Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Will He or Won't He?

Will Figment make it to his new home on Wednesday, or won't he?

According to the driver who picked up the stranded horses, he should be rolling into Clermont some time around noon on Weds. That's not too far off the original schedule, which is pretty impressive considering the truck break-down.

My mind is more at ease because Figment got into the new trailer without much hassle; if he were truly traumatized, he would have probably refused to climb in another rolling metal box after managing to escape the first one.

I always wonder what goes through a horse's mind when it is trailered somewhere. When I was younger, I used to take my other horse, Cochise, to shows and local parades. I imagined that he thought the trailer was some sort of magic box. He'd climb in, get jolted around for anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours, and then emerge in a totally different place. That has to be pretty confusing for an equine.

I think he understood the concept, though...one year I had ridden in a parade and was preparing to bring him home. I had hired a trailer from a local barn, and they had to make multiple trips because it was a two-horse trailer and several other horses had also been brought out. Just as we approached the trailer, it started to rain. Another woman who had also brought her horse nearly broke her butt to rush to the trailer ahead of us and put her horse in. I guess she didn't want to wait in the downpour for the second trip.

Problem is, her horse refused to go in. He would barely even get close to the trailer. I stood by with my friend, who had come along to help with Cochise; we were all getting rained on while the woman struggled with her uncooperative beast. Finally, after 15 minutes or so, my friend couldn't take it anymore. She led Cochise up and said, "He knows how to trailer." She pointed him at the door, and he rushed right past the other horse and jumped in as if to say, "Out of my way! I'm getting wet! I know that this is the way home." Ah, the joy of a well-trained horse!

It usually takes some practice to get a horse to walk in willingly, especially in a small two-horse trailer. Figgie is being hauled in a nice, roomy four-horse model, but standard two-horse trailers look small, dark, and narrow to the equine eye. A horse is a prey animal that is used to being on the move in wide open spaces. Asking it to enter and stand "trapped" in a dingy, claustrophoblic area goes against its instincts.

But horses can be taught (or bribed) to do things against their better judgement. Through the liberal use of treats, I taught Cochise that a trailer was a good place to be. I've never tried to load Figment into a two-horse model, but hopefully now that he's had experience in a larger trailer, a small one won't seem too intimidating.

In addition to wondering how he views the trailer, I wonder if he misses Cochise and Serenity, his two pasture mates for the past five years. When I bought him, he was three years old and had never been away from his mother. For the first day, he galloped back and forth in the pasture, whinnying for her wildly. By the next day, he seemed to have forgotten all about her...he settled into his new home as though he'd lived there all his life. Hopefully he'll take to his new home in FL as easily.

Back in IL, Cochise doesn't seem to miss him at all. On the other hand, Serenity is quite confused. When the horses are out in the corral, they can go back into their stalls if they want to. After the trailer left, Serenity kept going into Figment's stall as though he were searching for Figgie. But he and 'Chise are buddies; they're both old farts who I suspect will quickly forget their young nemesis.

Meanwhile, the waiting game continues. Barring another breakdown tonight, I'm hoping that we'll be reunited within the next 12 hours. When I last spoke to the driver, he was just about to do a drop-off in Alabama and then continue on to Florida, with a sleep break worked in there somewhere, too.

Hopefully by tomorrow night I'll be describing our happy reunion.

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