Saturday, September 20, 2008

20th September, 2008 Rosette Scheme

The rosettes have arrived for the Rosette Scheme. They're red of course. For every 5o hours of work (e.g. groundwork; de-sensitisation, long-reining, preparation for starting and ridden work) Herd members can earn a rosette for their horse. Sadly, I cannot include poo-picking and grooming!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

18th September, 2008 Only human?

So here's a controversial one. If we carry our horsemanship into the rest of our life then by definition how we are in our normal life is how we are with our horses. So, if we are all talk no action does this come through to the horse as a lack of reliability, consistency and commitment? If we can talk the talk but not walk the walk, can the horse sense our lack of certainty and experience and therefore feel insecure? If we constantly talk over other people and don't listen to their replies, does the horse give up trying to tell us anything? If we constantly block the advice someone gives us do we block the horse in the same way - no, it's not that, I've tried that! Or if we just add "oh and another thing" does the horse think how much do you want from me?! I'm off up to the farm now to ride my horse, be consistent, listen to her, open the way for her and not ask for more than she can possibly give. Phew! Actually, I shall just finish reading the Horse and Hound before I go!

p.s. Had a brilliant ride on Petra - for some reason known only to themselves, Blue, Nell, Cello, Ginger and another bay pony all decided to tag along even though I wasn't going around their haunt. In pale sunshine and dappled trees we wandered around the Forest as a group and played Three Billy Goats Gruff at the wooden bridge. All was serene until we got within the magnetic field of their haunt by which time we had gathered a few more and then the whole lot just took off through the woods and almost blew Petra's mind.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

17th September, 2008 Dartmoor Pony Training Centre Open Afternoon

David, Julie and I are going to be at the Dartmoor Pony Training Centre Open Day on 28th September and will be joined by our good friend Derry who we first met in Exmoor last year. She turned up for one day's training, came back three times and has jumped at the chance of working with wild ponies again. The Exmoor Pony Centre are doing there own thing this year and it was great to see then on the TV continuing with the same methods.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

16th September, 2008 Ladies wot long rein and lunch

Yesterday I went to Corfe Castle to work with three of my very favourite clients (of whom I have lots, before anyone takes offence). This is a photograph of Mandy's daughter winning the fancy dress competition at Came Down show. Well deserved especially as they are both so beautiful but also because Frosty was extremely worried about anything accidentally touching his bottom just a couple of months ago. Having taken it in turns to long-rein Knick-Knack, we all had freshly caught lobster for lunch! Life doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

15th September, 2008 So far, so good

Halfway through a busy fortnight we have had some good results. I've had to remind one lady that New Forest ponies are genetically designed to eat picnics and that sharing a sandwich with a pony that is lowest in the pecking order is likely to result in mutiny amongst the other ponies. On Saturday, Julie and I worked with a beautiful Thoroughbred who'd been napping towards home - clicker started to make some inroads into that. Later we saw a daughter of Fleetwood Opposition - once I'd asked her not to invade my space she settled to her work immediately and was fabulous to work with. Sadly we had a bit of a do at a clinic I ran on Friday. Sheila and I had worked our socks off all morning and everything had appeared hunkydory. During the afternoon one of the people at the course became really nasty and of course I can't address that with good old body language - so we left. It was all very odd. Hopefully the groundwork we did in the morning will have had some effect on the horses involved but we don't go where we are not wanted. I always think that how people are with other people is indicative of how they are with their horses.

Mark Rashid was the first person to get me onto the idea of horsemanship through life and certainly working in a rational and logical way around horses has affected all aspects of my life. I hope I am a better friend and wife; if I say I'll do something, I do it - I really struggle with people who are all talk and no action.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

11th September, 2008 Occipital - that's easy for you to say!

In the end, there were four of us at Amanda Barton's clinic that I'd arranged for today. Petra had two lessons - one with Julie on board who worked on breathing (like bellows!) and foot fall. I worked on breathing too and relaxing my occipital bone as well as Petra's when working in trot. This is the bone at the base of the skull and the most critical one for allowing a horse to soften. If I softened, Petra softened. It was great fun. Fantastic also to be at a lesson where there is absolutely no bitchiness and the instructor doesn't sound like a fishwife or tell you to shorten your reins and hit your horse.

There's two pages of me in Your Horse this month and a great article by Kelly with loads of pictures of Caesar. My loading article has also appeared in this quarter's Listening Post.

Monday, September 8, 2008

8th September, 2008 Heavenly Briar

This series of photographs were taken between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. today. Heavenly-Briar is a Forest bred, Forest run unweaned 6 month old foal by Farrier's Rambler that belongs to Rod at Godshill. Until today she has never been touched in any way by a human and had never allowed herself to be touched or approached anyone. Rod described her as pretty wild. With her mother tucked into the pen next door we were able to touch her with a hand on a stick within one minute of entering the pen by using the touch and move away (advance and retreat) method. In no time at all we were able to use the feather duster and then our own hands. We worked with her one at a time with no force and no pressure. Amanda, my student for the day, had never put her hands on a wild pony ever before and yet she did most of the work. Briar was pretty relaxed throughout the session and in no hurry to leave when the gate was opened again. I am pleased to say that Amanda liked her so much that she has decided to buy her.

It would be easy to say that this foal was exceptional but time and time again the same technique has worked for me and I find it works much better with a foal that has never been handled at all than one that has been restrained in order to put a headcollar on in the past. It's the touching that counts - not the headcollar.

E-mail received: Evening,
Just to let you know that we had to move to our winter fields today. I led out Honey (formerly Briar), through the yard, where someone was unloading a skip from a lorry, up the road, along the side of all the other horses in the field including 5 mad galloping TB ex racers. Did not bat an eyelid !!! So very, very proud of her. She one of those "am I bovvered, do I look bovvered ?" types. Love her to bits. AS 7.11.08

Saturday, September 6, 2008

6th September, 2008 Someone stop the rain!

I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks when I have got the widest variety of work ahead of me starting with a wild New Forest filly to tame on Monday morning. Once again I shall be working with John Wyatt the farrier on Tuesday - he's doing a marvellous job of persuading a very wary mare that he isn't going to hurt her. He's one of the good guys. Wednesday I've got a worried Welsh cob followed by an aggressive NF pony. Amanda is coming over on Thursday to give five of us lessons. I'm now working on Petra's trot and canter but she no longer pushes through the bit or rushes home. Friday I am running a clinic at Portsmouth for a family with a variety of horses. I've got a horse that naps strongly towards home on Saturday that I shall try the "Petra technique" on and then a beautifully bred warmblood to do some groundwork with. On Sunday we are bringing a pony in for de-sensitization work - he's refusing to accept any third party touching him. The following week involves long reining little Knick-Knack, an Icelandic horse and another aggressive pony that hates being groomed and objects to anyone being nearby when he has food.

Friday, September 5, 2008

5th September, 2008 If this were the last day of your life my friend?

I went to Beaulieu Road Sales yesterday and that will be the last time. I am filled with a profound sense of grief every time I go. Most of the foals there were only four or five months old and unhandled.

Pony one has equine papilloma virus which can be contagious and was in a pen with thirteen other foals. He was also being aggressive kicking and biting the others. Foal two speaks for himself. Foal three had some sort of eye cold in common with many of the foals at the sales.