Andy bought his new horse, Dudley, just a week ago and once Dudley has gained weight he will be an imposing size. He's a Selle Francaise cross Irish Sports Horse. He has only ever travelled in a 7.5 tonne horsebox or a trailer and has been confused about just how to get on and turn his owner's 3.5 tonne rear facing horsebox. Andy and I had all the usual conversations about the pluses and minuses of these vehicles before we began.
I started off by establishing my normal three click reward system. Dudley takes food very politely. Tip of the week, use a bum bag when using dampened food unless you want to get into trouble with the owner of the washing machine!
It's important to get pretty methodical and mechanical about what is required in order to establish a quiet pattern which does not have to be rushed.Dudley needed to go to the rear left hand corner in order to turn to go to the rear left hand corner. At first he would only stand momentarily and would push his way out to the top of the ramp where I encouraged him to stand and survey the scenery. One of the least attractive features of this horsebox was the overhang just above the doorway, where a horse could easily hit his head, hence the need to be able to relax, and the need for a good poll guard (someone needs to invent one which covers a wider area than this but is thick where it needs to be).
Here Dudley has been asked to take one step back to the rear left hand corner...
...before being asked to move his shoulder over. Luckily he has been trained to move laterally and didn't go into pressure. Once he realised that he did have room to move he was much more relaxed about being in the horsebox. Andy has the partition on the 3/4 setting so that Dudley has loads of room in his section to be able to spread his legs and balance himself.
Once this pattern was well established, Andy took over from me for further rehearsals...
...and we began to close the central partition.
"Well what can we say, Andy loaded Dudley onto the van this afternoon, opposite our house, Andy loaded him 3 times and went without a hitch, he worked on getting him into the corner and again no issues, we will still continue to load him on and off and on Thursday we are going to take him to the arena that we use its only 8 mins away... We will close the partition tomorrow , and for the next few days.. We will keep you informed on our progress. Again that you for working with Andy and Dudley it has made the difference to the both of them...." WMEmail received 28.4.16:
"Well Andy is now loading him on and off the box by himself and closing the partition up without Dudley getting worried." WM