Saturday, November 19, 2011

19th November, 2011 It's easier to leave than to be left behind

Dedicated to Caroline R. Thanks so much.

Monty asks me my name and where I'm from

Accepting something over his nose

K is well padded and so is his stable

Redirecting his energy

R, the subject of his affections

An emotional day, first visiting Monty, an Appaloosa cob cross and then Kya, an Arabian. Monty was bought through Beaulieu Road Sales and has been terrified of people and of being touched. His owner has done a fabulous job of putting No Fear, No Force into effect and through clicker training started to reach his soul instead of his skin. Appaloosa, rather like Arabs, are often gifted horses but that does mean that they learn lessons from bad things as well as good things. Today we worked using clicker training techniques coupled with good old 'touch and move away' and I was able to reassure his owner that she is moving in the right direction even though it will take time. All too often people receive advice from other owners but of domesticated horses who have no idea of the needs and psychology of a 'real' horse, in touch with its fright and flight response. They seem to think that these ponies need tying up to a post and forced to accept being touched.

K is a beautiful Arabian whose favoured sport is extreme weaving. He doesn't just weave with his neck and head but with his whole body, sometimes throwing himself on the floor and banging his head against the walls. His owner, who doesn't want to just avoid the issue by never asking him to stay in a stable, has done everything she can to make life easier for him - thick bed, rubber flooring, padded bars and a great big mirror and only occasional stabling - but still he gets upset whenever his best friend is taken away even when there are other horses around. Today we worked on interrupting his script by keeping him busy with another activity and it seemed to have some effect. I suspect that this horse was weaned very early and abruptly in the first place, setting him up to be anxious about being left for the rest of his life but also that at some time his behaviour has worked and that someone has brought a horse back the instant he seemed distressed.

E-mails received 25.11.11:

"We really enjoyed Saturday, and he has been noticeably calmer this week, or maybe I have been more determined! I have also really noticed how the uninitiated go up to him to comfort as soon as he starts weaving for his food so I have been telling people off this week, gently of course.As the horses have been out during the day and Rab is in first we have not had any extreme weaving as the situation has not arisen, but still a few moments in the stable which I have controlled quite quickly. Whilst tied up outside on Wednesday Caroline was able to walk her mare past both ways and he turned to look and swayed a bit but no leaping up and down so definite progress."

"Monty's head collar is now on! He virtually put it on himself this evening! Clicker training is a success!!!! Thank you :)" SB
Monty in his head collar