Time to introduce you to Dream! Dream is a 5 1/2 year old Icelandic X Cob who has come to me to STart his education – both in ST and under saddle. He came with a lack of some groundwork manners and this was my first job to set some boundaries so that he could come into a more learning frame of mind because his default was to just push past a human that was in his way! The first two days were quite difficult – and to be honest my husband wanted me to send him home! I promised my husband that I would give it a week and if I hadn’t managed to get some better manners by then then I would indeed inform his owners that I was unable to help them and refund their money. Day 2 and it was still a serious consideration – he was pushing me out of the way – tanking off when ever he felt like it and had no respect for anything. It was quite a comedy show seeing me getting dragged along by him, calling out to Helen – my assistant – to grab the rope behind me too and the pair of us water-ski-ing along my yard!!! And all because we were needing to treat some rain-scald/sweet-itch to make him more comfortable!! But I persevered and was very, very particular about my boundaries and the need to get him out of his shoulders in particular his right shoulder which would act like a bulldozer!!
We started our ST work with the stand-still exercises and then the LFS (Lateral bending, Forward down and Stepping under) on a circle. Boy there was some push! So one step at a time and getting him aware of his Centre of Mass and where I wanted it positioned. We made some nice progress and by the end of the first week was feeling optimistic where this would lead. He was now able to give me haunches in on the fence line on both reins and some really nice LFS on the circle and straight line with no push at all. He was becoming more and more engaged in the conversation and starting to feel proud of himself. By the end of the second week zero push and quality haunches in for the whole long side and able to make a start on taking the haunches in off the wall. The work in hand had been introduced and he understood the function of the reins and gave some reasonable shoulder-in. Becoming more and more proud of himself and more thinking as the week progressed.
At the same time I was going through the backing process and then the saddling process. A few little red lights to take care of but nothing major. He has now built this up to a little LFS on a circle and a couple steps of haunches in without a helper. We have also looked at moving out a little more freely in a freestyle manner by walking a follow the rail. He understands partial disengagements and walk and halt from energy and back-ups with only a slight feel on the rein combined with body position/energy. Today for the first time I asked him up into a trot.
He will be with me for one more week and then I am heading off on my Grand Tour Down Under – he will have 5 weeks to consider and then will be coming back for a few more weeks to continue his education. He is in a much happier place of learning than he was at the beginning and what could have been a nightmare is showing the signs of being a Dream! Will keep you updated as the STory unfolds!