For many Fell Ponies, the transition from foaling to pasture is immediate since they’re born on the fell or outside somewhere. For many other foals, the transition from foaling stall to pasture is as easy as navigating a gate or two. For the foals at Willowtrail Farm, the transition from foaling stall to pasture involves learning to ride in a trailer. I never fail to be amazed at how easily our equine friends accept riding in a big metal box on wheels.
Willowtrail Mountain Prince had his first trailer ride the other day. He’s older than when most of my foals begin to trailer because he was born before the pasture came in. Many of my foals take their first ride to pasture at a few days old. Nonetheless, at two months old Prince hopped in the trailer after only sixty seconds of considering his options. I have been working with him daily on general handling and have come to know him well, so I tried to set him up for success when it came to the trailer. It was a good feeling when it went so well. (You can see a new video that includes a segment of Prince and me working on general handling by clicking here.)
I have found that how the mare trailers is key to how well the foal does, and all my mares load into the trailer well because they know there’s green grass at the other end of the trip. Prince is getting the idea, too. This morning he hopped in without any encouragement from me and then did the same for the return trip (Prince and his mom are only allowed to be on green grass for a few hours right now until their systems adapt to the richness.)
Trailer loading can be such an issue for equines and their owners; I’m glad my management routine requires trailer loading to be a non-issue from a very young age. Not all foals have been as easy as Prince has been. For more about how I’ve taught some of my other foals to trailer load, click here.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012