Tuesday, September 27, 2016

27th September, 2016 To Infinite...or at least Mars

16 month coloured cob Jack exemplifies just what can be achieved with a young horse with an owner doing just a couple of quiet sessions a week, and having the occasional groundwork lesson. Jack benefits from the company of another young pony (Bear) with older horses next door enabling him to express natural behaviours and expend his energy. As a result he can concentrate when asked to do a little bit of light work and learn to learn.

Some tiny technical changes today which improve the overall result and give clarity. In the left hand picture Lorraine is inclined to keep a light but definite pressure on his lead rein in case something happens. This gets the horse used to feeling (and ignoring) a constant pull. In the right hand picture she has a 'smile in the line' but can trust her 'motorbike hand' to let her know if Jack does suddenly pull away and to react accordingly. The 'motorbike hand' itself is much better at giving a clear resistance to any sudden pull utilising the muscles of the forearm, upper arm and the stomach.

In the top picture Jack is walking right by Lorraine's side and when she stops he should stop without being pulled. There is a slight hint of a pull in the lower picture which, if needed, would actually have the effect of telling the horse to resist and keep going forwards. If a horse doesn't stop when you stop it's better to turn, face him, and to correct him with a left 'motorbike hand' backing him up just a couple of paces.

Here Lorraine is being really generous with her 'smile in the line' giving a clear signal in terms of pressure and demeanour that Jack is doing exactly what she would like him to do. This darling soul enjoys matching her step for step and will copy a funereal walk if asked.

Some time ago another trainer used a bag on a stick to discourage Jack from invading space for food. Today we used bags on a stick as a desensitisation exercise and as you can see he was more interested in whispering into my ear. I'm quite wary of using bags on a stick as a deterrent as, despite the 5p charge, there are still plenty of carrier bags blowing around and I don't want my horse to be frightened of them. Jack was very relaxed about the brolly and the tarpaulin.

One little mishap recently. Jack had taken offence at a surcingle being dropped down his offside when experiencing a rug for the first time. I used the soft scarf to mimic the movement of the surcingle and soon reached a stage where I could throw it over him with panache.
" ...it's so important to me to make sure he has the right start, I really enjoy our sessions with you." LM
Four year old Criollo x Throughbred, Mars, belongs to Flo who bought him about seven weeks ago. Backed and ridden away last year he was then turned away and I suspect he hadn't got all that many hours or miles under his belt; certainly not enough to carry him through a formal riding lesson with lots of circles. Originally bunny hopping into transitions, he has begun to buck in walk and we need to find out whether this is in protest at the work he is being asked to do or because of some discomfort. So far he has seen the dentist (veterinary), Chartered Physiotherapist, and the saddle fitter.

As always we started from the very beginning, checking out some basic groundwork to make sure that he can rely on people on the ground. During the session he went from being quite distant and sour, to being relaxed, responsive, and really quite sweet.

Flo, who was thrown off the last time she rode him, felt able to get on him again and we kept everything very low key for both of them...

...even staying on the lead rein just for this reintroduction.

"It was so good to meet you and Flo's confidence has lifted. The pictures are lovely and your report is very thorough." KB