Success with Horses

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Clinic Feedback

Thank you for the update.   So good to see the Clinics are making a difference!!


Hi Birgitta,

I just have to tell you how awesome you are.

I’ve had my pony Star for 6 years and, although we haven’t trailer-ed much, it has been a struggle every single time. Since the course, I’ve done some round penning and yielding with her.  Star is very flighty and super responsive so I’ve always thought we had that part nailed.  It wasn’t until your course that I learned acceptance vs tolerance.  In practicing with her again, I realized Star can tolerate stuff but she doesn’t accept much at all.

This Sunday (today), there was a Cochrane Fun Riders gymkhana at the Ag Society. I thought it would be a good experience for Star, even if all we did was watch. Of course, because of life and work, the trailer practicing was last minute.

So … Saturday afternoon, Star and I start her pre-trailer warm-up by sending her past the trailer with both righty and lefty. She’s afraid to even look at the trailer, so she zoomed by the open door at her mach-one trot, time after time.  I realized the send past wasn’t working so I just walked her up to the trailer to have a look. She sniffed tentatively.  When she blinked and relaxed, I asked her to step forward.

The battle was on.  She tried to deek out to the right.  I bumped her back. She tried to run me over with her head and I pressure yielded her back over.  I kept my body language quiet, tried not to have predator eyes, and eventually, she put one foot in.  We did the one foot in, one foot out, two feet in two feet out for quite a while until I got all four feet in.  Then it was four feet in,four feet out, four feet in, four feet out…  Finally I got her to stand in the the trailer, head out, but blinking and chewing. I led her out, told her she was the best and turned her back out with her friends.

This morning I got up early, anticipating another battle. As we approached the trailer, I felt her body stiffen, and I knew she was thinking, “Oh God, not that thing again”. I lead her up to the trailer door.  She did the tentative sniff again.  I let her relax then focused, pointed and gave a little life with the sting – two feet in.  I rubbed her, and repeated – four feet in.  I let her relax then closed the trailer door.

We did every event at the gymkhana. She was great.  We even won ribbons. Getting back into the trailer at the end, she walked up to the door and sniffed.  I let her relax, focused, pointed and lifted the stick a tiny bit – hop – all four feet in. I rubber her and closed the trailer door.

The change in unbelievable.  I’ve done several horsemanship clinics before, but at yours I finally understood. And I got results.  Thank you!

Trust….without trust you have nothing….

Little Dude

Little Dude

Recently a cute little pony came into my life, that in a very short period of time, has taught me more about trust than any other equine!  In his short little life, he has learned to evade being caught….forcing well meaning people to perpetuate the little guys belief that humans bring food to catch, “trick”, me…  In our busy lives, hard to catch horses/ponies/minis are just one big pain in the @#*.

It brings out the predator instinct in all of us, me included….little pony grabs treat from hand and bolts just as he see the lead rope coming out….:)

Little rascal!

Sooo I had to rethink where he must be coming from.  After successfully “catching” him on day one, WITHOUT FOOD, we went through some clearly needed desensitizing exercises.  He is a jumpy little guy.  So lets be perfectly clear….he was not at all harmed doing this.

Day two…after round penning him, and getting him to follow me at liberty, his old tricks came out as soon as he saw me with a halter/lead rope.  Even though I had NOT tricked him into being caught the day before, when he bolted I held him with the lead rope, then haltered him….in his mind he was not a willing participant.

I left it on a good note, and went in the house to think about what just happened…..

Here is my theory… although he is a little jumpy, he really is not afraid of humans.  The mere act of  being tricked/forced to be caught upset him…

Who could blame him??  Would you trust anyone that said they were your friend (bringing food), then grabbing you when you lost confidence in them?  It would take only one time, and the trust would be broken. I had asked him, he said no (his old behavior), and I proceeded anyway. So, in order to build trust, I had to put away the goal of “catching” him.

As SOON as I did this, and just followed him when he left, and turned away from him when he turned to face me, he would approach and except being scratched.  It blew his mind that I would leave without “catching” him.  This strategy worked very quickly to the point where in two days he munched his hay quietly while I stood next to him and just scratched him.  His left side was the most reactive…most people handle horses on the left.   So I gained his trust on his right side first, then the left.  That was three days ago, and tonight he willingly stood beside me while I put the lead rope over his neck, paused to scratch him, and asked him if I could proceed.  He sniffed the halter, never loosing confidence in me, while I got it arranged to ask him if I could put it on him.  His eyes softened, and he lowered his little nose into the halter, and stood so softly as I did it up.  I couldn’t stop grinning.  Little DUDE.  I promised him he will NEVER be “caught” again.  I will always ask permission to proceed.

I have a feeling that his training will go very smoothly if I stick to this principle.  Always check your predator at the gate.

Trust is sacred …always ask before you proceed…the rewards are well worth the time.

To ponies everywhere!


Contact Birgitta

Cell: 403-619-5635
Connie Challice

Tel: (403) 803-6739

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