Yesterday I took Princess Fancy Pants for a lesson. She loaded beautifully and I think I'll back off the loading practice for now. There is a time to focus on something and a time to let something "soak." I think now is the soaking time for trailer loading.
Yesterday the goal was to work on the tarp. I had mentioned to the trainer that the things I wanted help with were mounting (check), trailer loading (check), and tarp work (or really, anything foot-related - pony seems to have a thing about her feet). I told trainer what I've done with the pony and the tarp so far (clicker training, working with a small piece of tarp and moving up to bigger and bigger pieces - throwing a tarp over my head and walking around with the pony, walking on the tarp (me), walking with the tarp under my feet and shuffling it around, getting pony to smell the tarp, getting pony to let me touch her with the tarp, getting pony to chase the tarp), so she started with dragging the tarp behind her while she led Princess Fancy Pants.
All tarps are not created equal and this one was scarier than any other one. Trainer tried a different tactic. She folded the tarp up so it was a narrow rectangle and then put it on the ground with a pole on each long side to keep it stable. The goal was to get the pony to walk toward it and be comfortable standing and facing it.
At first she didn't want to go near it and tried to circle around trainer. But with patience she relaxed and walked up to it. When she'd lower her head to sniff it, then she got a break to do something else.
The something else was this, which she likes to play with.
It is like rewarding a dog by playing with its favorite toy!
Then we'd go back to the tarp, get closer, relax, take a break.
Eventually, trainer put both together such that the ball was on top of the tarp.
And when that was successful, she moved it behind the tarp.
At the end we had a relaxed pony playing with the ball on top of the tarp. Pretty good progress!