The past couple weeks Iron Horse has begun working with Koda on trailer loading. Patty mentioned when they started he was truly scared of being in the trailer. Not a surprise. She carefully explained sometimes horses outsmart methods, and Koda had done just that. The gradual “load/backup/reload” method we used to train him wasn’t going to work anymore. They needed to change methods, and were successful using the end of a crop when he would bolt out without being asked. She said it took about three times, and he opted to stand inside instead of getting thumped on his butt. Wouldn’t be my first choice of methods, and it wasn’t theirs either – but, he has to be loadable - for his own good. She was happy to see he respected the trailer butt strap, and moves forward when he comes in contact with it. Now he waits to be asked to back out. Patty said he will likely always be a two person loading horse that has to get unlatched first, door open second, and then butt strap undone with a person inside holding a lead rope ready to ask him to back out. If that’s the worst of it, I can live with it, and apparently so can Koda.
With our first trail ride coming up fast, I asked Patty a question “when a horse spooks at something on the trail are you a look at it, or look away from it person”? Having observed both, I never really understood why/when do one vs the other. I was curious what she would suggest. I think I hit a nerve, and got a very passionate answer. She prefaced her answer by saying there aren’t many things she feels can’t be handled in various different ways, as everyone has their own style, but it’s safe to say Patty is definitely not a forcible “look at it” person! She feels it is really wrong, and has had to fix horses that experience that mentality. Without re-telling the whole explanation, the reason to not force your horse to stand still, and stare at, whatever they think is going to eat them is that it builds adrenaline, and fuels negative adrenaline-type behavior. She didn’t really agree with looking away from the object and pretending it doesn’t exist either. She favors introducing the scary object while mounted a “little at a time” starting at the horses comfort zone, and working the horse closer. I’ve done this, as I’m sure many of you have, and completely agree with this method. It works well. Of course it goes without saying there are exceptions, like when a human thinks that scary thing might eat them both – um, that might be a good time to leave!
Are you a “look at it” or “look away from it” person??
Million Dollar Donkey
6 hours ago