Customer Testismonial

Once of the many sayings that are very applicable about horse training and life in general is that it’s not just what you do but how you do it. My horse had been a pleasure to trailer load. Easy, calm and very willing until last fall when he colicked and I took him out for a trailer ride to get whatever benefit trailer rides are supposed to do for colic. Well after giving him a ride for awhile, I stopped in a grassy part of the park to give him 10 minutes of grazing on nice lush grass, per the vet’s advice. So far so good. Except that after only 10 minutes grazing he wasn’t ready to get back into the trailer and proceeded to plant his feet and refuse to get in. Well since he and my first horse were both easy loaders, I never had to pay close attention to all the trailer loading techniques from Parelli or Lyons or anyone else. I was spoiled I guess.

On top of the colic, he was diagnosed with Lyme disease right before the colic so I wasn’t doing anything with him for most of the fall . Then the long hard winter came so I really had no reason to trailer him anywhere and didn’t even try until Friday. I knew I had two trailer events to do this weekend so I figured I better check him out on Friday and see whether he was going to go back to his good old trailering self or his suddenly new “refusal self”. I was crossing my fingers. Well the bad news was he refused to get on. The good news was after about 90minutes I was able to get him on and off about 10 times but not as willingly as his old self. For me it was a disturbing lesson in how horses can digress and how we must not assume behavior.

Well today (Saturday) came and I eagerly arrived at the barn to prepare to load and go on a trail ride out on the North Fork. During the first 90 minutes of attempting to load, he just planted his feet at the front of the trailer. It was as if I accomplished nothing the day before. Now I would miss the trail ride’s departure time. Since Tony was doing a clinic at our barn, I didn’t want to distract his audience, so I decided to take a break and take a ride in the park for a while and return to loading later.

When I returned I found myself just getting more and more frustrated. I had brought my John Lyons book with me as well another Natural Horsemanship clinician’s book and tried to figure out a solution. Not only was I not getting any closer to getting him loaded, but he was getting annoyed and moving with much less energy. John Lyons says his trailer loading technique works 100% of the time on all horses and never takes more than 4 hours. So after another 90 minutes in my afternoon session (on top of my morning 90 minute session and 90 minutes the day before) I cried Uncle and then asked Tony to step in.

Within 10 minutes Tony had him walking on the trailer like his old self and even added a new lesson on backing off the trailer for the first time .My trailer is a two horse slant so I had always turned him around and walked him off head first which he always did calmly.

I think the key was not so much what Tony did but how he did it. He got his attention, respect and focus and then, quite uneventfully, just got him to walk on the trailer. Where I was apparantly losing his attention and not getting his respect despite all my efforts, Tony just applied that “feel” that makes all the difference in the world. In one sense it was discouraging for me to think that after all the effort I had made, someone else could do it in 10 minutes. But then it is so encouraging to think that the techniques do work, as long as we know how to apply them and as long we develop the right feel. That is very encouraging.

Thanks Tony for returning my guy to his old self and for once again showing me how feel makes the difference.


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