Another foray to Sway this morning to see Sandra, Iona and Honey. Sometimes it can seem like deja vu but we always make simple and significant progress. Iona is much more settled in her long reining, happier now on her right rein, and has now learned clickered halts on, and off, the lead rein.
Meanwhile, Honey has moved with a rider on for the first time, describing small circles in each direction.
Iona may have looked alert at times during the morning but apparently it took fifteen minutes for the two of them to get up earlier.
Julie and I then went home again and worked with a pony in Hale. Turf Hill Tillymint lives with her mate, Mockbeggar Madonna, in a paddock for now but normally on the Forest. Friendly but guarded she has always accepted the head collar until recently. Sadly she gave birth to a poorly foal just a few weeks ago and he was rushed off to the veterinary hospital in the back of a car. The vet wanted to reunite mother and son as quickly as possible but despite the best efforts of a transporter and the owner's friends Tilly was unwilling to load. Her foal came home the next day but unfortunately died. All of this trauma affected Tilly badly and she has refused to be caught ever since.
I was keen to establish a technique for Joyce that she could use to catch Tilly whenever and wherever needed. Luckily Tilly was very keen on the idea of clickered treats and was soon engaging with me in exchange for pony nuts. She wasn't so sure about the head collar being included in the arrangement but eventually gave it a go. With a lot of repetition all within an hour we had a pattern that seemed to work.
With a head collar and lead rein on, and their heads each stuck eating from a bucket, we were able to move both ponies to their new temporary paddock where there is a decent amount of grass. This will help Tilly to regain her health and set both ponies up for the rest of the summer out on the Forest.
Email received 7.6.16:
"Just to let you know that I've had a headcollar on Tilly 4 times this morning - yippee. It wasn't perfect but no pressure or walking away. Mum just needs a bit more practice but plenty of clicking and reward seemed to do the trick, she knew that I was trying too. She also knows (I hope) that having taken the headcollar off at the end and not trying to take her away from the lovely grass that I wasn't doing anything negative... thanks for all your help, it was invaluable and I think that we're on the right track now. I'll do a bit more with her when I get back and before she goes out at the beginning of next week."
"Just to give you a final update, I put the head collar on Tilly twice yesterday before letting them back out on the forest. They are both looking fantastic after a week in that lush field and it's all thanks to you getting a head collar on Tilly so that we could take them there." JB