Tuesday, July 26, 2016

26th July, 2016 Family Tree

A morning off and a chance to relax with the camera and to consider the relationship between horses and trees. Who knows what this one is discussing with this tree at Longcross.

I sat down for a while watching this little filly, taking care not to disturb her...

...but this one's mother had almost rolled on top of him!

The amassed band of the Shetlands and New Forest ponies by a local pond all seemingly in deep conversation with their favourite tree.

Now that we are back to family only at our fields, they are all out together (Jack out of shot). I think it pays to remind them that they are the stable, solid group, no matter how many comings and goings there may be.

An unusual afternoon appointment as Pippa has been loading consistently ever since her owner contacted me to make that appointment. She had made a couple of changes pending my arrival, placing the trailer in a different positon, and putting the front bar down to the lower setting, but nothing that would have made an obvious difference.

Just to prove it, Pippa loaded first time today, after just a moment's hesitation. Although it is difficult to train for a problem that has resolved itself, Alice and I discussed all the possible answers she might have if Pippa changes her mind again. A padded breast bar may help although it should be noted that Pippa has always loaded to come home even if she has been reluctant to leave in the first place - this is a reversal of the typical pattern of a non-loader's behaviour.

We talked about the use of angles and gentle pressure and release and how that can help to 'loosen' a horse's mind and feet. The disciplined use of clickered treats (which Pippa thoroughly approved of) can help a great deal too.

Since Pippa has always responded well to the use of long lines around her hind quarters, we also used the quarter rope to illustrate how this can be used by a single handler to ask a horse to move their hindquarters. This one could do with being about a foot shorter but shows the general idea.

And finally we talked about the pressure of competition day - especially those really early dressage times - and the effect of excitement/nerves depending on how you look at it. Regular practice between fixtures can help to make everything very ordinary on the bigger days.

Pippa regularly competes at eventing and looks like she is really active.