My diary

PePo

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Jun 4, 2014
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So I've decided to start a blog/diary. Not that I think I've got much to say, but more as a record of our up's and down's and hopefully improvements.

I've owned Pete for 5 1/2 years now and it's fair to say he's been the project I never intended to have! Thankfully, a few years ago we met my instructor who has transformed Pete from an unhappy pony and taught me how to communicate with him using friendship, instead of force.

We now hack, do a little low key schooling with the aims of trying online dressage, jump and we've recently added liberty work into our. Through Pete, I've discovered a love of natural horsemanship style training & horse behaviour/pyschology.

2016 has been a real year of consoldating our previous hardwork and he's really matured this year. I couldnt be more proud of him. My main as for the coming 12 months, as it's natural to look forwards at this time of year, isn't it is to:

  • Continue to grow our friendship & partnership and keep him happy and healthy
  • Overcome our loading & travelling demons - following on from an accident about 18 months ago
If it all comes together, then I'd like to think bridleless riding could also be a possibility.

I'm looking forward to adding to this :)
 

PePo

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So, today I had hoped to hack, but with the terrible fog we've had the last day and a half it would have been too dangerous even with our off road hacking.

So schooling we a-went. Since my last lesson with my trainer, we've been focusing on my biomechanics as a rider. Pete's a pretty sensitive chap and if there's brace in my body, Pete picks up on it. The exercises I had to practise were stirrup less riding - especially rising trot, my stomach & thighs hate me - and really remaining straight in my upper body. Straightness and flexion is something Pete naturally struggles with & I've got into the habit of mirroring him - particularly falling in through my inside rib, which doesn't help Pete's preference to fall out.

We warmed up in-hand, practising our shoulder in - I'm not sure you'd quite recognise it as SI yet, but we had a few nice steps when he really stepped under himself - and leg yield. We then popped on and concentrated on getting him freely forwards before beginning to focus on LY on a circle and then onto a 3/4 line - both towards it and away from it. He's definitely stronger on one rein than the other, but that's no suprise.

SI under saddle he still struggles with. He doesn't fully understand the aids yet & he tends to get flustered when he's unsure & becomes quite 'defensive', which you just need to quietely ride him through & praise every right try. Easier said than done sometimes :D

We've had a few nice steps, so made a big fuss of him for that. Then our cool down really focused on encouraging him to strength and work longer & lower.

After riding, I practised again trimning his feet. Pete's feet have been a big issue for him, as he shows all the signs he's had his feet tied at some point. We are making big progress with me using a radius rasp & practising little and often, so hopefully (!) this will transfer to his trimmer soon :)

Fingers crossed, the ghastly fog will lift tomorrow and we'll be able to partake in Pete's favourite activity - hacking!
 
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PePo

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The first hack of 2017 :)

It's literally only been a couple of days since we got out hacking, but it felt like much longer. Especially for Pete who has two over-excited settings; 1 is turbo speed the other is everything gets a bit too exciting for him and it creeps into tension so he can't possibly go forwards. So we end up going backwards, sideways, upwards & we exhibit all sorts of party tricks - this morning started like that.

But, unlike a few years ago he's now rideable through it and he 'let's go' of the tension much quicker and is soon back to 'ears pricked' version of his happy-hacking self.

Once we were out, bar one 180° spin (spooking at a small child ...!) and a few small, really minor blots in his copy book he was super.

We mainly trotted, A. as I've been working over the winter to improve his rhythm and relaxation in trot (he didn't used to trot, just scurry ... ! ) so this is a fairly fuss-free way way of encouraging that and B. If he walks for too long (particularly at the start) his mind is busy plotting world domination, which is never a good thing ... :D

We covered almost 6km in 43 minutes and I was super, super pleased as he went confideny over a dual carriageway bridge and we enjoyed a few canters - the few canters towards the end of the ride he was relaxed enough to ride him forwards on a loose rein, instead of a fairly holding rein we often have to use!

However, the biggest icing on the cake was definitely being able to ride past the motorway bridge on the way home, to ride a small loop in the other direction. Going past routes he's already done and on the way home especially is a *really* big thing thing for him and something I have to be really careful with how I train as this is likely to push him into 'dangerous old Pete' territory as apposed to 'new, happy hacker Pete'.

It's a shame I'm back to work tomorrow as hacking will be limited to weekend only, but it was a great ride & we both came home muddy & smiling.
 

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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I enjoyed reading that so keep going.
Mine is like yours just a record of the ups and downs. You will find things pop up along the year that lend themselves to being in the diary.

I can easily see bridle less as a possibility. I've taught two now. It's something I never thought mine could be trusted enough with. She can be a minx with tack on! Sound familiar?

I don't know where your trainer is coming from. But mine was Australian based and I got on well with pnh- because the pony excelled at it. I don't know what if any horseanlity you are, it's just a language I understand still lol.
But for current lass she isn't into it, however like Pete the sensitivity comes through. I must offer her the right feel else she is lost.

I love behavior and psychology. I am always noting who mine grazes with. (the new boy)
 
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PePo

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Pete was all over the horse-anality chart Newforest originally, but he's innately LBE with the tendency to go RBI (often pretty quickly - which I think is half the reason he ended up in such a pickle before I got him) when he feels under pressure.

Yeah, I feel in love with the pyschology of it too - I must confess, I'm a bit of a geek about the pyschology/training side of it now & really exploring it as a partnership/friendship ...! I think as long as that partnership remains key in what you do, it doesn't really matter what you call it, where you buy your halter from or who you train with ;)

So today was a busy day as it was the first day back at work for me & I must admit, knowing he was already dome (as Mum & Dad did his chores today for me & my YM brings in when I'm at work) it was tempting to just drive straight home but actually an accident on the dual carriageway meant it was easier to go to the yard and let most of the traffic go & then go the back roads home.

So I decided to play with groundwork , largely as I only had wellies, a coat, a bobble hat and gloves with me :D We only did about 25 minutest but warmed up with some leg yielding & SI and then worked on trying to keep softness up and down the transitions. Achieving softness has been harder than safety was. .. :D

He actually tried really hard tonight & although I'd like him to be quicker of my body language, I think if I push for snappiness of transitions at the same time, I'll loose the softness.

Interestingly, downwards transitions are much softer and can cued from much less - so much so, that it was a real balancing act to do trot-walk as Pete kept offering halt. He's always offered this more on the right rein so I think it's partly due to me being right handed :D But towards the end he was making the downwards transtional from just me breathing out.

It's super fun that he offers so much sensitivity - I've just got to learn to use it better :D

The school was freezing over as I left, so riding tomorrow may well depend on what the weather does tomorrow ... oh for an indoor school!
 

newforest

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How have you found the ridden aspect? I'm not a schooling person and I would have rather have had poles/obstacles out.
The ridden exercises I did inhand as love it.
 

PePo

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I really enjoy the riding side of it :)

I'd love to ride more through the winter but Pete finds the sand school quite a difficult place emotionally - or he has done. When I first got him, it was difficult to get him down to the arena and when he was there he'd either throw himself around, lie down or literally bulldoze through you & gallop around.

I went looking for a dressage pony (his Dad did dressage and showing at a national level ...!) but in Pete's mind he's more of an endurance/racing/happy hacker! So I do have to be mindful of how much ridden schooling I can do with him when it's too dark to hack after work. It doesn't take a lot to make him sour even with a tonne of variety - but, he does enjoy the liberty work & TREC style obstacles so we try to strike a happy medium over the winter.

In the summer he'll do far more hacking than anything else!

He did a groundwork session on Wednesday & a ridden session schooling. Which was mainly focused on encouraging him to stretch through his back & work a bit longer and lower. He tends to hold his tension in his back & it has literally taken years to get him to a place where he's confident enough to stretch down in the school. Like, we've only just been able to work on it the last few weeks.

It's a big deal for him to be brave enough to let go and I literally have to instantly praise him and stop him for much fuss as soon as he's offered more than like two strides. I was thrilled on Thursday night when we built up to half a circle on each rein. The goal os to buikd on this over the next few week's for our session with our trainer in a few weekend's time.

Today we were able to hack, although it was pretty slow & steady - which he actually struggles with the most. He was definitely sticky & testing the first half, but really stepped up for the last half :)

I'm hoping the weather is kind tomorrow rlto hack again!
 
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orbvalley

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Beautifully written and very interesting. I really love the way you take his feelings & history or reactions into account and are willing to adjust your goals around his. Lovely:)
 
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