Grown-up manners

Now that I’m independently mobile and able to do lessons, schoolings, and shows whenever I want, I’ve become even more appreciative of Henry.

Duh

Having owned horses in the past that didn’t really load that well, or were nervous haulers, or weren’t trustworthy about standing tied at the trailer, or were screaming messes at shows, it’s REALLY NICE to have one that isn’t any of those things. At this point in my life it’s non-negotiable that whatever horse I have is (or learns to be) a good traveler, especially since I often travel alone. I didn’t even know how strongly I felt about this until I started traveling with Henry and realized just how easy he is and how much nicer that makes things.

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❤ Napz ❤

He was pretty easy to start with, but over the past few months of adventures pretty much every weekend, he’s gotten to be a total road warrior. A couple weekends ago at High Point, for instance, I loaded him in the dark at 5:15am (he never questions my sanity in these situations), he was chill enough on the two hour trip to eat his entire bag full of hay, unloaded, looked left, looked right, and buried his nose in his newly re-filled hay bag, even with someone lunging a wild screaming horse only 20 feet away from the back of my trailer.

I’m used to the bullshit

The day before that at Scissortail was the same thing, even with crazy wind and the fact that we were the first trailer there, I had no qualms about leaving him at the trailer with his hay while I went to pee and pick up my number. It’s nice to be able to take a leisurely pee instead of trying to pee as fast as possible to avoid your horse taking an unauthorized tour of the showgrounds.

It’s easier to just stand here and let it happen

What’s your stance on trailer/traveling manners? Are they a Must Have, or can you live with some more difficult behavior?

When I’ve had horses in the past that I didn’t trust to stand tied, I would leave them in the trailer instead. An easy remedy, but less so when your trailer doesn’t really have a lot of space to maneuver for grooming or tacking up. One thing is for sure – the next baby horse will spend a lot of time traveling and learning about patience, because I am never again putting up with one who isn’t easy. So thank you, Henry, for having good grown-up horse manners and making my life easier.

Except for that time you turned your bucket over on your own head and when I came back around the side of the trailer you were looking at me like “No idea what happened, this bucket totally just jumped on my head! Halp, I has water in muh ears…”

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Never happened. She lies.

39 thoughts on “Grown-up manners

  1. I feel the same way about Dino’s excellent travel behavior! I show with friends on occasion whose horses do not tie, don’t load reliably, are buddy sour, etc. and I can’t imagine having to put up with that nonsense every time I go somewhere. Ain’t nobody got time for a horse that can’t keep his shit together at the trailer! All future horses MUST tie, load, and stand quietly at the trailer. No exceptions.

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  2. how did you get henry to be good about standing tied to the trailer? Usually I’ve ended up leaving the horse on the trailer because they werent good about tying… and they were old as dirt and not mine so i didn’t bother trying.

    runkle is great about loading. in fact, when he sees the ramp of a trailer down he knows it’s for him and tries to run on! I haven’t tried tying him yet but i really really want him to!!

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    1. Henry has pretty much always been good. I didn’t trust him as much when we first starting hauling places, sometimes he’d get that look in his eye when he was tied, so I didn’t leave him alone much. Now I think he’s just so accustomed to it that he’s pretty content to stand there and eat his hay. But in the past when I’ve had horses that weren’t so good about it, I would spend a lot of time at home tying them out and letting them learn to just stand there and be patient. In a rope halter. 😉

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  3. Absolutely required. I haul somewhere on average about twice a week and good trailer manners are a necessity. Anybody new does not get to leave the place until they’ve proven to me they can be trusted to not destroy my tie rings. Replacing those bitches gets old quick. If I have an unruly tier, they spend a LOT of time tied to the patience tree at home all alone plus ranitidine/OxyUlcer and a bucket of soaked alfalfa cubes away from home to control stomach acid and give them something else to think about. That combination usually seems to work for me.

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      1. My mare spent A LOT of time on a patience tree when she was at the cowboy getting started. She did come home tremendously more patient, although she dug a few holes to China under his tree along the way. 😉

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        1. I love my patience tree. I have no idea how it’s still standing after all the abuse it’s taken over the years. My pushing-20 retired gelding spent some time on it the other day when he “forgot” how to stand and have his feet trimmed. He fidgeted for a minute and then heaved this big world-weary sigh. “Awww man, I have to have manners. Manners suck.”

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  4. My stud currently goes everywhere with me. Lesson on the mare? He’s standing in the trailer. Going to pick up a friends horse? He’s along for the ride. I cannot stand horses that aren’t good travelers so come hell or high water he’s going to learn to be a good traveler. He’s still trying to figure out this patience thing.

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  5. A good hauler is an absolute must for me. Nothing annoys me more than a horse that won’t load on a trailer reliably. My mare was well traveled and knew the drill. Load when asked, unload when asked and hang out by the trailer until it’s time to do whatever. Screaming, pawing and other nonsense was unacceptable.

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  6. its a deal breaker for me. I haul on my own, load on my own, pee on my own you name it 🙂 LOL horse doesnt load or tie i dont want him. 🙂

    Remus is a wonderful loader (I load him in the trailer and run around to get the bar letting him stand there untied (for some reason he likes to follow me in so is not a self loader but since he stands there it’s cool!)…he hauls great, eats his hay, unloads easily, is unflappable (except for the time there were about 1000 track kids running next to our field we are parked in…he thought they were zombies coming TO EAT HIM)…and so on….

    I usually just leave him on the trailer rather than tie him as he stands so well on there and my trailer is so open he loves it. he can see out the front window, out the side doors (I even took the head divider out so he has more viewing room)…

    I thought about this the other day and honestly realized if he didnt do all that i would NOT be going places as much as I do….it is NOT worth it.

    My best idea ever was since my trailer is so wide (Extra wide extra tall wb size for my 15 hand QH:)) i tack Remus up before going most places (lessons etc) and load him like that. Throw his cooler over and he is ready to roll. I love just having to put the bridle on once i get there 🙂 Lazy thy name is martidoll 🙂

    I have friends as well who haul their horses around all day on a lead rope cause they won’t tie, load etc. NO THANK YOU! I prefer the Henry’s and Remus etc of this world 😉

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  7. This is exactly why both of our babies made numerous trips with mama, and then a bunch when they were weaned, even just to go to a friends and play around.

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  8. I have been spoiled by good horses recently, Prisoner is seriously the easiest traveling horse. I really don’t see myself going back to not grown up manners, patience trees for the win.

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  9. I guess I’ve been spoiled with generally good TBs, but Riley is an exceptional traveler (eats, drinks water, is quiet). It’s a must for me because inevitably, you have to leave them alone or take them away from their buddies (or leave them behind) and they just have to deal. With the really young ones we’ll sometimes leave them on the trailer, but Riley will stay wherever there is food:) Even with loose horses and general chaos, I’m so grateful for his ability to hang out. Having a self-loading horse is the best too!

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  10. Trailering manners, as well as ground manners, are VERY HIGH on my priority list; if for no other reason, it keeps both the rider and horse safe. Plus, who wants to be ‘that rider’ with the horse that won’t load, or the one that screams its head off wherever they go? Since Roger came from the track, he’ll stand on cross-ties for days, he has wonderful ground manners, and has never given me any problems about loading and unloading. On our first field trip he did scream a little bit, but since then, he’s been cool as a cucumber, which I’m SO thankful for!

    Seems like Henry is continually showing you that he’s the best $900 you’ve ever spent 🙂

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  11. I don’t trailer often at all (I don’t show as of now and don’t really want to, haha, so we haul to the occasional lesson or out to trails.) so it’s not that huge of a deal, but my horse sucks at loading, once he’s on there, after a second, he’s good. But loading, it’s terrible. I’m determined to work more on that with him because there’s no way I can get his big butt in a trailer by myself.

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  12. Dexter is not a self loader. He loads pretty well considering he’d never even stood on a horse trailer until after his 6th birthday. Loading him is much easier with two people, but I can at least get him on the trailer alone if I have to. Usually it involved a lunge line, sometimes he will get on without it. He stands pretty well, but I don’t trust him enough quite yet to just leave him at the trailer alone. Now that he understands hay nets and is very food motivated, we might be able to actually get somewhere on that.

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  13. My next horse will have to load at the very least. My current “beast” is a jackass to load. I’ve had him about 6 years, and it took that long to get him to load without a fight. He’s an Appaloosa, so that’s the first problem…. good and stubborn. We didn’t show a lot and only needed to load him a few times over the years, but each one was a massive fight. Tried every trick in the book, but each time I never stopped until he got in the trailer. After 6 years of practice/”discussions” he loads like a gentleman. The funny thing is once he gets in the trailer, he’s a perfect gentleman, and backs out like a dream. I’m convinced it’s the stubborn Appy in him.

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  14. I have similar must haves, but am a little less picky in some areas– like being a nervous traveler on the trailer itself. My own horse has ALWAYS been a nervous traveler (even before the trailer accident, which didn’t seem to make things worse or better). He can be difficult to load in smaller trailers without ramps, but will self load into a trailer he knows well (even if it is small and has no ramp). He will kick on the trailer. He will sway on the trailer. He dances on the trailer. He usually won’t eat on there. He’ll fill the thing up with pee and poop. He sweats into a lather along his entire body, and he shakes. He does better in narrower straight loads, but not much. There isn’t a lot I can really do about it. But he isn’t really that bad, and I have hauled him myself for years without issue (except that accident, but that wasn’t his fault!).

    But when he gets off in a new place? He’s amazing. He takes a deep breath, puffs up into a very confident stallion, and visibly relaxes. He shows interest in his surroundings, but doesn’t react. He stands. He gives zero shits about other horses (this is the best thing in the world, how do people live without this?). He ties fine, but is so much more relaxed in a stall that I insist on getting a day stall for every show. It’s worth it to me for his peace of mind. He settles into a stall like it’s home. Eats everything. Drinks easily. Naps constantly. Almost never calls. Only time he has “escaped” was when he wandered out of his open stall door to find me to beg for food (and wine). He’s a total professional away from home, and I am proud of him for that. It’s one of the benefits of owning a well-traveled old racing pro.

    I think the best part of unloading him is that he acts like this no matter where he goes. I once stopped at my grandmother’s house (in a suburban Indianapolis neighborhood) on the way home from a show. I unloaded a shaking, sweaty, kicking creature, who transformed immediately into a calm and grazing jungle gym for neighborhood kids, and a kind eye towards my grandmother’s quiet pats. Worth. Weight. In. Gold.

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    1. It’s so nice when they unload and aren’t total morons. If we didn’t haul so far I wouldn’t mind a nervous traveler as much, but we do 4+ hours on a pretty regular basis (or to Arizona this summer will be 16+) so I’d feel bad with a nervous horse back there for such a long time!

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      1. Yeah… in Indiana our hauls were 3-4 hours regularly. And I felt pretty bad about that. I always try to do what I can to make things easier on his body (heading out the day before, slight electrolyte sup, ulcerguard, etc), but the far shorter hauls in MD are much nicer for him. His nervousness is one of the biggest reasons I had him shipped when we moved, though the drivers told me he was still pretty nervous.

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  15. Considering both my horses started off/still are (BACARDI LOOKING AT YOU) absolute hellions at shows I suppose you could group me in the ” Ilive with some more difficult behavior” group. Yankee is wonderful standing tied, usually, and I never worry about him…much. He has a tendency to untie himself and in order to tie him so he can’t get it undone, its s bit dangerous. Meaning no slip knot/release. Other than that he’s great. B is another story and I dont trust him as far as I can throw him. I WISH he was chill, but he simply is not. You are so right, it makes a difference at shows in regards to human stress levels

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    1. I think a lot of that behavior is to be expected early on… none of them come out of the womb knowing how to be patient and have manners. The miles and maturity will do it!

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  16. Like you, I travel alone a lot so travel/trailer manners are a must-have for me. I did lots of trailer work with Tucker when he was a baby, so he ships well, loads/unloads well even when I’m by myself, and will munch his haynet in the trailer all day long at a show. My BIGGEST regret in his early training, however, is that it didn’t occur to me that he might need to stand tied sometimes. He stands in the trailer like a champ, he is very well behaved about letting me tack up single handed outside the trailer, and I can even get tacked up in there in a pinch, but I can’t leave him tied to the side of the trailer. I taught him to cross-tie but it never occurred to 21-year-old me to teach my yearling to tie with a single rope under his chin (duh). So, he became a very big, strong, grown-up horse that will pull until something breaks if single-tied. Sigh. Other than that, his attitude is very much like Henry’s when we’re away. Good bay geldings 🙂

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    1. In the early days of training my mare I used a blocker tie ring and it was the biggest mistake ever. Once she figured out she could pull on it and it would give, she never stopped trying to pull her way out of anything. TO THIS DAY she knows the difference between what she can do depending on which halter she’s wearing (if you want her to stay anywhere, it has to be rope) and how you have her tied. Obviously the horse was much smarter than the human who was training her… won’t make those mistakes with the new baby!

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  17. Good ground manners are a must for my horses! While Jetta can be a pain in the saddle, I’m pleased to say her ground manners are pretty impeccable. I’ve had multiple people compliment me on how well she stands tied to the trailer all day at horse shows since I’m too cheap to pay for a day stall. Misty of course is amazing because she’s just Misty, but at least I can take credit for Jetta’s manners! It definitely pays off when the barn manager tells you that she likes your horses because of how well behaved they are, meaning that they get extra turnout time over the naughty horses! Though Misty does like to untie herself at shows and wander around meeting people, so she has to have a trailer tie to make her stay put.

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  18. so true!! Having a horse that trailers/ties well can be so undervalued. It adds so much stress if your horse is spinning around or screaming or whatever. Justin also trailers and ties to the trailer well.. next step is to get him to stop breaking his halter in the cross-ties and he’ll be perfect! haha

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  19. My first pony was a dream about travel (even with his hidden testicle) for ten year old me. Ries had major issues when I got him and we’ve been slowly working on them. We didn’t seem to have too many issues last season thankfully

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  20. I took Moe’s totally appropriate show manners for granted until I started taking Gina places. Moe is like Henry- loads in just about any trailer at any time, unruffled by other horses, happy to eat/drink/pee/nap, content to stay tied up for hours if necessary. Gina was a nervous terror for a long time. She used to whinny and pace, refuse to eat, and my favorite bad habit, pull back and break lead ropes/halters. She’s way better now (a rope halter solved the pulling back for the most part) and is much more pleasant about the whole thing these days.

    Future horses will do lots and lots of hauling around, because I do not need another raging maniac in my life.

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  21. Bacon weaves, but Bacon always weaves. It’s just what a Bacon does. Sometimes she doesn’t, and I have to check and make sure she is alive. But she eats, drinks, pees, poops and stands pretty well tied to the trailer. Her very first show, she didn’t, so I am always checking on her. At her last show that same year, she stood quietly all by herself, eating. She’s actually pretty damn good at all new places for her little cracked out brain.

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  22. My horses are jerks. So I guess it’s not a deal breaker. Having one like Henry sounds like an absolute dream though! My heart horse was really nervous about being tied. I can cross tie him at home, but only in a grooming stall where there’s a wall behind him. Not in the aisle. So definitely not to a trailer. He always stood nicely inside though. I have a handful of college kids I pay to come along and help me at shows. (One per show, I just have a couple to call on.) It might be nice to not have to do that. But they do make having an annoying horse much easier!

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  23. Pilgrim is a fantastic traveler, except I don’t have tie rings on my trailer anymore, thanks to my last horse. I go a lot of places myself also, and P is the best. He loads himself onto the trailer, doesn’t throw a fit if he’s left on it (unless we trailer with another horse and THAT horse unloads), and just hangs out and eats hay until it’s go time. That kind of behavior is a must-have for me. I won’t speak ill of the dead (ahem, my last horse, Jester), but P has made traveling enjoyable and easy.

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  24. I love having good travelers and never realized how much I took it for granted. I also swear by having a horse who will ground tie, because it comes in handy all the time. I can literally toss Lucy’s lead rope on the ground next to the trailer, in the wash racks, in the arena, whatever and she doesn’t move (…99% of the time). Once at the end of a show day, we had just looped her lead through the trailer’s ring, but not tied it and she loaded herself, however. Mare was done. Ours both self-load too which is so nice. Throw lead rope over their back and send in on their own, tie, close divider. Pretty much Lucy is happy as long as there’s a hay bag in front of her.

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  25. Yeah good travelers are a must! There is nothing worse than traveling alone and having to worry about your horse! I have a bumper pull and once while hailing a horse for someone I could see it rocking around and all I could think was “at least we aren’t going 80 on the freeway” cause that shit scares me! Georgie is like Henry. Give her hay and she could care less where she is…

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  26. Oh man, amen to this post! And way to be, Henry!! I’m blessed with an excellent traveler too, which is partly thanks to him just being a smart, awesome pony, but I’ll take some of the credit too, for creating a stress-free, fun experience for him the first dozen times I ever took him anywhere. He learned that going places is fun and interesting. He is now better away from home than at home, and I can’t even explain how grateful I am for that because I travel alone to shows and clinics. Our only hitch is that I have to loop a lunge-line behind his rump when I load him in the trailer. He loads the first time with absolutely no drama when I do that. A whip, a chain over the nose, someone behind him clapping their hands, etc. will just create a fight and get us no where. Treats do not work either. The lunge-line does the trick every time! Love my quirky pony.

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