Clicker Saves the Day
I approached a bunch of trainers with my problem, and I told them I was looking for a home for MerryLegs with someone who can train him through the bucking problem. Well, the horse gods were smiling at me, and I found one--and a good one, too. They specialize in training family/trail horses. The nice thing is that they don't rush the horses. They spend about a year putting a lot of thorough training on the horses before they try to sell them. It is a big place with several experienced trainers. I was very honest about the problem, and they thought they could help him. I'm sure that his amazing beauty influenced their decision.
I got several independent references for this trainer, and I also checked thoroughly on line for bad reviews--and didn't find any. The horses in their ads sound too good to be true, but one person knew someone who bought one, and he was, "Exactly as advertised."
This seemed like MerryLegs' best chance to become an honest citizen in the horse world.
I made the arrangements for them to pick him up. The hauler was supposed to arrive at 9:00, Tuesday morning. We were swamped at work—and shorthanded because someone was on vacation, so I couldn’t get away. Poor Ellen was subjected to the sad task.
I talked Kevin into being there, too. It wasn’t hard to talk him into it—he is always happy to help us out.
At about 9:20, I get an email from Ellen.
“Clicker Saves the Day.”
That made me smile. Now, I just had to wait for a further update.
Ellen called me a short time later while was walking Ranger on the loop.
The truck showed up on time. They brought MerryLegs out and led him to the trailer. He wanted no part of loading. I don’t know if he equated the trailer with a very long journey or if he just didn’t like it because it looked different than what he was used to.
The driver and Kevin tried the traditional techniques with the rope and tapping with the whip, but MerryLegs was adamant that he would not go in the trailer. Ellen was watching, and started to worry that they wouldn’t be able to load him at all. After about 10 minutes, she told them to let her have a try. After all, she had a big bag of carrots in her pocket.
Ellen stood in the trailer and rattled the carrot bag. That got MerryLegs’ attention, and he took a step forward. She clicked him, gave him a carrot and repeated. Before she even knew it, he was halfway into the trailer—then he was all the way in. in less than a minute, Ellen got him loaded.
Once inside, he seemed to relax and feel right at home. Mission accomplished. Clicker really did save the day. I do know that he is going to a traditional trainer, and few of them see the point in clicker training, but maybe the driver will mention the episode to his boss, and that will get him thinking a little about our alternative form of training? Maybe it will plant a seed in his brain of another tool to put in his tool box?
So, MerryLegs was on his way to a new life and a trainer that can stick in the saddle when he bucks. (I hope.)
This whole thing was such a sad story. It started out so happy, and then things changed so fast. I hope it ends happy for MerryLegs, after all.