Tuesday, September 22, 2015

22nd September, 2015 Circular Route

Another session with Banksy and while we get him ready we let him help himself to hay in the barn. He's been on a bit of a slimming programme since we last saw him and while he has been here this time so it's good to make sure that he has got some fibre in his system before he goes out.

A great opportunity to let him have a look at carriage horses today especially as his owner is thinking of having him trained for driving. He was utterly calm about the whole thing. At times like that it is easy to think that there is no thought or effort required from a trainer but some care is still necessary in order to present information to him in a manner he can cope with. You'll see that I have gone to his head in some of the pictures and that I am always between him and 'the thing'.

"Great to see Banksy out and about and seeing different things. Some horses react really badly when they see horse drawn vehicles.... he's seen Lenny but good to see little reaction to more than one!" LB
Second horse of the day was lovely BB again. Today I worked with her in the fabulous round pen that they have at her yard so that we could work on circles on the long reins. I am not a great fan of circles, exspecially for young horses, but they are a very good way of assessing a horse physically and psychologically. The long reins provide a more balanced, rider-like, connection to the horse than a single line which can cause a horse to brace and tilt it's head. Concentrating more on what the horse feels than what the horse does reveals physical stiffness, or concern about looking out of a particular eye, whilst different patterns in different sections of the circle are common. In BB's case she 'fell in' whenever we were next to the hedge-line, stuttered to a potential stop when we were by the gate, and went beautifully in the space inbetween. This made it pointless to try and trot next to the hedge-line, where walk was better for her confidence, yet best to trot by the gate so that she learned that the gate meant work. Bit by bit trot could be extended from just before the gate, through the beautiful bit and into the section of hedge-line. In this way we worked with how she felt rather than what she did. Of course, I could have just picked up a lunging whip and kept her going on the outside of the pen - trouble is that doesn't address the way she feels.

I treated BB as if she was a new starter and at the end of the session her owner, Kathryn, quietly got on board. BB stood still to be mounted and after mounting and we did a few circles before she got off again.
"Thanks for a great lesson today! I learned a lot and it was lovely to be on my girl at last!!" KB

Since there was a cloudburst at the end of the day, it was up to me and Sarah to provide the rainbow. We went out into the woods at Pistle Down (how appropriate) to play with some ridden techniques with Sarah's loan horse, Sam. We worked on a body audit, number of paces to an outbreath, counted stops, counted footfall, and asking him to soften to the bit.