Saturday, June 27, 2015

27th June, 2015 Soul Food

With Julie just two weeks away from being able to get on a pony but perfectly capable of walking we took Jack and Nettles out for another walk this morning.

Clicker training is like having your horse on a piece of elastic - stretch the gaps between the clicks and treats too far and it can break. As a result Jack and Nettles went off to play hide and seek but we could hear them rustling around in the undergrowth.

On the open Forest we have to keep the clicks and treats on a much higher frequency to make sure that they stay close.

A truly lovely session to end the week. Poppy's owner is about to have a pregnant pause and wanted some groundwork that she can do with her horse to keep her occupied and happy. It was a good time to work on the same clarity with subtlety that she has in the saddle on the ground. First of all walking without pushing or pulling.

Then turning right without having to go all the way around her or the horse overtaking. Instead we ask her to yield out of the way. Some mares are not so keen on this and will pull faces or attempt to bite until they know that you are not threatening them in any way.

We worked on standing still, and moving forwards, backwards and sideways one step at a time.

For a turn on the forehand less was more, with a very light touch and imagining her moving her right foot inside and past her left we got a much smoother movement without ears back and a tail swish. The horse needs a little moment to think since this goes against their natural non-thinking, automatic, instinctive, reflexive into-pressure response (which is to come towards you).

Poppy was not comfortable with the extra energy from the handler when asked to go into trot. She either put her ears back and thought about biting or went really fast and crossed in front of the handler. 

The key is to not set off with any sort of hop, skip or jump, just be really matter of fact and almost lazily fall into a run, possibly yawning as you go.

The result is more of a lazy, fall into a trot, trot which can then be worked on once she is more confident.

Is that your giraffe at the waterhole impression?

Surely you don't think I'm going over that?

Seriously, I am not going to go over that!

Glad you made it smaller necause I wouldn't want to put four feet on it at once.

I'm sure you've made it wider again...

Piece of cake - you only had to ask.