Cooper, a three year old quarter horse gelding, took forever to cool out after the second trailer ride of his life. He’d just been delivered in a stock trailer to our place for training. The horse hauler said it took a while to get him loaded and he hadn’t tied him in the trailer. I took some time to get to know Cooper while leading him around the paddock to get him calm and cool from his excited state on a hot day.
His first trailer ride ended with stitches to his forehead to close a gash. His second ride was terrifying. Not a very good track record for the young guy. It was obvious he was a good horse; he just had too much life pushed at him in too big of a hurry.
The following day I took him out for some basic leading, stopping and turning work. He was a quick and responsive student. I knew that he’d be leaving some day to go back to his owner and trailer work might take a while. Better start slow and steady to get him over his fear of trailers. The goal for the session was to introduce him to the trailer ramp and put one foot on it. Not much, but a start and I had plenty of time to get him trailer broke.
Cooper followed me to the ramp and obligingly put one foot on the ramp. I praised him and backed him up. Sensing trust, I asked him to put both front feet on the ramp. He did.
In five minutes he was walking on and off the trailer like he’d done all of his life.
Just like Cooper the horse, when we rush and push people into doing things because of deadlines, things can turn into an excited uproar with very little accomplished. Everybody breaks out in a sweat and sometimes people get hurt.
When calmness prevails and leadership is confident, amazing things happen with horses and people.