I started blogging in 2010 when my friend gave Kyra to me. Kyra was born in a nature reserve in The Netherlands and was a frightened feral filly when she came to me.
I was afraid I might never be able to tame her: she was incredibly afraid. When I started to train her I kept a training journal and started this blog. I thought it might be nice to give you all an update once in a while on how she’s doing.
2015 training goals
I made a lot of training plans for 2015 and trailer loading and going places with Kyra are high on my to-do-list. A friend at my barn offered me her trailer to practise so that I could start working on trailer loading again. I brought my camera too, because I wanted to film the process.
Unfortunately my battery died after the first trailer loading session, so I only have a bit of footage. Kyra was very nervous, but she went in the trailer anyway.
Trailer loading practise
Kyra was not ready to stay in the trailer last training session and she is allowed to get out whenever she wants for now. She was easy to load but in the beginning she was also quickly backing out. After a few training sessions of a few minutes she learned:
– to stay in the trailer a bit longer (duration)
– to back up step-by-step, instead of running out backwards as you can see in the video
– go in the trailer by herself, with me standing outside the trailer. I really like that! I’ve always wanted a self loading horse. It’s so cool!
– accepted some pressure of my hand on her hindquarters to prepared her for the chain that goes behind her butt
– not to be scared of the loud noises the ramp makes when it is closing.
I am very content with these results. They might seem baby-steps to some people, but I know these are the keys to having a confident and easy travelling horse later. It surprised me a bit to see Kyra so nervous about being in the trailer. She knows if she goes in, she will be rewarded. She is allowed to take the time it takes to step into the trailer. So there is no pressure.
She is so eager to please me, that she is willing to overcome her fear of stepping up the ramp. It still amazes me what a bit of patience, a plan and lots of well timed click & rewards can accomplish.
Next training steps
For the next trailer training sessions I will be working on:
– building duration standing in the trailer calmly
– getting used to pressure of the chain against her butt
– closing the chain behind her butt
– closing the chain and doors
– unloading calmly
– getting in the trailer while another horse is already in there
– staying calmly in the trailer while another horse is loaded
– unloading her first
– unloading her last
– unloading and loading in an unfamiliar (but close by) place
I will keep you posted! Please share your trailer training experiences and training tips in the comments.
Update 2020. Kyra is a self loading horse. Whenever she sees an open trailer she wants to get in. She almost never travels but when I have to, I know I can count on our positive reinforcement history. It doesn’t matter if she’s see a trailer like that or not. Trailers, horse trucks, straight hauls, sideways, she’s generalized all horse vehicles now. Makes me feel good I never have to worry about that!
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Sandra Poppema, BSc
I teach horse people to connect with their horse in training, so they get results and the relationship they want with their beloved horse. Make training win-win!