Thursday, June 2, 2016

Field Trip For Indy

Where are we, Mom?
I have a (relatively) new trailer, which I call the HMS Valium.  When I first got it I did not have a horse.  Pretty much the whole "cart before the horse" cliché.  As you can surmise, I did not get to use my trailer much.

Then in October I got Indy.  When I took him to get a pre-purchase exam there was much drama surrounding the loading process. Indy wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Great Big White Box.  When we moved to a new barn in October, my trainer and I thought rather than fight with him we'd see if he would like a different type of trailer (mine's a bumper pull with a rear loading ramp, theirs is a 3 horse with a ramp on the side.)  He didn't.  He didn't want to get on that trailer and when we arrived at the new place he came flying off it like his hair was on fire.

Over the fall, winter, and spring I worked on his trailer issues and learned some natural horsemanship from the lovely Dom Nawrot of Thumbs Up Horsemanship.  I want to do clinics and trail paces, so I need Indy to get on the trailer with no histrionics or bribing. I also figured learning natural horsemanship would be a great way to understand Indy better and bond with him.  We took our time and didn't push him and now Indy has no issues whatsoever getting on and off the Great Big White Box.

Dom suggested that before we take him somewhere serious like a show we should take him on a quick trip "around the block" to give him a good, low pressure experience. That went well, so last weekend we decided to take him to a horse show about an hour's drive away for some schooling.  It gave me a chance to get some more trailering time under my belt, it gave Indy a chance to spend more time on the trailer, and it also helped give him some exposure to a horse show without the stress of competition. (As far as I can tell it was only the third show he'd ever been to).

Noah and Indy paying close attention to Dom's instructions

My son Noah came along as moral support, another set of hands, and to make sure my nerves didn't get the best of me. While we were on the road he regularly reminded me to "Breathe, Mom" and "Go wide around the turns" and "The speed limit is 50, Mom. You should try to do that." Thanks in large part to his efforts we arrived in one piece. The second we opened the trailer Indy stuck his head out, looked around like Dorothy after she landed in Oz, and proceeded to holler his little gray head off.  He yelled, someone else would reply. Indy hollered again, somebody else would holler back. Have you ever seen the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians? Remember the Twilight Bark?  It was like that. For about 20 minutes. Non-stop.

We brought him over to the rings to graze and Indy visited with everyone who would stop to talk with him.   Since I haven't shown in over 2 years and didn't want my nerves to affect Indy I asked one of the barn's working students to school him. Call me a wuss if you want, but the main goal for the day was for Indy to have a good experience, both on the trailer and at the show.  The schooling ring was insane and  Mike's calm demeanor worked well to keep Indy focused.  He also took Indy out for a school around the jump field, and you know how sometimes it's just nice to see someone else ride your horse? Where you can just gawk at your horse and think, "Pretty horsie. MY pretty horsie." This was one of those times. Mike is tall and graceful and Indy's dapple grey coat and silver/grey mane and tail looked gorgeous in the sun.  Sadly I was too busy staring that I neglected to get any pictures. DOH! Mom fail.

Hanging with Indy and Noah all day was great.  Noah was my rock: He served admirably as parking and exiting consultant, scouting out the parking spot where I would have the most room to back the HMS Valium up if needed.  When it was time to go he did a little recon and found a way for me to wiggle out without having to back up. (I have terrible Trailer Reversal Anxiety). He made sure that there was always an adequate supply of Oreos for me and mints for Indy. Most importantly, he kept me laughing and relaxed (or as relaxed as I get) which in turn helped keep Indy relaxed.

So our first real "field trip" went off rather well, and I'm kinda looking forward to our next excursion.  My barn-buddy Dave tells me I'm on my way to becoming a "Bad-ass Mother-trucker."  I like the sound of that - think it comes on a t-shirt?


  1. Ha HMS Valium. I love it! Noah also sounds like a gem ;)

  2. Wooo! I love all the movie references, and I'm so glad that you're all getting the hang of trailering.