he decided to do this! I will describe it the best I can.

Nose wrinkled, lower lip hanging, teeth clinched, eyes half shut, head flexing back and forth at the pole. Reminds me of a 6 year old kid that is getting ready to have a real fit and saying, "No, no, no, I WON'T, I WON'T, I WON'T DO IT, you can't MAKE ME...the only thing missing was stomping his Pokey!

We backed, we worked in the round pen, we moved his feet, backed some more, through ditches, up road banks, he almost fell down a few times. I moved him like I was a horse cutting a cow.....grrrrr....he did everything I asked him to do except get his big ole' butt in the trailer. We worked for 3 hours, needless to say we didn't get to the lesson. Yes, I know you aren't supposed to stop until they get in the trailer, well, any of you are more than welcome to come here and work with this bugger. I had to quit, I was hurting so bad from trying to get him in there. He didn't get to go back in the field with Pokey though, he got to go to the round pen, in the sun for about four hours, with nothing to do. It was hot and the flies were having a picnic on him, I thought he deserved it!

I came in the house, I had things to do. Got out of my riding clothes and tried not to think about the naughty horse. Then about three I decided to just see what would happen if.......
Kim had moved the trailer back to the field by her house, I went out and got Gilly and led him down to the trailer. Kim was there with Lacy, she isn't loading either but that's a whole other story! Anyway she opened the doors, I walked Gilly up to the trailer, stopped beside it, pointed inside and that @#%&@@ just walked into the trailer, cocked one foot started eating hay out of the hay bag!!!!! What the?????? We did this four times same thing. No hesitation at all just walked in as big as you please!

I swear I think this horse can read my mind, he knows when we are going somewhere and decides "nope, I ain't gonna no where!" I know Gilly is smart but man oh, man how in the heck do you deal with a situation like this one???? I am just about out of ideas as to how to deal with this one. Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

I'll bet he picked up on your energy level when you wanted to go to a lesson - he is smart! Just keep at it and do the loading every chance you get - and take him for some drives - and if you do it frequently at some point it (should) will become routine! Lots of work, perhaps, but a good outcome at the end. If you can get an assistant to help you keep the feet moving, that would help - someone who could stand at a distance and "ping" him on the but with a pebble whenever he stopped moving those feet. Wish I lived closer!

Sydney_bitless said...

I say load him up and take him around the block, rinse repeat.

Carolina said...

Hi, got curious when I visited Allhorsestuff and read your comment about the fried brain ;-) I got tired just reading your post. He is both smart and has a sense of humour. Nasty combination. Perhaps he talks to the donkey too much. I love that header-photo.
Good luck with the trailer loading.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Man! Whooee! What a big ol brat he is being. Naughty boy! And that's such a pretty trailer, too. And with hay inside for him. Naughty!beh!

He's just super smart. I don't have much to offer in advice except what I did with Apache to 're-train' her to load nicely for me.

For one, I continually move forward and keep my eyes focused on the inside of the trailer....not at her. And, most importantly, I only keep thoughts of her loading smoothly, in my head. I know that sounds odd, but if I feel any doubt or worry that she might not load easily....even a tiny nugget, she picks up on it and acts it out.... even if it's just a slight hesitation before she steps up.

It works for horses when you're riding...visualizing what you want them to do and looking only in the direction where you want your horse to go.
So why not with trailer loading.

I don't doubt she'll load, not even for a second.
The other thing I do, which might not work for you, is I load with her, or at least show her that I'm waiting at the other end of the trailer.....and I have cookies, carrots, and even apples to offer.

Inside my trailer is a manger and she knows that she gets the good grain mash in there waiting for her if she loads nicely.
She can eat hay anytime at home, but she knows now that she gets the good stuff in the trailer.

Maybe that might work for Gilly, too. Is he food motivated, like my Apache is? Can you offer him something extra special to munch when he is inside the trailer? Something he never gets in the barn or only rarely?

I sure do wish you luck. And I'm sorry you missed your lesson. I'm sure that was really frustrating!


jane augenstein said...

Kate, boy, I wish you lived closer too! I am beginning to think that it's not the trailer at all. He has decided that he is in charge and I have to convince him he isn't. I am glad it's raining today, I can rest! Yesterday was HARD work for me!

Sydney, that would be good if he would get in when told to.

Carolina, Hi and thanks for stopping by! Gilly is one smart horse, actually the donkey is smarter than he is....I just hope that Pokey doesn't learn any bad stuff from him!! Thanks!

Lisa, No, not odd about the sending pictures of good loading and good things, I truly believe they CAN read our thoughts! I think that is why Brat Boy is such a stink! He also has a problem with authority!

Trying to bribe with treats doesn't work with him. When I have tried that route, he will reach his neck out as far as he can go, grab the treat and flip me off.

He has a hard shell to crack and I am wondering which one of us will crack first....or is it crack up???

Desert Rose said...

So...put some treats inside the hay bag! let him see that they are there then try aagin to load him. I tell you...I gotta get out of the way when my horses load...they KNOW that there are frosted shredded wheat in there. We filmed and timed the bossman loading both horses last year...10 seconds flat!!! Of course he really had to move to get it done that fast!

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

Hello Again Jane! Oh my your Gilly sure has a mind of his own...I'm not sure how I'd handle that one. I never owned a trailer so never had to deal with that. I think my little Arabian would have gone in ok...he was a people pleaser. Good luck with that...and happy riding when he does it! Take care....Maura :)

Kerrin Koetsier said...

Isn't is amazing how sensitive our horses are to our thoughts and emotions? As you pointed out, when your focus was on getting to the lesson, your horse decided not to play the game.. BUT when you loaded him without having a particular focus (stress free?) he loaded perfectly!

You're probably right in that your horse decided to 'take charge' that particular moment in time, but have you considered why? If you were stressed, and not fully focused on your horse's needs, perhaps he had reason to question your leadership?

Just a couple of things to ponder on! If you're really stuck, the Parelli program has made a couple of dvds on Trailer loading, and you can find out some information (along with a short video clip) about trailer loading here:

Kerrin Koetsier
Parelli Central


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