Saturday, January 24, 2015

24th January, 2015 From the dark and lonely street to the bright side of the road...

Two very lively girls in the school this morning (well five if you count me, Julie, Tracey, and owners Michaela and Sarah). It's been about a year since I last saw Ahanna to work with and she has moved to a new yard with new friends including fellow Arabian Jaz since then.

Both horses were inclined to rush forwards when they were worried, particularly at the far end of the school where a tall hedge masks the fields behind.

I'm often asked why horses behave like this and the answer is really, really simple, it's because they are a horse. Beyond that it is because they are a prey animal where flight is their primary thought, almost a reflex, when they are afraid. For these two horses in particular it was because they are horses, because they are prey animals, because they were fresh, and because of the environment and the weather.

Rather than fighting with their nature or going with them emotionally we needed to work on reducing their fear by re-directing their energy; lots of changes of direction when leading and giving them a job to do - distracting them from their primary thought.

With all kinds of traffic and horses going by on the busy road nearby it took a little while but they settled.

We worked away from the spooky end of the school and stayed in the sunshine but moved nearer to the top hedge in incremental stages.

Soon they were standing pretty quietly and then we could turn to some specific desensitisation work...

 ...touching (and more particularly rubbing) them with carrier bags in a stick before using the bags to replicate birds flying up from the hedge.

We finished by taking them out for a short walk.

Both of them were happy to take the lead or to follow.

Next off across the Forest again to the work with Bella and Nettles. Tracey has now taken over Nettle's loan with the intention of training him to be a lead rein for her children. It's great news as he will still be able to go out with Barbara on her scooter.

After a couple of weeks off while Julie recovered from the 'flu he is happy both on and off the lead rein and quite jolly in trot.

Bella is also making very steady progress and did a little pole-work under saddle today.Again it gives her a job to do.