"The horse is doing one of two things: he's doing what he thinks he's supposed to do, or he's going what he thinks he has to do to survive." — Ray Hunt
Gracie is doing well, and Donna is finally able to be ridden again (Yay!) So Grace is our shadow every time we go out. Its great too, because she is quite at listening to voice commands, so she is learning too!
Other than that there isn't much else to report, beside she is super sweet and coming along really well, and did I mention how cute she is? Yeah, I know... But I can't pass off an opportunity to dote on her! ;)
Today I thought I would talk about flight behaviour. (Because Donna really wants to be a part of this blog and have her story told ;))
However when I got Donna two years ago she taught me more than I could have imagined. A complete crash course you could say (quite literally at times!)
To start with she was a bit like riding a time bomb- you never knew when, why or what would set her off. Poor girl, it wasn't like she was naughty or anything, on the contrary she tried really hard to please and clearly someone had put a lot of time into her when she was trained. She just lacked self confidence and got scared sometimes, and would bolt in pure terror like there were monsters on her tail that were trying to eat her.
I have no idea why she acted the way she did, other than she had obviously had a bad or frightening experience along the tack and it had stuck with her. Even now, she still does have a few small issues that we are working on, but other than that she is a completely different pony to what she was. Its great to look back and see just how far we have come and accomplished as a team.
She just really needed someone to give her confidence and believe in her, fortunately I feel honored that I was up to the task.
But it has taken a lot of hard work, an incredible amount of patience and kindness to get her where she is today and it is a very rewarding feeling!
Oh, and I should probably mention the ton of carrots that it took to persuade her that things she found absolutely terrifying weren't all that bad after all. My sister would often joke every time she saw me head out the door with a determined look on my face and a pocket full of carrots, that I was off to 'terrorize that poor pony again'. But, hey it worked! She is nowhere near as flighty, after desensitizing her with all those 'scary' things!
Now I know that there are a few trainers that disagree with using treats for training, and I see where they are coming from- with some horses I wouldn't. But it worked for Donna, because she need a lot of reassurance and positive reinforcement. And I think that is the main thing- discovering what works for you and your horse, in a manner and environment that is safe for the both of you.
All horses are different, so I think is important to figure out what is going to be effective, and I find that being flexible with your training can be really helpful too. But that's just me - I 'collect' different styles of training and then adapt them to my horse's needs. Also make sure you listen to your horse, sometimes you would be amazed at what he can teach you!
Donna used to be a horse that overly relied on me to do all the thinking for her - she practically used me to support her with the reins! and then would freakout and fall to pieces if I let go all rein contact, because hell, she relied on me so much that when I asked her to try her self she was totally lost! Not now though, she is capable of being ridden with or without a bridle it doesn't really worry her as long as I give her a job to do and keep it interesting.
Oh and a little tip: Next time your horse acts up on you, I want you to have a think about what you are doing: are you confusing him with your signals? Are you confident about what you are asking him to do, or do you feel a little nervous? Horses are incredible at picking up your emotions. While not all horses are going to take advantage, just remember that some are going to test you to see if you are a strong enough leader. In the wild the leader or 'Alpha' has to be able to lead the herd without any indecision or doubt. An indecisive leader is likely to get you killed in the wild, so horses are constantly testing boundaries to see how far they can get. If your horse finds you lacking as a leader, you are likely to find that that is where you are going to run into trouble. You do not have to be mean cruel to show your horse that you are a strong leader, you just need to be consistent, confident and firm but kind.
Well that is all for now,
Hope you enjoyed reading and please feel free to leave a comment! =)