Tuesday, May 31, 2016

31st May, 2016 Fond, Farewell

I know I am not the only one to have grown fond of Twizzle while he has been with us. Georgia, Tracey, and Julie have all enjoyed working with him and he has acquired quite a fan club through Facebook too. Today we took him back home to be reunited with his old, tall, mates. He has got a month or two before he heads off to Norfolk all being well. 

"Just wanted to say 'Thank you' for the time and the care that you have given Twizzle. It was lovely to see how relaxed he was when he arrived back at the field. He continued like that after you left and when I let him in with the others he just wandered nonchalantly over and started grazing with them. He seems more grown up than when he left here in every way. I am so pleased that I contacted you about him and tell everyone I know that the money spent with you is the best money I have ever spent. I will try and keep up the good work until you see him again to help load him to go to Thetford." CH

I have been reflecting on what we have taught and shown Twizzle - it was more about working with his 'maybe' than specific tasks, although there were many of those. More than anything I wanted his trust and I think we got that very quickly.

Monday, May 30, 2016

30th May, 2016 Pie Filling

All the greys today. Another short session with Crazy during which he allowed the bit up to the corner of his mouth but on one side or the other only! I'm able to gently hook a finger through his head collar to help to hold the bit in place and he isn't take offense at that. Today I was using a little leather bit that I bought a long time ago from a harness horse supplier. I think it is too thick since he is unable to take a treat with the bit in his mouth. 

Twizzle's last few days have just been 'revision days' over and above his core curriculum. He goes home tomorrow...

Pie, my Welsh Mountain Pony has come in for some rest and recuperation. He has lived out on the Forest for ten years with very few problems and I am always loathe to take him away from his firm group of little friends. However, he was clearly struggling with the insects, the ticks, and the sun. I took over 200 crab flies off him this morning and gave him a thorough wash with Deosect to help to put them off coming back and to kill off any ticks or lice that he may be carrying. Next I cleaned up all his pink bits. I shall feed him up a bit and hope to boost his immunity before he goes back out. I'm hoping he won't be sensitive to the buttercups which are due to receive a heavy dose of lime the next time I have got the funds for a project.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

29th May, 2016 Shooting the Breeze

Ponies (and tourists!) everywhere today...


These last two show Applewitch Diversity with a few of his huge band of mares.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

28th May, 2016 Using Your Imagination

Toddled off to Sway this morning with my second new tyre of the week. Tracey and I were meeting up with Sandra and her two beautiful ex-rescue horses, Iona and Honey.

Iona is continuing to do really well over these early rides. She comes to a halt and sets off in walk with just an out breath from her rider who imagines what that halt and walk might feel like. She's starting to understand that she needs to give to each rein softly but was apparently stiffer to the right than the left until Sandra imagined what that bend might feel like too. Lo and behold, a really nice turn.

Honey, who has sometimes expressed an negative opinion about the surcingle or girth being done up or being leant over, seems very satisfied with her new and carefully fitted Barry Swain saddle which is lined with serge. This was fitted by Marijanna Batterbury who runs the company, Better Saddles Ltd. So comfortable was she that we felt able to put Sandra on board for the first time; Honey was very relaxed about it all.

Back at the farm I had a gentle last session with Twizzle who goes home next Tuesday, and with Henrietta who is enjoying being groomed again. On the way home I stopped off to admire these foals...

The insects are driving them mad so their strategy is to hide under Mum's tail, or to stand right by the road so that the cars can waft them off them.

I watched them cross the road with my fingers all crossed. Both mares had the same routine. They would walk out into the middle of the road and then stand and wait for their foal to catch up (have a scratch in this case) and then walk across.

The foals are starting to socialise and play with each other now. These two had a great turn of speed...


Friday, May 27, 2016

27th May, 2016 A Whole Lot of Rosie

Very excited to tell you that Rosie Jones, fellow IHRA and author of Globetrotting will be giving a talk at The Woodfalls Inn, Woodfalls, on Tuesday 21st June, 2016 at 8 p.m. This is an event organised by the Wessex Classical Riding Group with non-members welcome for just £3 a ticket on the door. 

The Woodfalls Inn can be found at The Ridge, Woodfalls , Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 2LN. It serves lovely meals too.

Rosie is a vivacious, talented woman, and a great horse person. I love listening to her speak. 

27th May, 2016 Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I set off to see Crazy this morning with a very simple but clear goal in my mind which was to see if he would accept the bit about half way up his mouth. I was going to replace the Vetwrap with which had been covered as it seemed to be a bit manky but thought that I would see what Crazy thought about accepting the bit without any cover on at all. Bless his cotton socks because not only did he place his mouth around it (I let him choose what he does and reward him when I like what I see) but he allowed it to go halfway up as I had hoped.

For me that was good enough for today and having repeated it about six times I ended the session. He has made clear and thoughtful progress each time I have worked with him.

Today I had taken the added precaution of working with a barrier between us, not that he has done anything that makes me worried about him being close. However it shows how far he has come because he always has the option of putting his head inside the stable and refusing to engage at all.

Twizzle may have just about reached a plateau with his work for now but still does something new each day. Following on from yesterday's athletic endeavours he learned to jump the barrels and the pole.

Compact and somewhat sleepy stallion out on the Forest on our way to Bashley this afternoon. He had a fine harem of mares and seemed enormously content.

Young cob Jessica is not nearly so nappy since the work we did during our first session. Rather than using her reins against her coat, we presented Nichola with a wip-wop rope to try out. Light weight and light coloured, the wip-wop is great for providing a visual and audible cue and can be used to back up a light squeeze with the leg and verbal encouragement.

We progressed to walk to trot transitions along the lane away from home.

Nichola's youngster, Bertie, hasn't had a lot of handling and is convinced that his legs are private. Like a lot of cobs he has a few moves that he uses to put people off from attempting to pick up his feet including threatening to kick, striking out, snatching his feet away and leaning, hard!

The feather duster is a great way of introducing foot work and teaching the horse to keep his legs DOWN first of all. Bertie wasn't at all convinced by the white feather duster and so I swapped to my own purple number. Having desensitised him to that all down all four legs, I was able to do the same thing with my own hand and then introduce a signal to ask him to pick each foot up. He was still inclined to kick with his back legs and so I used a shepherd's crook just to lift them up for a second or two. Again he can kick this without it going away and learn that this strategy is no longer working.

All of this behaviour is the automatic, non-thinking, instinctive behaviour or a prey animal convinced that he shouldn't give away his means of escape especially to a predator. We need to show him that the behaviour is not needed and that he can easily balance himself on three legs.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

26th May, 2016 It's Summer

IT'S SHOWTIME! With the summer showing season now upon us, why not take some time out to have a lazy day and relax in some dappled sunshine with the full-up SUMMER ISSUE of the IH Magazine? As usual, we’ve loaded it full with fantastic IH training pages and inspirational stories, so there’s tonnes of ideas to help drive you to get out and about on your horse. Canter on!

Not a member yet? It's easy and as little as £20 a year! Ring Brenda on 01488 71300 or visit: Intelligent Horsemanship

26th May, 2016 The Pony Programmer

I worked with a great young man this afternoon who also goes by the name of Jack. He is studying I.T. at college and that made our training very easy to explain. He and his Mum, Sarah, have been working with Flicka ever since my last visit in March, and achieved brilliant results. For a yearling Flicka is beautifully behaved.

We talked about how Flicka is programmed to be a horse and, that in order to get along in the world of humans, she needs to have some additional programs installed although of course horse will always be her default or manufacturer's setting.

We talked about how the training has to be built up incrementally, like coding, so that there are no bugs in the program.

Hence we started with the umbrella being small (smaller than this) but worked gradually towards er...

...okay, so Flicka decided to have a lie down and we needed to keep the sun off her of course!...


...and this. We finished with some foot handling.

What I liked about Jack was that he was pretty unemotional about the whole thing although clearly he really likes his Mum's horse. He just worked on any glitches and then carried on.
"Firstly thank you for yesterdays lesson, we both enjoyed learning as always! Thank you also for Flicka's Dropbox, it is brilliant, Jack has put it on a app on my phone so I can look at the lovely photo's of us all anytime of the day!" SS