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Don't Forget The Horse
WRITTEN BY: Debby Buck DeJonge
Re-Printed from www.dressagesavvy.com

The beginning of the end of casual riding coincidentally coincided with the delivery of my shiny, new, custom-made, horse transportation. Merely referring to it as a "trailer" connotes images that aren't necessarily in keeping with this baby. I'll never forget my mother's reaction while she was performing her perusal, "you're not entertaining the notion of allowing those bowel evacuating creatures to inhabit this Ritz- Carlton on wheels are you dear?"

Good question. It did smell so good and sparkle, with or without the infusion of sunlight. But inhabit it they did, and then the real fun began. This being my virgin experience in loading/towing/stowing/ and general horse hauling lead me to thinking, in hindsight, that every trailer manufacturer should include some kind of a "chicken soup for the horse hauler" instructions or "loading for dummies" or whatever the lingo of the year was. Case in point.

My first horse victim was, thank God, a self loader. Literally. This big dappled gray Quarter Horse could have been an advertisement for the entire AQHA Association. It would have read something like: even blondes can go it alone with a safe and sane Quarter Horse. Actually it has nothing to do with hair color and everything to do with experience, or like I hinted at, lack thereof. Here's how my very first loading experience went: I inched 'Kid' toward the trailer, slowed to a crawl, threw his lead line over his neck and offered this advice: "You're on your own." Kid responded like all good Quarter Horses and marched methodically into the trailer.

It took several much more exciting loading and sometimes almost loading experiences with my new Warmbloods to realize just what a gem I had had in Kid. The bigger they were the worse they loaded. It's just a theory but so far it still gels. I could offer up some further advice for the trailer manufacturers of the world about the loading of non Quarter Horses. It's called bribing. Feed the little darlings in the trailer for a week. See, the trailer is fun. Then, one day when everything is peachy take them for a little ride. As in, short. In fact, make it short and sweet. Unload them at an alfalfa field and then reload them, carrot first and leave them with the following impression: trailers are a good thing. The whole point is that you want the horse to load whenever and wherever you want. Like the time Adomino colicked at a show and some Einstein had blocked my rig so I had to cop a ride in Jeanne Metsker's rig. We headed for her trailer and someone shouted, does he load? To which I replied, "no, I rode him to the show." Of course he loads. Any horse I work with loads or they don't get to go and play. See how this works!

Speaking of play, the Party Barbie rig was packed to its gils getting ready for the July Dressagefest and our Fun Freestyle performance. Between the costumes, the food, wine, and tack there was barely room for the competitor team. The entire charade must have smelled like too much fun as my husband popped his head out the door and admonished, "have fun at the show and don't forget the horse."

For additional light hearted humor pieces by Debby Buck DeJonge, visit

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