Friday, December 11, 2009

11th December 2009 Achilles Heel?

Yesterday it was off to Swindon to meet a three year old New Forest Pony called Achilles. He came off the Forest when he was eighteen months old and has recently changed hands again. Although he has settled a bit, he was inclined to climb the walls if anyone went into the stable with him and if pushed, threaten to kick. When turned out he jumps out of his field for a pastime. I explained to his owner that I could only work on making him want to stay rather than stopping him leaving - the only thing to prevent that would be higher fences.

We had a great afternoon basically working our way through the technique described in No Fear, No Force. It transpired that Achilles wasn't completely averse to being touched he just had some substantial gaps in his training and was very apprehensive about people's intentions; his muscles tensed whenever we laid a feather duster or a hand on him to begin with. By being careful and subtle about how we approached him, making sure that we rewarded him for softening and allowing things to happen we soon got him leaning into us for more touch and bringing his head round to accept the headcollar. He's actually a very sweet pony and I only wish I had a photo - blimmin' camera ran out of battery. (Apparently it didn't - I got this single picture before it died on me).

Leanne is going to carry on with this work and gradually increase the are where she works with him. In the meantime her boyfriend is going to get busy with a hammer and nails.

E-mail received today:

"After you visit yesterday I popped into the local saddlery and found a rope halter that when undone is a very long rope with a loop in the end very similar to the one we were using yesterday (a bargain at £5!!). This morning armed with a feather duster, new rope, and a headcollar with buckles I went to visit Illie. When I entered he was a bit jumpy and pulled himself up to his full height!! but when I produced the feather duster, he immediately visibly relaxed and walked over quite confidently and sniffed the duster. I was with him for 40 mins and in that time, I rubbed him with duster all along his back both sides, rubbed him with my hand, put the headcollar on and off twice, looped the rope round this neck and he followed me round, then looped the rope through the headcollar. He was a complete star and I can't wait to get down and do some more work with him :-D (I'm going to have to stop myself doing to much!!!)" LK

E-mail 16.12.09: "Just thought I'd drop you a update on Illie. I have continued working with him most days for anything between 5 and 40 minutes. Headcollar going on and off is no issue now, I am continuing to lay it across his neck and move it up but this only takes a few minutes. He is still a little wary of rope but improving daily. We went for a little walk on Sunday and he was star. Approached him tonight and he allow me to rub his shoulder and touch his headcollar without working with feather duster first so I have now removed his headcollar." LK

E-mail 4.1.10: "Illie continues to improve daily, we have progressed to being able to approach without working with feather duster first, we can now put headcollar on over his nose and going for daily walks, he gets turned out in the small gravel yard for a couple of hours daily and can be caught quite easily again. Several of the girls can now approach him in stable and put headcollar on but he will only allow me to catch him in the yard so this is what we are now working on.
We have been working on being tied up and he will stand quitely for 10 mins to be fussed over before he starts to get bored, I can now pick both front feet out even when he is loose, I can comfortable to pick up his near hind when tied up and working on his off hind as he is v-touchy about it still. Saying that the farrier visited last week and he stood calmly to allow all his feet to be trimmed. (very v-v- chuffed that day!!).I can now touch him almost all over - including ears, he wore his first bit last week just on a headpiece, so no nose band etc but he was a complete star again. He even wore Paul's cow boy hat on his head the other day after naughtly snatching it of Pauls head when Paul was mucking him out. (wished I had caught it on camera as v-funny)
Thank you so much for visiting us as none of this would have been possible without you, I feel we have really unlocked his v-cheeky personality and can't wait to see how he further develops."LK