Sunday, April 30, 2017

30th April, 2017 Sisters of the Moon

Another three part session with Moon with long breaks in between. There is no way on God's earth that this pony would come round with just time and patience, perhaps someone sitting in a field for a year or two reading a book. She has no need of people at all - although she will eat their food if they stand at a distance. Given even a limited range of options, she would always choose to avoid people.

Yesterday we decided to reduce her options a little more and to give her slightly less space in the pound - otherwise she was just going to keep going backwards and forwards, just out of reach, into the hut and back out again. By closing the panels in we were actually going to be able to reduce the pressure and her adrenalin.

Once everything was nice and secure, she came in and we began work again with the feather duster, this time being able to reach her at all times but never preventing her from moving. I could work on showing her that the instant she stood still the feather duster would go away. I might even be able to prove that the feather duster could feel nice - although this is a pony that doesn't even really like the touch of other horses.

From this speed...

To a walk...
Within certain limits, she allowed me to touch her with the feather duster, first of all just tolerating it, and later seeming to enjoy it just a tiny amount when it gave her a lovely rub at the withers or along her back. We have to remember that she is an entire and that for a brood mare, touch can be very significant. teaching me to go away by stopping.

We felt that we had made a little progress and will see what next week will bring.

Between sessions I did some more incremental clicker training with Henrietta who will now put her back feet on the nail file and cross over it width ways.

The tarpaulin has always been a doddle...

...and show jumps are fine...

...but she is always overjoyed to be on her plinth!

Adam the Potential Vet was also over and we all took Jack out for a walk at the end of the day. Since his lead rein was stolen last time I left it in the inclosure I thought I would take Jack out entirely naked to save anyone the bother of pinching things. Even on the open Forest, where there are other wild ponies about, he can be trusted to come back to me although Adam did try to run away with him.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

29th April, 2017 Moonbeam

It's was a head-scratching sort of day. Moon decided that she couldn't possibly go in the barn so instead we persuaded her to go into the pound, putting panels across the gate to be on the safe side.

Just the very presence of humans fills her with fear, even those she has known for a while. She will accept feed from a bucket but not from the hand; for now clicker training is out of the question.

As we began she made sure she knew her escape strategy. Karen has worked with her with a feather duster in the stable before but felt that Moon disassociated herself from the process...however, it is easy to create a pattern of behaviour if you create too much choice.

Here I am simply asking her to engage with the feather duster...

...and after a while she became more relaxed about it.

Using very subtle pressure and release. Each time I stepped away she turned towards me and often took a step in my direction.

We had visitors later and although Moon isn't all that fussed about other horses normally she seemed to like the New Forest ponies.

So still some headshaking at the end of the day.

Henrietta often looks as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth...

Here she is training her human to stand on the nail file...

...but with a bit of clicker, she started to experiment with it herself. Only front feet today...

It was good to see my ponies coming home with Nelly so near to foaling.

Friday, April 28, 2017

28th April, 2017 Over the Moon

We had a little time to wait until the new pony, Moon, arrived yesterday and so I had time to move the horses around to where I needed them to be. Pie has been invited to eat the grass next door at Nathalie's. He's on his own there but doesn't seem to mind and is determined to put on weight so that he can go back out onto the Forest at least for the summer.

I thought I would introduce Henrietta to her new plinth. She wasn't fooled for one minute and clearly stated that it was not a plinth it was a nail file and she wasn't going to stand on it. Negotiations have begun.

Everyone gets excited about the arrival of new horses...

but Henrietta was adamant that the new pony was definitely her private property. Moon, who apparently doesn't intermingle with other horses, didn't really get any choice in the matter.

Moon is Welsh Section C and has clearly been a brood mare in the past. She is terrified of humans and avoids all contact, not even taking food from the hand. We'll have to see whether we can do any good but I think I may have my work cut out to make much difference in the time that she is with me. Fortunately her owner is totally realistic about that.  Moon is certainly extremely pretty and looks like she should be on a Beswick plinth.

The evening at a portrait exhibition in Winchester where sculptor Nadine Collinson's work was also being featured. Wine and canap├ęs no less...