Over the week I worked with eighteen members of staff and about as many horses. Alice was a fantastic teacher when it came to body language. She taught everyone to measure their energy levels very carefully and to think about what they were doing. On the second day we had seven people in the pen with her passing her from one to the other like 'Pass the Parcel' using body language to pick her up and to pass her on to the next person.
Dreamer can be awkward to bring in from the field and resistant to the halter - a quarter rope helped here to ask her hindquarters to move rather than using pressure on her head. The quarter line also helped to 'park' her next to the mounting block and by the second day she was parking herself without needing to use the line at all. We also used clicker to ask her to stand at the mounting block once mounted. Normally Dreamer is nappy to ride and prone to rearing. By using hardly any contact or leg aids and thinking her into the next pace, we were able to press all the right buttons without touching them, and she worked beautifully.
We did foot handling work with various ponies including Dilly and Lucy. The main message here was about consistency since we discovered that staff have more than five different techniques for picking up feet!
We did more ridden work with Archie and Darcy, teaching them to back up without bracing. Instead we wanted to encourage the horses to soften whenever they felt a small pressure on the bit.
We had three wonderful horses to work with: Vera, a mare taken from the travellers who arrived with a head-collar embedded in her neck- no wonder she gets angry if people get too close to her head. Cherokee, an ex-racehorse that I think is pretty sore and wary following some years in jump racing; and Cuthbert, a six year old entire who cannot be gelded until he is officially the property of the Charity. We treated him no differently from any other horse, quietly insisting on small boundaries, and got as far as preparing him for long lining. I almost brought him home with me!
"It was great to be able to spend so much time with you and certainly all of my team were very grateful for the opportunity to have training on the everyday problems we struggle with! Sometimes just watching someone’s manner of working and timing is very insightful."
"I had such a great day with you Sarah and have learnt a LOT! thank you so much for coming and giving us your time. and of course for letting us ride your lovely Theo! hopefully see you soon." Caitlin McK
"It was great fun and loved every second thank you so much." Kayleigh MacC