As I pulled out of Gen’s driveway I almost considered turning around. I felt like I was pushing my luck already and I hadn’t even done anything yet. I decided to just go with it and try and relax about all the superstitions. I couldn’t control what would happen so there is no use worrying about it. I got to Lucky’s with plenty of time to spare. So much so that I figured I would clean out my trailer before I went to clean off Lucky.
I had told Lucky’s owner about my appointment with Dom so she came down to feed everyone before hand so there would be minimal distractions. She also told me that she could swear Lucky used to self load, but neither her nor her daughter could tell me who had trained her to do so (and we all know that the people at the track were not the ones doing it) or why. I figured that regardless of if she knew it or not it is always good to try something new.
Dom showed up nice and early with Herbie in tow. After getting permission from Lucky’s owner to let her out, I finally got to meet the famous pit bull. She is even more adorable in person, but she is not as cuddly as I wanted…she had much to explore and couldn’t be bothered to be snuggled with when there was so much to do 😛 After Lucky had finished eating I put Gen’s Pegasus Boots on her front legs. I was tempted to go full shipping boot, but I don’t like those so took a deep breath and told myself to knock it off. Friday the 13th had been fine so far. Once I had the boots on I handed her over to Dom in her new halter and lead with a basic dressage whip and a bag of treats.
The first time Dom walked her to the ramp Lucky wasn’t getting it. Dom and I have different trailer loading methods. I taught Lucky NEVER to stop by the trailer. I want to see legs moving when she is by a trailer so Lucky was doing what I taught her and dancing around. That was not what Dom wanted her to do. She wanted her to stop for a moment so she could give her a cue. As soon as Lucky saw me up front in the trailer she came, but I was worried that was just because I was there.
I got out and Dom got to the business of working with Lucky. Dom literally spent all of 60 seconds figuring Lucky out and clarifying her expectations and tried it again. Lucky went on again. Dom had her unload herself and tried to get her to go on by herself for a third time. I took Lucky about 30 seconds to figure out what Dom was telling her, but as soon as Lucky got it she went right on. She started licking, chewing, and being all proud of herself for figuring it out. Yeah, Dom had Lucky totally understanding self loading in about 90 seconds.
Now I did try and self load Lucky last year with no success so I KNOW that Dom’s way was working. I asked Dom to do it again to make sure it was not a fluke and Dom happily agreed. She did it again, but this time explained to me what she was doing and why she was doing it as it was happening so that I could do it on my own. Lucky was her good girl self and got herself on and off again while listening to Dom’s cues. It was amazing.
Then it was my turn to try and I will tell you…I didn’t get it right away. Dom worked with me and got me to ask the right things of Lucky so she would self load with me. After a little bit of practice I got it! She self loaded with me. I was over the moon! After a few more tries (and showing off to the whole family at Lucky’s barn) we took a break to chat. I little while later I tried again just to make sure I was confident and sure enough…it worked like a charm. Lucky literally TROTTED ON THE TRAILER! I was sooooo happy!
Dom was laughing because Lucky is such a riot. She really, really wants to do well and make you happy…she just needs to understand what you are asking. As soon as she figured out what Dom wanted her to do it was smooth sailing and I don’t think it will ever be an issue again. Can I tell you how excited I am. I now have a truck, a trailer, and a horse that self loads. The world is my playground!
While rewarding Lucky with some yummy grass from the front lawn we started talking about the kitten Nala at Lucky’s barn who was playing with Herbie. Poor Dom just said the word neuter and both Lucky’s Owner and I were all over her. Can I just tell you the greatness of Dom. Not only did she teach Lucky and I how to do the self loading, but she even helped us out by grabbing the cat and playing taxi to the neuter clinic! Can we say awesome??
Seriously…it was the best morning ever. And it was Friday the 13th! By noon I had decided to just give in and enjoy the beautiful, and perfect day! My truck started, my trailer was easy to get and my Lucky learned how to self load. Maybe all that bad Mojo from last show season is going to mean a stellar 2012!
Oh, and I HIGHLY recommend Dom for those of you that are local if you have horses that have trailer issues, or even for those that don’t that you just want to teach to self load so you can be independent. She was great! You can get more info on her webpage. You can ask her, it was literally 5 minutes from the session starting to her teaching me how to do it myself successfully!