Monday, November 18, 2013

18th November, 2013 Nappiness, Nappiness

My other Saturday horse was a dreamy Welsh Cob. Good in every respect his only issue is that he doesn't like going out on his own and when asked to take any other route than his normal one he naps by stopping, bucking and occasionally rearing. His owner has a really good grounding in IH concepts and techniques already. Adrenalin levels of both the horse and his rider are not helped by the fact that turning right instead of left leads to a busy junction which, despite being on the Forest, has some fast and impatient drivers coming around it. Although he is absolutely fine in traffic itself, this makes it awkward for the rider to address his napping behaviour without being interrupted. I think she has to accept this and simply aim for a calm halt until the traffic has gone by. Then she needs to ask him to move with the reins rather than pushing him forward from her seat which blocks his longissimus muscles and causes him to plant even more. If he turns the way she doesn't want him to go, then she has to quietly fix her rein to her thigh and only soften when he offers softness.

Having done a little groundwork to just tip the balance of leadership in her favour, we worked in the school on some techniques to help with breathing and the release of tension in her body. In particular we wanted more strides per out-breath, no nagging with the leg aid, and no pushing with the seat. After this it was out on the road, with loads of hi-viz, to practice this approach. Once again the 'bean-bag race' (at walk) proved useful - asking the horse to go as far as a particular point and then come back, go out again to another point and then come back - each time changing the end point without necessarily making it further away. We ended the session with him turning the corner at the junction and going some way up the road without any napping whatsoever. A great start which means that they can graduate to my friend and teacher, Amanda Barton, for more ridden sessions.

"Thank you so much for coming out to see me and F yesterday. I learned a great deal and feel I have a lot of practise to do so that I can perfect my signals and communication with F. You have given me hope that we should be able to progress and I will certainly give it my best shot so that we can hopefully remain together. I realise it may be a slow process and there is no certainty to the eventual outcome but I will keep you posted as to our progress." LM

With a few horses about the place, I can usually match people up with one that's rather like theirs for the purposes of long reining. All that Petra has in common with Sarah's pony, Iggy, is that she is black. Short of sanding her legs down by about three feet, she's not going to be look like a Shetland!

Once the drift was over we took Bella and Indiana out for a walk. They are the same age but two hands different in height. Here's Bella enjoying her first time out on the Forest since she was brought in on a drift herself about two years ago.