Wally was a real trooper. My formerly disgruntled ex-western pleasure show horse has found his niche: Trail Horse Extraordinaire.
But actually getting him to the trail ride... Not so much fun.
You see, Natalie and I decided to carpool-- or "trailer pool"-- because gasoline is just about $4.00 a gallon out here. She has a slant load and Wally had only been hauled in a slant before I bought him (I have a straight load trailer), so I figured, what the heck: Wally could ride with her horse. Not so easy. Wally hopped right in and he was happy as a clam. But once we got to the trail head at the park, it became obvious that there wasn't quite enough room for him to step back a foot, pivot on his hind end, and turn around to walk out. Instead he'd have to back out, which required him to step off her trailer with his hind feet into nothingness. She doesn't have a ramp. That scared poor Walter. If you could see him backing down the ramp of my straight load, you'd understand: He backs out cautiously and slowly, with little itty bitty baby steps. The task of blindly backing out of Natalie's step up trailer was simply too challenging. Not ones to resort to extreme measures, Natalie and I took our time with Wally until he finally got up the courage to dangle one hind hoof out into space (all of about a 6-inch drop, by the way), and hop down.
Then we rode. And then we cooled out our horses, gave them some snacks and plenty to drink and we re-loaded. Wally once again hopped right in and we were confident that the unloading lesson was learned. Yeah, right.
When we got back to my house, Wally once again looked at us as if we were crazy. He simply wasn't budging. He'd start to put his hind hoof out, then immediately re-think that idea. And he couldn't turn enough to lead out head first.
Finally Natalie said, "Cindy, I don't know what to do!"
Apparently, the prospect of Wally living in her trailer didn't appeal to her. Then I got an idea. We had some sandbags lining the horse trail in front of our house to prevent run-off during the rains. I hoisted a few beneath the back of the trailer, making a pair of soft yet supportive "steps" for Wally. Natalie and I tried again. She gave Wally the command to "back" at his front end while I was at his hind end, reassuring him that I wasn't going to let him descend into oblivion. Finally, he stepped down with one brave hind hoof, felt the sand bag, and then came out.
Victory at last!
By not panicking and resorting to yanking and whacking on Wally, we got him out of the trailer. And the moral of this story? Don't assume that your horse fits in a trailer just because he can get in the trailer. It needs to be roomy enough that he can also comfortably get out of the trailer.
Needless to say, next trip I'm hauling Wally in my straight load trailer.
And now I'm off to ride Wyatt in the arena before Easter dinner. My sister, Jill, is coming to watch. She has yet to see Wyatt, and her first introduction will be watching me attempt to canter him around the entire arena. He trotted a lot of nice circles on Friday. And he longed great! So we'll see how this goes. Stay tuned!