Time to catch the ferry this morning and off to the Isle of Wight for another fun day with Mini Shetlands, Molly, Mairi and Pie. Even though we were there for the day, it was important to break the sessions up into the smallest ten to fifteen minute chunks with plenty of time for frolics in between. Molly is only a year old and had to be weaned from her mother fairly early and abruptly because she was lactose intolerant. As a result she has had a lot of handling by humans and little socialisation with other ponies. So easy then for the human to become the entertainment committee. Too delicate to be turned out full time she still needs a good opportunity to exercise every day and to express all of her energy and emotions; no good starting off with work when she has been effectively plugged in to the mains all night. So she was turned out first off to allow her to fly around.
After that she is ready for a little work but even then we needed to be canny about what we did. Walking away from the stables she is steady and needs the human for confidence. On the way back she wants to rush (away from the unknown) and towards her Mum who is in the stable next door. Accordingly she can manage 5 to 10 good paces on the way out and just 3 or 4 on the way back before she feels the need to express her contained energy. Working within these parameters meant that we achieved a really calm walk before coming to halt for a lovely rub. Much better than literally pushing her to her limits and practising her 'no'.
After this short session we turned her in with her Mum for the first time in six months since there is now little danger of her Mum having milk even if she does try to drink from her. Mairi, her mother, is a lovely pony with a wonderful temperament.She gives mild guidance about what is and isn't acceptable. Her response to Molly's attempt to clamber on her back was to hump her bottom in order to block her and she is infinitely patient with her.
After lunch we were able to do another session of leading, including a few steps of trot. We also worked with Pie. Even though he came with a tick in the long reining box it was important to check that he was in fact fine with it, especially as he used to be really defensive about his hindquarters. He proved to be very adept at long reining even with our improvised kit.
"Thank you for a fantastic day, really rewarding and great to see both Mollie and Pie doing so well. Both ponies seem very keen to please and quickly learn what is asked. It was wonderful to see Mairi and Mollie back together again and Mollie had such fun, and I think Mairi will continue to be a very sensible Mum and companion to Mollie.
Mollie just learnt so much today , I really feel we made great progress with her. Pie was a little star with his long reining, I am sure he will really enjoy having a ‘job’ to do and it is a new skill for me as well. I have never long reined a pony before so really enjoyed it and hopefully Pie & I can progress together.
So a very big thank you for working with Mollie and Pie and all that you are teaching them and me." JB