I started work with Rosie and Fern today. Their groundwork is pretty up together and both are really easy to move around and will listen to what you are asking them to do. Rosie wasn't too keen on my fly cream and Fern is a little inclined to invade space and to knock into you with her head. Nevertheless, both ponies are delightful and accordingly we were able to go out on our Confidence Walk on their very first day.
Walking out is a really important part of a pony's education and is part of my initial assessment process. I want to know if the pony is happy to go out on it's own, to turn away from home when asked to and whether it greets the outside world with curiosity or apprehension. On the walk we negotiate various surfaces from gravel to thick mud and different obstacles including a ditch stream, a log, a wooden bridge and low hanging trees aswell as the occasional deer and adder. I want to know if the pony is naturally all-terrain and willing to follow me anywhere. The ditch stream is quite a test as they have to jump it but I'm happy to wait until they pluck up the courage and spend time just moving them around on the bank so that standing still is not an option. I want to encourage them to try. If their courage fails them, there are several smaller streams in the vicinity and by taking them through and over those, it often shows them that they can do it and they will go on to jump the ditch stream. When they have gone off, quite often they will give a little buck or shake of the head as if to say "Yay! I did it" and their self esteem rises. I always walk with a purpose and insist on good ground manners such as never overtaking me. It's fun to vary my speed to see if they will match me stride for stride and I put in a few halts to make sure that those are well established. Silently counted stops are brilliant and improve the quality of the halt - 1,2,3,4, stop!
Rosie and Fern were both excellent and very pleasant company.