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.

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