After Spirit’s first week with is he has settled in okay and I’ve started some basic horsemanship training with him. I’ve done his 1st lesson / sessions 1 & 2 already. very basic stuff but the foundation for everything that’s to come.
I find that horses learn lessons that are repeated consistently from 3-7 times so after Spirit’s first and second sessions a few days ago we are now going through sessions 3-7 of the same games but slowly adding a few techniques that are useful in day to day handling. Today was his 3rd session.
To see his first lesson to go the right hand of the page and check out the Category ‘Spirit – Lesson Videos’
Spirit’s 1st lessons / 3rd session:
Keeping to basic’s as in his 1st video (see ‘Spirit – Training Videos’ on right hand Categories), to make sure the techniques sink in…today I took him out of the field and away from the other two so first thing we had to do was find relaxation in a new place before play…didn’t take long, he started looking to me whilst keeping an ear out to the herd..
His Familiarisation is good, moving energy and noise with the stick and string and took it in his stride nicely.
Feel games okay, hq’s easier so repeated moving his forehand to reinforce the right move, he was drifting forward, probably because of wanting to go back to herd. His backup though is getting better.
Another snippet of a technique I’ve put in more now is S2M (Stick 2 Me) transitions. We did some of this on the way to the field when he first came but now I want him to really listen and understand the cues. Upward cues are breath in, body stance upright/forward and voice cue ‘walk on’. Downward cues (stop for now) are big breath out, bod stance relaxed and voice cue whoa, if he doesn’t get it or is not listening I gently take the lead rope and pulse a back cue on it, release and repeat and if he takes quite a time to stop I ask the halt then back up to reinforce the halt.
I have also slowly started the rope ‘wiggle’ as this is an important cue to use if I need to stop him quickly. If I didn’t familiarise him to this technique he might get worried when I do use it so it’s good to put this into play now.
Lastly I put into the routine going through gateways safely, another good technique. It’s a half circle with me standing outside the field, or just inside and asking Spirit to walk through the gateway and then disengage his hindquarters (DHQ) to turn and face me whilst I close the gate safely. I use this for gateways, trailer loading, teaching to jump and going into stables and will remind Spirit that he’s to stay connected to me until I take his halter off and put his treat/reward on the floor before walking off.
Jumping the burn back to the herd today 🙂
1st lessons / 4th Session:
working on basic’s still but have been asking for more steps on our Feel games, more energy on our Familiarisation and started a couple of Focus games (move hq’s and 1/2 circle through gateways) and also working out of the field so in a different area away from other two so that he starts connecting with me through the games in different places. I believe he’s a LBint (Left Brained Introvert) horse with medium spirit, curiosity and learning speed SO he seems happy to learn and that helps to give him new challenges in his new home now so that we don’t get into too many habits or given learned behaviours.
FEEL: moving hq’s
FAMILIARISATION: energy and motion throwing rope over Spirit’s back
FEEL: bringing his forehand towards me, I pivot and turn with him and then forehand away from the left side
FAMILIARISATION: waiting while gates are opened until asked to move through
FOCUS: then asking Spirit to do a 1/2 circle through gates and around me to then dhq’s, turn and face and stand again while I close gates safely. This move is a great one for safety, going into gates, stables and later on trailer loading.
Spirit yawning a lot after his learning session…..to me this shows he’s taking his lessons in and relaxing after thinking hard
AND just like kids in school it’s great that after a lesson they get to blow off steam with a little play 😉
Back to being a herd…
When the herd came out of the big field back to the home paddocks we just put the boys together and allowed Tara to rest in the garden for a few days. This allowed the boys to bond in the much smaller space for a few days and now Tara is now back in with them and all is great.
1st lessons / 5th Session:
Going very well, softness and lightness coming along and understanding is much better today after a couple of rainy days off.
Getting used to going to new places to play some games
Backing up on the track
Familiarisation of our hoof stand and I trimmed his front feet today too 😉
Backing up away from a gateway. He is so good at not pushing or shoving through gateways, previous owner did a good job of not teaching bad behaviours 🙂
1/2 circle (squeeze) through 2 gateways with me standing still in one place as he comes towards me through first gate and then past me using some focus/driving game through the second gateway
After going through the gates I ask him for a focus DHQ’s (disengage hindquarters) so that he stands facing me at the end of the move
and while standing facing me I can safely go and close the gates he’s gone through
Take him away from the other horses to again DHQ’s and then let him off in a safe place 🙂
Having a sweet moment when the halter is off
He turned his head towards me and we had a ‘moment of connection’ 🙂
1st lessons / 6th Session:
I think I will go to his 2nd set of lessons tomorrow or the next day as the basic’s are all going well and we used a lot of the ‘games’ while trimming his feet and saddling him today.
walking through garden to the track (first time).
back feet trimmed (first time with us and our hoof stand).
saddling (with us and my saddle).
Feel and Focus games:
draw to me to be haltered.
moving his hq’s and/or forehand over to get ready for trimming.
backing him up by touching his nose/chest or wiggling lead rope to get him out of my space.
1/2 circle through every gateway (4).
leading on left and right with nose at elbow.
All the games went very well, he is getting lighter and even when slightly distracted it’s not hard to regain his attention 😉
Spirit and me…no sitting on him today as the ground is rock hard and slippery but saddling was no problem
Definitely like him in Burgundy
Mark and Spirit…I may try a normal saddle cloth next time rather than my 1″ memory foam one, keeping an open mind as to what he would prefer
1st lessons / 7th Session:
Today’s was the last of the first lesson sessions and everything is going according to plan. Lightness is slowly coming, connection is getting better, walking to new places is good, understanding of the games is going well and Spirit is starting to look to me more, ask questions and use his brain to think through things. Next play time will be time to start our 2nd lessons and I’m really enjoying teaching and helping Spirit learn more 😉
Draw/Drive: backing up getting much lighter now and he understand that a rope wiggle means stop and back up
Standing away from me is big for him, he follows very well but I’ve been teaching him to follow my ‘energy’ not my actions so that he can distinguish between me walking back to make space and me walking back to draw him to me
Walking out to different place is going well and using my FOCUS games of moving hindquarters and forehand are going well and using them for a purpose more now so that things make sense to Spirit more
TONS of walk/halt/backup transitions from Spirit’s head area are working really well, he stops on a voice cue/breath out which is great
Walking back home with that connection I look for is a great feeling 😉
He pushed me to get back into the field today so we worked on the Focus 1/2 circle game and stayed at this gateway for a bit to finish on a better note….dhq (disengaging hindquarters) here which is a good focus game and he’s learning it nicely
DHQ’s well….his inside ear locked onto me and what I’m asking of him…fab
Nice half circle through the gateway….quiet, calm, no pushing or rushing 😉
- Shelley – HorseSavvy