The feature photo shows members of the club enjoying time at the showground. On each club day, equipment is set out for horse and human to play with. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world!
And who are the members of the club?
Well, I’d have to say that the age range – at least from the Wednesday group – is from middle age up to over 70! They are all female, however there are men in the club! Now these women are truly amazing – I don’t think they will ever stop riding! They are the epitome of the saying “age is no barrier”.
What do I do while they are riding? I stay on the ground and walk Monty around the equipment. We touch targets – or weave around cones, stand on tarps, step over logs etc…. I am in no way ready to actually ride Monty – even though I have sat on him.
At times it’s so easy to fall back into the mindset of comparing myself with others. Sometimes the voice comes back – “Look at you!” it says. “Why don’t you just get on and go and join them!”
The only pressure I am getting is from myself! I think it has been so ingrained in us who have grown up in the traditional horse world, that we are not successful unless we are riding. But even taking away my fears of riding, there is so much we can achieve with groundwork.
And with that knowledge in mind I keep working with Monty. I guess I look like I’m just walking around shoving treats in his mouth, but in fact, changes are taking place all the time.
The last time I spent with Monty – which was our fifth session together – there was a miraculous change!
Monty prefers to take his treats with his head lowered. When I have tried to bring it up, he takes a step back so he can get back to that lower position. I have been working with mats. He is reinforced for two feet on the mat – and is reinforced heavily for staying in that spot.
So I worked at that spot to improve the feeding position. Finally he lifted his head higher while leaving his feet in that spot! Hooray!!! We proceeded to move off the mat and then come back on – click and treat with the head higher. Yes!
But the miraculous change came from the position. Suddenly Monty was taking the treats gently. I could actually feel his muzzle! Gone were the Alien Teeth – refer to this post – What’s Going on with Those Teeth!
There had been a release. I’m no horse body expert – but – there seemed to be a release in the neck or jaw – or both – he had softened – and not only in body – but in mind too! I was so excited!
Through the mat work he had learnt there was another way – we just had to find it! These are the rewards for horse and human paying attention to the detail. Just when I thought we had hit a dead end, there was a breakthrough! And this is what I love about this work. I’ve seen these things happen with my own horses.
I haven’t seen Monty since this breakthrough – so I’m going to finish the Monty Series for now – but I will update when we have had more time together. I will look forward to seeing if we can get back to that position!
And if anyone has more information on the detail of what has happened in regards to Monty’s body position – please leave a comment!
IF YOU ARE NEW TO THIS STORY, PLEASE START AT THE BEGINNING HERE – Part 1 – An Introduction
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2 thoughts on “Small Miracles….”
Hi Heather, This is beautifully written and resonates with me on every level. Few people can find delight in the truly small things that happen between a horse and a human that share a language and emotions together at the same time. That is what the process of clicker training gives us. Living at a boarding barn, we are only exposed to the loud, huge, clumsy ways that horses must find ways to please their humans with no regard to whether they find any reward in what they are achieving for themselves. When my horse’s face lights up because I have given him the space and time to find what works for us both is amazing and I imagine that is what you have given Monty. Kudos to you. Thanks Sue
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Thanks Sue! I’m so happy to hear that you also find such joy in the little things! I can imagine it’s very hard in a boarding barn – but well done – and keep up the good work!!!