All natural horse care in the west of Ireland

Ready to Ride Results
Sunday, 03 August 2008

I have just completed two x two day courses (4 days in total) on Positive horsemanship with Vannessa Bee.

Satrurday and Sunday was the 'Ready to Ride' course followed by Monday and Tuesday covering the 'Horse Behaviour and the Psychology of Training'

We had six horses to work with during the course including my three Polly, Magpie and Harley.

We had two young horses to start on this two day course: Ozzie, a fouryear old rescue horse adopted from the ISPCA just over a year ago andthe other was my youngster Harley.

Day 1 

The morning of the first day was spent on the theory behind what we would be studying and trying with our horses over the next two days and deciding which horses we were going to play with.

I was given Tilly, an alpha mare belonging to my friend Sarah who, according to Sarah, was head shy and had a problem with men and white things.

Sarah had Ozzie, her 4 year old who was to be started on the course.

Magpie and Polly were given to two ladies, Irene and Debbie, who were on their first Positive Horsemanship course.

On hearing that Harley was 'a bit mouthy' Colm volunteered to work with him during the course. Colm works with the ISPCA rescue horses and always seems to like to pick a challenging horse.

Also on the course, was Chloe, a 16 year old hard to catch pony also currently with the ISPCA.

After lunch we were all despatched to 'catch' our ponies and bring them into the arena.

Most of these horses had never met each other so it was interesting to say the least when they were all brought into the arena with their handlers. 

As we all got to know our horses on the ground I looked over to see Colm with Harley getting to know each other. Harley looked more like a kite than a horse. I had never seen him behave this way. He is only just over two years old and had never been handled by anyone other than me. 

This coupled with all the strange horses and a strange handler (sorry Colm) all seemed to much for him.

Tilly who I had was being a perfect little lady but was constantly trying to stand/move my feet. She knew exactly where my feet were so we spent the first half hour setting the boundaries and asking her not to stand on my feet.

Eventually, Harley calmed down enough to allow Colm to lead him around the arena on four feet (not just the two)!!

Well we played around in the arena on the afternoon of the first day. We had 6 tasks to complete:

1. Touch the rump of the horse with a flag (plastic bag on the end of a schooling whip) 

2. Kick a football under the pony's stomach

3. Groom pony with a small brush

4. Use the glove on a stick to touch the pony's back feet

5. Ask the pony to walk with you

6. Ask the pony to walk over a pole forward and backwards

Tilly who I had was apparently frightened of anything white. Once she had confidence in me as a handler I managed the through a white rope all over her and she didn't flinch one bit. I wrapped it around her legs , threw it over her back, no problem whatsoever.

According to the owner she was also frightened of men, sticks/whips and was very sensitive to her head being touched.

One of the tasks was to touch your horse's back feet with a 'happy hand' which is a stuffed glove on the end of a schooling whip. Again no real problems and her comfort area which I retreated to with the 'happy hand' when she got un-easy was her head!!

During all this Philip (a man) was hovering around Tilly and at one point was under her legs trying to catch a bot fly. And guess, what no problems. She didn't even look at him.

So it just goes to show that if the horse has confidence in it's handler you can overcome lots of perceived problems.ozzie1.jpg

Towards the end of the day Vanessa was working with Sarah and Ozzie and after working with Ozzie to get him to stand at the mounting block Vanessa and Sarah put a bare back pad on Ozzie. Sarah was asked to lean over Ozzie with her weight and Vanessa lead him around a few steps. This was repeated several times. Ozzie didn't seem at all bothered by this. 

After a while Sarah got on Ozzies back in stages, firstly with just one of her legs on his haunches, then on his back and then put the leg over and sat up. Vanessa led Ozzie around for a few steps and everything was grand. Ozzie did at one point try and lie down with Sarah on his back and Vanessa suggested she might just get off. Vanessa managed to get him back up on his feet with Sarah still sitting. They walked a few more steps. Ozzie was started!! Sarah was obviously delighted.  

harley3.jpgThe my turn with Harley. Vanessa didn't think that Harley was mentally ready but we played around for a while. We tried putting the long rope around his middle to get him used to having something tightened around the girth area. He didn't like that one bit but after a while he settled.

I got on the mounting block and leaned over him a few times but we though he wasn't ready so we left it at that. 

We all ended in a good note and the horses were lead back to the field for the evening.

Back to the classroom (my kitchen) and we all went through what we had learned that day. Everyone has something positive to say of the day and of course Sarah was on a high and poor Colm had a sore shoulder from Harley pulling him around early in the day but was very pleased by how he was towards the end of the day!!

Day 2

More to follow .. .. 


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