Over these past 2 weeks I have once again had the J*O*Y of trailering my horses. Just saying that it was joyful brings a huge ear to ear grin on my face and tingles up my spine! My three horses were quite the typical story when I first met them, hard to catch, skeptical of the whole haltering idea, extremely nervous and fearful of giving me their hooves, anxious and right brained when taken from their herd, reactionary versus responsive to the strange orange stick and string growing from my arm, and of course extremely afraid to even think of entering the death mobile aka my pretty little trailer. They would stand outside the metal cave and snort and shake and put on the emergency brakes. Thank goodness for Pat Parelli. His lovely ditty “take the time it takes, so it takes less time” rang though my head for months as we played and played and played with my pretty little shiny metal cave. The other people at the barn where I boarded thought I had jumped off the deep end. Not only was I playing this strange game every day of stick your nose in the trailer and walk off for a reward, but I was also asking them to play with cow flavored barrels, brightly colored noodles, hoola hoops and other strange pool toys. What did THAT have to do with getting your horse to load? When they saw me saddle and unsaddle my horse 50 times they went silent, shaking their heads as they walked away mumbling that I never “ride” that horse. There were a few others who practised Parelli at the barn and soon we were called the “secret carrot stick society.”
Flash forward to last week and my lovely horse Dove couldn’t wait to hop in my friend’s trailer to go exploring. And last Friday as I prepared to travel to David Lichman’s for a lesson, I parked my trailer in front of my horse’s pen to load up some things. I opened the girl’s gate to let them out for a snack in the “hay bar.” Spice walked out of her pen, paused, looked at the open doors of the trailer, made a sharp turn and walked in! I was so happy I could hardly stiffle the giggles. She looked back at me like this is a fun new liberty game. I stepped up, haltered her in the trailer and asked her to step forward a little more. She was so willing and relaxed. Dove on the other hand had stopped inside her pen when she saw Spice load herself up. She was relaxed as I walked over to reassure her. She practised perfect haltering as a partner and when I asked her to load she stepped right up and in without hesitation. This is the way I had dreamed of loading all those years ago. Willing, relaxed, confident and easy.
I am so thankful everyday for Pat & Linda Parelli and the “secret carrot stick society.”