Saturday, April 27, 2013

27th April, 2013 If at first you do succeed...

The clients that are most likely to cancel their appointment, generally very close to the allotted date, are those that are booking for the first time, book well ahead, and tell me lots and lots about their horse. Whether they have partially resolved the problem, decided to make do or feel that the money would be well spent elsewhere, I don't know. That first appointment is often the most critical and the one where I can make the most significant impact on their relationship and future with the horse. For some it can change the way they think about their horse forever. Quite often one appointment is enough to set everything on a positive path. Take Rachel for example...

"As it's been a couple of months since you visited us, I thought I would send you an update on how Denys, my Mum and I are doing. As you know, the first ride we took him on after your visit was very positive - we managed to reassure Denys enough about a herd of deer that he didn't spin and run, for the first time since we got him in October. Since then he has been fantastic - ok, he has his days where he's a bit excitable and we get a bit nervous, but we've now realised that we were expecting of him (a 7/8ths TB with breeding renowned for being sharp) what we had with our old mare who died a couple of years ago (a solid as a rock, safer on her than sat on the sofa, one in a million, solid type Irish x Connemara). We were being unfair on Denys in our expectations and since we realised that he is just a normal horse, and have strengthened the bond that we began forming on the day you came, we have all improved a lot and become happier in each other's company.

After practising our leading, and our little bits of clicker training, Denys now stands waiting at the fence when we arrive rather than walking to the farthest point from us or ignoring us entirely. I can catch him easily, and neither of us have visions of him high-tailing it across the field with the rope trailing - he stands and waits until I give him his treat, and then follows me carefully and quietly until I give him another! He stands quietly tied at the shelter where he would previously fidget and run us over while we were trying to groom him. We tack him up with ease, including swapping his head collar for his bridle (he used to walk away once the noseband was off his face!)

Out hacking he is so much more relaxed and confident. He barely hesitates when we see walkers now, even those with dogs who "hide" in the bushes out of our way! He always looks, and is allowed to stop if he needs to think about what he can see. I've not had him stand and physically shake since that first ride out with the deer. In fact, we don't even need to give him a treat now when we see deer - he has learnt that he won't have to walk near them if he doesn't want to, and he can look at them if he wants. My Mum met a small herd of deer in the woods the other day, that ran over the track in front of Denys - she said he hesitated, but kept walking! Even when a few stragglers crossed the path behind Denys, he apparently didn't blink!

We still have work to do - I'm hoping to take him to a very quiet dressage competition in a few months' time, so we're going to take it bit by bit and see how he reacts being in different environments. We're looking forward to it - something I didn't think I'd say about anything to do with Denys a few months ago!

Thank you once again for your help - it's amazing what you can start off in just one session!" RB

I have an information sheet which explains what you can expect from a visit. It goes on to say:

I rarely take a deposit but if you cancel an appointment then I may request one for the next occasion. Please remember that although I love horses, this is my business and not my hobby and therefore please try not to cancel unless the weather is absolutely dire or you or your horse is actually ill. Remember that late cancellations actually COST me money.