Saturday I hauled Kota out for a trail ride with his owner, she wanted me to "challenge him" through some parts of a trail she frequents. One of the requests for training was to get him to load better and, preferably, to load "by himself". Since this is the one part of training I haven't even touched on, I figured we might as well try it now. I went to load him and he walked on fine. I backed him off and put him back on, no problems. I backed him off and asked him to load again but this time I didn't walk in the trailer with him and he stopped. I backed him up and tried again and he refused. I tried a third time and he reared. Uhhh, Kota don't you think that is a bad idea? I have been told rearing is his answer to things he doesn't want to do so after he reared a second time I put the chain over his nose. When he reared the third time and hit the chain he almost fell over but still offered another rear when I again asked him to walk forward towards the trailer. I changed tactics and aggressively backed him up and made him move his haunches and shoulders. When he refused to walk forward I would then ask very agrresively for sideways movement and would only let him "rest" if he was near the trailer. After about 10 mins I let him rest facing the trailer and then represented the trailer to him. No real surprise when I walked on with him, he walked on perfectly. I backed him off and repeated and had no issues so I backed him off one last time and asked him to load without me walking on with him. And he did it! I asked him to back again and loaded him again without my walking in with him and he didn't give any problems. Hopefully that is the last of that issue, crazy horse.
We got to the trails only about 10 minutes late and he was really good the rest of the time. He tacked up quietly and while standing, he stood quietly while being mounted and he had no problems being in the front, back or middle of our 3 horse pack. When he refused to go down a small "drop" and instead wanted to walk around it, I took the time to remind him that if I want him to go down a step then he shall and he obliged. He handled mud with no problems and wasn't spooky at the "scary trees" his owner says he always spooks at.
His shining moment, however, was when I had him go down a very steep hill. It had a couple of small drops, a few turns and a small gulley. I let him have his head, pushed him on and he went all the way down and then went all the way back up without a single refusal. The gal we were riding with was super impressed and his owner seemed happy with his efforts.
I am happy to report that when we got back to the trailer he loaded up with me and "by himself" without giving a single problem or even thinking about rearing. He trailered fine and when we got home I unloaded/loaded him several times without any drama. Sunday I will ride him (and the TWH!!!) with his owner and show her some of his new buttons again. T minus 4 days and he leaves!