Wednesday 10 July 2019

Car Ride

I think Cisco is a little bit claustrophobic. He had never been inside anything larger than a 3-sided shelter until I got him just before he turned 6.

Well, there was that time that I tried to teach him how to load onto a trailer when he was about 4. It started off well - over a few days I was able to get him to load and stand on the trailer. Then I shut the ramp. And he panicked. And managed to scoot himself under the butt bar and come flying out.

Thankfully he only lost a bit of hair on his withers. There was no significant physical damage done.
My Boeckmann Big Master. Wonderful trailer. 
When I bought him and moved him I knew that I was not going to be able to use my 2-horse straight load. I borrowed a friend and her 4 horse slant that we could leave him loose inside of to move him. It took us over two hours to get him on to the step-up trailer - I think a big part of it was him not understanding the step up part. But once he was on, we took him off and put him back on a couple of times.

Then we shut the door and drove him away.

He arrived soaking wet with sweat.

Later that year, I had to move Phantom and Cisco to a new location. I had worked lots on loading him onto my trailer, mostly with Phantom babysitting. When the time came, he loaded well, I shut the ramp with no issue, and we drove away. The drive was about 25 minutes (I got lost) and he arrived outwardly calm - but soaking wet with sweat. Phantom was fine, so it wasn't due to the heat.
Two years ago. Note the height difference - he definitely looked shorter. 
I think those have been his only trailer rides. I've spent time working on loading, but haven't really done any driving with him.

Getting him comfortable with trailering is a big goal for the year. I'll use Phantom to babysit for the first while, but he does need to be able to travel solo.

Wednesday night I was able to borrow my parent's truck that I haul with and Pony Grandma. I haven't pulled the trailer out this year, and if I want to be able to meet my trailer goals with Cisco I need to get going with it.

I grabbed Phantom and Pony Grandma opted to grab Cisco. He's a little further away, so by the time they arrived Phantom had already self-loaded and was standing happily in her spot. I didn't know if she would since she hasn't been on in almost a year, but she was a superstar yet again.
This year, they almost look like they are the same height. I guess I need to measure him one day! 
Cisco was cautious, but not super worried. He got his front feet on the ramp, but then wouldn't really come forward. The good thing was that he wasn't going backward either. I used a dressage whip to tap him forward, and after a couple of single steps, he came right on up to the front. He didn't seem to be in a rush to come off, so Pony Grandma did him up behind, I did him up in front, and he was on. I was quite happy with that as there were no backward steps.

They got to munch on some hay, then I gave them their regular grain meal, which I totally realize as I'm typing this that I forgot to check if they cleaned it up. Oops. I'll have to remember to check next time I'm out in case the buckets need to be rinsed out.
He looks bigger than her here because his butt is scrunched up against the butt bar.
Then I shut everything up and we went for a drive around the block.

I drove like a grandma most of the way. The roads around the barn are dirt and can be rather bumpy. My trailer has great shocks, but I also want to make sure that Cisco doesn't have any additional reasons to be worried.

The drive was about 15 minutes. I heard Cisco whinnying a couple of times so I know that he wasn't settled, despite having Phantom standing next to him. He also called out to his buddies as we drove past the barn on the way home.

Once parked I made them wait for a few minutes before unloading. When I opened the people door, poor Cisco was yet again covered in sweat. I could feet the heat he was radiating off. Phantom was perfectly dry, so again, I knew this was just nerves on his part.
That dark patch on his neck and side is all sweat. Also dripping down his front legs.
He backed very civilly off. Phantom self-unloaded pretty nicely. Then they both got to graze for about 15 minutes before I covered them in bug spray and put them back out so that I could clean the trailer out and park. Phantom had continued her tradition of peeing in the trailer, as I'm sure she's done on every trailer ride ever. Unless she pees on the ramp as I'm trying to load her. In which case I always forget to move my feet from under the side of the ramp and they end up covered in horse pee that drains from the ramp. So I guess on the trailer is better.
Phantom said that the best part of the car ride was the snacks when she got home.
Overall, I was very happy with how it went. Cisco is obviously still very nervous about trailer rides, so considering that I was pleased with how he loaded and unloaded.

I plan to try to get some more of these short drives with both horses in over the next little bit. Hopefully, Cisco will get more comfortable and stop breaking into a nervous sweat. I need to be able to have him travel alone, but at this point, I think he would be a bit of a basket case should I try. Once he comes off the trailer dry we'll start working on solo rides. And then maybe we can go do some exciting (cheap) things!


  1. Too bad Cisco gets so nervous - hopefully he learns to relax as you get him out more. Love the Boeckmann trailers - that is what I'm hoping to buy!

    1. He's not at all a confident horse. It's getting better but I don't know if he'll ever be super brave. I'm going to try to go for a drive every week - 2 weeks this summer and hopefully it will work.
      I love my trailer! Phantom used to also be a bad trailerer/loader, but since about her third trip in thus one she's self-loaded ever since. I credit the smooth ride for the change in her!