This week we’ve been for a trip out! The loading has continued to be met with resistance so I had the bright idea of backing the trailer up to the doors of a low-roofed shed and loading from there a few times. I’ve been rigorous about putting him in the trailer twice a day and leaving him standing there quietly with a haynet for half an hour or so while I do some jobs around the yard. He’s gradually improved to the point where he’ll pretty much load consistently now without the help of the enclosed shed but I’ll be keeping up the practice, just dropping the frequency. The plan is for a small outing once a week or so (even just boxing up to go for a hack) so it will very soon just become another part of the routine.
I took him to a friend’s yard at the weekend to use her school so that he got out and saw somewhere different. He loaded and travelled well and tied up calmly at the other end to be tacked up. Normally I’d travel them in tack for these sort of outings so that if they’re a bit wound up or anxious at the other end they don’t have the added stress of having to stand still whilst you get the tack on, but as he’s been tricky to load I didn’t want to risk any damage to my nice saddle! I put him on the lunge for a couple of minutes to let him have a look round his new surroundings then hopped on and did a bit of schooling in walk and trot. Other than having a good look at the water tray the first time he had to pass it (understandable!) he was good as gold. We did 10mins of pole work and popped a couple of little fences – he’s been popping some X-poles at home from trot under saddle and I’ve jumped him on the lunge a couple of times. Again, good as gold. We then got my friend to nanny us on one of her horses and went for a short hack out. He looked a little at things like sheep in fields but in general he was happy to plod about as though he’d been doing it all his life. Clever Reggie!
So far I haven’t asked for canter – I tend to leave this until last, when they actually offer, and work on getting the walk and trot nice first. He’s landed over a fence in canter a couple of times and I ride for 3 or 4 strides in canter, ask for trot and give him a pat. Over time I’ll increase the strides of canter after the fence and at some point in the near future I’ll ask for a few strides of canter on a nice grassy track on our usual hacking route. I quite like having them fairly switched off at this point.
The day I took him to my friend’s yard marked 4 weeks exactly from the day I picked him up. He’s been a delight so far, apart from the loading issues, and I’m really enjoying him. This week’s challenge is a trip out to our RC’s club night. This is about as low-key an event as it’s possible to get. It’s held in a field on a private estate and it’s just a case of turning up and doing as much or as little as you like, with a glass of wine to round things off! There will be a SJ course set up, a dressage arena laid out on grass and the opportunity to have a hack on the estate. My plan is basically to mooch! I may or may not lunge first depending on how he is when he comes off the trailer but I have no set plan. We’ll probably just have a wander about, work in the dressage boards for 5-10mins then maybe go for a short hack with a friend. Every bit of it from the loading to the tacking-up to the grazing in hand afterwards whilst I enjoy the refreshments is part of the experience. Hopefully I’ll get some decent pics! Will let you know next week how he’s gone.