As we slowly come out of the virus hibernation, I have come to the end of The Lockdown video series.

What have I learnt?  Well – apart from what I have talked about in my previous post, I have learnt that careful observation really helps.  I’ve used the video footage to go back and see what has worked, what needs to change – and where I may have missed small signals from the horses.

I’ve been able to monitor my feeding mechanics and the timing of the click, when I have thin sliced and  when perhaps I have ‘lumped’. I have also seen the joy return to Magnum’s eyes when I put a halter on him and he was back in the arena again.  Saadi has continued to gain confidence – and Danny mastered the weaving game!  Ducati played his favourite backing game – then I took him to the arena to revisit the cone circle.

Magnum did not get used to the Cushings liquid medicine.  I now have tablets for him which are no trouble….they are of course much dearer – but he’s worth it!  As well as wearing the rug for longer periods of time, I am placing a saddle on him also.

I have also learnt that Saadi is very sensitive to the environment – and I was reminded of this previous blog post 15. Science Camp – Don’t Fight Extinction! – Jesús Rosales-Ruiz

I was very aware that Saadi was more comfortable to learn near the other horses.  When I took him to the arena, at first he was nervous and he visibly relaxed when we went back to the shed.  So I started by just taking him to the mat at the arena gate – then we came back out – and that was the end of the lesson.  After a few days of repeating this he was calm in the arena, so I could add another piece to the training – however if I got carried away, he would start to tense up.  For instance, I had a line of mats for him to move to – it was too much for him so I cut it down to two… Even two was too much – so eventually we focussed on just one!

How could I tell he was tense?  He starts to grab at the treats and will keep moving around.  In contrast, Magnum would stay all day in the arena!

Danny has also become more animated.  He knows he is third in line to come out and play, and I have noticed he has taken to throwing his feed bucket around if I’m taking too much time – not a behaviour I want to encourage, but it’s a sign that he is keen for his turn!

One thing that has stood out above all else is how much the horses enjoy the games.  As long as I maintain a two way conversation, so I don’t confuse or rush them, there is great enjoyment!

There seems to be a common theme in the horse world that when a horse is old or unrideable, they are just put out to pasture, but there are so many rewards for both horse and human by engaging in these games and spending time with each other.  We need to value our older or seemingly broken horses…. many things are possible…… much joy can come from time spent together!

I’ve put together a few training moments to finish off this series.  Enjoy!




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