Mark’s methods are to accept that it is completely unnatural for an animal that relies on flight to survive, to enter a very tightly constricted space, from which there is no obvious escape. Horses can overcome this natural aversion through repetition.
- He will load your pony 100 times in one session
- The last 50 times the owner will be loading it themselves.
- This way, the horse will load the first time the following day … when Mark is not there.
- He will charge you £40 an hour plus a bit for travelling (dependent on distance)
A typical tale of loading
It was 7 pm on a warm summers evening. I like to do loaders as last job of the day, so I am never under pressure of time.
I knew the parents were reaching breaking point, after having spent four hours the previous Sunday without managing to persuade Rocket to go into the trailer.
I hopped out of the car, with my little flick stick and chifney.
Howls of protest erupt from 14 year old brat.
I am NOT, apparently, going to be allowed near the pony with a chifney, or flick stick.
“We don’t use those things to load him”
You don’t use those things to load him because you DO NOT LOAD him.
If you have tried your methods 500 times and he has said NO 500 times, I promise he will say no to request number 501. If you want a different answer you will have to ask the question in a different way.
There were only about 400 places I would rather have been right then and I then remembered the appointment I had with a pint.
Father raced to stand in front of my car at the gate as I tried to escape.
Between us Father and I laid down the law about the essential need for a change of plan.
Mother, Father, Brat, brother and family Labrador all gather around to watch the load. Rocket reaches the ramp, stands up, spins and disappears back to his stable … oh, but he doesn’t actually manage to go anywhere because of the chifney. He is half a ton … I am a tenth of that … I have no chance of safely controlling something of that size.
No stud in the country would ask a member of staff to control a huge , rampant stallion without a chifney. Racing yards, who need to keep their staff out of A and E, use them daily. Health and safety bosses refuse to allow a horse at a thoroughbred sale without one.
These parents, who love their child dearly, would not allow them to go in a car without a seatbelt, would not dream of allowing them out walking without high viz, were perfectly happy to see the little girl dragged around like a rag-doll.
Realising that going back to his stable is no longer an issue Rocket quickly realises that he loads and gets grub. It’s a no-brainer. Seems so simple. He pauses, put his head on one side and his expression almost says “Do you think this is all they wanted? If this is what they wanted why on earth didn’t they ask?”
By the time he has loaded twenty times he is loading like clockwork.
Another twenty times and mother is doing it (much to annoyance of sulky brat)
Another twenty times and father is prepared to show Brat. Having seen with his own eyes, the method is obviously working.
Another twenty times and 10 year old son, who doesn’t like the pony, shows his sister how it should be done.
Another twenty times and Brat finally smiles and accepts the obvious truth.
As my piece de resistance I then have a little word with the Labrador, put the leadrope in his mouth and up into the trailer went Rocket being led by the family lab.!!
Brat text me an hour later, when I made by belated appointment, to thank me.
As always, I have never heard from them again.