A trailer again

Ben has become quite used to going into the trailer. He goes in with minimum hesitation, usually one ducking to the side before he goes in. Once in, he stands and waits for me to put the back bar up. Except for yesterday evening.

The wind was up, children were playing next door and one or other or both or something else entirely had him worried. Not initially. He saw the trailer being hitched up, he saw me coming to catch him, he walked up to me, soft, welcoming and put his head into the headcollar. So I saunter, maybe too casually, to the trailer. Ben ducks out to the side. I bring him round and stomp into the trailer, Ben ducks out to the side. I give him time. He sniffs the ramp, paws it, crosses over it, will not go in. He looks worried. His upper lip is stretched long, but not in a playful way. His ears are positioned back towards Rosie left in the paddock behind. I move him around this way, that way, trying to get him to reconnect with me. He still looks worried.

He has all four feet on the ramp, but is parked there, going nowhere. I am in the trailer. Time is passing. For one awful moment I realise how easy it could be to lose one’s temper with a horse. I breathe out, deliberately relax my body and wait. I ask Ben to keep paying attention to me and we wait there. I think I will wait this one out. But I realise that, while his head may be looking in my direction, his ears are still pointed back towards Rosie. He still looks worried. And he looks stuck. And I am stuck. What do I do? I could move him around but I am sure he will still be worried. This is separation anxiety. His buddy, his mate, his sole herd companion is back in the paddock and he is worried. At this moment I am not even close to replacing his herd.

I notice that he is taller than me, with his head up as he stands on the ramp. I straighten up my body, make myself as tall as I can, I try to project presence. His ears come forward, his head comes down, his eyes soften, I duck under the chest bar, he walks into the trailer.

Ben, you challenge me in so many ways and you are always so honest.

This photo is nothing to do with the trailer but I like it:

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9 Comments

Filed under General

9 responses to “A trailer again

  1. You are so good at stopping and finding the exact right thing to do!

    I think the most common problem in loading is when people go into it with the mindset that the horse has to load. I have learned that if I go into it with the mindset that any plan can be changed if needed, and the goal is a confident, happy horse either way, the focus becomes the conversation – i.e. the process, not the end result.

    • Billie, you are so right about having an agenda. I can find it hard to let go of it particularly if I have arranged to be somewhere at a certain time. Horses’ time is certainly not our time.

  2. jc

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment. I have enjoyed your descriptions of Ben and will be back again

  3. June

    Love the photo!

    You convinced him that it was ok – cool.

  4. June

    I tried your puffing-yourself-up thing today with Bridget on a walk. I think it helps. I guess if I go all limp, why would she follow me?!

  5. June

    I tried your puffing yourself-up-thing with Bridget today on a walk. I think it works. I guess if I go all limp, why would she follow me?!

    • June, one evening I was sitting in the paddock and Ben came to stand beside me. He heard a noise somewhere nearby and stiffened with his head up, listening. I stayed sitting and tried to communicate calm vibes which made no difference to Ben. I realised I felt small beside him and stood up, making myself tall and taking on an alert pose. He instantly dropped his head and relaxed. I found that fascinating. That memory was what prompted me to try standing taller that day in the trailer.

  6. June

    Sorry about the duplicate.