Thursday, September 3, 2009

Julie's Big Adventure

I got to the farm where Julie lives and Julie and her filly friend were still out (despite my request that they be brought in that afternoon, but what can you do). Luckily I had very generous helpers with me and we were able to get both girls into the barn. Julie was actually calmer and more well-behaved than her little friend, who trotted circles around my friend all the way into the barn. We did give Julie 3 cc's of Ace in the muscle, to make sure that she'd stay relaxed on the trailer ride and it would be a pleasant experience for everyone. So we gave her a few minutes to let that settle in and then led her to the trailer, which I had backed up fairly close to the entrance of the barn. Ahead of time, I had opened up all the doors and the chest bar, and swung the middle partition all the way over so she had plenty of room (I have a nice big roomy two-horse for the big guy's travelling comfort).

I held a bucket of grain and led her to the base of the ramp, with a loose feel on the lead rope. I had my two helpers stand behind her but at a far enough distance not to make her feel crowded. She snorted a minute, then put one foot on the ramp. We all praised her and I let her have a taste of grain. She followed with another big step up the ramp. Another taste of grain and more praise. She stood there for a minute, sniffing the ramp, tasting it, peeking around inside the trailer. I took a deep breath, let her think for a few because she clearly wasn't panicking and was considering following me on. I didn't pull on the lead, but just took another step back toward the inside of the trailer. Her filly buddy called to her and for a minute her ears went back and she lost her focus, but I shook the grain a little and got her focused on me again. Another two steps, all four feet were now on the ramp. A big bite of grain and lots of praise. She stood for a minute, sniffed the wall of the trailer, snorted at the shavings on the floor. I took another big deep breath and let her chill for a moment. Then I took another step back and she just walked right up. My helpers were ready with the ramp and we closed her up without any incident. I fed her the rest of the bucket of grain so she'd remember that she got to eat once she walked on.

We left the partition over to the side (it was secured safely to the wall) so she could spread her legs for balance. Instead of using cross ties, I just secured one tie to the chest bar below her chin, so she couldn't turn herself around in the trailer but couldn't get caught up in the ties either. She started munching hay and we got going. It was about a 45-minute ride, and she shipped like an old pro.

When we got to the new farm, she whinnied a little to the horses in the barn, but was otherwise very calm. It was a little chilly and getting dusk, but I turned the lights on in my trailer and slowly, two of us helped her back off the ramp. She was great, just one foot at a time til she was on the driveway. She then went for a long walk all around with Larry, the owner of Stones Throw Farm, and she was an angel. We led her into a stall for a minute so she could drink and use the little girls' room, and then put her out in a grass paddock for the night next to a three-year-old gelding. She trotted the fence lines with him for five minutes or so but then decided to just put her head down and eat. By this point it was getting pretty dark, so we closed up the trailer, I said my goodbyes and thanks to the owners of Stones Throw, and we headed out.

I have a really good feeling about all this.  I was really impressed with the way she handled the shipping. Of course, the Ace did help her stay calm, but she clearly did not want to be bad. She was relaxed, but she was alert, and if she had wanted to fight us or if she was going to panic, she certainly could have. I'm really happy to see that she can be a good girl even in a new situation. I think being in a new place was a little humbling for her, which is not a bad thing for a filly. She will leave for Florida early Friday morning, and Larry will call me once they arrive. I talked to him about coming down in mid-October, and he thinks that's a good idea.

I am relieved and very happy. Amazing how our horses can do that for us.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad she did well, and I hope she continues to do so. Good luck!


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