Friday, March 14, 2008

14th March, 2008 All work and no play

Further to my post about being somewhat worn out, I have made the decision to have a shortbreak and then only to accept horses in on a d.i.y. basis with training sessions added as needed.The last pair of ponies are due to arrive next weekend and will be gone again, all being well by the middle of April. Fortunately these are ponies and owners that I know really well and they are always pleased with the work that I do and I like working with them. Sadly, having horses in our full time care is just not cost effective - £150 per week turns into nothing when each horse gets at least five hours training, poo-picking and all feed included and then I pay Julie for riding them and my landlord's rent. It's taken me three years to work this out - not exactly a rude awakening but a slow realisation. This winter may have put the tin hat on it: the constant battle to keep my fences together, wading through thick mud and poo-picking forever hasn't helped. My experience has been that most horses come in with a physical problem of one sort or another and that their training is rarely as straightforward (or as cheap)as everyone would hope. Despite having a range of saddles myself, saddle fitting is still a huge problem and ponies rarely come in with anything decent enough to use on them. Wherever possible, we do everything that the owner asks us to do but are left in an awkward position where we feel that the horse's welfare is being compromised for example where we asked not to put a rug on in the winter, where a barefoot horse is footy on gravelly going or the horse is simply not ready to be ridden. Just to cap it all, there are horses that don't get on with each other, pace up and down the fenceline, chew my field shelter to bits or just walk through the post and rail fencing.

The fantastic news is that this is taking us in an entirely new direction, supporting, assisting and training people to start their horses at home or at the yard by making sure that their horses are physically and mentally ready to be sat on for the first time. The combination of groundwork, long reining and spook-busting leads to a confident, fit and accepting horse. We can be as hands on or hands off as the owner and horse need us to be.

Back to the yard for one moment - Polly came in as a difficult loader but after just one session she was happily loading time after time: she can now load in almost blizzard conditions. Instead of downing tools and delighting in a "quick fix" her owner and I have continued to load her every day and then gone out and about on the Forest riding and long reining.

Here are the latest reviews:

I am just really grateful that you gave me the confidence to work on Bailey's 'problems' myself. Many trainers may have taken the line "Oh yes, it sounds like you need my help..." and reach for the diary! But you gave me the opportunity to persevere and we're really getting there! However, its lovely to have you as my back-up plan if I get out of my depth
NB 18.2.08

Wow Sarah the clicker training sounds so interesting (can you use it on husbands?). I can't wait to find out more (I will get the books). I have seen it used on dogs before but not horses. It sounds like you got W's attention and he must have enjoyed the 'new game'. Thank you Sarah you are such a great trainer, not just because of your multi-dimensional skills but for your insight and understanding of both horse and owner; you're wonderful. I would recommend you to anyone.
LR 26.2.08

I just wanted to say a big thank you for letting me tag along with you yesterday. I really found it incredibly interesting, and have already learned a lot from just watching you do your thing.
LF, Grazing Officer 28.2.08

Thank you for yesterday, have been in this morning working with glove and feather duster. It is great that I can again have contact with William and with your help hope to make progress
GS 28.2.08

Thank you so much for coming to see A, it was a great help and totally amazing. I am very keen to use these methods and try them out with B too,
ZY 8.3.08

The lesson was really good, the only thing I would say I would have prefered B-pony to have done something naughty in a strange roundabout way, as it would have good for me to see and learn how to recorrect his faults using the Dually.....B-pony has always been excellent in hand but yesterday he learnt very quickly and really understood of what was being asked. All people do stuff in very different ways working with horses so I picked up on a few things Sarah did which you just find yourself thinking "God I didnt think of that or I didn't realise that"....It was really good B-pony was so happy with the lesson, his body language said it all really - closed eyes licking on the lips and lowering of the head! I would recommend Sarah as much as the Dually - great talented lady.
CF on NFED 14.3.08