I had enough holding my horses. This year I began hauling my horses.
I bought my trailer, a 2000 Merhow 2-horse weekender in the spring of 2020. We didn’t have a truck until October. We needed the hitch installed and by then I decided to wait until spring to start hauling.
This spring one of my best friends gave me a few driving lessons with the empty trailer. Things went pretty well.
When it came to hauling the boys things slowed down slightly. I found it difficult to load them! They didn’t come to me that way but over the last year they became increasingly difficult (even on friends’ trailers). I took it personally. I was still nervous hauling so that anxiousness amplified the horses’ resistance to load.
I was feeling a little defeated and frustrated. What have I done? What was I thinking? How can I go anywhere if I don’t think I’ll get them back ON the trailer when I get there? Then backing into my teeny tiny driveway? The nerves were firing overtime. I was hesitant to go out with anyone outside my circle, I only felt comfortable with my close friends with me.
Slowly, towards the end of summer I began to find my groove. I broke down and bought a bag of Triple Crown Senior (you know I don’t feed commercial feeds). As a treat I put a handful in a bucket and hung it in the trailer. I practiced loading the horses at home and let hem begin to associate the trailer with the special snack.
Before long I had Nahe loading easily first and Tiger followed behind, often getting on the trailer before I was done loading Nahe. We had a great system and I was feeling super proud. The only anxiety I had was returning home and backing into the driveway.
The problem is, we were doing SO WELL loading both horses in the same order I didn’t want to shake it up before I was mentally ready. But I can’t always bring BOTH of them. I began to practice loading just Tiger. He loaded well but still wants to look around for Nahe. That’s fair. He still loaded and I was happy with that, I gave him a treat, lots of praise, and calmly backed him out. We were able to go to a lesson and despite resisting me to go home he loaded within a few tries.
Just recently Nahe began to resist loading again. Huh? We were doing so well! This occurred after I hauled him 2 hours, rode very hilly…mountainous…terrain, and hauled back home 2 hours. Also fair. I asked a lot of him and had done poorly to physically prepare him for that demand. Trailering isn’t as simple as standing there, it requires a lot of balance. Combined with a few hours of terrain neither of us expected and another two hours of balancing in the trailer I can understand why he’d associate it with hard work. Yes, he still needs to load but slowly I’m gaining my confidence and earning their trust in this area. It’s such a new world for me to experience.
The good news, however, is I recently backed the trailer up successfully on my own (without another person spotting me to make sure I don’t hit the house) two days in a row….first try. This has definitely been an encouraging win. We can get better and better from here!
I still have lots to learn. I’m not perfect. But I’m finding my way. Some criticize me for overthinking. I do. It’s true. It’s been a tough year mentally and emotionally for me and I overthink on GOOD days. I never dreamed I’d own a house with horses on property. Never dreamed I’d have a truck and trailer. So to be able to have my own small victories in hauling my horses to new places I’m ecstatic with my progress.