As if on cue, Willowtrail Mountain Honey proved the truth of a statement in my last post: no two days are ever the same. In that last post, I made the mistake of saying that Honey, my six week Fell filly, was loading well into the trailer. Yesterday she decided that ring-around-the-truck-and-trailer was more fun than loading with her mother.
It wasn’t fear of the trailer, just that the dandelions along the driveway were more enticing. I also could tell she was making a game of it. To play my part in the game, I began gently pushing her in the right direction, but when she took a left turn every time we got close, I realized more assertive leadership was necessary. I could have forcibly loaded her with a rope and judicious hold on her tail, but I prefer to encourage good behavior instead, so next I made the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy. When she ran away from the business end of the trailer or stopped to eat dandelions, I swatted the ground with a rope. When she moved in the right direction, I quit. After enough repetitions that she figured out the pattern, she hopped in with her mother.
Today I made sure to eat a snack before going out to load Honey and her mother in case another game of ring-around-the-trailer was in the offing. Today, though, she hopped right in and stayed there (hopping out is another game she’s occasionally played), so I started feeling triumphant. Mistake!
The pony shuffle at pasture involved tying Mya and Torrin to the trailer then unloading Honey and her mom and walking to a distant gate in the pasture. On all previous trips Honey has reliably followed her mother. My Norwegian Fjord Horse gelding, whom we’ve dubbed Uncle Torrin, is a magnet for foals however. His kind nature must emanate from him because as soon as Honey came off the trailer, she turned to introduce herself rather than follow her mom and me. Even when I walked her mom a hundred feet into the distance, that Torrin magnet remained strong, and I had to walk back and convince Honey that my plan was better than hers. It’s a good thing she’s so engaging and adorable, or the Honey Games would be hard to deal with!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2013