From Endurance to Dressage
Yesterday I posted a list of can you do this? items. It was a list of things that I want all of my horses to do. Trailer loading with no questions (just get in without hesitation) is really, really high on my list.
A horse that will just load right up is demonstrating complete and total faith in his handler's leadership (in my opinion anyway). And since I do so many things with my horses - trail rides, shows, clinics, vet visits ... loading without issue is really important to me.
I also trailer alone 99.9% of the time which means that I don't have someone who can do a bit of hazing with a dressage whip when one of my horses decides to hesitate or balk a bit. I need to be totally confident that my horse is going to walk onto that trailer no matter what the circumstance.
I could load Speedy in the middle of a we're-not-in-Kansas-anymore type of tornado; he's the very definition of reliable. Izzy is not quite there ... yet. He will be soon, but he needs a few more lessons.
Last weekend when I did a trailer loading session, he decided to put his weight into it and said NO. I brought out a dressage whip to tap him on the hip, but that didn't get his attention. I dragged out my handy stick, but that was a fail as well.
My trailer has a pretty narrow opening (the tack room is behind the other door), so it can be tricky to get a horse to load when you're alone. My preferred method of getting a horse to load takes two people: one person to direct and a second person to apply pressure behind with a dressage or lunging whip.
As mentioned before, I don't usually have a second person, so I went to method number two. I converted by cotton-rope lunge line into a "butt" rope. It doesn't work with every horse, but fortunately, Izzy was quite responsive.
It took a a couple of tugs on the "butt" rope line before he realized that I could get him from behind when he didn't want to move forward. After that, he was all about the when and where. This video is from yesterday afternoon, which was only our second trailer loading session. I hadn't worked with him at all on trailer loading since last weekend.
I was pretty pleased with his progress. I cut out the most boring parts, but the whole practice session lasted less than three minutes. Enjoy!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: