Sunday, August 24, 2014

24th August, 2014 24/7

 A fabulous finale to a very busy 7 day week during which I've worked with 24 horses. This morning it was off to Dorset to meet up with Michelle and Simon and their team of people and horses. I had some specific tasks to work on with each horse. Four of the five, the mares, were brought back from France where they faced a very uncertain future. Michelle and Simon already have a number of Percherons and take a very thoughtful and caring approach to their training. Margaret, the matriarch of the group, and Anais are already being driven.

Valou has been worried about the fly spray. The key to this is not to try tying up to do it. Train the task until it is accepted and then tie up to do it. The pressure in this situation is the feel, sound and smell of the spray. The release is to stop spraying as soon as she stands still and to rub the sensation away. As you can see, it worked very well.

Gently keeping the pressure on
Taking the pressure off
Rubbing the sensation away
One spray equals... rub.
Viv takes over from me
The pigs are completely unconcerned about everything in the warmth of the sun

Anais hasn't been loaded since she arrived from France and there was no knowing how it would go. At that time she was somewhat bundled on as she had not worn a halter at all. 

Checking I can manouvre her easily...
Practising treading on weird surfaces - head lowered 'looking for a Euro'
A little planted at the bottom of the ramp...
...clickered rewards awaken her interest.
All very calm 
Brody takes over from me

When they're not watching the action, the dogs amuse themselves
Margaret, the matriarch of the group, was herd leader in France and she seems to be stuck in first gear. Sometimes this is a conformational issue and sometimes an emotional one - if in doubt, go forwards. Of course this is a desireable thing in a driving horse but it would be nice to have halt available.

Finding reverse
That's better, we've found neutral. 
That forward going nature means that she goes over the tarpaulin without hesitating
Sarah loading her under instruction
She's a heavy horse and the lorry wobbles in a very interesting way
Looking for a Euro on the way out
David (co-photographer) seems to have a bit of a butterfly moment himself
Magnificent gelding, Blue, worries about being asked to go backwards into the shafts even though he has been driven for a number of years. No-one knows whether he was involved in an incident or an accident before he arrived with Michelle and Simon. We try an experiment which went very well and it may be that he will settle after more practice and that his shafts might be covered in pipe lagging.

Blue becomes very mobile around the shafts
I introduce him to two mock shafts
Standing behind him with the mock shafts. I was assured that he has never kicked
Now asking him to back up between the 'shafts'
The dog has the best seat in the house
We finished with Amye, the youngest and most immature of the horses. She was in quite a state when she came over from France but, along with all of the other horses, she has put on weight and looks amazing now. She is the daughter of Margaret.

She was very distracted to begin with so I gave her a job to do.
The innocence of youth she isn't fazed by anything.
Photographs by David and Tracey