Trailering

All in!

Rocky loaded himself again and this time even went further — because I’d moved the hay bag closer to the front of the trailer and gave him room. I played Friendly Game for a while with the butt bar, rubbing it on him, bringing him out to show it to him, pressing it into his hind end while he was outside, then loading him up again.

Butt bar practice

Eventually I hooked it and let him hang out with it there, at first petting him to let him know something was behind him but then just leaving him.

Butt bar like a pro

And after a while, I shut the ramp.

In the trailer

And then I drove us a little way down the driveway. A really, really little way. Like one truck length.

Hauled

I ended on the good note. Rocky didn’t want to get out as he was enjoying his hay, but eventually I asked him to unload and I put him away.

And then I drove a loop that involved narrow roads, curves, hills, weird cambers, dips and bumps, freeway speeds, downhills, and quite a bit of traffic because it was just after 5pm.

Trailer practice solo drive

I discovered that I feel stressed by cars behind me. Hmm, how interesting! When I was 16, my mom told me never to let the guy behind me drive my car, and yet here I was, worried that I should drive faster, distracted by looking for a turnout that I felt safe enough to pull into and get out of again.

There were only a few areas that even had shoulders, much less turnouts, and I’m not even sure they were turnouts — it looked like deep, uneven gravel for a short period alongside the road, and each with a significant lip at the edge of the pavement. No thanks!

But I had to keep breathing deep into my lungs and consciously relaxing my tension. I finally managed to see, in time to use it, one intersection that had a wide enough paved shoulder to pull into. About a dozen cars whizzed past me.

I don’t know where this anxiety comes from and it doesn’t matter. Breathing and relaxing helped and I am certain that with more practice, it won’t bother me anymore. Or at least not as much.

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Categories: Clinic Countdown, Trailering | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Rocky caused his ideas to become my ideas

Yesterday, I hitched up the trailer all by myself for the first time! I devised a system to help me position the ball under the tongue. The green masking tape on the trailer marks the tongue position and the green tape on the inside of my tailgate marks the ball. (I later took off the horizontal piece, as I no longer needed it.) When I look in my rear-view mirror when I’m hitched up, the vertical tape pieces align perfectly. When I look over my right shoulder to back up, the tailgate vertical piece is just slightly to the right (my right) of the trailer piece. And the length of the trailer piece tells me how close I am — when the bottom of the tape disappears from my vision, I’m close enough.

Ball Alignment System

Barbara, the trailer’s owner, invented an initialism to use as her hitch-up mnemonic device and taught it to me. It’s pronounced “week” but it looks like this:

W – Wheel

E – Electric

E – Electric

C – Chains

Thusly:

hitched

And then I put the ramp down and got Rocky. My plan was to allow him to sniff around the trailer, maybe put his feet on the ramp, nibble some hay off the floor.

His plan, apparently, was to spend two minutes inspecting the accommodations and then load up for a snack.

Rocky in the Brenderup

Rocky in the Brenderup

He has another 18 inches of room in front of him but the way the hay hammock was placed, if he’d gone all the way in, he would have had to bend his nose to his chest to eat. Today, I’ll replace the hammock with one of our hay nets and hang it a little further forward so he can fit his whole body in. And then we’ll put up the tailgate ramp and if he’s fine with that, I might even take him down the driveway. (If he’s not, we’ll practice with the trailer closed a few more times first. So so grateful to Barbara for allowing me to borrow the trailer for 38 days in a row!)

 

Categories: Clinic Countdown, Trailering | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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