Today we went for another trail excursion with Becky and Col. I put the saddle on Little Love, because I thought I could use it while trotting up hill with her (to hold on to). I used to be a vaulter and this saddle has sort of a "handle" in the center (it's a Barefoot dressage saddle) which I was hoping to use as a "crutch" in the trot. Little Love was not happy to get the saddle on her back, in fact, she threatened to bite me three times. That was a clear message. She hates the saddle (= she hates riding?) Of course we were in the stall and usually whatever you do in the stall doesn't make her happy. Again another subject to understand... why is the stall different than say outside (not tied)? When I first met her years ago, she would threaten to kick or bite anyone who dared enter the stall. You always had to halter her first thing, for your own safety.
Anyways, I was fairly set on putting the saddle on since I wanted to try trotting with her more than before and running beside her uphill is challenging. My plan worked! When we started trotting, I positioned myself next to her and grabbed the center of the saddle with my right hand, using it as a support. This enabled me to keep up with her with no problem, even thought we were REALLY trotting (she has a huge stride). At first she sort of looked back at me with confusion, and a bit scared, too, but then seemed to accept me jogging so close to her (our sides were touching - another thing she is not so keen on...). One time I lost the rhythm and that was hard, but once I picked it up again, it was alright and we went flying up the hill. I was still out of breath at the top, but at least I was able to keep up!
Eventually I got on her for a short period of time to get over a very muddy field, but other than that it was 45 minutes of walking (and running) beside her. When I was on her, she walked a bit slower and I'm wondering if she could feel the extra weight in her feet. Probably. I'm not sure what I'm doing with the riding bit, if I'm riding or not riding her ever again, but at the moment I'm sort of going with the flow. Which seems to be less riding and more trekking in hand.
It was raining on and off, but Becky wanted to practice trailering Col. He hasn't been in the trailer since she drove him over from England, which was a long haul. Col usually just walks into the trailer, but this time he decided it wasn't a good idea. It didn't help that Little Love was calling to him frantically from her stall. After about ten minutes of kind negotiation, he finally walked into the box. At that point Becky asked me if I wanted to try Little Love, too, since Col was already in and eating hay without a worry in the world. Sure, why not. I had already decided that whatever happened, I was not going to put ANY pressure on Little Love, it would have to be her own decision to go into the trailer. If she followed me in, fine, but if not, then that was fine, too.
We walked up to the trailer and she actually looked interested in going in. Obviously the fact that Col was in there was a big insentive. She walked up the ramp and stuck her head in. We stood there for a while, then she back down again. Then she walked up again. She did this about five times. The whole time the lead rope was either loose or on her neck. Finally, since it was raining, I told Becky to go for her drive with Col. I took Little Love back to her stall. She entered willingly, but called out to Col who was screaming back at her as the trailer drove out of the gate and down the driveway.
I was happy about how she had approached the trailer, with an open mind. It is just too much for her to think of being a small space such as the half trailer. Becky will hook up the trailer again on Tuesday and we have another opportunity to get comfortble with it. I definitely need to work on this A LOT. I also have to brainstorm about building something else Little Love could enter, like a tight space similar to the trailer. I would like to help her get over this fear of confined spaces she has, it would make her life a lot easier in the long run. I know that certain memories cannot be erased, but perhaps we could learn to live with them?
Col was gone for thirty minutes and Little Love was definitely on the edge the entire time. She did eat the hay I gave her though (So she wasn't that nervous) but kept a close eye on me as I went around the barn cleaning up and prepping food etc. The one time I walked out of there, she stopped eating and was waiting for me to return, head up, all her senses alert. It's not easy to be a horse. Not that it's easy to be human either :-)