I got a call from an old friend Pat Wolfe this morning. He currently has Britt, the horse that we donated to TROtt last fall. His wife Jane is now editor of the Fjord Herald, the magazine of the Norwegian Fjord Horse Association and needed an extra article for the next issue. I'm going to write up a few pages about starting baby horses off on the right foot. I'm looking forward to it as that was one of my favourite things about breeding horses. I always loved working with the little ones. I'll have to get busy cause she needs the article in less than two weeks.
It was so nice to hear from them both. Pat was a mentor for me when I was into horses and he gives the best hugs. I'm reminded of the time I almost knocked his socks off by getting one of the horses to load into the trailer.
It started one afternoon at his place. Viktoria (one of my mares) had been at Pat's to get bred and now Pat was kind enough to trailer her home for me. Well. It was a disaster. She would not load. He had trouble getting her to load when he picked her up and it seems she hadn't changed. We tried numerous methods, but she just wouldn't step on. Finally out of desperation Pat got a winch and basically dragged her on. It was awful and I swore that this would never happen again.
Once we were home I borrowed a trailer from a nearby friend (thanks Laurie) and stuck it in the pasture. I got out some of my books on clicker training and Parelli and came up with a plan. It had to be doable by me - a novice - simple and most importantly, safe for both of us. Training day one, with Viktoria in hand on a nice long lead rope, and a bucket of carrot treats, I approached the trailer. Just as Viktoria put the brakes on I had her walk/trot in little circles. We stopped to rest when her head was facing the trailer. We moved a few feet closer... circle... repeat... until her head was in the trailer - jackpot - tons of little carrot bits and a long rest. Move away from the trailer and repeat. It wasn't long before she was aiming to get closer to that trailer. She WANTED to get near that trailer. Next step - one foot on. Ask for one foot - reward with carrot - retreat. Approach, ask for two feet - treat - retreat. Then boom - she was onto the trailer all on her own. Victory! And in under an hour! I had gone out there with the plan of taking several days, thinking that the steps would have to be that baby. But she caught on fast. Over the next couple of days we practiced some more, always with treats and resting while in the trailer.
A week later the vet confirmed that Viktoria hadn't conceived so it was back to Pat's. He got his trailer into the laneway and opened up the doors, prepared for more drama. I went and got Viktoria, walked up to that trailer, let her have a good sniff then sent her in. I swear Pat's jaw dropped! It was a pretty proud moment for me. She never gave a moment's problem with loading after that, even when I got my own trailer which was a jump up (yes, jump, not step).
Back to the present - I walked into the house this afternoon to the sound of loud cat yowls - what the heck! How could a cat have gotten into the house? Then I realized... the sound was coming from Grace's cage and unless a cat had not only gotten into the house but also into her cage it had to be Grace! We haven't had a cat in the house for a few years. The last time was when a stray showed up and we housed it until a proper place was found. In all this time I can't recall hearing Grace yowl but something must have reminded her about it - I wonder what triggered it? After a good laugh I gave Grace a little scratch on her head for being such a clever bird.
Nothing is improbable until it moves into past tense.