Tuesday, September 29, 2015

29th September, 2015 Scotland the Brave

A little heart to heart, or at least head to head, with Scooby in the sunshine today. Like many cobs he has never been taught how to pick his feet up properly and has developed strategies to postpone it for as long as possible. These include leaning on people, circling away or just plain pulling his foot out of the hand.

I needed to show him that he can balance easily. For the front feet that means him readjusting his back feet and that is best achieved by giving him a clear signal that you want to pick the front feet up. I tend to use a squeeze (and certainly not a pull).

For the backs, unlocking them, and bringing them forward to begin with can really help.

Later a 'loose foot' (leg cocked) can be gently lifted and kept low and directly underneath the body.

Owner Nicky was able to repeat several times before I left and can now look forward to the farrier's visit with some optimism rather than trepidation.

Although I often say repeat, repeat, repeat, for desensitisation exercises, it's amazing how much braver and more curious horses can get with just a few sessions. Hamish is now really brave about standing on the tarpaulin and could then meet the scarecrow with his brave pants on.

I am assured that Hamish is terrified of whips and yet with a recognisable pattern of work he accepted this schooling whip all over his body with no fear whatsoever and even coped with it swinging towards him as if it was going to hit him (which of course it was not, I always end with a lovely rub and I will only do this sort of work if the owner is committed to not using a whip on the horse).

Monday, September 28, 2015

28th September, 2015 Birthday Drink

A pleasant ride out on Bella and Theoden, during which Bella had her first canter, on Tracey's birthday. Since having a full set of shoes on Bella is really striding out and often takes the lead.


Henrietta was caught sniffing Theoden's underwear. She stayed at home to keep Petra company.

Another session for Kathryn and BB. Kathryn really knows what she is doing now and BB settled down immediately in the school meaning that we could think about taking her out on the roads and tracks.

BB didn't put a hoof wrong - accepting whatever we met from donkeys, sheep and ponies, to vehicles and trailers. Just to be on the safe side we kept her on the lead rein most of the way round.

28th September, 2015 Grounded

...but not in the usual way. Like a lot of young women, KitKat just loves horses. She can't even say why other than they are soft. They just reach into her soul like the do for so many people. KitKat is my neighbours' daughter and she tagged along when I went to check the horses. Needless to say it took three hours!

Nettles got a good groom and his mane plaited. There seemed to be a lot of hugging involved.

Jack went jumping...

...with the promise of clickered treats...

...and an explanation of the course...

...they were off...

...cross country too.

Then it was Henry the Eighth time...

...with a bit of a brush up of the royal robes...

...and standing on her throne.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

27th September, 2015 Presents of Mine

If I was buying a present for a horsey person (I'm trying not to mention Christmas!), then this is the one I would buy. Rosie Jones McVey is a Recommended Associate of Intelligent Horsemanship, a fantastic horsewoman herself, and a great story teller. You feel as if you are with her on her travels. This is what Amazon says about this book:

"In Globetrotting horse trainer Rosie Jones McVey goes backpacking around the world in search of horse-training secrets. This is the story of her journey, across three continents, exploring horsemanship in radically different settings. With a backpack stuffed with her riding hat and chaps, a meagre budget and a whole lot of optimism, she set out on the adventure of a lifetime, to share horsemanship ideas with South American cowboys, Australian mountain men, equine behavioural scientists and Indian horse dealers, to name just a few. All along the way she learns from and contributes to the horsemanship she encounters, always with an open mind and from a non-judgemental viewpoint. Fresh, funny and with a roller-coaster of emotions, this thought-provoking book will appeal to anyone interested in horses and horse-training methods."
Copies can be obtained NOW from the Intelligent Horsemanship Shop or from Amazon.

If I was buying a present for a semi-feral or shy foal this is the book I would buy:

"A guide to handling and training unhandled and semi-feral foals in an ethical and gentle way. This guide will help you as a breeder or new owner to train your foal without fear or force and to bring them round to being handled and friendly within hours and days rather than months and years. Applicable to foals born in a semi-feral environment, those that have been traumatised by manhandling or even domesticated foals that are just wary of humans. Suitable for every kind of horse lover from the first time handler to the most experienced. This method will become the new tradition in foal handling."

Copies are available through my website and also Amazon

Saturday, September 26, 2015

26th September, 2015 Up, Up, and Away

Banksy went home again this morning with an owner that is delighted about the things he has experienced during the last week or so.

Nettles went out riding with Julie on board. Here she is using clicker to reward him for a good halt and to encourage him to turn and see her. He was absolutely fine.

BB continues to improve and to learn. Last week we couldn't long rein in a smooth circle, today we could. Shows the value of working on what she is feeling rather than what she is doing in each part of the circle.

Kathryn rode her again and today we unclipped.

Copper crossed the road to make use of the round pen too. We did a short Join Up with him, shortened mainly by him saying "Whay are we doing this, I'm always joined up."

He has a strong bond with his owner...

..which enabled her to back him for the first time. Here we're using a bareback pad rather than the saddle which he has only worn for the first time today.

Ami and his owner are now feeling much more confident in their new surroundings. Ami was very happy to talk to the pig in the sty at the farm.

He was fine with the brolly...

...and the tarpaulin too.

He's such a handsome horse, he'd make a fine magazine cover.

Friday, September 25, 2015

25th September, 2015 Hi Fluting

My favourite sort of traffic jam on the way to work this morning. Up at the fields the pigs had invited themselves in giving me an opportunity to introduce Banksy to them. He may have met them before since he was Forest bred but he seemed a little surprised by them at first. He soon settled down to eat his hay and keep a careful eye on them.

Later we took him out and right up to the A31 to look at the stream of traffic. On the way we met a Hungarian chap and a driver who were on their tachograph break.

Off towards Wimborne this afternoon to meet up with Karen, Chris and Inara. Since my first visit Karen has been long reining Inara out and about in order to build up her map of the world.  Although Inara is seven she has not yet been started. We did some work in the round pen before getting Karen on board where she made good use of her flautist breathing in order to keep her adrenalin down.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

24th September, 2015 The Usual Suspects

Another day at the seaside, this time on the Isle of Wight. It was really uneventful as Mollie has now settled to having her feet trimmed and all of the ponies will happily tackle any agility obstacle.

I'm back on the Isle of Wight on 9th October when I am giving a talk for the BHS. You don't have to be a member to attend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

23rd September, 2015 Supercob!

A great start to the day and a gorgeous seaview as we approached Chideock in West Dorset. A long trek but worth it to see supercob, Millie, recently purchased by her owner Debbie.

A gentle character, she has proved to be a lovely riding horse, happy to go out on her own or in company.

However, as is typical of horses that have come through dealers, they have concentrated on the ridden work without paying much attention to the groundwork. Hence, she doesn't seem to know how to balance when you pick up her feet. Lots of practice today and some significant improvement.

Our session was interspersed with little walks, and working on other issues such as teaching her to park where she will be mounted.

Later we worked on asking her to stand while tied up. Whilst you might ask her to pick up a foot when tied up, just to see how the in hand work was going, it's better to teach the task in hand before trying it tied up. This gives you the opportunity to find out if it is the task that is the problem or being tied up or both.

Off back to the field accompanied by lots of woolly friends.

"Thanks so much for this. I can't tell you how much today has helped.  Today helped clarify so much and having the write up really helps because I like to read stuff to help me process. I can't wait to start practicing tomorrow with her ! I feel so positive about things that I have felt overwhelmed by." DB
Back on the Forest and this pony and his owner were not having such a good end to the day. Only 13.3 h.h. he had just jumped over the breast partition and into the 'living' area in a rear facing 3.5 tonne horsebox. The fire service turned up with the Animal Rescue Team Specialists and a vet to sedate him to cut him out.

It takes a lot of specialist equipment as well as specialist officers to do this and in the meantime the traffic has to be managed around the site which was at a junction on one of the main roads across the Forest.

The ladder is used to allow the vet to get remote access with a jab stick through the window of the horsebox allowing the pony to be sedated without danger to anyone.

Specialist cutting equipment is used to cut the partition since the back door is only wide enough to get a person through.