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January 25, 2017
Riding forwards

17-01-25_Locket.jpgI had an interesting time today with a few client horses, helping one understand that she needed to go forwards more in the saddle and getting another one to slow down from full pelt. My method is to teach the horse find the place where I am quiet on their backs because they are doing what I want. That is not to say that when they are doing something that I didn't want, I get crazy with them. I find the best way is to encourage the horse to work with me, lots of reward and praise so they know they are on the right track. I normally find that after a while, they start to find the path of least resistence and quickly figure out 'how to train me' to be quiet.

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January 18, 2017
Clipping preparation
Clipping.jpgI've helped a number of horses accept clippers over the years but I came across a horse recently who was pretty extreme. By all accounts, he had been twitched and sedated to be clipped and had still caused some trouble. He's a big, athletic type with plenty of energy, so force is never going to win this conversation. The owner had tried to clip him in the stable and, I believe,this made him worse as he felt trapped with nowhere to run. If a horse can't take flight, they will fight. We set about re-educating him about clippers, starting off with a small hand massager. This was done out in the arena so he could move away if he was really worried. He had to have that option if he was going to trust us. To start with, it was a challenge getting him to even have the massager on his side switched off, but over the sessions, he got better and better. In the latest session, about a month from where we started, he accepted running clippers on his body, which was a huge breakthrough. It's probably too late to clip him this year now but I am fairly confident, he will learn to enjoy the sensation by the time the next winter is upon us.

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January 17, 2017
There's a wild horse inside every tame one...
I can't recall where I first read this quote but Shaun reminded me of it on Sunday, when I took him show jumping. I made three mistakes that brought about this surprising behaviour: 1) we were jumping rather than the usual dressage competition 2) Taz was with us and 3) I didn't get a chance to exercise Shaun the day before, meaning he was fresh. The result was a meltdown because he couldn't see Taz. Worse still, it bubbled over into the ring and we had a fence down. I was eventually able to ride the emotions out of him but I didn't give him leadership quickly enough. Lesson learned. Don't ever assume your horse will be ok everytime, even if they are used to the environment.

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January 11, 2017
A story with a useful moral
Once the Wind and the Sun came to have a quarrel. Either of them claimed to be a stronger. At last they agreed to have a trial of strength.

"Here comes a traveller. Let us see who can strip him of his clock," said the Sun.

The Wind agreed and chose to have the first turn. He blew in the hardest possible way. As a result , the traveller wrapped his cloak even more tightly around him.

Then it was the turn of the Sun. At first he shone very gently. So, the traveller loosened his cloak from his neck.

The sun went on shining brighter and brighter. The traveller felt hot. Before long he took off his cloak and put it in his bag. The Wind had to accept his defeat.


The moral of the story is that fury or force cuts no ice where gentleness does the job.

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January 10, 2017
Dressage time
Shaun_dressage.jpg

At the weekend, Shaun and I went to a local show to do dressage. We are now working at Elementary level, which is another step up. Here are all the levels to show you where we are:

Introductory
Preliminary
Novice
Elementary
Medium
Advanced Medium
Advanced
Prix St Georges
Intermediare I
Intermediare II
Grand Prix


This was only our third ever Elementary test. Little by little we are making progress. We got 63.59% which is better than last time and some really easy areas to improve on. The most important thing though is we both had fun!

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January 6, 2017
Needle preparation
Taz had his annual jabs today. He is not a fan of needles but luckily we have a friendly vet who is prepared to be patient with Taz. The main preparation is using a cocktail stick, pressing this into his neck and then rubbing the same spot to help him relax. Once Taz had stopped flinching, he able to have the shot and more rubs. I find this technique helps Taz to be less likely to be afraid of needles in the future.

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January 5, 2017
Disengaging flight
Something that I have learned over the years is how to teach horses how to yield their hindquarters, both on the ground and in the saddle. Many people may wonder why on earth we would need to do this but believe me, it is really to only way to ensure the horse's engine is controlable. To yield the hindquarters to is to disengage the hindquarters, to disengage flight. This is done by encouraging one hind leg to step under the horse's belly towards the other hind leg.  The opposite of disenagement is engagement, in other words, engaging flight. This is when both hind legs have the power to push and run. The easiest way to engage a horse while riding, to encourage power, is to pull on both reins at the same time. If you want to do the opposite, to stop or control the horse, just pull on one rein.

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January 4, 2017
Trailer loading
I went to help someone with trailer loading a while back. The horse is a complex individual - he flips from unconfident introvert to confident extrovert quite quickly. But at the trailer, he started off very unconfident. His breathing was quick, he wasn't interested in food and he was tight. We spent a good while just hanging out at the trailer, not asking for more than can you stand with us. He couldn't eat a treat off the ramp, but could off other parts of the vehicle. Occasionally he chose to put his foot on the side of the ramp. That was fine. Then he started to offer to walk across the ramp. This received much praise and a timeout. Finally I decided we should see what going up the ramp looked like. With his owner, he suddenly got extroverted but not in a fearful way. I could see that the timing of her question was bothering him so I took him for a few moments and improved the clarity of the 'Can you get on please' question. This didn't take long. His reward was to turn and stand at the top of the ramp and have a treat. I handed him back to his owner and suggested she did the same until he was loading with more rhythm in his feet, as it was a little chaotic. Within three attempts, he was self-loading. The look on his owners face was a picture. Happy horse, happy owner, happy me!

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January 1, 2017
A challenge for 2017

"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. 'Til your good is better and your better is best."

St. Jerome

It is easy for us to stereotype (horsey) people into categories, especially when they are doing something that you are not. Last year I had to mix with (horsey) people who I would not have chosen to mix with, in ordee to progress my personal development. What I discovered was that these people are way more open to understand how horses behave and think that I could ever imagined. I did not expect that and it was a poor assumption on my part. So here is my challenge to you - go to new (horsey) environments and then OBSERVE BUT DON'T JUDGE. Most people are doing the best with the knowledge they have. And some of these people know more about some stuff than you do. There is a learning opportunity if you look for it.

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