Wednesday, September 29, 2010
"Tthought I would let you know how the boys are getting on. We have been walking them one at a time all around the fields then out of the top gate down the road and all around the front garden, in and out of the cars and back out up the road and back to the stables. They have been brilliant!!. A tractor and trailer went past while they were in the gate way and they just looked as it. Merlin has calmed down so much, when I brush his tail his head nearly touches the floor and I have taught them both to be floor tied." TT
|Julie with Fern|
Almost eighteen months ago I worked with a starter called Fern. As well as starting to ride her, we spent time getting her used to traffic again as she and her owner, Linda, had been hit from behind by a car when walking out about a month before she came in. Little did she realise at the time, but Linda actually had a broken bone in her back and later underwent very difficult surgery and a long period of recovery. Sadly the driver who hit her didn't stop at the scene and hasn't ever been traced. I was delighted to hear that Linda is now riding again and it is all going well:
"Just wanted to tell you that although it's a year later (what with broken back and all that jazz) I'm now riding Fern regularly and she is a dream. Despite being ignored for a year and being greener than a green thing she is just the sweetest thing. Soft of mouth, yields to the slightest leg, listens and only gives things a thorough stare when unsure - a friend rode her out in traffic alone to make sure she was ok with it and she is fine with cars in front, behind, to the side, anywhere and everywhere - all that walking down that busy road you did obviously paid off! I have hacked out across the village through 'rush hour' on my own now and we survived despite my singing! I can't thank you enough - I know that the root of all this is your excellent care and attention to her and her wellbeing. I really wanted to say was thank you again to you and your lovely team for making just the best job of Fern, she is really much too good for me now! I have been offered loads of money for her too (twice) because she is just so responsive and quick to learn and despite being steady as a rock is not at all asleep, she's keen as mustard - I'm keeping her though! "LBP
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
"Just wanted to thank you millions again for today, I am now looking at my little bay pony in a completely different light."VR
"Just with that hour she was totally different the next day, I was taken by surprise as I didn't expect her behaviour to change so quickly. Instead of flat back ears and a bottom in my face, I had a leisurely head raise to say hello and then total indifference - bliss! I was able to walk over to her and give a lovely gentle 'caress' and then walk away to finish poo picking in peace! She now has a companion in the shape of a little 10yrs old Welsh Section A gelding. This appears to be love at first sight but not over the top excitement just the opportunity to relax and roll (almost Rock 'n Roll!). So, I hope Missy and I go from strength to strength on our journey of enjoying and teaching other how to behave and as long and as I can always be leader I think we will be friends." SS 28.9.10
Monday, September 27, 2010
Yet another legal analogy has struck me recently. Following my unscheduled dismount from Theoden a few weeks ago, I have been going over parts of his education to make sure that I haven't missed anything. I found that my confidence and his had been dented even though neither of us were hurt. Theoden, like most horses, is sensitive to how I feel and I can hear him asking me if I am really sure. The same test is applied to legal cases where the jury is told that they should only find someone guilty if they feel satisfied so as to feel sure that the defendant is guilty. The only way to feel satisfied so as to feel sure is not to take either of us way out of our comfort zone until we both feel good and ready. Bit by bit we have got back to the place we had reached in the first place and I hope that with the foundations even more solidly established, we shall both feel a lot more sure about where we are going - literally. It needs to be beyond reasonable doubt.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"I experimented with my 2yr old later in the day with the groundwork you showed us with Peanut. It worked like a dream and he was walking with me all around the paddock with a long looped line and changing direction with me really well!" SS 21.9.10
Monday, September 20, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
A lot of horses learn to paw at the stable door or at the gate in order to attract our attention, invite our affection or to hurry us up with the feed. This may seem harmless and we continue to inadvertently reinforce the behaviour by doing as asked. It can seem endearing to begin with. The temptation once it gets annoying is to ignore the horse for a bit and hope that it stops but in time, the constant banging and clanging breaks through our subconscious and we give in. This actually teaches the horse to have stamina! In M's case above, she has practically dug a moat around her field through pawing and in B's case, he got his leg caught between the gate and the gate post and ended up at the veterinary hospital for a month with desperate injuries to his hoof and coronet. It takes a lot of stamina and concentration in the human to never reward this behaviour and to break a routine if that becomes necessary. Once this sort of behaviour is established, it is extremely hard to stop, and B has re-opened the wound on his foot by pawing at the fence rails while his owners are near the feed shed or working with another horse. It's a very hard habit to break and requires the horse to always be ignored while he is doing it, i.e. walk away completely and give no attention to it whatsoever, not even breathing in his direction. For that to work, you have to know that the horse isn;t going to get himself into any sort of danger. Once you are worried that he will injure himself, you cannot help but to go to him and give him attention. The other option is to consistently use some sort of sanction for the behaviour without fail - each time, every time without fail. Yesterday we shook a rattle bottle at M to see if it would put her off and indeed she did stand by the fence and gate for a good ten minutes without pawing whilst her owner actively provoked the behaviour by going in and out of the feed shed and giving attention to a horse in the yard. Practically though, it is difficult to know whether this will be effective in the long term because unless four shakes of the bottle is miraculously effective, the level of consistency that will be needed and the fact that you need two people in order to put it into action, will make it impossible to be consistent. This horse does it when she can see her owner in the conservatory!! I have my doubts as to whether it is do-able in this particular case but winter is coming and perhaps the owner can stay in the lounge!!
Bluebell is a very confident pony now and stands solidly next to whoever is working with her. Yesterday we started to work on handling her legs using the feather duster to establish touch before offering her a set signal to ask her to pick her feet up. She was also led outside for the first time using just a scarf as a lead rein. In the field, where she was loose, she chose to stay with me and allowed me to "catch" her with the scarf.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
It was a great privilege today to attend the VIP launch of the National Equine Crime Database on behalf of Kelly and Intelligent Horsemanship. The database should be a really useful resource for horse owners allowing them to register details of their horses, tack and horse transport. As well as being a deterrent to theft and burglary, loss of registered property can be circulated nationwide and locally very easily and readily identified when recovered. Tack can be marked using current Horsewatch equipment and the scheme has the full support of the police and the British Horse Society. Details can be found on http://www.necd.org.uk/ and Hampshire Horsewatch are offering discounted NECD registration to their members (no matter which county the property is in). As well as a press conference, there were several displays at the event. Richard Waygoods showjumping masterclass was great fun with the horses jumping with great confidence even though one of them wasn't quite sure about the live screen at the back of the arena. I volunteered to hold Lynn Russell's horse while she rode her other one, a four year old, side-saddle for the very first time.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I set Jane off with clicker training Havanna to accept her bridle but she has done all the hard, detailed work, day after day. I was thrilled to bits (did you see what I did there?!) to get this text today: "Thought you'd like to know that Havanna just shoved her head into her bridle for the first time ever and let me put the bit on with no problems at all!" Let's hope it is upwards and onwards (not too upwards because she is already very tall) from here on in.
This is Silver who sadly lost his eye as a result of an accident in his field. Today I went out to do a bit of groundwork with him but as he is only the second one eyed horse I have ever worked with, I was keen to find out what he could teach me. The astonishing thing is just how much trust he places in people when they are on his left hand side - the side on which we traditionally stand, lead and fasten everything up. He could also sense body language even though he couldn't see it and I wonder just how much his ears compensate. You'd think he would spend all his time making sure people were exactly where he could see them but he would only occasionally peer around at me. Lovely pony.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
David has taken some brilliant photos in India and seems to have had a great time. There were 30 of them altogether, all on Indian Enfields, clambering around the mountains overtaking lorries, mules and sheep wherever they went. The mules travel alone carrying packs and are trained to go to their next stop where I presume they get fed as a reward.