It’s been 3 days since I last played with Bella so today I went down at breakfast to be with her and see if she wanted to play. At first she was sceptical and this made me realise that she needs some play or interaction every day with me….this is totally normal and once she has been here for longer and this routine is a good routine then skipping a day or two won’t make that much difference BUT this initial 6 months to a year is vital for our successful connection.
< Firstly we did some ‘mirroring’…this is where I walk the way she’s walking, at her speed, step for step and also then with the same energy and even breathing if we connect well. It really helps our connection and shows her I can ‘be’ with her in her world, we don’t always have to play or do something.
We then did some circles on a hill in w/t, moving circles w/t, circles over a pole w/t, draw & drive from a distance and sidepassing without a fence using Focus L&R 🙂 She did very well and our connection is back in tact ready for our next session.
Tues 8th Oct
After not doing much last week I now need to find my Connection back to Bella. It will just take some regular play and weather so won’t take long but made me realise how short a time Bella has been with us and how fragile the bond is. Today I managed to get half an hour between rain showers and we did some nice S2M including TROT 🙂
Weds 9th Oct
Today was on/off drizzle again BUT I managed to get out an hour before giving them their dinner and I’m so glad I did. We managed some nice play in the Agility area adding poles to the cone circle/weave which went well. Then I put her saddle on and we played around with circles in walk and trot with the stirrups down and she didn’t bat and eyelid. I then did some DHQ into LF on the ground both sides which went well and then stood on the mounting block and asked her to come over to it, relax and stand still. I then put my foot in the stirrup and put my weight on/off it to make sure she was okay with that sensation and then as it was okay I mounted and sat quietly in the saddle. She stood quietly and then turned her head to the left with a nice LF to smell my foot and then I got off. One small step but a big step. Hopefully next time we will do some walking and the saddle will help keep my balance if she decides to go up to trot.
< Cone circle/weave with poles
Ground tying >
Trotting with saddle on and stirrups down >
Sitting on Bella w/Saddle and Stirrups
We have made wonderful progress together. Now we need to work on our basic riding skills/techniques with the saddle on firstly in the round pen, then in a larger arena and then in a bigger area.
Sat 12th Oct
Today was the FIRST time riding Bella with the saddle/stirrups on. She did amazingly well and I’m so proud of her. I think I will make a bigger rectangular arena for us to work in now so that will encourage forward motion more for her. I have this session on video in the ‘Bella’s training video’ section and we also did a fab 4th Agility session also on video in the ‘Bella’s Agility video’ section >>>>
Sun 13th Oct
Today we took the smaller round pen down and made a rectangular arena for Bella to work in, the longer straight lines will help her walk out more in our riding sessions and we can also use this for her to follow Stormy to give her confidence following another horse. Today we just allowed both horses to work/ride in it for a short time. Here’s some pics from today including some of the fun ground work we did together:
< A ‘moment’ together
Managed one foot on the smaller pedestal >
< Sidepassing without a fence 🙂
Getting a nice ride on big Stormy today >
< Storm is now a ‘teacher’ for Bella
Nice ride on Stormy >
< And such a nice trot with Storm today working on the Corners Game
Bella’s Lateral Flexion on BOTH sides today was soft, light and easy >
< Managed to get more walk steps working in new bigger area today
Also walked out of the arena back to where I take the tack off, through the agility area >
Mon 14th Oct
Today I decided to try a new thing to help Bella’s confidence in being ridden…..asking Mark to ride Stormy with us in the arena. This really helped Bella, she followed what Stormy was doing and we managed a lot of just nice walk next to each other. It will take time for Bella to gain new muscles for being ridden and taking weight on her back but she’s doing really well.
Riding together is a lot of fun and I can see she and Storm will make happy hacking pals once we’ve done more training and then walked her out locally (probably next year now)
We walked companionably on both sides of Stormy, love that these two get on so well, no niggling, no kicking out or trying to bite each other.
Tues 15th Oct
Had a lovely play with Bella today and it turned out to be a play with her AND Stormy together a bit too. Stormy at liberty, Bella on line…some pics….
Playing the games with Stormy helped Bella feel more confident, allow her to see Stormy doing the same things and to make Stormy feel included more 😉
Draw and Drive over a pole went incredibly well with the two of them 🙂
Some treats for both for a good job done.
4 feet on the pedestal at last….well 2 of Storm’s and 2 of Bella’s…great to see how well they get on that they can be this close 🙂
Pedestal fun and then some solo circling with poles for Bella. She really engages her core when there are poles around so we will continue to build with the pole work to help her muscle up for being ridden 😉
After some play I went to do a bit of riding, Bella was good but very very distracted by something (farmer moving cattle probably, very noisy business) SO I decided that it would be easier and better for Bella if Mark rode her and I stayed on the ground with Stormy so she could follow me and be near Stormy. It went very well and Mark had a couple of really nice TROT’s on her which was great to see.
Good start and her basic bitless techniques are going well (LF. DHQ. FH and Walking on). She is still more confident with Stormy around when being ridden but that’s to be expected 😉
You can see she is thinking about something in the middle distance here.
Mark did a great relaxing job riding Bella today. Her trot ridden is as nice as her trot when she’s working online which is lovely to see.
Here she’s trotting well following Storm and me. We still need to work on left and right but am very pleased she’s got walk and now trot under her belt, we can progress slowly now.
I then spent some quiet time with Bella which was really bonding. She is really cuddly and I love being around her.
Tue 22nd Oct
Just back from a clinic in the Borders so have missed 5 days training with Bella this week BUT hopefully that has given her a small break to think and rest which is often a good thing for any horse. Went out to give them their dinner today around 5pm and take this opportunity to get ‘re-connected’ to her and Stormy.
Bella remembered everything we’ve done and we had some nice circling in both directions, realised we need to start working on a 22′ line now to help her trot circles be easier for her. Draw & Drive was light and polite and she did two very nice, light Lateral Flexion both directions. Lastly, after I took her halter off, it was lovely to have her follow me for a bit at Liberty 😉
Sat 26th Oct
Bella has had a slight swelling in her right udder so we decided to be able to keep an eye on her more to bring her and Stormy to the home paddocks. (at the time of writing this her udder is 50% smaller so looks like it is probably hormonal). It will also allow her to get used to the Winter turnout before they have to come up for Winter so it’s good in two ways. She was a bit sceptical coming out of the field she’s been in for 3 months since coming to us but not too worried that she couldn’t move and follow Stormy. Stormy is a great confidence giver as he’s been doing this run every Winter for 10yrs although this is the first time with Bella. Here’s some pics of our wee adventure.
Bella was quite unsettled to start with , quite sweaty too but I went and rubbed her down with some dry grass and that helped her, she also had to listen to Stormy with how to not worry about the wee bridge we have in the middle of the paddocks over the wee stream. She relaxed enough to watch and think about it and figure it out so that hopefully tonight she’ll know where things are and relax into a quiet night.
Wee video of Bella figuring out the bridge 🙂
Sun 27th Oct
We left the horses to just mosey about today, allowing Stormy to show Bella around the field more and all the nice tasty spots of grazing, find their resting spots and for Bella to get used to her new surroundings. She is on lookout a bit but nothing worrying, just her getting used to where all the normal sounds are now coming from as she is nearer the farm and road noises.
When I go and walk doggie Beau, Bella walks the fence line with me, she likes watching everything that is going on.
Bella also likes to follow us whilst poo picking, she like to make sure we do it properly. She is also mirroring Stormy often, he knows the field well so is a great help to give her confidence and calmness.
Resting together is lovely to see and also how calm they are coming and eating their 2 meals a day 🙂
Mon 27th Oct
Bella is really relaxing more each day she’s here in the home paddocks, this is going to help her so much when they come back for a few months over Winter, usually end Dec through to March. It makes it easier for us to feed and take care of them as often we can get snowed in here. She isn’t fully relaxed yet but it’s only been 2 full days so far and I’m impressed with how Stormy is helping her and being a good partner for her.
Today she followed me around while poo picking and that was even over the bridge but it was also lovely to see them both coming over for their breakfast nice and calmly and Stormy even allowing Bella to share the end of his bowlful…she is a cheeky minx, lol
Tues 29th Oct
Today I decided to ask Bella to have a wee play session and walk up the road by the paddock. This gives her the comfort of having Stormy int he field next to her but also allows me to see how she can respond and connect to me. Having her able to play will allow us to develop a deeper connection in a new place and for me to gauge her emotional and mental fitness. Here’s some lovely pics Mark took of us today….
Weds 30th Oct
This morning it was interesting to see the Storm and Bella following each other around. There was a bit of noise and movement around the estate with the farmer moving cattle around. Our two are so sensitive to changes at the moment but happy to be relaxed and calm around us.
Today was also ‘trimming hooves’ day, Bella’s hooves are so much better than when she first came to us 3 months ago, still some way to go with her back hooves but getting there. They were both pretty well behaved even though this was a new place to stand and hang out for Bella 🙂
- Shelley – HorseSavvy