Operation Pegasus

To me, trailer loading is clearly black and white. Either the horse is in the trailer or the horse is not. There’s no such thing as ” I kind of loaded” my horse. It’s something I appreciate. It’s also something I find daunting.

With all the Spring rain in my area, it’s difficult to do much with my horses beyond basic care, including trailer-loading practice. I try to take advantage of the occasional dry/warm/less windy days to do more, but those days are few and far between.

I had trailered Shiloh and Piper multiple times separately, but never together. And neither horse had been in a trailer in any capacity since last Fall. Hence the need for practice.

As I recall from previous years, when you trailer your horse(s) regularly, the process gets to feeling routine. It all becomes pretty easy and comfortable.

But when you only trailer infrequently, it can feel like a super-human task. Something that makes your stomach do flips just at the thought of it.

Of course, part of the trick of trailer loading for me is my staying calm and positive, acting like I don’t really care that much about the entire thing, when of course I really DO care. I’m getting slowly better at it. But I’m frankly not sure I will be able to live long enough to master the art of Zen.

Considering all that angst, I told my husband that I might need help this Spring with what I jokingly referred to as “Operation Pegasus.” I wanted to see if I could load Shiloh and Piper in the horse trailer. Ideally with minimum muss and fuss. On a related note- For all you history buffs, the title is not a reference to the military operations by the same name. I was thinking more along the lines that sometimes trailer loading is as difficult for me as encouraging my horses to sprout wings and fly.

So recently, on a good weather day, I decided I better get to it. The horses have upcoming vet appointments for their Spring vaccines, dental checkups and the like. I didn’t want to try to load them for the first time on the same day of the appointment. On a practice day, we could take our time and not worry about a schedule.

As you can see from the lead photo, Operation Pegasus was ultimately successful. But what the photo doesn’t tell you is that I originally had loaded Piper on the left side and couldn’t get Shiloh to load on the right. He wouldn’t go. No ifs, adds or horse butts.

Shiloh, to his credit, didn’t do anything dangerous or dramatic. He didn’t jump around or rear. Shiloh simply planted his feet and gave me this big “I am really disappointed that you are asking me to do this thing” look. He made a few half-hearted attempts to walk on the ramp before sauntering off sideways/backward and giving me the look.

I am not sure how long that went on. Maybe about 10 minutes. But the thought soon occurred to me that I needed to change something up. We all know what they say about the wisdom of continuing to do the same thing while expecting a different result. So I decided I would try to load Shiloh on the left side instead.

However long the time actually was, it must have seemed like forever to Piper who waited semi-patiently for Shiloh to load. As I finally asked Piper to back off the ramp, he stopped half way and looked around him like horses sometimes do when they arrive at a new location. He must have been puzzled by being sent into a trailer and not actually later unloading in a different locale.

Anywho, after backing out of the left side, thankfully Piper loaded up on the right side just as nicely. This opened up the left side for Shiloh to enter. Shiloh went right in.

Shiloh went right in, stood for a second and then came right back out. I then sent him in a second time. This time Shiloh stayed put so I easily secured the butt bar and closed the ramp.

With both horses loaded, I officially declared Operation Pegasus a success. Just as important, I learned that Shiloh has developed a strong preference for the left side of the trailer. I will use that to my advantage on appointment day. Hopefully, it will minimize stress and prevent a loading delay or complete refusal.

I also learned that it is helpful to keep both horses within physical or sighted proximity to each other during the process. You may recall that I’ve been dealing with separation anxiety issues since my oldest horse died and my herd shrank from three horses to two.

Adding trailer loading into the mix increases the fear factor for both horses so their pull toward each other gets stronger. Many thanks to my husband for helping me to lead two horses and keeping one horse company while I worked to load the other.

Of course, anything could happen on the actual game day. It could very well be that I will have to call the vet’s office and reschedule if I can’t get one or both horses to load.

Will that be embarrassing? Well, yes. But it wouldn’t be my first rueful moment involving a horse. In fact if I died of embarrassment every time I had a mortifying encounter with a horse, I would have died a hundred deaths already. Life with horses isn’t always rosy, but for a writer, it sure does provide plenty of grist for the mill.

7 thoughts on “Operation Pegasus

  1. congrats — glad it was ultimately a successful and not-too-stressful practice session! it’s so funny, my horse is such a giant that he is *always* on the drivers side. so the other horses who regularly travel with us are always on the passenger side. one of those horses tho, when he’s either the only horse going somewhere, or is traveling with a smaller trailer buddy, gets REALLY CONFUSED when he has to go on the drivers side lol, despite being 100% reliable otherwise!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I trailered for the first time in months last week and totally hear you on it feeling like a superhuman task, simply because I’m out of practice and feel low key anxiety around the whole thing. Way to go getting in the practice, and I like “Operation Pegasus” – perfect name 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ha i got the Pegasus right away and knew what you meant. Remus is an old hat trailering so even if he has not trailered in a year he would load but some horses do get nervous and horses do like the sides they like. it is kind of like me ALWAYS wanting to drive. I hate not driving 🙂 HA! I bet they load fine together for the vet. But yes it will suck if you had to take just one. I can’t imagine separating Mini 1 from Mini 2 even for two minutes 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good to hear about Remus and trailering. A horse that is relaxed and willing with the process is such a pleasure, making the whole thing safer for everyone involved. Sounds like you have a similar separation anxiety issue with your minis as I do with Shiloh and Piper. It’s turning into a real bummer for me, but I keep plugging away at it slowly. Anywho, thank you for taking your time to comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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