Pie had reverted to looking like a wreck; he's been eating the burnt gorse again.
So I thought I'd talk about something old...
I went to see Harbridge Jack (Percheron x New Forest) in April this year and, as with a lot of horses, I only got to work with him once. It can be frustrating to only get one opportunity to make a real difference, and to work with a horse for just an hour and half on a problem that has been brewing up for a year and a half. In those circumstances you have to rely on the client's trust and compliance and hope that they have taken in everything you have said and done. Of course having a written report and photos helps a lot.
Yesterday I was in touch with Aimee and asked how Jack was getting on. His problem was extreme traffic shyness, particularly with big lorries, and Aimee's problem was that she had to ride straight out on to the major road which goes from Ringwood to Christchurch. Just in hand for that first session, I gave her three techniques to work with - quietly standing still to look, backing up, and clickered rewards.
Anyway, this is what she had to say about his progress:
"I think a combination of a lot of ground work (nothing hardcore just 'come with me' and 'be with me') and just spending time with him because he has never had that before and didn't really trust people. Very much better with that now even since you saw him.
Then the clicker techniques because I didn't know where to go from where I was when you came to see me. He enjoys any kind of trick training as well so I think that's reinforced the click training being a 'nice' thing because he is very relaxed when we do it.The walking backwards worked well for general listening and getting his attention but actually on the roads standing still and looking has worked better for us if something is scary for him.Also I think you made me feel more confident that I was doing the right things and just needed a bit of direction. ( good not to feel like you are completely incompetent!)The first time I went out I went with a horse and friend who I trust so I didn't have to worry about anything except Jack. There have been a few idiot and inconsiderate drivers but Jack copes and if he is worried lets it go much quicker and doesn't worry about a particular place if something scared him there the day before, the next time we go out he is fine.I think going out of my own comfort zone and trusting him more rather than just holding on to all the past worries about what has or might happen, has helped as well.I know it's always going to be something to be aware of and I'm not doing anything silly but the progress he has made is really good." AC
It's lovely when a plan comes together and intelligent techniques meet with an intelligent owner.