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!