Wednesday, December 31, 2008

31st December, 2008 End of term report

I was pleased to receive a Christmas card from a client I only met briefly back in the summer and haven't heard from since. As the session had gone well and I had even gone out and bought her a couple of full length bars for her trailer prior ot her arrival, I did wonder what had happened.

In any event, this is what she said: When going through my cupboards I discovered a 'Thank-you' card I forgot to send. I am so sorry this has been so long coming, but I would like to thank you for coming to D-pony's rescue at the _____ stud. I was beside myself with worry, but with your handling and direct instructions to myself and my sister the loading couldn;t have gone any better. A far cry from a few days previous. I still have nightmares about sending her there to be backed, and about the day I tried to bring her home. D-pony settled back home immediately, and things have improved slowly. Hopefully all Monty's associates are as nice and kind as you! Keep up the good work.

Over Christmas I have given e-mail help to three people (at no cost to them), one who was having difficulties treating a wound on an unhandled two year old, one that is having loading difficulties and one that was being bucked off because her saddle kept slipping forward. All I ask in return is a thank-you and if they get stuck to call me out sooner rather than later.

This is what I said to the first one, followed by her replies to me...

I am very happy to help if I can. It sounds to me like you have done all the right things so far. You could try using warm salty water and bathing his whole face very gently - as if he were your best boyfriend and he had a fever! If touch and move away (advance and retreat) doesn't work then you could try just using a little more pressure in your touch - I am learning more and more that some horses prefer a deeper, flatter touch. Try using a dark clean cloth - a flannel - rather than bright white cotton wool and use all your powers of seduction. Tell him very quietly that he is fine and tha you are trying to help - keep your adrenalin down and breathe! I am sure you know all this stuff but it bears repeating.If this doesn't work then you need to weigh up the options (as you have been). If it isn't a very serious wound it will probably look after itself - if you can't bear to leave it to its own devices then you could ask the vet for antibiotics to see whether you can get it to heal from the inside out. Obviously I am not a vet and you need to err on the side of caution if it isn't healing. If he was really in the wild he would have to cope.....Please keep me informed!

Thanks so much for that! Some excellent ideas there - I hadn't even thought about using something dark. And its very interesting what you say about some preferring more pressure when being touched. I think this may be the case with Impy as we didn't make much progress in our early sessions when I was being especially light when touching him as I assumed he would prefer that. Since being a bit more matter of fact and pressing slightly more when touching him, we've made much faster progress.I'll have another go with him this afternoon and I'll let you know how we get on.

And later:
Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU! Impy LOVED having his face gently washed with warm water and my best flannel ( not tell my husband where its been!). He was still being protective of his eye but I managed to give it a little wipe without too much distress so I think I'll leave it alone now unless it looks infected.He's a very sweet boy but very shy. He was taken off the Yorkshire moors as a yearling and then just turned out in a field for the next year with minimal handling and I've only had him just over 3 weeks so it was a big ask really.Many thanks again, your advice was absolutely invaluable. Nikki

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

3Oth December, 2008 New Year's Resolutions

As this year draws to a close, I am looking forward to another year of being able to help horses and there owners to overcome problems and get it right first time. This will include David as he has decided to have Chancer on loan. Despite both being novices, I am hoping that by taking things gently, especially with David (!), we will be able to forge a good relationship. Chancer, who was born in America and trained to race, has the stature of a Quarter Horse so I am hoping they will both look cool in a Western saddle. We'll see.......

On 1st February, members of the Herd will be getting together for the first time at a venue in Verwood. As well as a short demonstration of horsemanship with an Icelandic foal, there will be an opportunity for everyone to set goals for themselves and their horses throughout the year. Anyone interested in joining the Herd can e-mail me for a membership form. Membership is free.

In the meantime my resolutions include staying away from Discussion Groups where the standard answer to any pony problem seems to be to hit it - the pony not the problem. Despite having made a significant improvement to every horse I meet, I am still accused of being too soft with horses by people who have never even watched the way I work. If people were quicker to use their brains than their fist the world would be a much better place for horses. I sometimes think that Anna Sewell would be turning in her grave if she saw some of the things people do to horses. There may not longer be an economic imperative behind the abuse of horses but this has been replaced by a competitive imperative which some think gives justification for hitting a horse. Even once is once too often. I do not think that my way is the only way - it most certainly is not - but a violent way is no way at all.

I have also resolved to be even happier....and more positive.....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

24th December, 2008 A Quiet Christmas?

Having lost my voice since Saturday, it has been very quiet around here! I have met with all the usual jokes about how nice it must be for David and people in shops who instinctively whisper back at me when I go in for my cough medicine and Soothers.

I've got a couple of weeks off now which I seem to need - I am so tired.

Monday, December 22, 2008

21st December, 2008 Tale ends

Last week I went out to load Wellow Leaf (Baby) so that he could go to his new home in Buckinghamshire. He has arrived safely and is clearly adored by Linda's grandaughter. Such a personable little chap.

I received this e-mail from his new owners on 5th January, 2009:

My baby boy has settled in so well I just cannot imagine life without him. I have got into a routine with him I stable him at night and he goes out first thing every morning. When I go round to get him in the evening he is waiting at the gate for me. He walks very well beside me I have followed all your advice and I was saying to R tonight your way really works. I know problems can crop up but I know you are always there on the end of a phone. The only problem R says we have got is the lack of housework, he says its gone to pot since that foal arrived.

I have advised them to get a cleaner.

A couple of weeks ago I also went out to see Monty, a horse that I taught to load about two and a half years ago just as he started his career. I was somewhat dismayed to hear that he had gone on strike and wasn't willing to load into his new owner's horsebox. Age old problem here, the very new smelling horse-box is rear facing and Monty just couldn't work out where he was meant to go. Once we had treated him like an articulated lorry - you need to walk into the left hand corner and then turn right(!) in order to make sure you have enough swing , he was absolutely fine. This took me back to my early days when I met Goliath, a beautiful coloured horse that was having the same conundrum.

I got this e-mail from Monty's owners yesterday: Yesterday, 20th, we took Monty on his first trip to the Fortune Centre outside Burley for a Dressage test. We brought him in the previous evening, because there was to be a very early start. He was fed just after 7am after which he was groomed, plaited, etc. and the box prepared. He loaded at 8am impeccably. He just walked into the box with zero fuss. It took an hour to get to the Fortune Centre which is big and busy. He did a very controlled and positive test so we were both delighted. We left around 10am after another immaculate loading, and got him back to his mates in the field not long after 11am. On Tuesday the mail should bring us the test results so we’ll find out what the Judge thought of his performance.

Friday, December 19, 2008

19th December, 2008 The Tooth Fairy

Bit of an epic day at Ann's helping her with her six ponies who were all due to have their teeth done. Ranging in age from 18 months to 18 years, they really did highlight why it so important to have a good vet or dental technician. The eldest one has started to get gaps between her teeth where the grass gets wedged and could start to cause real trouble. Leo, who has his jaw broken when kicked last year, has a completly rotten milk tooth and a permanent tooth that is heading off in the wrong direction. Despite being a baby, Freddie had really sharp hooks on his milk teeth. It brought it home to me just how early they could start to have problems if their teeth were just left to their own devices. Fortunately Chris Pearce is a real expert in this field.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

18th December, 2008 Brace yourself for Sheila!!

Huge congratulations to my friend Sheila who has just passed her Monty Roberts' Preliminary Certificate in Horsemanship and was last seen bouncing around the yard where she is groom to four horses, with a smile as a wide as Wiltshire.

Having started her courses back in 2000 this has been a long time coming especially as she has to postpone a further year because of the sad loss of her Dad at exam time last year. Sheila and I have been working together on her days off from her real job for about 5 years so she already has masses of experience. She's excellent at clipping, foal handling and loading. I am hoping that soon we can be working together under a more formal arrangement and that she too will be working towards becoming an RA. In the meantime, Julie, who had already worked for another horseman before me ( a slightly feistier one) is off to start her IH courses in January. In time we'd like to be the mental health branch of the local veterinary service.

Monday, December 15, 2008

15th December, 2008 Everywhere I go.....

I have heard some sickening things over the last week or so. It seems to me that there are very few limits to the things that people will do to their horses to make them do something or stop them doing something else. I didn't know for example that horses are kept moving on horse-walkers by an electric shock. A client tells me that in his previous home her horse learned how to kink his tail in such a way that he could avoid it - who on earth would think that was okay in the first place? I also heard that there is still someone in this area who uses the W rope when training horses - if the horse moves forward when they don't want it to, they pull up one of it's legs with a rope so that it has only got three available. I am told that I wouldn't want to see how they load the horses at a local racing yard and that twitching is the norm when horses are being clipped in an event yard. If a horse is trained well, none of these things would be necessary in the first place and it seems to be all about power, capitulation and saving time rather than partnership and co-operation.

"Everywhere I go I hear what's going on and the more I hear, the less I know." Oysterband.

These days I have to concentrate in the horses I can help and not get too depressed about those that I can't and when I do get disheartened, I think of another of their songs which may be about relationships but is also about having choices - just knowing you have a choice makes it easier to stay:

We could leave right now,
we could just walk away,
it wouldn't cost a thing,
hardly anyone would see,
the wind would hide our tracks,
the clouds would fill our shoes,
don't be afraid,
don't be afraid.

We could leave right now,
any step could be the first,
any word could be the last,
any door would do,
we can forget our names,
forget each other's faces,
don't be afraid don't be afraid.

Put down the music and talk,
your rumours and regrets,
fading silhouettes,
all you need to do is walk away...

We could leave right now,
maybe it's getting light out there,
papers in the alley,
just a little rain,
we can forget our names,
forget each other's faces,
don't be afraid,
don't be afraid.

A third song of theirs is about Irish conflict and the need to 'Pick up the fiddle and put down the gun' which is a brilliant analogy for putting down the whip. Once you know that hitting is never an option, being around horses is no longer confrontational.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

13th December, 2008 Just when you think.....

it's all over..... with one more week to go before my Christmas break, I thought it might all go quiet. Along with visits from the farrier and another Amanda Barton clinic, I'm doing a short demo at Sparsholt. Douggan is going to have his second clip, Diva is going to go in the trailer for the second time and Wellow Leaf (Baby) is going to his new home in Buckinghamshire. I'm just a few pages away from finishing my book and hoping that it will be accepted by the publisher. Lily, above, is one of the foals that should appear in the book.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

10th December, 2008 Away Day

Yesterday I went up to Bicester to run a foal and yearling handling course with two ponies recently bought at the Beaulieu Road Sales. The little one, totally unhandled, proved to be very straightforward to work with but the 18 month old was more reticent. She has been through the sales yard twice already. Although she arrived with a headcollar on, she was very worried about anyone touching her head at all and would only let people in to work on her right hand side. By the end of our sessions she was accepting touch on both sides and starting to bring her head around to talk to us. Hopefully she will come round quickly now that she has met some gentle handling. I love the look in her eye as she chooses to engage with her owner for the first time.

It was also great to work with all IH people - all friends, no foe!

E-mail received 16.12.08 :
Thanks for your advice, the quarter rope worked well. Led them BOTH out to the menage yesterday, it was lovely for them to stretch their legs and have a play together. I think that they'll be out in the field with the others in no time.

E-mail received 8.1.09 (less than one month after the course)
The ponies are doing brilliantly, they're both really friendly and trot up to me in the field, I can't do anything without them both coming over to find out what's going on. They are out with the 'big' ponies which is an education in itself for them! They come in every day and are both eating hard feed.

10th December, 2008 Common theme

As I have said before, every week there seems to develop a common theme in my work. I have just received news that Cassie, the horse above, has been as good as gold for the dentist and the vet. In common with a lot of the horses I meet, she has an owner that is prepared to work with her quietly and consistently and to take advice when she feels she needs it. The horse has come a really long way from the nervous creature she was when she first arrived with Kim. I can take a little credit for helping with the last bit but it is the commitment of the owner that can really make a difference.

Today I have been back to see Zimbral and once again, his owner has done everything I would have asked of her and more and taken used her discretion as to which bits of the training are working for her (and him) and discontinued those bits that weren't. As a result, Zimbral is now working beautifully on long reins.

Monday, December 8, 2008

8th December, 2008 Foals en France - Distance Learning

I was recently contacted by a lady now living in France who has recently imported two semi-feral New Forest ponies. Although I was quite prepared to travel over to help, I sent my notes over in the first instance to see whether she could train them by remote control! All has been going well and both have made good progress. This was the raison d'etre behind writing a book on the subject and I have almost finished it save for a few stories about individual ponies - I hope to include Freddie, Clio, Billy Milton, Rowan, Dunnock and Magnum.

Hi Sarah,

just a quick update on Sugar and Treacle for you. They are both doing really well, Sugar responded quickly to the clicker training and seems to understand what it's all about. She's developing some real trust now and is beginning to come over to me when she's in the field just to say hello which would never have happened before! She even lifts her head and whinnies to me when I come out to the field now so things are getting better. Treacle is as nosey as ever, she's now wearing a headcollar quite happily but we still need to do some work on being lead as she's a bit of a primadonna but certainly not scared! I also managed to get a wormer down them with relatively little fuss which I was very surprised with- I think they just classed it as extra food as it was going in their mouth! It got washed down with lots of apples so I hope it wasn't too traumatic an experience. The farrier came last Saturday and managed to trim and rasp her front feet, thank goodness. He's a tiny little chap, the size of a small flat race jockey but I think that was in his favour as she seemed less stressed than I thought she might be so it's been quite a positive couple of weeks over here.

This is all thanks to you Sarah, your kind advice has been invaluable to us and I will keep you up to date as we still have a long way to go! When is your book being published? Please let me know as I definitely want to buy it and would love to meet you too if we get the chance!

With much love and gratitude,

Nikki and Sugar

PS and me, and me, and me, and me : TWEEKAL.XXXXXX

Saturday, December 6, 2008

6th December, 2008 A gift shared

I worked today with a woman who has a real gift with horses - although it as to be said that she has worked hard to get her gift; watching and practising her horsemanship. Some people do have a real gift with horses - common sense mixed with horse sense that the horse can recognise from a mile off. In these hands horses can feel really safe and get over all sorts of ill-treatment in the past. If you have such a gift you cannot give it away or lose it - although you might choose to share it. A gift shared is not a gift halved.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

3rd December, 2008 Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Just thought I'd drop you a note to let you know I used clicker training for Twinkle today at the vets - while she had her feet x-rays done, she stood beautifully, her first trip to the vets without having to be doped! The funny thing was after her reaction to injections last time, the vet seemed relieved not to need to dope her.
From Jenny 3.12.08

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2nd December, 2008 Grim stuff

The Verderers' statistics for the last week make very grim reading and I cannot imagine how awful it must be for the agisters to be humanely destroying ponies struck by speeding vehicles night after night. It is appalling to learn that one pony was hit so hard it was actually decapitated and it's head has not been found. Needless to say, the cowardly driver didn't stop at the scene or report the accident.

24th Nov ~ Grey filly destroyed ~ Howen Bottom B3078
24th Nov ~ Chestnut mare injured (wearing a collar) ~Longslade View
25th Nov ~ Brown filly destroyed ~ Stoney Cross South
26th Nov ~ Bay/roan 2 y.o. filly killed. ~ completely decapitated. ~ Vereley Hill

I continue to report speeding drivers to the police and to ring the transport department where commercial vehicles are involved.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

30th November, 2008 Beware of strangers

Towards the end of this week, I went back to do some further work with Rowan, the most shy of the three foals that we handled at the course. Magnum and Dunnock came round so easily in comparison it's hard to know whether it is nature or nurture that determines how readily they can be trained. This time I worked with Rowan using a ribbon which can be draped over his back and neck before gently going around his nose. Of course it cannot be used to restrain him and in a way that is the most important message - I don't intend to force you to stay with me by holding on to this thing around your face. Having accepted the ribbon he found it much easier to accept the headcollar.
E-mail from Aud 29.11.08 I brought them in at 2.45, split them up as usual and set to work with Rowan. I fiddled about for a bit to help him to relax, he was very wet again, so a bit of time with the towel, and then I played with the bit of ribbon. He progressed very rapidly to the ribbon halter and lots of face scratches. I then started with the open halter up the neck with lots of face scratches. I did 10 repeats, and then I decided to see how he felt about the headcollar going straight up his face closed. I worked on standing at his right and getting him to have semi cuddles as part of his reward. He now likes to lean heavily into my side with my arm over the top of his neck scratching the opposite side of his face. He likes kisses on his face and at the base of both ears (possible due to my height). Once he really got into that and was so relaxed that I was having to lean forward to reach him, I then was able to take the head part over his neck, pass myself the buckle underneath his chin and then put my arm clean round the front of his face, partially obliterating his left eye and knocking into his left ear whilst I fumbled to do the buckle up. Big click treats throughout. I then let him have a breather prior to taking it off, click treat, then start all over again. I managed 17 repeats, was watched by Sian for 3 repeats, and then I did 3 repeats each with Magnum and Dunnock and put them all out again.
Sian was really amazed at the progress that they had all made. She hasn’t seen them for a week, but she thought that the change in Rowan was truly astounding!
Thank you so much Sarah.
E-mail received 3.12.08....Just to let you know that the 3 boys met the farrier today.
He is Guy Reynolds, Amy - the vet at the Barn’s - OH. He was so sweet with them.
Magnum and Dunnock met him in the yard in a most business like fashion.
Halter and leadrope on, big strokes, sniffs of farrier apron, legs stroked, front and back legs picked up. He then tapped their hoof with the trimming tool, and Dunnock even allowed him to pick his foot out with it. Good boy! We went into the stable to meet Rowan, he required a little bit of click/treat, but no biggy.He had a leadline on for the first time. Guy just stroked him all over, let him sniff him and his apron and ran his hands halfway down his legs.We left it at that as he had been a good boy and we did not want to fluster him. A very successful visit overall. He was actually here to do the minis.
Speak soon.
Regards from Aud.
A good advert for Guy too I think.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

27.11.08 Ins and Outs

Nelly is quite clearly pregnant again so she has been in for a few weeks to make sure that she can still feed Cello and the invisible one. I had hoped to put Cello in with Chancer while he was weaned but unfortunately Chancer gets more upset about Nell leaving than Cello does and gallops up and down the fence bucking as high as he possibly can. For now I have left Cello with Nelly and turned them out for a while. The plan is to get them hooked up again with Blue so that Blue can keep Cello company when he is weaned instead. Musical ponies!!

Incidentally, I have decided to keep both Blue and Nell in next year when the stallions are out so that neither of them get pregnant. It just seems risky breeding foals with the current economic climate and too many horses are ending up at rescue centres and the abbatoir. In the meantime, Cello is staying put until I can find him a really good home.

27th November, 2008 True romance is not dead

David is a very romantic man but not in a conventional way - buying flowers is not for him, especially as he travels by motorbike and a bunch of stalks isn't a particularly attractive gift. Instead I get a series of useful gadgets - a wind up torch, a tow rope for the car and an emergency battery booster. He wouldn't want me to get stranded in the dark in the car or is it that he can't face putting his leathers on to come and find me? The best present ever though has been heated insoles for my decrepid working boots. They may let in water, but at least it's warm water!

David also does fantastic impressions but you have to get him drunk to see the cross between David Bowie and Mick Jagger going down the probably have to be there to appreciate it. This is him doing the chap off Dragon's Den. I quite fancy him like that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

24th November, 2008 Going over old ground

Today I worked with a 7 month old minature Shetland that has recently arrived with Jodie at the Calekio Stud and is proving difficult to lead. Once again we were shown the value of going old ground to make sure that nothing significant has been missed out of his training. By gently using a quarter rope around his hindquarters, akin to a figure of eight rope that we would use with a very young foal, we were able to get him to lead nicely by asking both his front and back end. At this age, foals are still very vulnerable at the poll and it isn't appropriate to use a lot of pressure on the head. I had a lovely time wandering around the paddock with him as if we were off shopping together.

E-mail 26.11.08: Ponies are coming round... the quarter rope works wonders... trying to work out what I use to do that didn't have the same effect. Ami & Kyte are leading sweetly with that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

22nd November, 2008 Don't you know that Tamarillo is part Arab?

Just look at the confidence in the faces of Cara and Olivia when they started long-reining for the first time today. Neither of them are quite so sure of the log! Cara is an example of the eight-year-old-four-year-old horse that I meet so often. The age of a horse is rarely an indication of how much experience they have. The good news is always that they have not done too much too young. By working on all the foundation work - groundwork; de-sensitization and long reining and then consolidating it, you get a much braver riding horse and at least you know they are ready for it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

20th November, 2008 Two fat ladies

Petra and I don't need any supplemental feeding this winter! Today we went for another lesson with Amanda and I took the opportunity to borrow her Western saddle to see how Petra would go in it. It looked and felt lovely.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

18th November, 2008 It Takes two

I have just spent two days running a Handling the New Forest Foal course. Aud has three beautiful and well grown foals with completely different characters. Here is Magnum with Jenny being taught to give to pressure.

E-mails and NFED threads from Aud:
Many thanks to all of the members of the NFED. As a result on your many posts singing Sarah Weston's praises I contacted her, and asked her to come and discuss helping me to teach my foals to trust human handling. Sarah went one better, and ran a course here at my home today and will be here again tomorrow. It was just amazing and really emotional. Rowan proved to be quite a challenge, and has made huge progress, hopefully he will be showing off his new halter bravery by tomorrow night. He went from an "oh my god, don't come near me" to "scratch me cos I love it" boy under Sarah's training and guidance. It was wonderful to watch him allow several total strangers work with him quite happily. Dunnock went from quivering with horror and offering a rear foot to "easy, peasy, lemon squeazy", scratch me if you will. Magnum, who started out having been handled a little already, took to it like a duck to water and was sporting his headcollar like an old pro. Every one fell for him, but then he is just plain gorgeouliscious and he knows it!!!!! So thank you one and all for bringing this amazing lady into our lives, and roll on tomorrow - all very exciting!!!!
ASH (NFED 17.11.08)

My 3 New Forest foals took part in a course run here at my home by Sarah Weston over the past 2 days. It was a busy time, and everone seemed to enjoy taking part. One of my totally unhandled foals - Dunnock went from offering his rear end and foot to one and all on the first day to offering his face straight into the halter on the second. That in itself was amazing to see - however. Imagine the moment when I took a friend to meet them this morning. They were all 3 running loose in a very large field. Magnum, handled in the past, but taught to be scared by his 2 unhandled friends comes straight across the field for a scratch and a cuddle by both of us - he had never seen Ruth before. That was pretty amazing - however - He is closely followed by Dunnock - "my Mummy told me you are going to eat me so stay away" foal - comes straight up to me sticks his face in my jumper, has a big scratch ALL OVER and a cuddle, is very relaxed and seems to want to stay with us! I was GOBSMACKED!!!!!!! Had I not had company there could easily have been tears too, but I swallowed hard and pretended to be a grown up. How does that lady do it?????? Sarah - thank you so much. Rowan has come on in leaps and bounds, but he still has a way to go. I am going to get them in right now and try and practice my new skills. What a buzz!!!!! NFED 18.11.08

I have had the boys in for a couple of hours and in that time Magnum has been leading round the yard – no issues. Dunnock, headcollar on with a couple of clicks, lead rope, no problems, and ended up being led up to the garden, round the drive and back. He met Granny through the window, watched the farrier working on Victor and calmly walked back down to his friends. Big click, a little more work and back in with Magnum. Rowan has begun to find the clicker a bit of a game, and will cross the stable to come and touch me/halter. I got him as far as willingly choosing to put his nose in the noseband hole about 20 times, and left it there.

Hi Sarah.
I definitely made progress with little Rowan today. I did the stick, duster, hand bit for a while and got a little further up his neck. Then I went and leant on the stable wall by the door to see whether he wanted to work. He came straight over and did touch/click/treat for a while, followed by nose in the hole, click/treat. By the time we stopped he had the head collar noseband all the way up his nose, click and treat while he still had the band up his nose.
He seemed to be really into it, but we stopped at that as the light was fading.
The other boys had 10 minutes each of halter on/off and leading, but I put most of the time into little Rowan. I am really looking forward to seeing whether I can move on a bit further tomorrow, but I will run it at his pace so as not to scare him. He is such a dear little man, and so pretty. He was really chilled out today, he frightened himself at one point and went and buried his head in the hay net till he felt better. Bless!!
ASH 22.11.08

E-mails from participants:
Thanks for really good day yesterday. I made everyone at work very envious when I told them. I thought the foals were gorgeous, and its made me think about reminding R of some of the work you did -on a dry day! I hope you had an equally enthralled group today. It is fascinating watching and listening to you.
CC 18.11.08

Many many thanks for today Rob and I didnt stop talking about you all the way home .We enjoyed and learnt so much from you. LA 18.11.08

Just to say a big thankyou for a lovely day yesterday!!! I'm soooo tired now It was great to see how you work with the ponies and use what, to me, seems a very logical approach to taming any animal - what on earth do people do to tame their horses normally? JMcS 19.11.08 (my sister-in-law!!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

15th November, 2008 Strictly Foal Dancing

Susie and Gina came over today for a foal handling course. Mellow Mink is a handsome and sturdy chap and behaved beautifully. His owner seemed very pleased with the results. Three more on Monday and Tuesday and under cover (not like spies) too......what a luxury!
E-mails received: Hi Sarah! Thanks again for yesterday. Wish I'd seen one of your foal handling demos before I bred my first foal 14 yrs ago & also 12 yrs ago when I impulsively put my hand up & bid for the highest priced filly foal at the BR sales. After enticing him into the pen things went very well. Used the clicker training at first but then put the headcollar on & off a few times without.Did pressure and release on lead rope & he followed me around the pen in response. Kept the session short. Will keep you updated in a few days time. MH 17.11.08
MM's education progressing quite well. Am now catching him in small electric taped area {not electrified of course.}. You may collect pen anytime now as hopefully no longer needed. MH 24.11.08
E-mails from participants:
Thanks so much for sending all the pictures end the notes so quickly..I had an absolutely lovely day, and learnt so much…thank you.
GS 19.11.08
Just wanted to say thanks for course last Saturday, G and I enjoyed it v much and felt we learnt lots. The foal was such a smart little chap!
SF 20.11.08

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

12th November, 2008 They think it's Christmas

Today it was off to Oxfordshire to meet Anne and her new Dartmoor Hill pony and New Forest pony. These ponies have really landed on their feet and are now part of a menagerie which includes cats, dogs, pigs, goats, alapacas and reindeer. The reindeer above is called Stig but he tells me that he has never appeared on Top Gear.

E-mails received: Good grief Sarah - that was quick! You are so proffessional but so easy to be with - thankyou so much for everything you did - I am so grateful and so so lucky you could come today. I can't tell you how much better I feel about managing my ponies . I will go and read the report - I think it could be described as very comprehensive and substantial !!

And later….

What a difference a day makes!!! Had to tell you how today went. still felt some trepidation yesterday - hoping I could carry out the training you gave me. Went into the stable this morning, put the leadrope on and took Henry out and practiced everything you showed me and it worked! He went along with everything I did and I felt so pleased! He and Merlin had their feet done by the farrier and although I thought they were fidgety the farrier said they were good. Thank you so much Sarah I feel so much better and so much more confident, it's incredible. AW 13.11.08

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11th November, 2008 Write!

Victor, one of 62 horses that have already taken up residence at the Glenda Spooner (World Horse Welfare) stables near Somerton, Somerset. We were very kindly allowed to use this as a venue for a meeting this morning. Having been here a few years ago when the yard was owned by a racehorse trainer, it was interesting to see the changes they are making. It will be a while before it is open to the public.

So, (read this quietly), I had a meeting with a publisher friend this morning to make plans for a book on handling the wild foal. All I've got to do now is write it.......

E-mail received: Thought I'd tell you that I used your "laying the table" technique on a little-touched 18-mnth-old Exmoor today, and it went swimmingly from both sides. There is a small - mini, really - herd of Exmoors grazing Greenham Common (well, they had to do something with the land after the Greenham Common Women left) and I was contacted by the couple who manage the ponies on behalf of the District Council. A very sweet little chap.
Joanna O’Neill 12.11.08

Sunday, November 9, 2008

9th November, 2008 Here come the boys...

Zimbral, Lusitano stallion with immaculate manners.

I've now got a collection of clients who have taken on stallions with the intention of keeping them entire. The word stallion is derived from the phrase "stalled one", indicating that traditionally, stallions have been confined to barracks. Stallion owners have to make an informed decision about the way they want their stallions to live their lives and how they are going to balance the need to keep them safe against the need to keep them sane. Ideally stallions should be turned out regularly and allowed to socialise directly with other horses (or even a sheep or a goat) This way they are much less likely to become aggressive around humans and good consistent groundwork and varied ridden work means that stallions can be just as easy to handle as other horses.

E-mail received: I worked Zimbral yesterday but I just used body language for upward and downward transitions. He was so much calmer & very responsive. Afterwards my mum lead me round using the dually and he was very calm. We kept breathing out and he did too!
EB 12.11.08

Saturday, November 1, 2008

1st November, 2008 250% at least

I've come to the conclusion that at least 75% of good horsemanship comes down to the right facilities. If you have a good pen with safe fencing and a way of funneling a horse into it, you can work with the wildest of ponies. Whereas, if you have manky fencing, no way of separating out other horses or only have 10 acre field with nothing smaller in which to direct the horse, you don't stand an earthly. If you're stuck on a yard where there are corridors between the fields made from barbed wire fencing and a gate which is falling off it's hinges at one end, you're not going to find it easy to insist on good manners when your horse is being assailed by geldings on one side and stampeding youngsters on the other.

Another 75% is technique - if you don't know what you should expect from your horse or how to ask him then you're a bit stuck too.

The next 75% is the right horse - if your horse is too big, too fast or has too many issues then that can make life difficult and a further 75% is money - it's so important to budget for training and knowledge when buying anything other than the most straightforward horse. Lots of people expect to pay for riding lessons at some stage in their riding career but groundwork lessons can be just as critical.

All of this adds to way over 100% but each block always appears to be bigger than any other when that's the one you're facing.

Talking of blocks....when I talk to an owner about their horse, I am often met with blocks. Sadly many are imposed by yard owners - my horse has to go out at such and such a time and come in at such and such a time and have his hay in a haynet and no, I can't put an electric fence corral up by the gate so that I can take my horse out of the field without being attacked by others. It is worth considering the blocks to see which are real and which are self imposed and how you might get round them. Could you get some hardcore for that muddy gateway, could you build a wooden bridge over the stream (Linda??) or could you build a pen with 6 foot high railings? I do wonder if our horses feel these blocks too and decide that it's not worth communicating with us at all.

1st November, 2008 Mental abuse?

I have been thinking about horsemanship systems which use the same equipment, for example a rope or a stick in parallel, to de-sensitize and to sensitize. For example, using a long rope to whizz over the horse's head and body whilst requiring the horse to stand stock still and get used to it and then using the very same rope to flick the horse very hard if it doesn't move off as quickly as the handler would like. It's not a good analogy but imagine a small child sitting in the kitchen - sometimes mother gets out a plate to put a delicious meal on it and every so often she breaks the plate over the child's head. Isn't the child likely to become very wary of plates whenever they appear but at the same time be too frightened to move? I'll try and think of a better analogy.

1st November, 2008 Brrrrrrr!

A cold, windy and wet end to the week. We managed to avoid the hunt this morning and Julie sat on Buster for the first time (if the picture was bigger you'd see the rain lashing down!). He then went home again after a week here being long-reined out on the Forest. We all got taught yet another lesson in trailers - as the back bar in his trailer is fastened by two clips which allowed the bar to lift and the pony to leave backwards. Very fortunately no harm done and he did re-load fairly readily. This time we put the ramp up immediately after the back bar and before the front bar. Not very keen on this Sinclair trailer that his owners had hired for the day. The partition only moves to one side at the back, the front and back bars are thin and mean and allowed this to happen. No wonder that Ifor have stolen the market on value for money trailers - they are very easy to work with. The only problem I have heard about is the pins coming out of the bars when travelling. Some horses don't seem to like the skirting on the partitions either.

I sometimes feel like a Health and Safety officer and try to do a dynamic risk assessment whenever I'm working. It annoys me when purpose made equipment like this, lets me down. Fortunately Buster was wearing a New Zealand rug and went under the bar cleanly.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

30th October, 2008 Theodin

Theodin was ridden for the second time today. This 6 year old horse, who is kept in my home village, is a dream to work with. Julie rode him in the inclosure and he was just so relaxed. We met an Old English Sheepdog and he couldn't have cared less.
On the end of the camera, Tanya, my mature work experience student worked with me for her final day to day. I shall be lonely tomorrow!

30th October, 2008 Best foot forward

Douggan looking pretty relaxed with farrier John. The last farrier said that he wouldn't shoe Douggan again unless he was sedated. John is being very careful not to take his box of tools close to Douggan and cannot use a tripod as yet - but we're getting there.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

29th October, 2008 So far, so good....

Cello is a personable little chap. He has his headcollar on and leads nicely. Last week he had his feet trimmed for the first time and then had his tetanus jab. Didn't seem to mind.

So far, this week is going well. We found a solution for our intermittent non-loader on Monday who would move her front feet all day long for pressure and release but steadfastly refused to move her back ones. With a gentle figure of eight rope around her hind quarters she was happy to oblige and we could then work on asking everyone around her to breathe, smile and lower their adrenalin levels. She actually travels like an angel so there was just something about going on that made her hesitate.

E-mail received "Tried loading L for the first time today since last Monday and she went in like a dream, so Bill took us off to Salisbury plain for a lovely ride."
MH 4.11.08

and then:
"Just wanted to let you know about L on Saturday. We went hunting and it was the first test of loading her to come home. I have taken her out a few times since you came and she has been brill going out but have always riden home. On Saturday there was lots of distractions but with the lunge line round her bum she just shot in straight away as usual. I was so relieved you cant imagine - cant believe how much stress we have suffered over the past 2 years and now a miracle has happened!!"
NH 25.11.08

The Andulusian colt I have been working with was a fantastic example of latent learning - he remembered everything he was taught 11 days ago and made good progress again today. Tomorrow our farrier phobic horse is having his back shoes on - I suspect that he will wave to John when he arrives as he anticipates yet another session of trickle fed pony nuts. Back at the yard, Buster is long reining out on the Forest with a very cheerful expression on his face and we have made a little progress with our other visitor who can now commit himself to halting. In the meantime, the deer are in full rut and seemingly oblivious to us working and the pigs come to make a daily sweep of the acorns.

Latest reviews:

Thank you so much for coming out today it was wonderful to meet you! I was so so proud of C-horse, I knew she was clever but she just proved exactly how clever today! I cannot begin to say how I felt watching her learning new things and relaxing. You will definitely be highly recommended by me to anyone I come across with horse issues!! It’s so great to finally meet someone who doesn't go in dominating and terrifying the living daylights out of a horse. Your work is fantastic and I really appreciate you taking time to come and meet us and help me with her.
KE 6.10.08

C-horse was an absolute star this morning for the chiropractor!! She was a bit nervous to start with and pulled some lovely faces but she soon worked out that it was for her own good and settled. You were right her poll was out as was her back in various places and her pelvis was out too! Everything is now back where it should be and so things can only get better from here on. I can't believe that she actually stood there and let her put everything back she never moved away once just stood there and she even allowed her to put the massage machine on her and loved it! Also last night when I groomed her she allowed me to do her girth and chest area without any face pulling at all how remarkable is that! I don't know how to thank you enough!
KE 11.10.08

Just thought I would let you know that when the ponies had their feet trimmed on Tuesday, the trimmer left client sheets written up for all of them and on Gingernut's she had written 'lovely feet and beautiful manners' - I beamed with pride at the 'beautiful manners' part. Not bad for a little chap who was so wild and wooly last summer that he had nervous fits and would throw himself on the ground rather than be touched by human hand! So thanks for being a good teacher and enabling me, in turn, to be a good teacher/leader for my gorgeous little red head.
CH 10.10.08

Hi Sarah,
I attended the foal demo today and I would just like to say thank you. This came just at the right time for me as I have just bought a 5 month old foal who was born on the forest and has had no handling. She has been pretty difficult and I was beginning to lose faith that I could ever just be able to touch her. You showed me it is possible, after the demo I went to feed my foal, made a Monty hand and am now able to touch her with the hand.
JH 11.10.08

Just to let you know, today I have touched my foal all over which this time yesterday I had no chance of doing.
JH 12.10.08

Thank you so much for a great day! I learnt loads and it was great to meet members of The Herd, as well as meet the cutest foal around!
KB 14.10.08

Thanks for a lovely afternoon, I really enjoyed it and I am sure Jos did too! it was lovely to know that I am doing lots right already and to have such clear guidance on what I need to work on and how. Thank you for sending me the report so quickly and for the lovely things you said about Jos - as well it was good to read it while everything was so fresh in my mind, I could relax (and therefore sleep well) knowing you had described the exercises we did so I can remember how to do them and practice with Jos.
CJ 15.10.08

Sarah explained everything in a way that I could really understand and she would demonstrate what she meant with my horse, let me re iterate it back to her and then I would have a go......................................... She was happy to answer all my questions and adapt her explanation if I needed her to............................................
She quickly built a good rapport with my horse and worked causing no confusion or anxiety in him, she treated him with understanding and respect and I really feel that he enjoyed the experience. I certainly did!...........................
Evaluation form CJ 15.10.08

I have a horse called Zee, an abuse victim, who is very spooky and wary of people – particularly people he doesn't know. He gets worried, panics, spooks, bolts. He can't take any pressure or restriction. This makes it hard, risky or impossible to do any of the usual or necessary things (e.g. vets and foot trimmers). I also am not convinced the horse is as happy as he would be if he became less scared of the things in his life. Whilst it is understandable, it has been an ongoing problem that I have tried many approaches to solving. I asked Sarah to come out to give me some new ideas, which she did. She introduced both Zee and I to clicker training, which along with a calm energy seems to be a learning environment Zee responds well too.

I saw instant results from the method Sarah used and taught. Zee also relaxed over the course of the session and indicated that he was happy with the approach.
Happy horse + Happy human = Good result

CW 16.10.08

This is the second year Sarah has come down to our open days to show different ways of working with unhandled ponies. She has been on both occasions an absolute pleasure to have around and we are extremely grateful for everything she has done for our organization. It is wonderful to have someone around who obviously shares such a passion for working with wild ponies. Sarah came down this year with four other helpers, 2 of whom also worked with some of the ponies we had at the event. Both were fantastic to work with and had a real passion and gift for working with our Dartmoors. Sarah is a real credit to your organization and is totally committed to making the world a better place for horses and ponies, especially unhandled ones. We hope that she will come again next year and hope to be able to run a course for people wanting to buy a wild pony and find out more about training them.

I couldn’t recommend anyone more than Sarah for working with nervous, unhandled or traumatized ponies and horses.

NT Dartmoor Pony Training Centre 16.10.08

Thank you very much for a smashing day. Gracie has lead in and out perfectly since our meeting. I feel I have really benefited, and hopefully in turn so will Gracie.
JS 18.10.08

Yesterday Pip and I led Baby up and down the pound without a stop, so we all felt very pleased with ourselves. Thank you very much indeed for last Monday. It was a wonderful help and Pip and I and I’m sure baby all enjoyed it hugely.
DE 18.10.08

I really enjoyed the day and I am sure it will have helped my riding and also O-horse’s development. We all want to do the best for our horses and the more input the better.LC 20.8.08

I would just like to thank you so much for a really enjoyable and informative day on Sunday and your lovely comments on your blog.
AG 20.10.08

D-horse’s general attitude is much improved. She settles perfectly well in the school, in the stable and out and if she looks as if she might get out of line it is straight forward to correct her. She therefore seems much happier.
CC 20.10.08

Honey is brilliant by the way. She is super friendly and trustworthy, I almost forgot she was "off the forest" today…..(and later)…. Just been doing some leading work with the Honey Monster. Best hundred quid I've ever spent !!
AS 23.10.08

Hi sarah, thanks for the notes, she let me rub her down her neck yesterday and today she let me put the head collar on and groom her all down the back, and front legs, she was chewing and licking her lips the whole time, She’s really starting to trust me.
LW 25.10.08 (who worked from my notes on how to handle a semi-feral pony with a mare and foal she had bought from the sales three day’s before).

WOW What a great success!!!! Her visit has given both T-horse and I sooooo much confidence!!! Onward and upwards from here I reckon, thank you so much Sarah
K.C. 26.10.08

Is it normal to feel like bursting into tears when you touch a new wild foal for the first time !?!
Sticky hand, duster and real hands on first foaly today. He was going to sleep, bless him ! Very happy,
AS 28.10.08

Freddie has had halter on and off three times...yay !
AS 29.10.08

Saturday, October 25, 2008

25th October, 2008 End of the summer

It's been another busy week with visits from the vet and the farrier to set the horses up for the winter. If Nenad the vet grows much taller I am going to have to get a stand for my New Forest ponies to stand on to have their teeth done. It's good to know that they are all comfortable and can get the most out of their food. This week we have also started Theodin, the NF x QH at his own home - Julie thinks that we should get a Western Saddle for all starters as she felt so secure. Our farrier phobic horse has had front shoes on and will have his back ones on next week. Next week promises to be busy too with two in at the yard and plenty out on the road - not literally you understand.

Pleased to see vet Dr Sue Dyson highlight the significance of neck pain in the performance of horses - she says "Muscle injury can be traumatically induced by a horse pulling back when tied up, whether or not it succeeds in breaking away." (Horse and Hound 23rd october, 2008 page 21). So what risk to the vulnerable immature neck bones and muscles of a foal when it pulls back in absolute terror?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

23rd October, 2008 When Pie met Joey

Day out in London to see War Horse at the National Theatre. Wonderful play and the way that the puppet horse is brought to life is incredible. In the afternoon there was a special review where Kelly's Pie met the War Horse. Both Kelly and Monty were there too but it was Pie and the War Horse that stole the show. Amazingly Pie completely accepted this wicker horse that stands at at least 17.3hh. In the evening, all of the cast, including the horses, got a standing ovation.

Monday, October 20, 2008

20th October, 2008 Only when they need it

I was talking to someone about a professional trainer today and asking whether she found her a bit fiesty. She replied that the she'd never seen the trainer being feisty and that she only hit the horses when they needed it. I wonder how they tell her they need it?

Sadly I have had to introduce a cancellation policy. I am pretty busy all the time now and it is a shame to make some people wait three weeks before I can get to them and then have someone cancel me for the very next day. I also share mileage between people who are close together only to lose one of them at the last minute. Not fair on me or the other person to have to cover the cost of the extra mileage. Commitment is probably the most important ingredient in training a horse and that has to begin with keeping appointments. I don't mind postponing where there is a good reason for doing so - really grotty weather or the horse or owner is poorly. Inevitably I have to work in slightly off weather or I'd never work at all!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

19th october, 2008 Four Icelandics in Credit

It may have been a bit of a marathon, but I have finished the week on an absolute high with four fabulous Icelandic Horses at Verwood and their lovely owners. These horses are just such fun to work with. In just one clinic we covered groundwork, long-reining and ridden work based on breathing, counting and being present. Tired now. Lie down, white wine, Indian and Strictly Come Dancing I think.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

18th October, 2008 Iberian connections

Yes, what do you want?

I worked with this young man this morning. He's Andulucian and has all his assets. Young stallions can be quite a challenge and yet so responsive when you get their attention. This afternoon we had a new pony to come in to work with. He's a Lusitano cross and a little quirky - the hope is that we can persuade him to be a little less quirky.

Friday, October 17, 2008

17th October, 2008 Dactylis Glomerata

Today I ran a clinic over at Wellow and worked with a lovely pony called Dacs (top) whose registered name is Cocksfoot. His owners have adopted the Latin version of this rather than calling him Cocky! I also worked with Gracie, a lovely Dartmoor filly who was orphaned a few days after birth and found under a bush; she looks great now. The last horse, April, is a beautiful Thoroughbred brood mare - I'm introducing her to clicker training so that visits from the vet can be made more pleasant for her.

All of the good news this week is overshadowed by the fact that little Vieshot, who was at my demo last weekend, suddenly came down with a virus and died within a day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

16th October, 2008 Mind and body

Petra and I went to another Amanda Barton clinic today. Having used my body to influence her body at the last lesson, today we worked on using my mind to influence her mind. By thinking about what I really wanted from her, I was able to create it more easily. I love my little horse.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

15th October, 2008 From A to Z

Another great day. This morning I worked with a yearling filly who was absolutely adamant that she wasn't going to go in a trailer. She wasn't impressed by clicker treats or the promise of her best pink bucket in the front of the trailer. It's so important not to use too much pressure on her head, especially as she has previously shown an inclination to rear, so instead we relied on panels to just encourage her forward. Once she had her front feet on the ramp she realised that she was quite safe and toddled in and out of the trailer quite lightly.

This afternoon I worked with a lovely cob who is still wary of people even though he is 9. His owner can get his headcollar on intermittently and he has never had his back feet handled or picked up. He was very enthusiastic about food and caught onto clicker training in about 2 seconds flat. By the end of our one and a half hour session, he had had his headcollar on and off a number of times and all of his legs and feet handled. He will have his first visit from the barefoot trimmer very shortly.

There really is no great mystery about clicker training. Yes, it can be used to shape behaviour and to teach absolute specifics but in these sort of cases, I am just using it to ask the horse to pause, to give humans the benefit of the doubt and to make it worth sticking around. The discipline of the click means that horses don't become pushy or nibbly in the long term although initially they can become very enthusiastic. It also helps them to become imaginative. Most of all though, it helps to provide a pleasant association with or a distraction from procedures they have always worried about before. I rarely use anything more exciting than single cheap pony nuts and always reduce overall food rations in proportion to the amount I have used in training. I know that there will be clicker training purists out there who will sigh when they hear that I use clicker training to influence demeanour and am pretty liberal with giving the treats and that I use negative reinforcement (pressure and release) in my training too; oh, and I don't use a clicker device either - just a Tlock with my tongue. On the other hand, I am pretty strict with it - I don't give treats for free; the horse always has to earn his treat by trying and I am careful not to reward behaviour that I don't want. Accordingly I may have to come up with my own name for it: Positive Association Training? Brings a whole new meaning to PATting - which incidentally I don't do.

Reviews added 24.11.08:

The clicker training has been going well. Both horses are responding well to it.
Yesterday I went back in the pen with him. He knew exactly what the game was. He stepped straight up to me and was happy about to have his head collar put on several times.
Today, he started by standing the other side of the pen and quietly refusing to come to me. T stuck her head over and I chatted to her, rubbed her neck and gave her some pony nuts. I let Z come to me in his own time. He held out for 3-4 minutes before deciding to come over. Then he was happy to have his headcollar put on several times. When I took the rails down to release him, he left slowly, wandered into the field then came back to me. I was then able to put his headcollar on a few times in the field. Great result! Thank you so much for teaching us clicker training. It's been really good. I have a lot more hope for Zee now. CD 31.10.08

Z is doing well and is a happy boy. I can feel his confidence growing daily. Today he stood alongside the gate and had no problem with me leaning over and touching all along his body and tail. That's pretty unusual for him. He is a lot more cuddly and confident about being touched when I am in the field with him too. Looks like you found the right trigger for him! It seems to have affected his entire confidence level.
CD 19.11.08

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

14th October, 2008 Rewarding work

Work is particularly rewarding at the moment. This morning I worked alongside John the Farrier on a horse that has become very very frightened of farriers. The last time someone attempted to shoe him, they took him into a stable and had a real battle with him before giving up. The horse and the owner became apprehensive the moment the farrier's van arrived. We worked using clicker training to reward the horse for allowing the farrier near to him, to touch him, to handle his legs and then pick up his feet. John was able to take his old shoes off (which had been on for in excess of 12 weeks). In just over a week we will do the same and re-shoe the horse's front feet first and then, on the following occasion, his back feet. Hopefully by then the horse will be pleased to see the farrier rather than mortally afraid. If only all farriers were like John. He has no vast ego, is not macho or anything else ending in o. I can well understand that farriers get fed up of ill-mannered or untrained horses but getting cross with the horse is not the answer.

This afternoon I worked with a beautiful Dutch warmblood horse. I really like these horses - they seem to study what you are asking them to do and then try their hardest to do it perfectly. I have met quite a few that have been pushed and pushed and it is only then that the lid flies off the pressure cooker. It can be quite spectacular.

Monday, October 13, 2008

13th October, 2008 New leaf

We started work this week with Wellow Leaf. Four members of the Herd came to the Handling The Wild Pony Course and "Baby", as he is known, had his first headcollar on, learned to be led and had his legs and feet handled.

This golden pony, with a lovely nature, is for sale.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I was immensely proud of Sheila, Julie and David yesterday when they worked with three untouched foals, including a Forest bred foal, in front of an audience of about 35 people who go on the New Forest Equine Directory. After a particularly heated thread about the handling of foals, it was great to be given an opportunity to just demonstrate what we do so that people can make up their own minds whether they like it. Fortunately the weather was beautiful and the setting at Vanessa's house just perfect. There were also doughnuts in abundance.

Tomorrow heralds the start of a 7 day working week for me with everything ranging from an Andulusian colt to Icelandic horses, a Dutch Warmblood and an untouched New Forest pony.

E-mail received after the demo:

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you to Sarah and all the people who organised the foal demo. I attended the demo not knowing the circumstances in which it was arranged. The reason I wanted to go was that I had recently purchased a foal and was looking for a non violent way to train her. My foal was unhandled straight from the forest and now I can touch her all over, put a headcollar on and lead her with no problems. Previously she would try and kick you at the slightest oppertunity. I am glad there are people like Sarah & friends that are willing to take the time and effort to organise these demo's so thanks alot, me and my foal are now on the road to success!!!!!
JH 1.11.08