Wednesday, February 7, 2007

7th February, 2007

I attended the RA conference yesterday with all my colleagues and both Monty and Kelly. It's a great opportunity to share the things we have learnt over the last 12 months and to bombard Monty with questions. Yesterday he covered lunging, piaffe, airs above the ground, barefoot horses, disengaging the hindquarters and human to human communication. The key message to me is that Monty has never seen lunging done well and feels that it causes a whole raft of long-term physical problems in horses. We were shown a DVD of a top trainer explaining how lunging should be done and even though he used some body language and varied the work and did not hold the line tight, the horse could clearly be seen to tilt it's head to counter-balance the weight of the line and to dog-leg it's front and hind quarters. For more on this see p.106 of from My Hands to Yours by Monty. The problem for me is that most lunging is done pretty badly anyway so the physical effects are multiplied and the horse just goes into automatic pilot. Last Sunday I ran a groundwork and long-lining clinic for five owners and one of the horses over bent and went into robotic canter as soon as he felt a line against him - it was great to see his mind stimulated when we began to work him with the two lines and ask him to go over poles and around bollards.

Monty presented me with Moorland Mousie books and two Duallys for winning the prize for the most evaluation forms in 2006.

Elation this evening because I have been able to get the headcollar off the wild pony I have been working with. Although it was leather and quite safe, it was just starting to get too small for him. No-one had anticipated that this pony would just become more and more difficult to touch and his owner was really worried about him. This pony is quite a complicated little person and prone to go into panic mode at the slightest hint of intent. He is also very adept at getting people out of his body space by kicking out and running into them. Certainly not one for the faint hearted . (Don't try this at home) In the end I went for a rather unorthodox approach - Sheila and I held up a large black sheet of fabric weed suppression mat and blocked the pony into a corner of the stable. We waited until he grew quieter and more relaxed and then I took hold of the tag underneath his headcollar. Fortunately he didn't fight me and I was able to creep my hands up the side of his face to the buckle which had become stiff with mud. Very very carefully I undid the buckle and dropped the headcollar of his face. I then spent half an hour just rubbing his face and neck. It was such a relief for everyone concerned and I felt pleased that I hadn't had to resort to just grabbing at him or pushing up against hard panels. Hopefully he is going to come into the yard for a while to see if we can change his opinion of people.
In the meantime Piper is getting pretty easy to catch and is now allowing me to touch him all the way down his right hand side and today had a full body massage. I practically had to wake him up to give him a click and some pony nuts.
RE04 VZC Silver saloon