Thursday, March 7, 2013

7th March, 2013 Test Card!

Some nice things to look at while I'm away....we'll be back at Easter.

7th March, 2013 Future

Just one more working day and then I am away for three weeks and totally incommunicado. House-sitters and horse-sitters are on their marks. It's good to have something to look forward to when I get back, providing I don't get lost or killed, so I have two training events lined up for April and May. The first is our Hands on Horsemanship course at HorseWorld where not only do we have 140 horses to choose from, and therefore the widest range of experience to give people, we now have THREE fully qualified RAs to just 6 students.

For details of that course and how we can tailor make it to your wishes, contact Bronwen. Can't read the ad? PLEASE CLICK ON IT

For clients old and new on the Isle of Wight, I am coming over for the May Bank Holiday weekend, 3rd to 6th May inclusive and will be available to work on a one-to-one basis with no fuel costs. Please contact me for details AFTER 28th March. Again, if you can't read the ad, please CLICK ON IT.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6th March, 2013 Present

When Jessica came in her owners Mum wittily suggested that we could ride her back home when the time came. At that point I thought it was most unlikely because she was so reactive that I didn't think we would be putting a rider on all that soon. However, Jessica made good progress every time we worked with her and each time we were able to add something new at the same time as consolidating what she had learnt so far. Today Charly walked and rode her home with me walking and running beside. 


8.5 miles and 3 hours later here we are at Woodgreen Common and then home.When we first started working with Jess in late 2012 we were very worried about walking her along this lane at all.

6th March, 2013 Past

This week I have received news of two horses from the past. Yeshe, the pony with whom we did training to ask him to co-operate with his owner when she was in her wheelchair, and Annie, the rescue horse that was pretty semi-feral and had the misfortune to witness her own mother being shot. Yeshe is rising six and is a really sensible and sensitive pony.

"Just chucked Yeshe in cart, drove down from yard then up long hill to flags. Amazing little pony, apart from jumping at monsters in a puddle he just chilled out and got to work."DS

"You came to help my rescued horse Annie and myself in last year and I have been working on her for months as every step takes such a long time to combat. I just wanted to say thank you for everything you did as on Friday I took her head-collar off permanently for the first time which was a big trust issue on both sides. She is finally free and it is so beautiful to see her face and her old life in the distance. She is also now every day coming up to see me for her carrot whereas before I couldn’t even get in a field with her."MR

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

5th March, 2013 Hanging around on street corners

What better company for Jessica on a traffic proofing walk than my two wild girls who are absolutely bombproof about any form of traffic. What people thought to see us all hanging about on the street corner I don't know but then they decided to follow me all around the block too. They've been friends over the fence ever since Jessica came in and they're all very sweet with one another.

Monday, March 4, 2013

4th March, 2013 Sunny Spells

The word spell can mean a period of time or something magical. It only takes a little bit of sunshine to make you think that it may be Spring! A good day to choose to ask Jessica for her first canter out on the Forest. She was a little hesitant at first but by the second go she had got it and was keen to do it again.

We got the feeling we were being watched...

Another visit to Sampson this afternoon for some more trailer practice and then out for a walk. So good to get a work ethic into a young horse without over taxing him.

Friday, March 1, 2013

1st March, 2013 Bridle Ways

Yesterday when I got Jessica ready to be ridden she threw her head about while I was trying to put the bridle on. This is something she has done from the outset, whether due to instinctive behaviour or because she has had things put in her mouth that she didn't like previously. Certainly it wasn't improving by itself and I felt I could no longer ignore it. Today we had a specific session aimed at asking her to accept the bit more calmly. Once it is in, she appears to be absolutely fine with it and is fairly still in her mouth and accepting of gentle pressure from the reins.

I started off with a head collar underneath so that I could ask her to stay if she decided to walk off but used clicker training to ask her to accept different stages of the bridle going on. I use a different technique to the traditional way of putting a bridle on because it is more gentle especially to the ears. Once Jessica had got this all in place, I then took the head collar off so that she had complete freedom to walk off if she wanted to - not only did she choose to stay, but she followed me around the field, onto the see-saw and then the trailer to ask me to put the bridle on again.

Here's a step by step guide to the various stages:

Step 1: Accepting the hand going between the ears.

Step 2: Crown piece held by right hand between the ears. Accepting the bit in the vicinity of her mouth.

Step 3: Bit accepted into the mouth and held in place

Step 4: Left ear pressed flat by a flat hand and posted under the crown piece

Step 5: Go to the other side and then press right ear flat under the crown piece

Step 6: Do up throat lash and check fitting of the bit - this could do with going up a hole or two.

1st March, 2013 New Tricks

I always love working with older horses as they are never too old to learn new tricks and many absorb new things just as easily as a young horse. Of course some are sick and tired of humans and it's always nice to try to reach these horses to show them that some people do think about what they are doing and how the horse might actually feel about it.

Denys is a former eventer and dressage horse and has fallen on his feet with new owners who are happy to give him a quieter life. A sensitive soul, he's all right until he's not all right and then he can be really big and just leave. He's got this down to a fine art, turning himself around so that he is all the way in the lead and then either walking, trotting or even cantering off. Today we worked on answering his behaviour in two ways. First of all persuading him that humans were worth staying with and also that his behaviour wouldn't necessarily work. It was lovely to watch him working with his new owners, matching them pace for pace. However, later he caused hysterics because while I was chatting away, explaining all kind of things, his bottom lip was flapping away in complete unison as if he were doing his own running commentary. I'd love to know what he would have said if he could have said.

Feedback one day later: "Thank you so much for coming to see us yesterday! Both my Mum and I felt we learnt a lot from you, and our relationship with Denys really does feel completely different.

We went up to the field this morning to practise our leading technique, and to try some clicker training whilst my Mum rode. He took about three minutes to be glued to my side in the field, and when the treats came out I don't think he would have left me for anything. I walked out in the woods with him and My mum rode, and we introduced stopping, clicking and rewarding first from me on the ground, then we transferred to my Mum doing it on board. We had a test as we met a herd of deer - I thought Denys's heart was going to leap out of his chest and he was shaking all over, so we stopped, clicked and gave him a treat. He took it in his mouth but wouldn't eat it, and I asked my Mum if she was breathing....she had forgotten to breathe! She breathed out and stroked Denys's neck and he breathed out, chewed his treat and looked away from the deer! My Mum was amazed! We walked a bit further and stopped for another look at the deer, and though he was looking at them he wasn't too bothered. He ate his treat and walked off quite happily without any thoughts of running off.

Mum can't wait to ride again tomorrow, and I can't wait to see Denys again! I feel like I've fallen in love with my horse, which was really missing between us until now. I'm much more confident that if something made him want to run away in-hand, I'd now be able to distract him quickly before it actually happened.

"Thank you very much for your help, and we promise to keep practising!"  RB