Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Continuing education

Have been on Cliffton and ridden round briefly at a walk a few times, but he was very introverted and inclined to come out of it with a bang!! Not good. I have dealt with horses like this before but Cliffton's behaviour didn't seem to improve although I kept backing off & taking things very slowly.

In fact I came to the conclusion that he must have had some fairly rough treament in the past to make him shut down the way he does. As the methods I was usuing weren't making any significant changes I researched some diferent methods. I have always liked the books by Mark Rashid & other similar horse trainers so was looking for more detail along those lines.

I came up with GaWaNi Pony Boys teachings, downloaded his e-book with step by step exercises and we seem to be making progress again.

GaWaNi Pony Boys methods are based around establishing yourself as herd leader with the horse loose in a round pen (arena in my case) then the desensitisation process is done again with the horse loose, giving it the option of moving away, if it does you encourage that movement for a couple of laps then invite it in again, the horse can choose at all times, but it's choice of running is made harder work than it would like.

Using this aproach I have found Cliffton retreats into his own world less and less, he wants to be with me all the time and is relaxing in general.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Progress so far

Once he had had a few days to settle it was tme to take Cliffton into the aena and start his education properly. These days I use only natural horsemanhip techniques with my horses and mostly Parelli, although I sometimes mix and match.

The first step, after rubbing him all over, to relax him ad see if he had any parts he didn't like being handled, was to teach Cliffton to move away from pressure, this means when you apply pressure to to an area he moves from it instead of pushing back which is a horses natural reaction. He learned this quite easily, although he found lowering his head quite dificult as Cliffton likes to throw it up when something bothers him.

I also found that Cliffton was quite stiff around his hindquarters, probably because of the shape of his back, so he couldn't cross his back legs over. We have worked on this and three weeks later he can do it easily.

Over the next few days we covered other exercises until Cliffton could back away when asked, walk and trot around me in a circle and go through narrow spaces, stop and turn to face me, all calmly.

The most challenging lesson to teach Cliffton at this point was to walk with his head in front with me at his side, he was lovely to lead if he could go behind as he could take confidence from you but as soon as his head was in front he got scared, which is ok, but when you ride a horse you're back behind his head s it's a important step. There are various names for this, but it is usually called ground driving or ground riding.

To teach ground driving you have the horse alongside a fence or wall you are alongside it's shoulder, have a long lead rope ,12' is ideal. Give the horse about half the rope and leave it loose, with the hand furthest from the horse you ask your horse to walk forwards by pointng ahead down the fence line, if it doesn't respond you pick up the tail end of the rope with your other hand and ask again, each time you ask you get increasingly stronger with the tail end until the horse responds, then you just walk with the horse. When you want to stop, look down, slow down and say whoa, if it doesn't work give the rope a shake.

The problem with Cliffton was that whe I asked him to go he didn't and when I got bigger in asking he got scared and tried to run away, if this happens stand still and let the horse circle arund until i gets back to where it started.

When I got him ging forwards quietly he forgot how to stop. It took a couple of sessions to get that right but now he is happy to do it from either side and we have started to go up into a trot and back down again.

Cliffton now lives out quite happily with Dan and Murphy.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Cliffton's Arrival

Cliffton Miller is a registered Conemara, born and bred in Ireland he somehow ended up going through the horse auction in Shrewsbury, and I somehow found myself bidding for him (It must have been the saddle and bridle thrown in at the last minute)!!!

He had been described as 4years old, lunged and long reined and ready to back, oh and he had been tried over a jump and showed tremendous scope!!!

I was a bit disapointed to find he had a roached back when I took his saddle off, but it doesn't seem to affect him other that making his action look a bit odd without it.

He loaded into the trailer straight away and tucked into the food in the manger as if he hadn't seen food in a week. I did have trouble getting him in his stable though as we have internal stables and I had chosen one on the right for him only to fibd he had not been taught to lead to the right, only the left.

Cliffton met the rest of the herd in the stables (more on them later) and after a couple of days I put him in a small field with two other geldings, Dan and Murphy. Dan proceeded to chase poor Cliffton over the fence, showing off his jumping ability! Cliffton jumped back only for Dan to chase him out again!! Poor Cliffton spent the next two weeks living in a small paddock next to the others until they could be trusted not to pick on him.