About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just say, "how interesting" and breathe.

We all woke up around 7am and began getting ready to take Lola on our first trip to the local indoor arena I told you all about. Meadow Breeze Farm's owner is kind enough to allow me to rent the use of their facility on Sunday mornings for a nominal fee. It is a 70'x140' pole barn style arena and I have private access to it. This farm is all of 10 minutes away and so, it should prove to be a great opportunity for us.

Anyhow, Rick decided he'd take us over for our first visit. We loaded the truck with the video camera and notes regarding assessments. While Rick hauled the trailer to the barn, I fed the horses and fetched Lola. I played with her briefly and asked her to load in the trailer. She was not coooperating at all. After about 30 minutes of rearing, bucking, backing. etc. etc. (you get the picture), she finally loaded, I waited to make sure she was truly ready to stay in the trailer and once I believed it was true, I put the divider in place, closed the door, gave her a treat (from the outside) and tied her using the Blocker Tie Ring (from the outside). I'd have to say that this was not a good start and I also admit I should have played with her and the trailer more before this trip. Unfortunately it was not a possibility because the trailer has been full of stuff until yesterday morning and then, it poured rain all day.

When we arrived at the barn, we left Lola on the trailer and met the barn owner. We had a nice chat with her for at least 15 minutes. Lola was patiently standing in the trailer. Finally, I unloaded her (asking for back using yo-yo from the side) and she calmly came out of the trailer. I took her in into the arena and she was nervous. Then, she heard a loud "moo" from a cow in the barn and she was scared! I decided to take her halter off and give her time to walk around the arena and calm a bit. I took this time to go to the trailer and got my 22 foot line, carrot stick, and savvy string.

After aboout 10 minutes of exploration, I haltered her and walked over to the mounting block to retrieve my 22 foot line, stick, and string. Rick was there and I laughed with him because I didn't have a plan. We decided that it was good enough that we took the trip over and anything else we did was no big deal. This is just the beginning of a regular routine and Lola will have many experiences. We decided to leave the video camera and other things in the truck for this time. Rick went back to the truck after taking a couple of photos (the ones you see here). I started playing with her a bit on the ground and the owner stopped by to talk some more. After several minutes, I decided to play with Lola and talk at the same time otherwise I didn't think we'd ever get started. We worked on friendly game and extreme friendly game, sideways, circling (which was better than ever), transitions online (she did fabulous), and used the wall, a jump, barrels, and some cones as obstacles. I lead her by her leg, did the maneauver where you put the 22 foot lead line around the horses body and ask them to turn around by following the feel (I don't know what this is called). Anyhow, she was really good and we had fun. I decided to call it a day at this point (the owner had left by now too).

I lead Lola out of the barn and to the trailer and asked her to load. She was even worse than at home. I tried everything and she was extremely bracey, disrespectful, rearing, not moving her hindquarters over, etc. At one point, I hate to admit it but I leaned inside the trailer and about cried. I asked myself why I even bother, that this is all too much, too frustrating, too difficult, that I could not understand why we are struggling like this, yadda, yadda, yadda. I think that I was feeling residual from the St. Jude's experience perhaps and was not being a good horsewoman by allowing things to frustrate me. There is no reason that I can think of as to why we are struggling with the trailer except that our relationship is still new and she still does not totally respect me as the leader. I can say that she is a bit defiant and still testing me, I guess this is to be expected and okay. After my moment of weakness, I took a breath, thought ok, how interesting, what is going on, and continued to ask her to load. I even used the rope around her leg to place her feet up in the trailer (like Linda does using a pedestal, and it worked as far as having her touch her feet in the traile! I had treats, was using the Parelli trailer loading techniques I've used for years, etc. Anyhow, eventually she walked on, got into position, stood calmly, and so I put up the divider, gave her a treat and tied her like before.

When we got home, I unloaded her just as before and she was calm and happy. She ate grass and then I played with her a bit more, took her to the barn, and released her into the paddock with Fosse and Whiskey. They were all happy to be together again.

So, this was our morning and Rick and I are exhausted (I think Lola is too). I am emotionally, physically, and mentally drained. Rick said he is tired because it was difficult and exhausting for him to watch the ordeal. I truly appreciate him being there with me through it all. He is a great supportive husband.

Next Sunday, we do it all again. I need to work on my technique. I will breathe and say, "how interesting" no matter what. I know that we are on a good path, I just need to be patient, respectful, and move forward. I plan to play with Lola all week with the trailer and hopefully we won't have such an ordeal with loading next time.

I also decided that it was about time I charted her so here it is! Well, off to take a nap, I am wiped out.


Lisa said...

Been there, done that. Trailer loading my TB was a nightmare. I was pre-L1 and the Horsenality and Horse Behavior stuff was a distant dream. His terror of the trailer made him dangerous. What I learned through that experience changed my horsemanship forever.

If you haven't watched it in a while, review the trailer loading from the L&HB. The psychology presented there is the BEST!

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Hi Lisa--

Thanks for your comment. I have the L&HB, trailer Loading, etc. I certainly think review is always a good thing. I'll do it.

I've loaded many horses after studying these materials and have helped with trouble-loaders. I am thinking that we just have not had enough time together and not enought practice. (Hopefully that is it.) :)

Lisa said...

After all I learned with Moose (my TB), I've been the one called in for problem loaders. I learned a lot with Moose and the Trouble-Free Trailer Loading DVD and I was pretty successful.

When I watched the segment from L&HB it changed everything. I really understood how important it was for the horse to load mentally and emotionally as well as physically. In playing with those concepts, I've loaded horses and had the owners tell me the horse travelled better and unloaded better than ever.

Just thought I'd mention it in case you hadn't watched it in awhile. Maybe there's something "new" in there that will help you with Lola.

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

I think it has been a long time since I've watched the L&HB trailer loading segment. Linda and 3 hours seem to ring a bell! Anyhow, as always, thanks a million for your input! It is always appreciated. -M