Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Trailer of Doom

You can lead a horse to a trailer, but you can't make it get in.

That is what we neophyte horse parents learned the other day when we confidently rolled up to the barn to transport Avi to his new home in a borrowed trailer. Nothing, not even offers of apples, carrots, and peppermints, could induce him to step into this vehicle, which he seemed to think was some dreadful tumbril about to transport him to certain death.

Never mind that he'd ridden in trailers of various sorts since he was a little one. This van was Different, and therefore it was Dangerous.

"he won't load it's a no go" came the text message from the Resident Teen, which I received as I sat waiting patiently for an hour or so at the new barn, watching for the trailer's arrival.

The big event would have to wait another day or so while we looked for a larger trailer, one with a ramp that would make it a cakewalk for Avi to stroll aboard.

And so on Friday, determined to move the horse even if it required a winch, we rolled up bright and early to Avi's barn, where four horse-girls were already busy wrapping Avi's legs in polo wraps to protect them on the ride.

An hour before, he'd also received a dose of Quietex, a pasty concoction that was supposed to help settle any jitters and calm his nerves. 

All doozied up, Avi strode unsuspectingly out of the barn and into the lovely morning sunlight of a beautiful summer day.

The horse-girls disappeared along a track through the forest that led to a quiet area where we'd parked the truck and trailer. Tony followed them, schlepping a net full of hay that would go into the van to induce Avi to step inside for a little snack.

At first Avi approached the trailer like a pro.

But then he noticed that although it looked like an innocent horse trailer, it was actually a tunnel straight into the fiery pit of Hades. "Not going,"  he said.

A half hour of standing with forefeet on the ramp and hind feet off to the side commenced, broken up by occasional walking-in-circle episodes and lots of proddings on the rump. (And yes, that is a sign of his disgust with the proceedings in the corner of the picture.) We wondered if they made a product called Cooperatex.

Finally, most likely through sheer boredom, Avi suddenly plodded aboard. The horse-girl team and Tony immediately swung into action, along with help from two stable workers who'd happened by. Whump went the butt bar (which is exactly what it sounds like--a padded bar that is locked in place behind the horse's backside). Slam, went the ramp. Avi lifted his tail and produced some more evidence of his disdain for us all. Slam, slam went the two top doors. WHAM! WHAM! went Avi's hooves as he kicked the lower door in irritation.

Ten minutes later, Operation Stubborn Mule pulled up at the new barn. The horses in the paddocks neighed shrilly to welcome the newcomer--or rather, to warn him that they knew what was in the horse-box and that they all had sturdy teeth and hooves. Avi emitted a weird mooing sort of neigh in response and lustily kicked the walls of his trailer some more.

After all that fuss, however, he tiptoed out of the trailer and into his new digs at the barn. "Cool," he said as he nosed around in the bedding (a material made out of pine chips that works basically like a horse-sized version of clumping kitty litter).

Then he noticed the hay. There and then he decided this was definitely a 5-star establishment.