For non-horse people, this won’t seem like a big deal.
To horse, people–well, it’s HUGE.
Four-month-old Wilhelmina had her first trailer-loading lesson today with the help of the wonderful horse trainer Sus Kellogg of Free Horse Farm, and it couldn’t have gone more smoothly.
A horse’s first trailer-loading lesson is hugely important as it creates a memory for the rest of their life, and determines if they’ll associate the horse trailer as a pleasant place to hang out or as a dark, menacing cave they were forced into and will forever fight to avoid. I’ve seen horses lather into a sweat, rear, bolt and injure their owners because they did not want to load into a trailer. So for Wilhelmina’s first lesson, we asked Sus to please guide our girl because Sus is an amazing horsewoman who has impeccable instincts and timing. She’s also very kind; overall, the perfect person to introduce the filly to this milestone. Sus met Wilhelmina shortly after the filly was born and has a real affection for her.
She’s not the only one–Wihelmina has become a barnyard favorite of guests because of her confident, friendly personality. It’s hard to not get overly attached to this little girl, even though we bred her dam, Neela, with the intent to sell that foal. After all, this is a working farm. And I already kept Quill, the colt, Neela’s foal from two years ago. We can’t keep them all!
Still, it will break my heart to part with her someday. For now, she’s still nursing and I don’t intend to wean her until about eight months, so that’s a few more months down the road.
Meanwhile, we enjoy her while we can.
Me and Wilhelmina, with Neela, her dam, in the background. I was going to take a selfie when Matt beat me to the picture. He teased me about cuddling up to the filly, and then…
…he couldn’t resist her, either.
So, back to the trailer loading. Sus brought her over her trailer for the lesson, because it’s taller and wider than ours and therefore, less intimidating to a horse.
It looks scary! Wilhelmina paws as she tries to summon up her courage to go inside the trailer (hint: Her “auntie” Mocha is already inside, and her dam, Neela, was within eyeshot).
Hmm, it DOES look interesting! Wilhelmina gets curious about what it’s like inside the horse trailer as Sus patiently waits.
The front feet are the hardest part! The floor of a horse trailer makes a loud “boom” noise when hooves step on it, which can be very scary. Still, when Sus asked, Wilhelmina obediently gave it a try. A couple of times, she hopped her front feet into the trailer and then scampered back out at the noise. But pretty soon…
…she put all four feet in! We hoped that the filly would feel comfortable enough to pause for a few moments, and perhaps even relax. I would have been happy had she stayed inside for one full minute…
A full 45-minutes later, Wilhelmina stands hip-shot, totally relaxed and snoozing inside the horse trailer, her “Auntie” Mocha next to her, also hip-shot. We started wishing the filly would come out!
Finally! With her dam, Neela, nickering nearby and reminding her that she hadn’t nursed in more than an hour, Wilhelmina decides it’s time to leave the trailer.
…and calmly steps down.. She was fussed over and then reunited with Neela. Yay!