Since we'll be moving Panama to a new stables very soon, yesterday my trainer and I spent our session practicing trailer loading.
For those of you who don't remember the full story of Panama's rescue, at 11 months old he was in a trailer accident that resulted in his mother's euthanization. Soon afterward, Michael paid the vet bill and we assumed ownership of Panama.
Perhaps as a result of the injuries Panama sustained in the trailer accident, he has had some issues with trailers ever since. He did have two uneventful trailer rides after the accident — back and forth to the vet's place — but they were very short and occurred in the wake of tragedy, so I'm sure he associated even the good trailer experiences with major life changes (i.e. losing his mother and leaving his first home for strange and scary experiences).
It was when Panama was brought to Denver from the in-laws' rural pasture that his trailer issues really became apparent. The truck that brought him out here was a semi, so not only did Panama had to load up into a loud and scary trailer-like vehicle, but he also had to go up a ramp first. I wasn't there for this part, but the in-laws told us he was panicked and rearing, and even once broke loose and ran through a wire fence in an effort to get back to the pasture.
With all of this in mind, my trainer and I decided we had better get Panama comfortable with the entire process before the actual day. Last week, I started walking him around the outer yard, where he'd never been before and where the owner keeps large pieces of equipment, such as a broken old tractor and unused trailers. Panama was quite spooky about that the first time, and by the third time had started planting his feet in downright refusal to go out there.
Yesterday my trainer and I used the stable owner's two-horse trailer to practice loading up. It took about a half an hour to get Panama into the trailer at all, and I had to actually pick up a front foot and put it in the trailer the first few times. However, by the end of the hour my trainer had him loading up, even if he was still a little nervous about it.
Having already practiced loading up should help considerably on moving day. I am getting very excited about moving! The new place should be practically a dream come true for me and Panama — daily turnout, good hay, and a friendly atmosphere for him, and full care and peace of mind for me. Hooray!