It's not that he's a bad loader, he's actually pretty good, but he's not a great loader like Speedy G. When I get ready to load Speedy, the door had better be open and waiting because he homes in on the opening like it's the doorway to Heaven. Once he's pointed in the right direction, there's no stopping him. He doesn't load in a rush, but he'll try to squeeze past you if you're in the way. You can just about hear him saying, Ah, squeeze me, you're in my way!
My plan to load once a week hasn't gone too well. I think I did it once in January and then ... nothing. It hasn't helped that I took Speedy to a clinic one weekend, I was busy at Horse Expo the following weekend, and at a show the weekend after that. After Sunday's birthday party ride, I was finishing up and looking forward to getting home for a late lunch when I glanced over at the truck and trailer. Rats! Before I could talk myself out of it, I slipped off my spurs and helmet, tucked a few horse treats in my pocket, and opened the horse door.
Speedy was turned out after his ride and needed a few more minutes anyway. Sydney is used to me taking him out of his stall after he's been worked once already so he took it in stride when I re-haltererd him. As I started walking over to the trailer, I let him grab a few mouthfuls of grass. I always amble him over to the trailer as I approach so that he has time to assess the situation; he doesn't like to feel rushed. I paused at the door, considering whether or not to try and encourage him to self and load, and decided it was better to just load him up. I took one step in and felt a nose poking me in the back.
To my surprise, Sydney was telling me to get out of the way! This is the first time he's loaded without me having to coax that first step out of him. I slipped the lead through the Blocker Tie Ring and offered him a cookie. Once in the trailer, he has been a bit anxious and usually refuses the cookie. On this day, he acted like he was going to refuse it, but then he took it and chewed thoughtfully. Atta boy, Sydney!
I drove around the block, pulled back into the yard, and gave Sydney a good boy! as I peeked at him through the window. I opened the back door and was happy to see him standing quietly. When I asked him to back out, he came out more steadily than he has in the past; my trailer has a pretty big step down. I always offer him a cookie once he's out of the trailer which he usually refuses, but he surprised me again by accepting it. Progress!
It's not that I expect my horses to love traveling, but I do expect them to accept it as part of their job. They need to load and work around the trailer in a way that is non-negotiable. They need to load in a business-like manner and be willing to stand tied there for as long as it takes. I think if I can do more weekly work, Sydney will become as sure about the trailer loading as Speedy is. He already has a good foundation; I just need to do a little more building.