Friday, October 31, 2014

31st October, 2014 Andy are You Goofin' On Elvis?

It has to be said that REM lyrics never make a lot of sense but when you are working with a young colt called Andy then Man on the Moon is bound to come to mind. Andy, a Warmblood cross, was born at a well known stud. When he was born he was dehydrated and had to have medication which included injections and an enema. This wasn't the best introduction to people that he could have had but entirely necessary to keep him well. When his owner turned up to meet him he put his ears straight back at her and has hardly had them forward since! His repertoire for keeping himself safe has included kicking people and pulling very threatening faces and who can blame him? He doesn't know that it was all for his own good.

I had to pull something out of the bag to prove that I had anything to offer him at all. I started off by proffering the back of my hand and taking it away if he touched it. In this way I had his permission to touch him and everything went swimmingly from then on using No Fear, No Force techniques.

I'll just keep eating my hay as you are irrelevant to me

The absolute key is the quality of the touch whether it is with the feather duster, the soft scarf, or the hand - it must be deep, flat, and slow. Nothing tickly and certainly no patting.

That's quite nice...
and who did you say you were again?
Does it come in any other colours?
Take your hand out of your pocket when you're talking to me

It's only fair to allow him to drink whenever he wants to and to leave him in peace while he does it. It also meant I could give Stella a lovely rub which helped her to relax and release her milk.


Andy has had a headcollar on before but this way it could go on with no fuss or fight. The headcollar needs to undo over the nose as well as over the head.

By the end I think he thought humans were really quite useful. Mind you, foals like this are good for the soul.

"If you believe there's nothing up her sleeve, Then nothing is cool" R.E.M.
 Back out in the field where Andy lives out full time with his Mum.

"Thank you so much for all your help yesterday and for sending the lovely pictures and your report through so quickly.  I am delighted Andy responded so well and have rushed out to buy a feather duster, not quite as robust as yours, but hopefully it will do the trick. We have had a couple of chats over the fence and I am planning another stable session this afternoon.  I will keep you posted on our progress.Think I will take my time and really try to build our confidence together...Big thanks once again. It's been so helpful and I now feel quite differently about him!"

Caroline has done her homework and taught Lily to bend round for a treat from the ground - or at least, half way up the gate.

Once on board we can extend her periods of walk, using single clicks (no treat) towards the end ...

then three clicks and a treat at halt.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

30th October, 2014 In the Black

One of three highlights of my day...

A very fulfilling visit to Izzy this morning. I only see her every couple of months but she is always ready for the next stage of her education. We went out on the roads for the first time, ducking into driveways when traffic came down as the lane is so narrow. Her adrenalin levels were pretty low the whole time and she was a real ray of sunshine.

She also wandered up into the horsebox and long reined all around the yard. I even long reined her into the box!

A second visit to Warmblood, Mai, for loading practice. She started last week's loading session with an overdraft having reared and put her feet up on top of the tack locker while travelling the last time out with her owner. The aim with all loaders is to build up their 'bank account' by making regular investments in their training by practicing regularly and showing them that there is nothing to worry about. Travelling some horses amounts to a significant withdrawal and its good to have some savings rather than going overdrawn or, worse still, getting the equivalent of a pay day loan.

Going up - clickered treats to start this off

Standing still - nice feed in the bucket

Partition coming over - more clickered treats

Walking out again...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

29th October, 2014 Circle of Influence

Leaving my own horses to play in the rain today (although these are Charly's), it was time to meet a new customer and yet another horse with a really moving story. Champ was owned by the travellers and spent two years tethered by a very heavy chain on a piece of land. His new owners, who hadn't had horses for over a decade, managed to buy him and moved him straight away. Only then did they discover he was entire. Gelded at 7, he's used to asking the girls a LOT of questions. He comes bouncing out of his field expecting to meet his next conquest and influencing everyone and everything around him. Surprisingly, but brilliantly, he has been started under saddle and is ridden a few times a week, taking some of the energy and exuberance out of him but he is still completely instinctive and fairly untrained on the ground. Like all stallions he has to be prepared to be persistent since mares will say no to his advances for three weeks and then say yes. This means you have to have quite a bit of stamina as well as clarity when answering his questions.

I am pleased to say that we made a significant in road into his behaviour today. I was able to establish some body space and to lessen the risk of people getting bitten. I also started his leading work and got him working without trying to bite or to press into people with his shoulder. In time he was walking when we walked and stopping when we stopped and he was accepting a rewarding hand rather than a pat.

"It was so good to meet you too and we, and all of us at our yard, were very impressed with the way Champ responded to your methods. We will start in the morning with our practice." LW

Today's second horse, Tilly, has really grown up physically and mentally since I last met her. An Appaloosa cross Cob, she is now three and a half and has fabulous manners. Her owner, Tasha, has taken everything I said in just one session and put it to use ever since. She has expanded Tilly's life incrementally ever since so that she goes out for walks on the road with another horse, meets traffic and has been to a show.

Our session today was more for Tasha's Mum who looks after Tilly some of the time and just wanted to top up her groundwork skills and work with the Dually halter. It was all very straightforward and now all she needs is more hours and more mileage to build up their joint confidence.

"Many thanks for today Sarah, I feel so much more confident about taking her out for a stroll " SP

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

28th October, 2014 With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells

More hide and spook with Kestrel this morning but first he wanted to interview the man from Scottish and Southern about the winter energy crisis.

With the tarpaulin on one side and the buggy on the other and Yvonne chucking her coat about,  Kestrel was a little baffled for a second or two. I just stood and waited and then he was ready to go on. It's critical that ponies don't become frightened of being frightened which would only teach them to spin and leave.

We had a nice chat to this chap and his dogs. He used to work with the Household Cavalry so he appreciated Kestrel's colour.

Our p.m. visit was to meet Silver Bell, a cob with a complicated history and a sad story to tell. Despite all of that she doesn't mind being around humans but she's not so keen on being caught. I worked with her in the field shelter to start with and then her owner took over from me, repeating the same pattern of clickered rewards. We were soon down to a series of clicks followed by three major clicks and a treat for the whole thing. We might have sounded like dolphins.

Outside I began to work on picking up her feet as she has never been taught to do that properly. Accepting touch is the very first stage.

We finished the session on a real high when Silver Bell kept walking up to her owner in the open field asking to be caught.

Apparently she can now even do this in the dark:

"I was a good girl and let my human put the halter on in the dark in the big field , and Riley and Daisy where next to me!! I was a very good Girl"

Monday, October 27, 2014

27th October, 2014 Nineteen Pictures to the Dozen

What a great day to spend entirely having fun with our own horses. We have been planning for some time to steal young Imy, who owns Kiki, well at least just for a day. This young woman has a slightly different angle for looking at the world, and an instinctive way with horses. She gained the trust of my little lot straight away.

After a run out on the Forest she worked on asking Jack to walk over the bridge which he usually prefers to jump. Her timing is immaculate and she's as happy using clicker treats as I am.

Out on the Forest we met a friendly pony that has only just been turned out but Pie was also willing to come up and meet her and he is normally very shy.

Up at the Pub (no alcohol!) we met John Carter of John Carter Carriages who told us all about his lovely Dutch Warmbloods, Johnny and Zinzella, who are on a working holiday at Minstead. New to driving, Zinzella (right) was going to be put down because of her Ballerina Foot, but was repaired and trained by John, and this morning went under the underpass under the A31 and then encountered donkeys and cows which were everywhere.

Back at the fields the horses were all waiting for us.

I needed to do some preparation work with Theoden before he is clipped on Sunday. Not only did he accept the electric toothbrush on his body without a murmur, he really enjoyed having it on his teeth and gums!

Time then to take Imy out on Theoden and over some obstacles back at home.

"Thank you so much for today and the lovely photos.  Imy had a wonderful time.  We really appreciate you giving up your time to spend the day with her.  She keeps telling us about all the exciting things she has learnt. She was very impressed by the impact on relaxing her shoulders on the horse she was riding!" WR