At the Moorland Mousie Trust, eleven of the new foals are now having headcollars on and four are being caught in the "fishing pen". Little Peanut has his feet handled while he is loose. In Kent, Harriet and Henrietta are enjoying their new home and starting to be touched, Leo and Stirling the New Forest colts are getting fatter and friendlier and little Dannie, who had really been beaten by his previous owner and had perfected running backwards and kicking at the same time is now having his headcollar on after lots of patient clicker training. This year I hope that the course has been even better organised than last year and certainly all of our students seem to have gone home with a huge smile on their faces (along with dirty hands!). Once again I have learned from the experience too - these vulnerable ponies are sensitive to every movement and noise in the building and whilst they will have to get accustomed to some hustle and bustle, at this early stage, they really need the quiet and serene atmosphere of a library. Maybe that's why we get known as horse whisperers?For me this course has also been about seeing the amazing effect handling these ponies has on the people who come to work with them. Perhaps we should call it Exmoor Assisted Therapy?
Update (March 2008)
I have just received copies of some of the evaluation forms....
"The Intelligent Horsemanship methods and techniques explained so clearly and informatively by Sarah Weston and then demonstrated by her, made the whole expereince truly momorable. It was then a privilege to be able to put this into practice by working with the young ponies and seeing this patient, gentle method working so well. Getting a positive result and making progress with these young wild ponies was a very unique and emotional part of the expereince. it shosed and confirmed so well that Sarah's handling methods really work....watching and listening to Sarah Weston in action was a major part of the enjoyment and success of the course for me. She is an inspiration to us all." Stephanie
"This was quite a new experience. I wish I had done the course before we had our Exmoor pony. Those techniques would have proved invaluable....she would have been much tamer today though if I'd known what I know now....really enlightening. Sarah was a brilliant teacher and she got across the idea of pressure and release being so important. Things like yawning and thinking about mundane things like shopping lists so as to take the fear element away are really useful too." Sally
"Absolutely amazing. I have read about this kind of work before but to experience it first hand was really special. I was fascinated to hear about the subtle difference in body language that can be utilised to enhance communication - it really does work!" Kaye