On day 3, we moved with Maestro (23 y/o), Romanesque (19 y/o), Toronto (17 y/o), El Blanco (16 y/o) and Prince Elmelund (12 y/o) from France to Spain.
The horses were fit and relaxed and ready to go.
It was interesting to see them becoming ‘used’ to the truck over the days, where getting on the truck became a ‘no-brainer’.
Now on the first day, some of my horses needed a bit more time to figure out what this truck was all about.
So they wanted to inspect the tailgate with their eyes, ears, nose, and feet:
Now it’s VERY important to allow this ‘investigating phase‘ and the horse’s figuring out state, so that a horse can see, hear, feel, smell and sense that all is okay.
But when people demand a 100% non-thinking obedient state, they often don’t allow this investigation phase.
Then, at the slightest hesitation, they add pressure to the horse.
And this might create stress and trouble.
Or people start pulling and pushing when they misinterpreted the ‘investigation phase’ by believing that the horse is ‘disobedient’ or ‘rebellious’.
But he’s not counteracting the human – don’t take it personally – he’s just a prey animal figuring out if his comfort and safety are still preserved.
So a lot of trailer loading issues can simply be avoided by giving a horse time to investigate. Just give him time to figure things out.
This way, he keeps a thinking and learning frame of mind, and he can make a choice from the ‘inside out’ to get on the trailer or truck, instead of being forced from the ‘outside in’ to get on.
And repetition is the mother of all skill, so at the third day of loading, it was getting easier and faster.
From France to Spain
On day 3, Ronnie and I started traveling already in the morning, and Marc helped loading, but started the 750 km (465 miles) journey by a car at noon.
Because, it’s very tiring to ride a car in the slipstream of a truck who rides 80-90 km an hour (50-55 miles).
Plus, by car, the journey is only ‘7 hr 21’, but with the truck it’s about 9 hours – excluding break times.
Mastery in driving
Specific driving skills are crucial, because a horse is in motion continuously, working with the motions of the vehicle accelerating and slowing down, manoeuvering on bumpy or winding roads. And master driver Ronnie did a great job in driving the truck as comfortable as possible.
It was also very valuable and comforting to be able to monitor the horses on a little screen on the dashboard to keep an eye on them along the way.
With the truck, you have to commit to official EU rules for break times, so after a driving period of no more than 4.5 hours, a driver must immediately take a break of at least 45 minutes. Alternatively, a full 45-minute break can be replaced by one break of at least 15 minutes followed by another break of at least 30 minutes. These breaks must be distributed over the 4.5-hour period.
Well, we needed the long breaks anyway, because it already takes 45 minutes to inspect the well-
So we took a couple of breaks over the day.
In Spain, Marc reunited with us, and it was fun that Marc could film us when we were on the highway:
Top Class ‘Sleepover’
In Spain, the horses could stay over for the night in Dehesa de Villandrando, a perfect place to rest!
It’s located in an idyllic and tranquil place and surrounded by mountains and oaks.
The boxes are 4m x 4m (13ft x 13ft) – which are strictly disinfected after use – and are designed to guarantee rest and maximum welfare of the horses.
The beds of the boxes of chip or straw – whatever you prefer – are prepared the day before the arrival.
The facilities also have an outside and indoor arena so the horses can stretch their legs.
Impression of Day 3
This video gives you an impression of day 3:
This is a blog post in the series of ‘Moving To Portugal’
and just in case you missed one of the other episodes, here they are: