Monday, July 15, 2013

15th July, 2013 The Bean Bag Race

When extending a horse's comfort zones, taking them out and about, I normally talk about treating their home fields as the centre of a flower and extending this area by describing different sized petals, circular walks, to build up the horse's map. That is not always possible where a farm has only one way in and out. The temptation then is to walk too far in one direction, puncturing the horse's confidence or to turn back in exactly the same place each time. The approach that seems to work the best is to imitate the old bean bag race from school (or the flag race from gymkhanas) where you go up and down the same track but a different distance and in a different order several times in the same session. Covering and recovering ground like this but varying the start and end points, helps the horse to be confident but not to anticipate.

This tall girl is a two year old New Forest pony by Lovelyhill Hendrix. I haven't seen her since she was a yearling when I did some groundwork with her. Her owners have done their homework really well and, working from Kelly's books, they have prepared her for a useful and happy life as a riding horse in the future. Today they wanted me to work with them on getting her used to traffic but the first task was to extend her comfort zones to reach the end of the long drive to the farm. Using the fence posts as markers, we did the bean bag race (but not racing you understand!) and alternated that with just standing still at the end of the drive where she proved to be fine with traffic going by.

"It was really good to see you today also. Thank you so much for all the work you did with us today, you certainly boosted my confidence...I do also believe my bond with Bella grew a little today after our work as  despite there being fresh grass, one of Bella's favourite things, she didn't leave my side. I enjoy reading your blog ...Bella came to me straight off of the forest and she was halter broken, taught to lead, tie, have feet picked using your book and the majority of the ground work has been done using the well read, rather tatty, notes you sent me after your first visit. I think you should be credited too." TP