Both started under saddle proper last week. Annie has been struggling a bit with the aids to go but is now moving off the leg nicely - we just need to work on turning, which she still isn't so sure about! She is also going on short hacks on the lane and has proved to be pretty steady and to really enjoy seeing new things. I've not tested her on the very busy road yet but she seems fine with a few cars coming past.
Sonny has also been doing very well and is now walking and trotting comfortably, although he does have his moments. The aim for now is to just get him moving forward before focusing on much else as his issues come up when he stops dead so the more we can prevent this happening the better!
Now that the weather has cleared up a bit all the horses and ponies are once again back in work so hopefully you'll be seeing and hearing a bit more from them soon.
Sonny and Annie have both made fantastic strides the last couple of days. Annie is starting to get the hang of 'go' and went for her first mini-hack on only her second time ridden away. Sonny has been sat on and walked around without drama so now it's just a case of slowly moving forward for both of them - pictures of both to come later but for now, here's the gang enjoying themselves in the snow.
What good ponies!
They've both made such progress this week I've wanted to write something every night but every night I get home and pass out! Rubbish.
Sonny has really had his ups and downs this week. He started well but once he started to feel challenged by the things I was asking him to do (such as lunge, especially on the one rein) he would play up - sometimes quite aggressively. He tends to go into 'attack' mode, rearing and kicking out at you. However once he was pushed through those tantrums he came out the other end to do some really nice work and learn quickly. He's now lunging well on both reins in a bridle, moving off mostly without incident and is also now getting the hang of long-reining. The next step is to re-introduce the saddle.
Pictures are from mid-week when we were still tackling how to lunge! Photos taken by the ever handy Phil!
Annie just continues to go from strength to strength. She will now allow herself to be caught with much less drama and sees or tries something new every day. She has moved on from her comfortable spot in the back of the stable and is now often to be found with her nose poking over the door for a chat!
This week I introduced both the bridle and the saddle with no clue as to whether she'd even seen them before. She took to both fine, just a bit wary of the saddle-pad. I've been leading her round the farm and arena with tack on and have leant over her a couple of times but was still unsure as to whether or not she'd actually been backed.
Yesterday I decided was the day to get someone on board. One of the girls volunteered to be the test-pilot, meaning I could stay by her head and try to keep her calm with a familiar face should anything go wrong. We started in the stable as this is her safe place and although she had a bit of a twitch and a start, she handled it really nicely. There were some wobbly legs when we lead her out of the stable with ride ron-board outside into the car park but she handled it all like a pro. But we were left unsure as to whether or not she actually knew the aids.
Today I tried a bit of long-reining to see if maybe she'd been driven, or to at least try and use them to introduce some vocal commands in order to teach the aids. We managed very small bursts at a time but otherwise she wasn't sure about it at all! In the end I got on with a friendly face there to 'hold her hoof' and walk her round. She handled it all very well and actually proved herself to be quite steady and unflappable in terms of activity in the saddle - great for a kids pony! Unfortunately it became very apparent that she doesn't know the aids, so that's now my main priority for her!
Pictures are from being sat on for the first time yesterday and a bit of long-reining today.
Little Orphan Annie has been with me now for about 10 days but been on the yard since early December. She's a very timid, nervous pony who has obviously been seriously put through the mill! Her history is unknown but we think she's probably been through quite a few markets in the past. Passported as Claire and registered as a Lipizzaner (really), a new identity was clearly needed for her new life and so Annie she became!
10 days ago she hadn't been out in weeks and was very difficult to catch - even in the stable. She also had terrible feet and an overgrown mane and would stay at the back of the stable as far away from you as possible. As you can see she has now had a hair-cut and is enjoying time out in the sick-bay paddock during the day, as she will now allow herself to be caught - most of the time! She is also being a lot more sociable, sticking her nose over the door and letting her curiosity get the better of her! She is improving every day so hopefully before long she will be under saddle and looking for a new more permanent home.
Sonny is owned by Sian and Bev and arrived on Sunday afternoon. He is a very handsome 5yo Irish Draught x who is here to be re-educated on the ground and under saddle as he is known to be a bit strong-willed!
On the first day we just got to know each other a bit with some join-up and very basic groundwork. He joined-up quickly and easily and picked up his lessons well, proving to be a very smart boy!
Today we re-started the backing process focusing on basic groundwork, returning to join-up when things got a bit tense. We worked on leading correctly - following, stopping and backing up without being tugged or pulled, keeping to his own line when walking and being more respectful of space. By the end of the session he could follow, stop, wait and reverse without any rope or contact so he has already done well. I'm hoping to keep regular updates of both Annie and Sonny as time goes on as I'm sure there will be lots to tell!
We arrived at Aintree just after 12pm and didn't get in the box to leave until 7.30pm! It was a long one considering we only had 3 horses! This show was a qualifier for the unaffiliated championships in February.
Archie - following an unusually lacklustre warm-up, he jumped double clear in the 75cm finishing 9th overall and qualifying for the championship. Very pleased with him, going to start introducing jump-off techniques now that he's a bit more confident.
Tyke - had a bit of a nasty experience in the warm-up arena which knocked his confidence and possibly hurt him a bit. He was really rattled when we went in to the 85cm and ended up getting eliminated in the second phase of the course which is very unlike him. I had him entered in the 95cm to see how he would do at that height. He handled the height quite comfortably so think it's a good class for him future, but he still didn't feel right and had one stop. He jumped the next few fences very nicely though so I decided to retire him and end on a good note rather than have a bad experience later in the course. I'd like him to keep on enjoying his jumping and never take it too seriously. He qualified for the Championship on a wild card regardless so he'll still get a chance to have a go with the others.
Troy did really well. After a very shaky first fence and a few near-misses he jumped his first double clear at this height and finished 4th, also qualifying for the championship and earning me a wild card to use for Tyke in the 85cm.