I have been training my horses on patterns and the results have been very positive. Mr. Tay is getting much softer and very sensitive to my body cues. He still challenges me with his whoa and go but his stops have gotten soooo good now that they are turning into sliding stops. Of course now I need to be extra careful with my seat or all of a sudden we are stopped in the middle of the pattern.
Then there’s Ms. Winnie….well what a willing, sensitive more confident horse when she is on the pattern. This one particular pattern was the first time I was able to ride a controlled comfortable canter on her. She was absolutely amazing! But even though it felt really good I knew it was still very hard for her when she started yawning and yawning when we stopped in the middle. I have done very little cantering on her because she was never mentally/emotionally collected enough to do one and stay in it. Training horses is so rewarding when you start to feel that harmony between horse and human.
I couldn’t believe it when I got back from holidays and worked with Mr. Tay and Ms. Winnie in the round pen! All I can say is WOW how amazing they both were! All the horse problems we were dealing with had just disappeared for this session. Tay did some great Liberty with the slightest ask and well Winnie was a totally different girl. I even asked her “Who are you and what have you done with Winnie?” She calmly went through the gate then just sniffed around waiting for me to ask her something. Normally this would be an opportunity to rip around. With my rope burn I could only do Liberty which we have done very little of. I got some beautiful circles with transitions up and down and change of direction. Awesome stick to me with even a bit of a canter! Then I asked for some figure eights at a walk which got accomplished with some loss of connection but still amazing considering. I have never seen them both so willing to please and Winnie so calm at Liberty. A little time off made all the difference and training a horse couldn’t be more rewarding.
So here’s a little horse info. on training a horse with claustrophobic tendencies. Before I went on holidays I decided to work with Ms. Winnie with the saddle on to help her with some of her “squeeze” issues. She has always had troubles squeezing through things and over things and she would always freeze when the saddle was being put on since it is a squeeze in itself. She doesn’t freeze quite so much now but I did find it interesting how she reacted to liberty with the saddle on. Normally she would run and buck in the round pen but this time she didn’t know what to do and when I would ask her to canter she could only go around part of the round pen. Then we did some squeezing between barrels and playing with the stirrups. After doing this a couple times I was able to ride her through the narrow gate that I would always have to get off and lead her through. I swear for the sheer size of her she must have gotten stuck somewhere before I got her. You can check out the video below to see how she was doing the second time around. A little creativity while training a horse is a necessity!
You know I think I could write about Ms. Winnie’s progress almost every day because that’s what it seems like is PROGRESS every day! She has never really been known for interacting with other horses unless she is in heat of course so I was somewhat shocked the other day when I saw her and Mr. Tay grooming each other. Normally she would just turn her butt at him and be ready to kick if needed. And just the other night I was playing with her nose and again she lightly pawed letting me know she was confused but she didn’t leave. I’m so enjoying how interactive she has become and now we are putting in some time trail riding so she can build more confidence out on the trails. Squeezing through the bush and trees has gotten way better but we are still working on gates, other horses and staying connected which will come when she realizes we are a herd of two.
Ms. Winnie is really starting to come out of her shell! She has never been a horse to play with you and it’s always been more about the food then “Don’t touch me!” I’ve got to tell you the other day was so promising when I was just offering my hand and she started playing with my bracelet and then my rings. It was like she really didn’t know what to do and I had to be so careful when I was reminding her she couldn’t nip because she gets offended so easily. I then knelt down and she started playing with my hair. I knew she was having a hard time as she started yawning and yawning and then pawed once trying to tell me she didn’t know what to do. I really think the flower essence and mimulus is helping her be more emotionally connected. It’s so exciting to see the change! There are way more aspects to training a horse than many of us ever understand.
Oh My Gosh what another great level of connection! Mr. Tay and I are now working on some bridle-less riding in the round pen. It ended up being an easier progression than I expected. First time in the round pen I took his halter off, climbed the fence which he quickly sidled up to and let me on and then we were off doing transitions. Being our first time we started with some walk stop transitions until I felt confident we had our stops then we were off doing trotting and cantering transitions. Of course I had to try this bareback! Forequarter turns were amazing, hindquarter turns needed work and sideways was amazing as well. Things went so well I made it a short 15min. lesson then haltered him from his back, opened the gate and back to the barn we went.
You know most times it’s ourselves that aren’t ready for the next step yet our horses were ready way before us. So maybe just try the next step and I wouldn’t be surprised if your horse thanked you for it. Check out this short video of us trying it out!
Thought I might give you a quick update on Ms. Winnie since we have been supporting her nervous system. A few things seem to be changing, like before if you drove up and she was laying down she would be up before you even got out of the truck. A couple times now she has stayed laying down and let me come up to her, pet her, lean on her and give her a few treats. Very trusting and very calm which she is not known for. Also when I have been working with her online she is now able to handle much more without blowing up. I have also taken a different approach with our ground training and we are simply concentrating on our relationship and her confidence instead of desensitizing. Matching her energy on the ground can still be a challenge but it sure seems to get her thinking instead of reacting.
Oh to know when to quit when you are working with your horse. Many horses know all too well how humans are direct line thinkers. We have limited time, want to get the task done and then of course do it one more time because…well…it went so good…right? If we only knew when to stop every day would be a good horse day. Mr. Tay is giving me so much at liberty now that our sessions are sometimes only 15 or 20min. and we end on a really good note. The sessions are quick, provocative and he knows he gets to graze afterwards. I’ve been setting our sessions up for a “thinker” and he knows there’s something in it for him so he is giving so much more.
It sure has been a busy week working with Mr. Tay. We’ve been working on some Liberty (no lead rope) training in the round pen. Now Mr. Tay is a real thinker with an attitude of “Yeah you and what army is going to get me to do that!” Liberty has always been one of our challenges however I learned what is called a shoulder draw and it has made all the difference for our Liberty which was pretty much non-existent. I shot a little video of us practicing a week ago and I’m happy to say there has been progress since this video and our connection is getting stronger. Still get the “Forget You!” attitude at times but it’s getting better. When you start to get this it’s such an amazing feeling of connection that words just can’t say enough. Hope you enjoy our little video!
For the past three years I have had my horses assessed by a homeopath/equine nutritionist. This way I know what supplements are needed for each individual horse and I am able to support their unique systems. It has been really interesting seeing the changes in Ms. Winnie over the past couple years as we are slowly getting her out of her metabolic state and now working on her nervous system. Shortly after buying her she had sand colic and expelled approx. 150lbs of gravel. As upsetting as that was I think the damage to her nerves is the most devastating. It brings tears to my eyes when she tries to get over an obstacle and paws, snorts, shakes her head, stomps her feet, yawns and will even colic (and that’s at an ask!). A past only she knows. BUT we have a horse health plan in place to support her nervous system and I am very excited to see what changes it will bring! Check out the video below to see me working with Ms. Winnie.