Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What is your deal, bro?

In the continuing education of Dopie, I hooked up my trailer this morning for a field trip to the park. Although honestly at this point the education has nothing to do with the riding part.

Opie has Been Places. He is Worldly.

just hanging out munching on hay like a calm horse

However!

He is a complete asshole about the fucking trailer again. Only now instead of getting onto the trailer a hundred times and flying off it ninety nine times, he just doesn't get on anymore. Which is awesome.

P.S. It is not awesome.

We spent thirty minutes in the parking lot of the barn having ourselves a go-round. He thought it was acceptable to park it at the base of the ramp and stare out into the distance completely ignoring me. I did not. He thought the answer to my prompts to move his feet was to rear in my face. I did not. Eventually I won because I always win, and I hope one day that sinks into his little brain and we avoid further go-rounds.

He unloaded quietly at the park though, and got right to work on his hay without moving a muscle or making a peep. He stood completely still while I mounted, and then marched off across the road and into the woods without complaint.

so happy the green is finally back!

I really want to ramp up his fitness so he has less of an excuse to try to die on me by the time his second test rolls around. Of course, I think if he could calm himself at the trailer at shows that would keep him going awhile longer, too. Because I don't think Farrier's theory that he's running through his tests to practice and I shouldn't judge him holds merit.

With that in mind, I skipped the big open fields we usually ride in and committed to the woods. I never explored those trails much with Bobby because the side of the road with the fields has several water access points and one must keep hippos happy. The woods are super hilly with narrow trails that range from well kept to jutting roots or stretches of gravel. They're great for walking and building up booties, though!

that mane has no self control.

Because I'm not familiar with the woods trails, I picked a color to follow and set out to explore figuring if all else fails I could just find the road and go somewhere else. We went up and around, passed the ranger station, passed a bunch of joggers, leaped straight into the air and magically landed in the exact same spot when a snake slithered underfoot (that was actually kind of spectacular), and eventually got dumped into a clearing with a giant abandoned silo (?) on top of a mountain.

no but seriously. what is this doing here?

For something so enormous, it appeared out of nowhere and Opie was all, DA FUQ. And then I pulled my phone out to take a picture but dropped it and Opie was confirmed in his belief that this clearing was haunted. I hopped off, grabbed my phone, took my picture, and climbed back on.

There was a janky trail on the other side that started heading down and had our color marker so I figured I might as well see where it took us. The trail promptly narrowed to human-width with roots and stones sticking out everywhere and giant drops on either side. Opie was puffing a bit from hauling my ass up to the haunted clearing, so I did him a solid and jumped back off again. He's young, he's not super fit, and he's not super confident in his footing yet. It wasn't the best trail to force him to pack me down.

this. on both sides of a glorified deer trail.

He plodded along beside me without issue as we went up and down and up and down while I tried to get some sense of where the fuck we were. At one point I glimpsed the road but it was at the bottom of one of the above hills so on we walked.

going places. i just don't know what places.

We finally hit a cross-trail that I recognized from riding Bobby, except I recognized it because I knew I didn't want to go that way because it would take us deeper into the woods. So I went with opposite way and hoped it would dump us back onto a more mainstream trail. Fortunately it did and we soon blasted out onto the road amidst a bike race which we had to wait to pass before giving the woods the finger and heading into the fields to make for the boat launch.

yay, openness! 

I let him splash around for awhile to cool off before we finally headed back to the trailer.

does love a good dip in the pond

He hadn't jigged, thrown his head, or called out once the whole ride. We trotted, we cantered, I ground mounted multiple times, and he stayed relaxed and on the buckle for all of it. I figured our time had come when we emerged into the field by the trailer parking and there were multiple horses hanging out. His head went up and he got a little tight, but he was quiet and flat footed all the way back. Good kid!

The group of ladies with the horses came over to fawn over Dopie while I got him untacked and wrapped and told me how adorable and perfect he was. I was like, "I know, right? Seems suspicious..."

And then the battle to get back on the fucking trailer began. He was adamant he was going to stay with his new horse friends and kept trying to pull his "sneaky" move where he flails violently sideways in the exact direction he wants to end up like I won't notice. I was insistent he pay zero attention to the other horses which earned me a lot more rearing, but sad fucking story.

"i love you, new best friends. i'll never leave you."

After maybe fifteen minutes I won again and got him on.

I guess I'm just not understanding where this is coming from. I got him on and off by myself the first attempts without issue for the first show at the beginning of the month. I had Hubby with me the second show, but he walked right on first try both times and stood while he got locked in. I don't know why he now suddenly thinks planting his feet and saying "No" is the right answer. He doesn't seem anxious when we get to places, and he always comes home and goes straight into his field with his friends.

Is he just testing to see if he can get away with new things? He doesn't have that frantic, shaking fear about him that he had when I first started working on the trailer with him. There's no worry in his eyes. He just doesn't wanna.

I dunno. I'm open to your thoughts. In the meantime, it was a really good two more hours crossed off the list for our 25 hour goal for the year!

43 comments:

  1. Of course you could absolutely be right and he is just testing you. But he could also be thinking that every time you get him in that can, there ends up being a lot of work required on the other side. If I were in his shoes I wouldnt get on either.

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    1. So I guess the solution is to never trailer him anywhere then? He's a riding horse. He goes places to work. It's his job. He's not the only one that has to do the same thing.

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  2. Sometimes I put my horse on the trailer just to grain him and let him eat some hay. Maybe worth a try so he doesn't know if he will have to work or gets to eat.

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    1. I'll see if I can park my trailer somewhere that I can try that. Right now it's backed right up to trees and I can't get the ramp down without moving it, and bringing my truck all the way out to the barn is a process.

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  3. Periodic quick ten minute trailer rides to nowhere with excellent snacks after worked for us when we had trailer difficulties. Confuses the worrying about what happens after the trailer ride ie work or vet etc...

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    1. I don't think he's concerned about where the trailer will take it him, it's more the trailer itself he doesn't like. But I do think getting him to associate it with treats and good vibes will help him.

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  4. I have no advice (helpful, right?) but I'm kind of giggling at the other ideas because it's what we tell clients when their dogs won't get in the car because they think they're going to the vet - load them up, drive them to McDonalds, buy them a burger and drive home. Perhaps Opie would like some french fries.

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    1. Imma need some french fries and ice cream if this trailer nonsense keeps up!

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  5. I'm just jealous of that trail and water access 😍😍😍 and how damn cute Dopie is. No suggestions on the trailering thing cause sometimes Cinna climbs right on and sometimes she's like "NO THANKS TO THE BOX OF DEATH" 🤷

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    1. Having the pond to play in is SO NICE!

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  6. With him being calm and relaxed in his work when he arrives I’d say it sounds more like he is testing his boundaries. It doesn’t seem like he hates being places or the work and he should have gotten the memo by now that the second ride of the day ends up at home.

    When ours went through the initial no phase, started loading great and then returned to the no phase minus the anxiety, I trailed more often and was patient until they figured out no was never going to happen and gave up

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    1. I'm hopeful that as the season wears on and he sees that he has to get on the trailer and go places a whole lot, he'll just accept his new lot in life. He had essentially a very sheltered life at the track as he only raced at Finger Lakes and then was wintered not far from the track year after year. He wasn't getting shipped to race all over the place like some of these horses do.

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  7. When Annie noped out of the trailer and I finally got her going back on, we started out with just short trips (10mins or less). But to get her actually on the trailer, I ended up having to run a lunge line through and swat her ass on. Of course, our circumstances were different.

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    1. Yeah we tried the line trick one time and he almost went over backwards. He's so violent when he goes back that I don't want anyone or anything behind him because he gives two shits about taking out everything in his path.

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  8. I’m so jealous of your trails! Sounds exactly like he’s testing you. I have faith you’ll win

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    1. The whole park is amazing to ride in!

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  9. Lots of trailer rides. Lots of load and unload. I got my mare a large perspex mirror from the plastics wholesaler. Mouned half in the trailer and half in her shelter. Cheap. Instant friend. Happy pony. She doesnt need it now but it is still in there. There was a study done on mirrors in trailers.

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    1. I did the mirror for my horse also - same thing, instant difference.

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  10. Dude, that sounds pretty much exactly like my experience loading Spring up to go to the vet on Monday - except the trailer was a step up so she'd get her front feet on and then just park there (because she apparently fancies herself as a future circus horse) and it was incredibly annoying. I think it took 30 min to get her on to go and 10 to get her on to come back. The first two times I hauled her she walked right on. I don't have any good answers for you, but I hope that we both find solutions soon.

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    1. The parking annoys me. Like, could you be any more obvious you don't give two shits about my existence? That's when I made him start moving his feet and he starting rearing in response. Being told what to do is so offensive!

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  11. Well, the trail ride part sounds fun. Not so much the trailering part. I don't envy you the trailering issues. Nilla literally tried to kill herself multiple times and Levi required a pulley system to get him on the trailer in the beginning. Now they both load. I have no advice. It just took time and never, ever letting them win. So keeping what you're doing.

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    1. Few things annoy me more than bad trailer manners!

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  12. god i love the adventures of Opie. They make my day and I usually giggle while reading them. As to the trailer I Def think he is testing you. This too shall pass. How wonderful he was so good on that trail ride. that was a lot of things and i too would have been scared of that silo. Smart Opie :) HA What a good boy (NOW GET ON THE DANG TRAILER)

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    1. He really was such a good kid for the ride itself!

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  13. I honestly think he's just testing boundaries. He's had perfectly lovely experience going places. Hopefully he'll get over himself soon!
    Jamp started saying no on the first approach the last few times I trailered him. I have no idea why. But each time, I walked a circle and he went right on. Horses are weird.

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    1. So annoying that sometimes they'll just stroll right on and sometimes it's an epic battle.

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  14. Aww Dopie - sounds like a pretty awesome trail ride!! And I hear ya on the trailer woes. Charlie has gone through periods after we’ve established that he knows the correct answer to a question (trailer related or otherwise) when he will suddenly be like “but.... what happens if I give a different answer tho??” Which like. Is annoying. Very very annoying. But now that Dope is so worldly and experienced and clever and whatnot, maybe he’s thinking that he’s got it all figured out better than you do?? Sigh. He’ll learn.

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    1. Ha, maybe! We need to have a talk that if he was really worldly he'd load himself because that's what worldly horses do.

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  15. I think young horses (like young children.....and teenagers.....ask me how I know uggg) will test boundaries to see what they can get away with. I know it is a pain in the ass, but I think just doing what you are doing and being patience and persistent is going to be what gets through to his little Dopie brain. At least he is adorable and was super good on the trail!? :-)

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    1. He definitely earned a return ticket home instead of being released into the wilds to live among the deer by being so very good for the ride itself.

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  16. Maybe he associates the trailer with hard work? You get in trailer, we go somewhere, you work hard. I had one horse who became hard to trailer after being burned out on the show circuit. Easy, short, frequent trailer rides with no other expectations solved the issue.

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    1. I feel like it's more a fear of the trailer itself than what happens when gets to where the trailer is going.

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  17. Ugh trailer woes are the worst. Mine has been okay, Rico basically bolted onto the trailer he was so excited but TC is more skeptical. I'm clicker training him to self load in the new trailer, which has been okay. I think he thinks it's haunted, must hire ghostbusters.

    I wouldn't think it's the hard work thing. It doesn't seem like he's being worked any harder at home vs out and plus, if it was simply about hard work, wouldn't he be leaping back on the trailer to go home to get away from the place he had to work??

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    1. Bobby was the same way with the trailer. He loved getting invited places.

      I don't think it's a hard work thing either. He gets drilled in dressage at home and comes to the gate to greet me every time. He goes on field trips and either does thirty minutes total work at a show or walks for an hour or two on trail rides, gets fed extra cookies, and comes home. He's not exactly being taken away and tortured.

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  18. You probably have tried this, but have you gone Clinton Anderson on his booty and when he won't load? Work the crap out of him right outside the trailer (changing speeds, direction etc until he's huffing) then try and load again like nothing has happened? The theory is the trailer is the 'safe' place where they get to rest. He still is a butt, rinse repeat, etc. Not sure how it would work with him, but just a thought.
    Glad he is a super dooper trail pony though!!

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    1. Yes! That's my method for when he parks it. The feet better be moving if you're not going to pay attention to me and think about how you're going to get on this trailer, sir.

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  19. Being mobile and able to go do that with your snoot is literal gold!

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    1. I love being able to hitch up and trail ride whenever monies allows it!

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  20. I agree with Opie's "da fuq" response to that behemoth in the middle of BFE! Griffin would have felt the same #grayhorsesunite as he's afraid of large structures more than my other two lol

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    1. For how giant it is, it popped up out of nowhere!

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  21. History nerd here - the big haunted structure is an old water tank reservoir. They are commonly built on the highest ground possible to ensure even water flow to the municipality below. I'm guessing the trail you rode up on is actually an old service road for it.

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  22. Dopie: always providing excellent blogging material with ample opportunities to cuss. Maybe he’s just testing out a new tag line? Lol

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.