A longish day starting out with untangling this New Forest pony cross from a giant piece of bramble. Too nervous to let me approach, I just went to the far end and stood on it until she moved off. Meanwhile the Welsh pony was busy trying to knock the posts over.
Nettles went out for his first hack on his own this morning with Jodie on board. Up until now he has always had someone on foot in the vicinity. He has never seemed bothered about being out without another horse and doesn't nap going away from home no matter how many times he is turned away from it. He seems to love being out.
He tackled his first gate and went trotting off. Jodie reported that he was calm all the way round and responding well to the bit. He is all terrain and doesn't look for trouble at all.
I hear some very wise words coming from this young woman and we are in agreement about so much when it comes to starting young horses. Like me she doesn't like to take up a strong contact or do too much schooling over the first few weeks and months. She'd rather get them out and about enjoying themselves and going forward.
She looked a little more askance when I pointed out that we take a completely different tack with Bella to Nettles. I sense that Bella has a bit of a 'no' in her psyche and would object strongly to being made to work on her own. Accordingly we are continuing to pony her off another horses and she is learning about direction and aids by slow osmosis. Today was her first hack out and she did brilliantly. Eleventy million out of ten.
Next stop was to Teresa's at Hillstreet. Very sadly, just after Christmas, she lost Chance her Bodmin Moor Pony to an unfathomable illness. The vet was at a loss and once it reached a certain point everyone agreed that it would be kinder to put him to sleep. Teresa was so fond of him that she sought out his original breeder (he came via Beaulieu Road Sales and a meat man) and managed to buy his sister, Kerenza, who was also completely wild.
At the same time she also bought a Dartmoor Hill Pony, Crystal. I have baggied both ponies for a course I am running for two people coming from Germany next weekend but went to see the ponies today to see what stage they have reached. Kerenza has come round very quickly and will soon be wearing her headcollar. She has never been drifted or gathered (as it is known in Cornwall) and so has not been manhandled to any great extent. Crystal has been gathered and is a year older and more shy altogether.
I did a little work with her today and we made some good progress but there is still plenty for Chris and Kerry to do when they come over. I was able to start touching her with the feather duster on her right hand side, using a deep rythmical touch which she seemed to enjoy. Her top lip started to quiver when I got to her neck.
I managed then to start touching her with my hand, using the same deep flat touch, and by now we were warming up!
I finished at her neck under her mane and she really seemed to like this. As you can see I am facing her back end so that there isn't too much pressure from eye contact or intent. There's the whole of her left side to work with as she is very protective of that side and can't bring herself to look at anyone with her left eye just yet. However, once she realises that "these monkeys are quite useful", I think she will come round really well.
As we left the fields tonight these two ponies were trawling for sweet grass under the water.