I'm meeting a new friend. I have to be at the trail head by 10:30 am. I give myself an entire hour to get Gem, groom and load. A process that should take 30 minutes max. Until she decides to draw a line in the sand and refuse to get on the stinking trailer. The exact same trailer she has gotten on countless times.
It wasn't completely unforeseen. Ever since she started going out alone she has gotten more and more resistant to getting on the trailer. If another horse is on, then she walks right on no problem. And once we get to where we are going she is fine. But this time she really had it in mind that she wasn't getting on the trailer.
I think in retrospect with my hindsight glasses on hooking the trailer up the night before was a bad idea. Gemmie watched us do it from the pasture. And then I went out to the pasture to feed her the supplements. Which she greedily chomped down and then walked away all proud of herself for avoiding actual work. And then she had alllll night to stew about the trailer being hooked up.
It took the hubs and I plus the addition of a fellow boarder 35 minutes to get her to load. I texted S and let her know and off we went to ride.
Thank goodness the ride was great or the entire day would have been a disaster.
When we got back to the trailer in the parking lot Gem refused to even walk over to be tied and un tacked. I eventually coaxed her over and knew then this wasn't going to be pretty. S stuck around which was beyond nice of her. She could easily (and rightfully) gone home and left this stranger with her bad horse to fend for themselves, but as it was she stayed put.
I tried everything I could think of to get her on the trailer. I tried a butt rope. Nope. I tried coaxing. Nope. I tried food. Nope. S came over to help and we tried zig zagging her slowly up to it. No. I tried backing her up as quickly as I could. Nope. I tried lunging her to get her attention. Nope. I tried poking her with the handle of a pitch fork. Nope. I even tried backing her onto the darn thing. Nope. The stubborn mule would stand all four feet on the darn ramp, lift up a hind hoof to rest, chew and half close her eyes. She wasn't scared of it. Just didn't want to get on.
2 hours later and poor W was beyond tired and starving and so were we. A trail ride that should have had me back home by 1:30 or 2 at the latest allowing for other important things to get done was now heading into the 3 o clock hour and we were still at the trail head.
- Ride her butt home to teach her that a trailer ride was much, much easier. But this wasn't going to happen because the only way I knew to get back to the barn was along major roads which wouldn't have been safe.
- Unload S's patient mare and put her on my trailer, load Gem and then unload S's mare. But then S said that her mare won't back out of a trailer, so there went that.
- Put Gem on S's trailer and have her follow us home and drop Gem off. Unfortunately, this meant a super out of the way trip for S.
By the end I was extremely embarrassed to end our ride this way, frustrated beyond belief with Gem, questioning her suitability for this sport/life and wondering what on earth to do about it. S gave me the number of her dressage coach and I called but haven't heard back. I may try again, but my barn also has a trainer lady and I am going to ask her how much she would charge.
I posted the question to the endurance forum and got a lot of variations on the same theme. Most people said use a rope either behind her butt or around her barrel and take it out the front of the trailer. Stand with a whip or something else long and tap tap tap her butt if she stops or goes back. Each time she moves forward stop. She will learn that the only way to avoid the tapping is to get on the trailer. Others suggested lunging her every time she moves away from the trailer making it once again easier to just get on. I'm not sure what I am going to do, but I am going to dedicate a whole day this weekend to doing this. I will wait her out. She will get on that trailer!!!