Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Out and about again

B came in today with two more splits in her front feet, she's growing the walls like mad and where we're growing out the bits of flare it doesn't take much to get a crack to form.. Ellie is out to trim her next week but I rasped the splits out tonight and tidied everything up - she's also exfoliating sole like mad leaving really nice concavity...lovely little hoofers!!

Popped B's long-lining tack on, plaited her up (so pretty!) and just in case of shenanigans with the lines put a set of sports boots on ;-)

Attached the lines and hitched them up - here's a pic of how I do it Claire, not sure if that makes it any clearer tbh?! Once I undo the tab through the ring it all shakes free in a second so not too much of a faff

Off out we went stopping off at the mounting block for a good standing still /stroking /leaning practise and she was brilliant, walked straight up, kept walking as I climbed the steps and stopped when I did, didn't move a step until I asked her to walk on. My friend Shirley had been sitting in her car watching and said how absolutely brilliantly she thought we were getting on and how gorgeous B was ..aww!

Off round the back where we had to stop and wait next to a parked car as a transit van with a smashed up car on a trailer came past...Bally didn't stress at all so looks like no harm done on Monday Yay!!!

As soon as we got onto the set aside I unhitched the lines and set off we had a lovely little session again working on transitions and just keeping her nice and forwards. We negotiated a couple of tricky corners OK so the steering is getting a bit better (it couldn't have got worse!) I tried to get a bit of video on my phone but it became apparent pretty quickly that I can't video , walk and long rein at the same time hahaha , but did get a sweet shot of her, shame it's a bit dark though.

Once we got back round to the hay field I asked her to trot on out across it, it's got such good springy grass cover it's about the only place we can whilst the ground is so shocking.
Well B didn't need asking twice and launched into power trot mode, cue me leaping along, laughing my head off as she then kicked up her heels and had a little canter, she was having a ball and I was laughing so much trying to keep up, great fun :-)
We only had the one sticky moment (and a little temper tantrum :-o ) as I wanted her to long line right to the end of the field and up the path...I've always led her this bit, but she knows it well so I figured it wasn't too much of an ask.
Well we had a bit of sideways leaping, some planting, head shaking, trotting off etc, etc, to which I'd just put her straight on a circle and make her work then ask for a walk on in the direction I wanted her to go a few more foot stomping little paddy moments, but she did it!!

She went all the way up the path until we got to the fields with YO's horses in and I led her from there - what a good girl!
Had a lovely groom and a cuddle when we got back to the yard I think we were both as pleased as each other :-)
Bally led back out to the paddock like a lamb on a completely loose lead as I'm lugging the wheelbarrow full of hay bless her and followed me round whilst I poo picked getting scratches and cuddles....She's such a sweetie x

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The good, the bad and the downright infuriating!

Lots to report...bad me as usual for not taking the time to update, so this is a long one!

Had an interesting long reining session on Friday, we went off down the flitch and the aim was to do the slightly shortened version of the hack out we'd done with the other horses

As it turned out we had a very shortened version as Little Miss B had a proper full on waaaaaaaah moment along the bridleway through the ploughed field and we weren't going anywhere till I'd untangled her, me and calmed the pair of us down. It had all being going really well, she hadn't been hesitant till we got into this field and then she'd had a bit of a moment turning the corner into it (a bit of sideyways threatening to drop her shoulder and turn back)

Got her forwards again and then wallop, she full on dropped her shoulder and plunged off into the plough argh! I gave a strong hold to which she went up skywards and span, getting the reins around her front legs..cue much praying from me and lots of "steady" pleading...luckily she's not one to panic when she feels the lines and I managed to pull her up before she fell flat on her face.

Horrible moment...once again I'm glad we're still doing this on the rope halter!

Got us back on track and she excelled herself by carrying on up to the scarecrow, turning in the lane and coming back with no problems...until we got back into this bloody field again and she blew again!! This time I was better prepared and stopped her dead, calmed her down, hitched up the lines and led her chance of a repeat performance!
I really have no idea what's setting her off but she wasn't happy - may have been something in the ditch???
At the weekend we had another box session accompanied by Gi. Again she was hesitant to get on, but walked up without too much in the way of persuasion with one step back off the ramp and she stood warily but happily as Gi shut the loading gate. We we stood on for a good ten minutes and had the gate opened and then shut again - no accompanying tap dancing at all which is great.
We'll repeat this a couple more times and if she remains calm enough I'll take the huge step of doing the ramp next!!

Last night we had a great session - I took her off down the lane, but much further than she's been before and in the opposite direction to normal. I just led her in hand with the reins hitched up. She was a little tense and hesitant, but this just meant she walked slowly and carefully with a watchful eye on everything around.
We were passed by a car from behind and B didn't give it a flicker of interest. 5 minutes later and I saw another car approaching at speed behind us - I waved him to slow down and he didn't - so I put my hand up to ask him to stop and the bugger just drove past us like he didn't even see us!!! (I'm in a big fluorescent jacket and Bally has a fluorescent exercise sheet on so unless he was too blind to be on the road it was just sheer ignorance!) Thank goodness she didn't react at all, just stopped and watched...phew!
Then we had cars from both directions at once so we stopped, waved the one in front past, and then the one from behind and again she was just brilliant, so pleased!

Off onto a bit of bridleway I hadn't taken her down before and I just unhitched the reins and longlined her...and she was an absolute star - foot perfect!! Walked, trotted and halted when asked went round a wiggly bend without too much steering difficulty..just fantastic!!

She had a bit of a wibbly in the corner approaching the farm (she'd had an issue here before) so I just asked her to stand, then asked for a reinback, a couple of steps forward and then I took the lead and led her past. Soon as we were round the corner I long reined her back up to the hay field...such a good girl, I was absolutely chuffed to bits!

Back on the yard and we had a real setback - she was walking towards a bus with it's engine running - first time she's dealt with this, so she was quite wary but I was just leading her calmly and letting her know it was OK...well the stupid Bliddy bus driver let the air brakes off when we were literally 10 feet away just about to walk past...poor B was scared witless and even I jumped! Cue panicky clattering and me getting jumped on...oh my lord the air was blue as I told the stupid man what I thought of him. They're normally brilliant but this guy didn't have a clue it seems.
So right back where we started traffic wise, I hope that a few sessions taking a step back and just letting her see them around the yard again will reassure her.
Back in the stable I gave Bally really good grooming and we did some stretches for treats to take her mind off the idiot bus, pleased to say she walked back down the yard completely calmly when I was taking her back to the field so I hope it hasn't affected her too much

So a few up and down days...let's hope for better!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A bit of this and that

Wowsers Little B was in an odd mood last night, she came in completely wired, very jumpy and tense to the point where I quickly abandondened all thoughts of taking her out down the lane for a walk.

In the stable she was very unsettled and as Button was taken out for a ride she became pretty agitated. So I just worked on calming her and asking her to stand still where I put her...just quietly and repeatedly putting her back in the position she was when I tied her up if she jumped about or tried to swing round.
There is absolutely no force involved in this - I keep my own energy levels very low, I don't speak, no waving of arms or telling off just keep everything I do slow, steady and pretty monotonous. It seems to work like a charm with her

Once she had a slightly more sensible head on I gave her a good brush and conditioned her mane, then plaited her up - such a pretty girl!

I took her out to the mounting block and we spent a nice 15 minutes there, I'd lead her up and ask her to stand and once she was get up on it and stroke her ears, neck and sides, lean over her to stroke the other side - once again if she moved I just turned her and put her back and started again so a nice easy continuation of the work in the stable.
I worked up to rattling and flapping the side reins on her roller and actually putting a bit of weight into my lean and after a couple of goes where there was movement backwards or a fidget she quite happily stood and let me get on with it...loads of praise and scratches. Oh forgot to mention...whilst this was going on there was a farmhand whizzing about the car park on a quad with two of the yard dogs running after it barking and a big red van stopped next to us and and asked me for directions to one of the units.......all good stuff lol!!

Then we toodled into the school for a quick five minute lunge practise. Just in walk, I wanted to have nice crisp transitions up and down and get her really watching my body language and whip for instructions (big circle, small circle, go large)
She was super tried a half hearted nap to the gate a couple of times but was easily corrected..and every halt was a lovely square one too, what a bonus!

Finished off with a wander up to the hay field for a trot in hand where she can really open up and worked on trot / halt / trot, again she was really nice and receptive..and she completely ignored all the lads out at the top end of the field haring around on the quads and mini motos :-)

Back in the yard and I put her back in her stable as Button went back out to the paddock but once she heard me sorting out her evening feed she forgot any thoughts of being worried because her pal had gone..funny girl

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Bailarina had a day off yesterday as she'd had quite a workout for a baby on Monday, and to keep me occupied I'd arranged to meet up with my friend to go out for a hack on one of hers. I hadn't been to her new yard or seen her horses for nearly six months, so long overdue

Well I rode out on hunky Hercules - a 15.2 cob / friesian / trotter cross. Not the handsomest chap, but sensitive, willing and honest - a real sweetheart. She'd got him in to sell on and wanted to know what I thought of him

We walked and trotted round lanes, jumped a couple of fallen logs and a ditch, went over the dual carriageway, under the dual carriageway, had a gallop across a stubble field, went into the river for a paddle, down through one of the villages where Hercules had to give the other two horses a lead past a skip with tape flapping around out of it. - He was a dream to ride, completely sensible but responsive off the leg, stopped on a seat aid..just a delight.

I was singing his praises when we got back to the yard and was completely floored to be told he had only been backed three WEEKS before.

They just got him in, popped a saddle on him, her son worked him in the field to get a bit of steering and brakes then took him straight out hacking. He'd had his first set of shoes just before I turned up!!
They're not cruel or heavy handed - their horses are happy - living out most of the year, their own two boys come to call and walk on to the yard like puppies - no lead ropes required, it's just that they work on the premise that the horse is in to learn a job and he'll learn the job whilst doing it, so get on and get on with it!

It really made me think about the way I'm doing things, the slow, steady approach building everything up I just faffing about uneccesarily?? I like to think not - the horses temperament has to be considered and this chap is a saint in horse fur, nothing like a hot headed little Luso lol!

I can't see that I'll change my way of doing things or speed things up - Once B's brought back into work in the Spring she will be learning to cope with more being asked of her - but She will aslo continue to be worked in hand etc and do things at a steady pace with new stuff introduced gradually. This is the way I was taught and it's worked tremendously well on all the babies I've been lucky enough to be involved with.
Yesterday did make me see that there is another way.....another way that certainly effective but it's not a path I chose to follow.


Monday, 21 September 2009

Out with the grown ups!

Another fantastic new experience for Bailarina tonight...this is what I LOVE about working with youngsters :-)

Three of my friends on the yard were going out for a hack this evening and as I'd already planned to have a walk out with B I asked on the offchance if we could tag along for her first experience out and about in the company of other horses.

B was a little excited by the prospect to start with as we made our way onto the Flitch - we were at the rear and we had a few jogs, a little head tossing and a couple of 'ooops mum is that your space' wandering straight into me moments. She was still a bit silly as we walked past a field with a couple of ponies in and had a reminder tug or two on the rope ask her to mind herself and her manners, but as we ventured off onto a bridleway she hadn't been on before she settled down and started to enjoy the walk and the new sights and sounds.

She very bravely made it past Sunflower House with the beautifully well dressed Sally Scarecrow with just a little start and a snort, but then paid no heed as she walked past.

Off onto one of the local lanes past house after house with wheelie bins outside with no bother, passed by a couple of cars without even stopping to acknowledge their presence. B was a superstar.

We even had a couple of little trots, she was great in hand: slowed when asked, trotted if I wanted her to, no getting ahead of herself or pulling.

She had a stop and a look at a couple of things without being too silly about it and wasn't bothered in the slightest if the other horses got ahead of her, just happily and steadily trotted on to catch up if needed.

We did quite a big circuit with a variety of paths, bridleways and lanes and came back along the road where we had a few more cars and a van come past again without a flicker of interest.

Back round to the yard where she blotted her copy book by doing a monster spook at the cones to the side of the entrance. One of those real comedy la la la WAAAAAAH moments as she suddenly caught sight of them and teleported 6 ft backwards in a single snorty leap. So she left the yard highly excited and arrived back the same way, but the important bit in the middle was a great effort from B - with such a lot to take in, new company & new route - she did brilliantly.

Shirley, Nettie and Michelle all said how impressed they were that she'd taken it all in her stride so well

What a good girl, so proud of her - all that work getting her out and about on her own has really been paying dividends!

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Thought it was time to push the boundaries a little with Bailarina's box training. She was now completely comfortable with the loading, standing on and being moved about and reversing off.

So next step was to tackle the part that had sent her into orbit when she travelled down - gates / partitions.

I don't use the partition in my box, but have the two side loading wings that have to be closed up before the ramp can be lifted and I wanted to gently and slowly add these to the mix.

I needed the help of superhubby Gi, so duly press-ganged into service he came down to the yard this evening ;-)

Loading went well, Bally took her time but moved on up the ramp when asked and straight on. Once she was settled I asked Gi to start moving the first gate across. As soon as B heard it and sensed it coming across behind her she had a slight tap dancing moment, but calmed down enough to stand still but tense and wary. I got Gi to move it back to release the pressure on her, lots of praise, then across again until it was almost closed behind her.

Another tap dance, but minimal, and Bally calmed down as I stroked and talked to her - again she was still tense and wary, but once she stood nice and still I got Gi to open it completely. I gave B loads of praise and let her stand with no pressure again for a few minutes.

I wanted to try again, but this time I moved B across the box at more of an angle and let her turn her head to see what Gi was doing to see if that gave her a little more confidence to deal with the situation.
Again she just gave a little start as he began to move it and the gate squeaked a bit (a case for some WD40!) but this time she was happier to watch him close it completely behind her...success!!! I can see that just as we've slowly acclimatised her to being on the box and accepting the strange feeling of movement whilst still we need to repeat this stage several times until it's just another accepted part of the process.

I'd actually prepped Gi as to what to do / expect if she found it too much and made a run for it, so we were prepared for the worst but bless her Baby B was less tense / stressed with this new step than she was over the initial standing on the box and feeling it move as she moved, so I'm hoping this slow patient approach really will pay dividends when we have to take the big leap of actually moving!! (not to mention the rather huge one of closing the ramp)

Going by how well it went today and her acceptance of feeling closed in on the box I'm feeling more confident that we'll crack it eventually.

Onwards and upwards with those little baby steps

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Saddle up!

Just fancied a bit of a play with Little B tonight so I thought I'd see what she thought about being saddled for the first time

Got my Fhoenix out with one of my lovely scrummy lambskin pads and just let B have a good sniff, decided enough was enough when Bally actually started licking the seat though!

So with her just loose in the stable I sat it on her back, attached the girth, fastened it, tightened it, wiggled the saddle....and nope, no response at all :-o
Bailarina did what Bailarina always does and acted as if it was the millionth time she'd been saddled up.

I popped her bridle and cavesson on and took her for a wander down to the school, thought it was safer just in case there were any shenanigans!
But no, B happily did a couple of circuits in walk on the lunge each way, then had a little trot with absolutely no drama whatsoever ;-)

So I let her off to have a wander around and she had a lovely free trot, did hump her back once, but no broncing - even when one of my stirrup leathers fell off...she just stopped and went back to have a good sniff at it lol.

I put a couple of poles out and we played follow my leader through, round and over them and B and I had a whale of a time ...especially when I raised them - B made a sterling job of walking over them

All done we went back to her stable for a nice brush down and her dinner, well deserved!!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Back to School

Not been in the school for ages, so thought it was about time we had a little refresher last night.

Just very simple close in hand work a la Becky H, followed by a little long reining.

I just started us off with a good march around the school, walking at her side very gently holding on to the inside rein - more of a feel than a hold, just to ask her to keep with me and follow...felt really nice and light, not forced - we did a few circuits, changed the rein up and down the centre line, did a few serpentines..nice work! Any hesitation was dealt with by a whip waggle to the side of her, she's got the hang of this now.
Then on to the right rein for some work from inside aid to outside hand - really good, I was able to easily control the pace and bend and got some lovely baby lateral steps :-)

Onto the left rein and she was fussier in her head, it must be something to do with my contact I think. I know my right hand is my dominant one..but conversely means it's more sensitive so when that hand is at her head she's steadier.
It wasn't horrendously bad on the left, but she gave me a few shakes of her head to say she wasn't entirely comfortable. I released the contact shook out my hands and arms to make sure I wasn't tensing and holding and then asked again - better. I'll really have to moniter me very carefully as Bally appears to be a very good mirror of tension!

On to a spot of the same sort of work but on the longlines, poor B, it's like the blind leading the blind - I had issues with my positioning on the left rein again, I keep getting too far in front of her shoulder causing her to make little circles or grind to a halt and then when I ask for the move into the outside rein to straighten I forget to change my whip position....... my steering went to pot entirely then! I actually think I'm not being positive enough in the outside rein contact - I'm not working her into anything but the black hole of my baggy contact which is compounded by the wrong body language.... hence the lack of steering
Still on a positive note the entire session was in a lovely calm walk, no rushing or trotting, she was listening and attentive...all good!!

I finished off working at halt and using the whip as a pointer to move her feet individually when touched...a precursor to jambette and Spanish Walk - also good for ensuring a square halt or standing up for showing.
Well, she's certainly desensitised to the stick and has no fear of it there was absolutely no response to stroking, tickling, flapping or tapping anywhere on her legs. Bally just looked at me with a bored expression lol! I may have to be a bit more inventive (back to the clicker!)!!

Night off tonight, I'm out backstepping in the carriage with Di & Prince :-)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Naughty Bad Blogger!

Whoops, where does the time go??

We've had a fun week, mostly just having a wander about chilling and having fun whilst going out and about seeing new things. (always working on voice commands, transitions etc at the same time ;-) )

We've been down the lane a little more, with cars approaching and coming past us...we even had a a 4 x4 and trailer pass us..very pleased to say B paid no heed whatsoever and just carried on walking * clever girl*
The bridge over the dual carriageway has been well and truly conquered, I took Bally for a nice long wander over the bridleways at the other side on Friday evening and after I let her stand and watch the traffic she quite happily walked across like it was the most normal thing in the world
There was lots of new stuff to see, a couple of our famous Essex ditches to go through...dealt with in usual Bailarina fashion...
"oh look big hole in the it ok?".
.."yes, come on, lets have a go"
"ooh ok down we go then"
No panicky leaping, she just quite happily walked into and back out of them with a little jump at the bottom! We also walked over some fallen logs in the woods, went under some low branches, all very low key and just such great training for when she starts hacking next year

We've also done some more box practise, not the best loading - it did take her all of a minute this time with two stops to have a think about it ;-)
On the box I was able to ask her to move about a little, forwards and back and a step to the side all making the box move and not a hint of tap dancing!! No panic at all this time, so excellent progress.
I need to get superhubby to give me hand for the next bit and try closing the gate behind her whilst I hold her....watching very carefully for a hint of a reaction. Once we've got that without any panic it'll be time to try closing the ramp - I don't have any definite time frame to work to but I'm hoping we'll be able to try that in a month or so.
Of course then we have to start all over again with the box running! Slow but steady, I know we'll get there.

Bally has also been learning a bit of standing still and to our mounting block :-o
Within a couple of tries I could lead her and stand her up against it either side, climb on to it and stand over/ above her, stroking and scratching both sides of her body and even just leaning a little bit of weight as I did it.
It's the sort of thing that I'll just throw into the mix now and again, no drama, just another thing we *do*

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Bathing Beauty

Gorgeous hot day here today and we're due to have another tomorrow with it remaining warm overnight, so I decided that B could have a proper bath...shampoo, conditioner, the works!

I don't think she's ever had a full on bath before (?) But certainly hasn't done more with me than have the hose sprinkled over her to cool off when it was really hot in the summer.

So I tied her up in the wash box and set to with a bucket of soapy water - Bally LOVED it as I sponged her and then massaged the shampoo right into her coat with my rubber curry comb - lip quivering a plenty.

She happily let me do her mane and sponge her face and even stood as I poured the water over her from the bucket bless her!

B wasn't quite as keen to have the hose on to wash her off, same as before, but this only amounted to a little bit of a jiggle about, better if I just ran it and still used the sponge. Anyway soon had her all rinsed clean, scraped and sponged all the excess off..oh and got soaked as she had a big shake!!

Took her off for a wander and a graze in hand up in the cut hay field - lovely warm breeze blowing to dry her off, then afterwards popped her back in the stable to give her a last brush over and condition her mane....all lovely and beautiful I fed her and then we made our way back down to the field - gorgeous girl on a gorgeous day!!!!

Monday, 7 September 2009

the Bally Goat Gruff....

.....Went a trotting across the bridge today :-)

She came in in such a good mood today :-) I wanted to take advantage of a nice warm and not windy night when she was feeling amenable and see if we could visit one of the big bridges over the dual carriageway!!
So after a lovely groom I tacked her up- with the addition of my fluorescent exercise sheet - first time I think she's had the pleasure!
I did a bit of desensitisation work with her first - a glaring yellow 5 x5 rustly sheet could be construed as pretty damn scary if you haven't had one thrown on your back before. But B was absolutely fine about it. I was taken the precaution of that plus my own tabard just in case anything untoward happened, I wanted us to be totally visible to the traffic. (To get to this particular bridge we also had to cross a main road)

So off we went, apart from the first ten minutes this walk was completely new to Bally and we had a lovely time just pootling along.

I let her stop as we approached the main road - we came around the side of a field and the road is right there through a cut through in the trees - makes it a little difficult as cars don't see you till you are right by the road, so they don't slow down. We approached it nice and slowly, B started a couple of times as cars whooshed past, but realised there was nothing to worry about and just relaxed. I walked her forward to the edge of the trees and we had a gap so we walked across.

Off through an old farm yard, across the stubble field and we were in sight of the A120 and the track leading to the bridge.

Once we got on the track I stopped and let Bally watch and listen to the traffic again, then off we went, up nice and slowly...onto...and straight over the bridge!! She was a little nervy and stuck to me like glue keeping her ear locked on me the entire time - I just stayed totally relaxed and kept a nice steady walk, chatting away and stroking her neck and shoulder to reassure her, but she didn't show any signs of wanting to panic or being overly scared, what a brilliantly brave girly she is!!
I led her on over to a lovely patch of grass down the bridleway and let her have a nice graze for being so damn good :-)

Then it was time to head back on over and Bailarina was totally chilled about the whole experience, so much so that I was able to stop and take pictures on my phone to mark the occasion!!

On the approach

Almost half way, still unfazed, ears pricked and calmly standing when asked to and watch the cars and lorries passing underneath her.

She still gave a little start if something particularly big went past, but nothing that made me think, eek we'd better get our booties off the bridge.

So we kept going as as we came off the other side I let her stop and just watch for as long as she was happy to and as you can see, she was completely happy about the whole thing :-)

Didn't want to rush off, no paddy and most importantly no fear of the traffic.

I'm pretty sure we'll be spending quite a while going over the bridges now so we can go off and explore the fabulous hacking (and walk back home to my house once she's a bit fitter!!)

And that was it, a nice wander back to the yard, she stood by the side of the road waiting for a gap in the traffic, watched plenty of cars go past her and stood stock still patient as a saint waiting for me to give the OK to cross

Back to the yard for a brush off, feed and massive good girl cuddle

To say I am chuffed and very proud of our achievement today is a bit of an understatement

Saturday, 5 September 2009

One step forward, two steps back....

...intentionally of course!

Friday's blog, sorry for the delay!! Firstly our step...actually leap forward :-)

Did a little bit of boxing, just brought Baby B straight over from the field to the box, stood her at the side of it whilst I popped my hat and gloves on, walked over to the ramp, I got on the box and b*gger me Bally just walked straight on!! She did stop midway if I'm going to be really picky about it, but I just said "come on then" and she did *huge grin*

We stood on the box for 15 minutes, she had her dinner and I moved about creating a bit of wobble. She had a bit of a waaaaah moment when I leaned over and opened the slide down window - cue about ten seconds of tap dancing (which seemed like forever!)...but once again even though she had a paddy she didn't attempt to turn and leap off the box *yay* and she calmed straight back down again *double yay*
As ever I asked her to back off once we'd had a good few minutes more of nice calm behaviour and she very daintily walked backwards down the ramp getting loads of praise.

Then I took her out for a wander, just me, her a simple rope halter and the lead - a step back from roller and longlining - I wanted just a me 'n' ma pony wander, not a schooling session (of course it is still beneficial as there's always something to work on...just wanted less pressure tonight after the longlining tangle)

We had a lovely time pootling around the fields, up and down the steep bit of track because we both like it lol! We did some trot, halt, walk, trot, back, trot, walk transitions - working from voice and body language as I wanted to get the idea (particularly halt) back in her head from voice as it had been noticeably wibbly when we'd lunged.

We did have a proper OMG moment out on the flitch path on the way back to the yard - she spotted a very large and very old unused gatepost to the left - this thing is about 5ft high and 12" x 12"...pretty substantial - she's been past it a fair few times...but she caught sight of it, slammed the anchors on, went in reverse and started dragon snorting at it!!
I was pretty much nonplussed as, like I said, she's walked past this post no problem before....
So I walked over and stood by it, a couple of snorts and wibbly wibbles later and she very bravely joined me. I just stood there and let her have a sniff and then we worked on getting her happy and comfortable to circle past it with her between me and the post...she got it - and without trying to barge me out of the way to get away from it lol ;-)

Back to the yard through a couple of fairly hefty puddles (which were happily tippytoed through) and we were done.

Great fun!

It dawned on me that with the extra hours I'm doing at work I'm rapidly going to be running out of daylight to continue or walks out in the evenings...we have a floodlit school, so playing about in there during winter is no problem. So for the next few weeks I'm just going to concentrate on the box training and wandering out and about whilst we still can in the daylight and save school stuff for when we can't. I'm vaguely planning on keeping this current level of "work" up through to the start of January, letting her have a month or two off (hmmm that'll make for an interesting blog... ;-) ) and then come March next year re-starting work seriously on an escalating 8 week programme to work on fitness and preparation and actually backing her at the beginning of May (whoohoo!)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Down to Earth with a bump - literally

Well tonight started off really well - we were going to have a walk / longline session out down the stream bridleway.

I tacked Bally up in the field and she was brilliant stood nice and still as I faffed around, then once we were ready I led her out and just did my usual method of gradually letting her take the lead until I was long lining her from behind (off the headcollar)

She had a couple of leaping moments going up the field, one of which caught me, so she got growled at and using the outside rein and strong body language I moved her to the side away from my space. We carried on and as we went past the fertiliser pile she went to whip round, I just caught her in time and used one rein to ask her to flex back to the right with the other dropped to the side of her quarters to block, this set her off in leapy plungy daft as a bat mode. I just stood still and repeated a steady command until she stopped and walked forwards again.

We walked on all fine and dandy but then she did it again, this time as I corrected her she twisted away leapt into the ploughed field and got the long line down around her legs causing minor panic from me. I halted her and started to ask her to move back to step over the rein...and wallop, she jumped straight into me and flattened me again...twice in two days was more than I could take and I let her have it verbally with both barrels. I was, not to put too fine a point on it, bloody well fed up with her complete disregard for my space or safety, sore as she hit the same side she did yesterday and downright disappointed in her behaviour and my stupidity for being in the I ranted and swore..quite a bit!

I backed her right away from me as I did it and then stood to one side to get my breath back and make sure I had calmed down enough to deal with the situation in case she went dotty again.
I tied the lines up and re attached her lead rope and spent a few minutes doing the forward, back halt and repeat until both of us were completely ok again. Then I led her for a few minutes until we got onto a long straight bit of path and with the faith that she did know what she was doing and the believe that she could and would manage this, let her off on the longlines again

Well I'm delighted to report back that we had a totally uneventful walk all the way along the path to the turn with a few halt and walk on practises thrown in. Stopped and she had a treat and we had a scratch and properly made hard feelings! Then I got her to walk all the way back again.

We had one eek moment approaching a footbridge over the stream that she had to walk past, but I blocked her attempt to whip round and went and stood with her. Then I asked her to be brave and walk on - she had a good think about it, a minor wibble...but she started to walk on albeit tentatively. As she'd made a great effort I halted her and tying up the reins again, put the lead rein on and showing her that it was absolutely fine led her to the bridge so she could have a sniff and investigate.

I led her her the rest of the way back home along down the back of the fields - the farm lads were out on the wretched mini moto bikes screaming around, but as they came down the path they spotted us, stopped, waved and all turned round and went a different way - B was a bit tense as they approached, but stood still and just looked at them. They might be a bit roudy sometimes, but they're good lads when it comes down to it..thank goodness.

The rest of our walk passed uneventfully. I practised a little reprisal of yesterday's work close in hand asking for a little flex and a stretch down on both sides and Baliarina just did it perfectly. It was just how I'd hoped the whole walk would be, a nice wander around the fields, such a shame we had that altercation

BUT all in all although I hate the thought that I did lose my rag, it was necessary to get her to respect my space and get out of my face - sometimes she just doesn't seem to have any concept of personal space whatsoever and that's not funny!!
Thankfully there is no harm done to our relationship or working partnership and that is the important thing, she still trusts me and wants to work together...phew!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Blowing a Hoolie

Dear Lord it was windy today, but as Little B had had a few days off I decided we had to do *something* constructive. Fresh from watching the fabulous Becky Holden in action on Sunday - and in particular watching her start Impy a lovely just about to turn 3 yr old Fell cross pony with her brilliant in hand and long line work, I thought we'd see how it went.

Now I've done a awful lot of inhand work over the years - learnt my skills at Turville and proceeded to practise them throughout Safi's life. But Becky works slightly differently to start them off...and it does make perfect sense in that they learn about opening the shoulders, accepting the outside rein contact, leg aids and stretching into the contact...all from you on the ground. The classical work is brilliant for suppling, collection and the lateral work...but that will all come later.

Anyway...windy...very, very windy. Bally came in like a coiled spring with the occasional Tigger bounce, so it took a while as we walked steady, stopped and backed, repeat a few times...add a few minor head tossy little minx moments and we finally got into the yard.

I was going to work her from her normal headcollar tonight, with her bridle on as it always is for work now -once she's established I will start to ask for flexions from the bit and work her off it (with a transition period of bit and headcollar clipped together)

So duly kitted up with roller, and her driving reins and normal reins we toddled off to the school....if anything it seemed even windier and we had a good five minutes of twitchy fidgeting being gently corrected before I felt that she had her mind on the job enough to have a walk in hand round the school - even then she forgot her manners once or twice, but a few walks round and a change of rein and we were able to have a very short lunge.

She was a good girl - transitions good, but once again slow to halt...oh and I forgot to mention one 10 second blast of total lunatic leaping and broncing on the right rein - completely stayed on the circle - didn't pull just went YEEEHAAAA then trotted when of those "do I really have to sit on her one day?" moments lol!
Then I brought her in to the side to change to the short reins to introduce the inhand stuff...I was just fixing the rein on when something spooked her and wallop, because I was standing right in the way she shoulder charged me and I was left sitting on the ground hanging on to her...Madam at least had the decency to stop and look at me with a hint of chagrin

I dusted myself off , finished attaching the other side of the rein without any further leaping lol and we went off to have a go...... well blow me down she was super - she zones in completely when she has to think about stuff and was concentrating really hard on what I was asking. Walking in time to my circle, not dropping her shoulder or drifting out through her quarters, moving off my hand and whip aid, listening to the outside contact and stretching forward and down when invited to...couldn't have asked for a better start!! Repeated on the other rein and again, really good try from Little Miss B :-)

As she was now so focused on her work I wanted to finish of the session with a brief try at the same stuff on the longline and she was great - we only did five minutes each rein, but I could manoeuvre her in circles, on to a straight (ish lol) line and back onto a circle, all at a nice forward and calm walk. Brilliant for her first attempt...any wibbles were down to me not being quick or clear enough with changing my contact or positioning, so she did brilliantly considering I'm such a plank with two lines sometimes. The difference in her attitude when she's being worked is incredible - once you have her attention and occupy that fiendishly clever brain I think you could let a bomb off and she wouldn't notice (Larri feverishly prays that this works in dressage test environments in future!! LOL!)

All done and both feeling exceptionally pleased it was off back to the yard where Gi had just turned up so we all wandered down the field after Bally had been untacked and brushed to have her dinner and some hay