Thursday, January 19, 2017

19th January, 2017 Too Much Action not Enough Conversation?

A double bill today with Matt the farrier, Anna and then Angelo. Each of these days may sound effortless when I'm only supervising the work but they're still long. For only two hours' work overall, I was out of the house for 7 hours reliant as I am on other people for lifts. Lovely Lorraine picked me up at 11 a.m. to drop me off at Tracey's. Tracey gave me a lift to each of the clients and then it was back to hers to wait for David to pick me up after he had finished work.

Anna was happy to let Tracey catch her but you can see from the lowered bottom eyelid in the bottom right picture that she still has some misgivings as to whether she should be letting anyone pick up her feet. Through the winter she only has close contact with humans once every eight to ten weeks and is pretty convinced that she should really be a wild pony.

The last time Angelo even heard a farrier in the yard he became terribly upset and he has to be sedated to have his feet trimmed. I asked Matt to work with me on getting his confidence back and overcoming his fears, which pre-dated his arrival with his present owner, and not foreseeing that I would be injured we set today's date. It was only today that Matt told me that he has a broken rib so between the two of us we didn't need to be wrenched about.

Fortunately, the clicker training that I set Emma up to work with at our last session is already making a difference to Angelo. Having worked with me so many times with remedial horses, Matt is a dab hand at the clicker training too and so he knew exactly how to greet Angelo.

Since Angelo's front shoes and back feet were not too bad, Emma and Matt agreed that today they would just work on familiarisation, so that Matt could judge whether he was likely to succeed with trimming and shoeing Angelo on a future occasions.

With Emma now 'operating' the clicker training at the front, Matt picked up each of Angelo's feet, and drew his legs backwards and forwards as he would need to. He also tapped his shoes with a shoe while Emma clicked and treated as needed. They have now made an appointment for two weeks' time.

One of my common refrains is that working with a horse should be like a constant 'conversation' using body language, energy and intent in one direction and reading the horse's body language and energy levels in the other.

Once again Ross Jacob's explains this in much more detail on his Facebook page: Ross Jacobs and helpfully puts up a video to illustrate what he means. In the video the horse is actually trotting pretty gently whereas when I arrived at Emma's today he was actually dashing around at the end of a lunge line. This is a sign that a horse has learned to go on to Automatic Pilot in the past and certainly something she and I are keen to avoid in the future even if the lunging is intended to take some of the energy out of him. I have worked with so many Arabs now and know that it is possibly to work them calmly and consistently providing you keep up the level of communication.

We started with some very simple single-line work, with Tracey endeavouring to illustrate both to Angelo and his owner exactly what I mean. This created a very different picture...

...and at the end Angelo yawned his little head off as he let go of all of the emotion and tension he had been carrying.