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Iona - A Horse Who Didn't Want to Load

Jo Thompson

I was contacted by Iona’s owners Carol and Leah and this is what they told me;
The horse in question is an ID x cob called Iona. She is about 14 years of age and just under 15hh. We bought her two years ago after having her on loan for a year. We were told that she had been abused by a dealer but we also know that she was not well treated at the yard where we first had her on loan. She was tied to a tyre because she used to run at people in the field, and beaten with plastic piping to get her to load onto the trailer.  We changed our trailer 18 months ago and she became much easier to load with a lunge line and a bit of encouragement.
We usually take her back and forth to show-jumping events but since September last year we noticed a problem with her movement and this has eventually led to cintigraphy at Bristol hospital and a rather large injection at the vets because of a sacroiliac problem. Over these outings she has become more difficult to load and during the last trip to the vet we tried for over an hour to load her and she only got on because she wanted a wee! We thought to take her to a show recently just as an outing, not to compete, but we failed dismally to get her on the box despite trying all we knew and loads of other people trying to help. This has meant we have not been back to the vets yet and this will obviously become a problem in the future. Iona is not of an easy temperament, being mareish, stubborn, naughty on times. However, she is a character and was a brilliant jumper until her recent ill-health.”
I went to visit Iona in May 2008 and spent about 3 hours working with her. The owners were not able to get even a front foot onto the ramp and it took 20 minutes for me to get her inside. She was still very reluctant and unsure after the 3 hours.
We took a short lunch break and put Iona back in her stable for a rest and some ‘latent learning’. When we got her out again she was a changed character, walking straight on and off the trailer without a hesitation. I then did some work with both the owners as I believe that it is very important that they understand the process and can continue the training.


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