Friday, July 23, 2010

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

Today we were scheduled to be picked up by Irie and his mom and go on a nice, long trail ride in the nearby foothills. It was supposed to be fabulous.

As you may have figured out by now, it also didn't happen.

I had the morning chores done on time. The trailer pulled in on time. I loaded my tack into the tack room, then went and got my pony. I didn't anticipate trouble, since she's been great lately and she's always been fine in the trailer. I led her up to it, and she flat-out refused to go in.

Huh. Unusual.

Fortunately, all it takes to get her in is Irie's mom waving a lead rope at her from about 15 feet away. Ok. We're in. Izzy's supposed to be in the middle stall, as usual, because she's the biggest. I started to tie her to the thingy and all of a sudden, she just has a cow. She's pawing and throwing herself around and pinning her ears and I know she's going to go right over the top of me, so I turn her around and she takes a flying leap out of the trailer.

Time to reconsider.

I turned Izzy out in the arena to run around and get anything out that she needed out. She did run for a while, so maybe that was a problem. While she ran, I took the time to gather myself so I wasn't angry with her or anticipating failure or misbehavior.

Ok... take two.

We unloaded Irie to minimize the distractions for my stupid cow pony. I walked Izzy in. She was ok. I turned her around to face out and halted her. She was impatient, but we made it out without jumping. I walked her in again. She was fine. I tied her up. She was fine. I closed the divider. Still fine. I got off the trailer thinking, "Ok, we'll just let her stand for a minute and then load up Irie and go."

Ha. In my dreams.

As soon as I stepped off the trailer, she pretty much exploded. She started pawing, kicking, and throwing herself around and generally acting crazy.

Irie's mom and I stop to evaluate. First off, I can not unload her now. With the fir that she's throwing, especially in an enclosed area, that would be just plain dangerous. Second off, this is a horse who has trailered plenty of times before in that exact same stall in the exact same trailer. Nothing is different. Thirdly, it's a steel trailer with triple wall construction and Irie's mom is all about letting horses just work things out on their own.

Thank god for her. I think she would have been totally justified in just letting my unload my psycho mare and going trail riding with someone calmer. That wouldn't have helped Izzy, but Izzy isn't really her problem.

Instead of taking the easy way out, we decided just to let Izzy cope. We closed the trailer door so if she went down, she couldn't roll out and hurt herself, and then we waited. We stood by the trailer and caught up on things we had wanted to talk about. We commented on Izzy's recent psychosis. We put on a good show of ignoring her. Every once in a while she would stand quietly, and then I'd go feed her some weeds or something.

She seemed ok with the trailer, but every time Irie looked at her, she started going nuts again. Weird.

Finally, she quieted down for about 5 minutes. I walked to the back of the trailer to unload her. When I opened the door and looked at her, the whole fit started again. She wanted out, now, and she didn't want to wait. I thought, "No way am I getting near Ms. Psycho." I left the door open and walked back to Irie's mom. Finally, we decided to give up on the trail ride. I closed the trailer door, leaving Izzy inside, and tacked up Cassie instead.

We had a fun time riding around the arena and jumping little jumps. Izzy finally settled down, more or less. By the time we were down, she was pretty quiet. I put Cassie away and opened the trailer door before Irie came back. Izzy nickered at me. She was finally standing quietly. I got her out of the trailer and took her to the round pen.

I was thinking about a section out of a Mark Rashid book about horses dealing with trauma of any sort. Sometimes, they just need to run. If that's what Izzy needed after being in the trailer, that was fine with me. She rolled in the deep sand, then spent a while running and trotting around. I left her alone to work it out.

After about 15 minutes, she seemed to settle down. I walked towards her. She nickered at me. She was as quiet and sweet as could be on the way back to her pen.

Time expended: 2.5 hours. Injuries received: 0. Pony brains reclaimed: 1.


  1. This is such a timely post for me to read. My horse, Rogo, although the youngest has been the easiest of our horses to load and trailer. Just always walked on and stood quietly. Suddenly, out of the blue, he became very hard to handle. He pulled away from me when I wasn't expecting it and ran off, then wanted to do that every time he got on. Generally acted like your horse if left to stand (although once we got another horse on and started moving he'd be okay). He was better at our last show. I'd put the trailer in the pasture and fed him on it etc. Also put the chain through his mouth to come off. Probably sound severe, but better than getting away from me and he knows what this means and doesn't pull. Anyway, I could go on, but just wanted to say I appreciated reading how you handled it. I get really stressed when he starts to act up on the trailer because I'm afraid he'll hurt himself. It hadn't occurred to me to leave him to work it out. I wonder if our trailer would take it and if he'd get caught on anything...

  2. Wow! Glad your both ok - I wish I could offer some insight but I think i would be a ball of nerves, in a flood of tears and reading anything and everything about trailering if it was me.

  3. How frustrating is that?

    Did Izzy have a bad ride in a trailer? The driver needs to be super careful not to accelerate too fast "wait" for the trailer when taking turns. Any kind of emergency stop, for example...can make a horse not want to load. My old guy slipped once getting out of the trailer and, although he never stopped loading, he developed a phobia about unloading. I had to put a non-slip mat down for him, or just let him get out in his own good time.

    I knew one half-Arab that was horrible to load. When I saw his "dad" drive off once he was on, I knew why...the guy just gunned the engine and took off.

    I'd tend to be suspicious that something happened to your girl in the trailer last time she went somewhere. Could even be a bad attack with the ulcers....Horses have strong pain memories and that often manifests itself in bad behavior.

    So sorry this happened as it can ruin many a good day. Sounds like it wrecked this one for you.

  4. Jean--I've spent plenty of time wondering about that myself. Izzy loaded just fine when I got her a year ago, so I'm assuming all was well up to that point. I don't own a trailer, so she's ridden with two of my friends, both of whom are extremely careful drivers. Again, she's never been a problem loader.

    The ulcer attack in the trailer is possible, but I think we would have heard something. She's always been a really quiet traveler, too.

    I have no idea what's going on with her. Thankfully, Irie's mom has agreed to bring her trailer out a couple more times this coming week to help Izzy get over it. Cross your fingers for me.


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