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Isobella (Bella) – Arrival and Start to our Journey

BELLA ((Isobella)- details:
Shire broodmare (we’ve been told she was ridden by a previous owner)
17.2hh and 10 yrs old.

Thursday 11th July – Bella was delivered to us today and Mark walked her the mile along tracks to our field where she will now rest up, get used to us and our routines and start to feel at home. Soon she will be in with Big Storm and we hope they will be the best if friends.


< Walking towards new home with Mark

 

With me in her new field >

 

 

First day: Friday 12 July

Bella was a little sceptical today but I just made sure she felt safe and not pressured to do anything at all. She was nicely curious about things like the grooming kit the halter and rope on the floor, the quad bike and me too πŸ™‚

 

Allowing her curiosity will help her feel at home

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s also enjoying her meals….starting off small and just forage it will help her settle and help us connect with her quickly.

 

 

 

In the afternoon we spent some time faltering her, grooming her, fly spraying her and getting the tangles out if her name and tail.

 

it’s a short tail at the moment but is fabulously thick and will be glorious once its grown again πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bella stretched her legs this afternoon too when Mark rode Stormy nearby in the field. She has lovely gaits and I can see why she was a broodmare for a couple of years, her babies must have been lovely.

 

 

Sat 13th JulyΒ 

Lovely sunny day for Mark and I to hang out with the herd. We’re taking things very slowly with Bella so that she learns to trust us and finds confidence in our routines, it must be weird for her to have been taken from all she knows to a place and people she’s never met before SO first in my mind is for her to find relaxation in the small basic’s we do, things like feeding, haltering, grooming, fly spraying etc. Once she’s used to those things then we can start with more training.

Today it was lovely to see her curious enough to follow Mark about as he did things in her part of the field, working at liberty with these small things allows her to know she can move away if she feels she needs to and to come to us if she feels she can πŸ™‚

 

< Following Mark

 

Watching Mark >

 

 

 

< Bella’s beautiful soft eye

 

Loving her grub >

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 14th July

Today’s session started with Bella moving away when I asked to halter her….no problem as she is allowed her opinion and it allowed us to have a conversation. That conversation consisted of me following her inΒ  a ‘neutral’ way (ie. not pushing her or driving her, just following and her leading). When she got to an open area she turned her head and put her ear towards me, I stopped, lowered my eyes and rested so that she could think about her next move. She didn’t move SO I walked forward but giving her a wide berth and took my focus onto a barrel on it’s side. When I reached the barrel I sat down and thought about anything other than Bella. She stood for a while and then came over to me, this is the curiosity I want to encourage, that gives her the confidence to come to me and to know I’m okay to be around πŸ™‚

I started off by allowing her to smell my hand, then I stood up and stroked her neck/shoulder and started walking off with my hand at her nose. She followed me in a lovely Stick 2 Me (S2M) at Liberty. I then stroked her neck again and haltered herΒ  and we managed some nice halt/walk breath transitions together πŸ™‚

 

< Liberty S2M

 

Haltered S2M >

 

Next we repeated the haltering process…on/off/on/off with me asking for relaxation, head down and towards me to halter. I used +R treat training to help her know she’s doing well.

 

After a nice session we took one electric fence away from Storm and Bella, now they are about 8′ away from each other, can see and smell each other more. This is the start of their relationship….they were curious about each other but not prancing about nor running away. We will make sure Bella is ready to be friends with Storm before we let them loose together, it has to be on her terms, when she’s confident and happy about being with him.

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Spirit – Training Video 7

Spirit and I have been getting our online communication better and better by working on the 3F basics (Familiarisation, Feel, Focus techniques of HorseSavvy) for 3 1/2 months he’s been with us now. I love it when the ABC’s we started with become more sentences and then paragraphs of connection through communication. Today we started getting more of that connection by using the 3F techniques with more fluidity and using obstacles which helps in usingΒ  the ‘games’ for aΒ  ‘purpose’.

 

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Spirit – May/June 2019

Wed 1st

Today was riding session 7 of 7 from our video lesson 6. It was SO worth taking the time to set this 2nd lot of basic techniques down with Spirit. He started off bracy and very stiff on his right, a bit unbalanced and not sure about going forward but he is now getting lighter and lighter every time we ride, his right side is starting to yield nicely as long as I take the time to help him not brace, he’s moving into the open/direct rein from my focus/energy/seat/leg aids and is starting to be softer with the dhq/indirect reins too now. His back up is so light and we have started to think about transitioning up into trot. I’m so pleased with his progress and it’s helping to teach me all over again the understanding of where lightness and connection with riding comes from πŸ™‚

 

 

< Spirit doing well with his Liberty Ground Tying exercise.

 

Riding coming along well and another video lesson coming soon >

 

 

 

 

 

Sun 5th

Lovely online session with Spirit today in the newly set up agility area. I used a 22′ line and he did reply well on this length of rope, his circles were nicer in trot and also some nice canter on both reins which was great to see. He also did some good 1/2 circlesΒ  over poles, between tight squeezes of a barrel and the fence in trot and over a jump. He also did some nice sidepassing along a fenceline πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mon 6th

Continuing our NH journey Spirit is doing well with all the ground work and getting used to bitless riding now quite well, he’s certainly turning from my focus/outside leg and weight aids with more clarity now.

 

Tue 14th

Today Spirit and I did some long reining in some bitless bridles. I wanted to see how well he went in them and to see if he’d long rein ok. He did really well πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longreining in bitless bridles:

1) Transcend
2) Light Rider
3) Dr Cooks

 

 

 

Long reined really nicely, rode for a short time trying out the Transcend which has no moving parts and is an easy Sidecue type of bitless bridle πŸ˜‰

 

Wed 15th

Another good play session with some Agility obstacles then riding in slightly bigger, different arena space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowly getting more ‘engagement and first time for some canter circles.

Trying out the Transcend Double Bitless Bridle with Spirit, mostly using the Sidecue, upper reins today.

Then someΒ  more riding with just the rope halter/reins that he’s used to. To ride in a ‘bitless bridle’ needs great lightness of communication through good cues. The ones I use are ‘focus/breathing/seat weight/leg aids’ and he’s getting there but not enough connection to change from rope halter…yet πŸ˜‰

 

 

Tue 21st

 

Doing so well with placing his feet on things like pedestals, tarps, mats and hula hoops. I extended that with asking for individual feet over and back with a pole πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really listening to my energy/breathing cues to draw and drive over the pole today.

 

 

 

 

Connecting but not bonding as I would like, I feel I’m training someone else’s horse and with that in mind and that he wants to GO and I want to HALT often I have put him up for sale to a genuine home so that I can help him find his forever home with someone that wants to ride him as fast as he wants to go and give him a job to do which he deserves.Β 

I am very sadΒ  but know this is the best thing for him.

 

 

RIding going better today.

 

 

 

 

Weds 22nd

After really thinking things through and searching my heart I have decided that Spirit should go to a home where he will be ridden out and used more. He really is a lovely boy but our ‘vibes’ don’t match and I realised that what I actually need is an easy-peasy no worries kinda horse that can plod out with Stormy and Mark on a happy hack as I’ve not done that for years and miss it a lot. So, with that decision made I have been searching for a lovely new owner for Spirit to take him further in his education and give him some fun things to do πŸ˜‰

Today a really nice lady called Gracey came to see/ride Spirit with a view to buying him. All went very well so am waiting to hear if she wants to take him on and work him on her farm and to do some XC and flat hunting with him in the Borders here in Scotland. If she does take him we will hopefully keep in touch and I’ll be able to go and see him when I visit the area when I travel with my teaching clinics. Very excited for Spirit, she looks a much nicer height and weight for him too πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit and Gracey

She easily rode bitless but also took on my instruction as to how I’ve been riding him really well.

 

Spirit did someΒ  niceΒ  trotting around the arenas, 20m circles and a lovely back up too.

 

 

 

Thurs 23rd

Today Gracey put a deposit on Spirit and he should be moving on 14th June. I am sad and will miss him but know in my heart that this is the right thing for HIM πŸ™‚

 

Tues 28th

Even though Spirit is in the process of moving homes I am continuing his ground work because it is good for him mentally, emotionally and physically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trot poles . Narrow gap . Back through gap . Trot over tarpaulin .Β Engaged circling . Jump .

 

 

Friday 14th June

Today wee Spirit went off to his new home with Gracey near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. I teach very close to where he is going so hopefully I’ll see him soon and every time I teach I will make some time to go and see how he’s getting along πŸ˜‰

We took Stormy to lead and escort Spirit to the road where we met up with the Gillies lorry. Both horses did very well, calm, listening and leading well. Here’s some pics of the walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Spirit – Training Video 6 / Bitless Riding

Spirit has started his bitless journey with the lessons on saddling, squaring up and sidling to the mounting block. He has also done the first bitless lesson which was LF (Lateral Flexion) and he’s getting nice and soft doing that. To progress his skills I am now adding more moves to his repetoire, these are: DHQ (disengage hindquarters / indirect rein), FH (forhand move / direct or open rein) and BKup (Backing up). These moves allow me to talk to each individual foot with just the two reins. I am also teaching him to work with a loose rein, to uphold his responsibilities (don’t change gait, don’t change direction and look where you’re going) which we’ve started applying in the ground work game of circles.

Here is today’s lesson video…

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Spirit – April 2019

April already and Spirit has been with us for 10 weeks now. His mane and tail are growing out and getting longer and he has really settled into our herd beautifully. His training has been coming along and he remembers it all when I’m often away teaching for me to come back and get back into it all without a hiccup which is great news.

 

Fri 5th

Local Equine Osteo ‘Emily Cuthill’ came by to give Spirit a check over today. I wanted to make sure he was ready to be ridden more and giving him a therapy session really helped. He was pretty good but some mild stiffness in his shoulders, sacrum, sacralilliac and diaphragm was worked on and sorted so that I have no worries about getting on with the ridden work now.Β 

 

Sat 7th

Today I decided to put the techniques Spirit and I have already learned to a purpose with some ‘game challenges’ with Mark and Stormy. It’s a lot of fun and helps us start to have longer conversations around the obstacles we use.Β 

Its lovely having Stormy showing Spirit how to do things, it was like he was showing off how clever he is… It also gives Spirit confidence to try everything.Β 

 

 

 

We also practised squaring up and siding to the mounting block which went very well πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fri 12th

Was away for a week teaching and was worried that Spirit and my relationship was going to suffer but as often happens the break was ok, he had time to rest and think and came into today’s session happy, relaxed and ready to play πŸ™‚

I decided to do some Agility tasks to again put the games to a real purpose and Spirit did SO well with them all… It was alot of fun and he’s really impressed me with his curiosity, calmness, willingness and connection. Here’s some pics from the session….

 

 

 

Foot in hoop

Trotting circles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk calmly over tarp

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start of jumping

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch cone from a distance and then flapping flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pedestals πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat 13th

Mark just put together a fabulous ‘scratching post’ for the herd with a very long post in the ground and some great long brush heads on the sides and top…..today I spent some time familiarising the herd to this new fun piece of equipment and am hoping to see them using it soon πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

Familiarisation with Stormy and the scratching post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara and the scratching post, she likes a rump scratch so hoping she finds this useful πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit was the most curious about the scratch post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun 14thΒ 

Today Mark and I went out to play with Storm and Spirit together in the Agility area. Working on our connection and putting our techniques to a purpose more and more it was a lot of fun. Stormy first worked with Mark online and then with me at liberty but he was constantly there whilst I was playing with Spirit which was lovely.

Spirit did well with:
1) Learn to take some trot energy and put in a jump with a half circle then take that jump half circle and make it a circle and then after that we tried our 2nd circle/jump/change of direction to go back to a circle and do the jump the other way πŸ™‚ impressed with his understanding of my body language and cues so quickly now.

2) Put just ONE foot on the medium sized tyre pedestal….he got this cue straight away.

3) Weaving through cones and understanding my body cues again so quickly….upright and towards him means forehand move/go away and slumped a bit and turn away means draw towards on the side/forehand towards πŸ™‚

4) Following behind me slowly through the labyrinth obstacle…he didn’t touch the poles once.

5) Trotting over the trot poles, firstly using a circle game which helped him get into gait easier and then with the half circle game which required him to go up into trot straight away to be able to trot the poles. He did the poles very nicely without touching them and also was stretching nicely with his legs and raising his withers and back more than before. Osteo did a good job πŸ˜‰

6) Going through the shelter/tunnel at liberty a few times without rushing it, facing it afterwards and also transitioning in it πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

Thurs 18th

Lovely weather today so out with the horses and Mark for some fun and filming next lesson with Spirit. We had a nice online training session first which had us practising some techniques and starting new ones. Here’s some pics…

 

 

Placing a foot on something has been learned well as now I can ask him to put his foot in/on most things.

 

Am slowly asking him to think about bringing 3-4 feet onto the big pedestal, he doesn’t understand this cue yet so I helped him learn it by placing a hind foot up on the ped with my hands πŸ™‚

 

 

More circling, this time we’ve got it to 4 laps in trot on both sides and am slowly bringing in a change of direction (COD) to build for our fig 8’s.

 

I put this drain pipe up inside the tyres today to make it a slightly higher jump. He walked over it several times and then when we matched our energy he jumped it nicely πŸ™‚

 

 

 

First time with focus/sidepassing, using the big deer fence along the field boundary helped a lot.

 

 

 

After a nice play which helped us connect through relaxation and the techniques for each game/task I saddled him and took him to a roundpen for some ridden work. We have started his bitless journey with a halt/lateral flexion (LF) and now I want to expand on that with some disengagement to lateral flexion (DHQ – LF) and some forehand move (FH) to DHQ and LF….this all builds to where I can move all four of his feet in all four directions (forward/back/left/right). He did SO well today, all the basics went well, we moved his forehand with our outside leg and direct rein, we moved his hindquarters with an inside leg and an indirect rein and his LF was light and easy, he’s stopping on a big breath out beautifully in walk and we also added his backup which was a bit sticky at first but his second time was so nice.

 

Mounting from the off side today…his idea.
Standing still whilst mounting and waiting to be asked to move off all in place nicely.

 

 

Walking is better this time after having the equine osteo out, no swishing of his tail and very positive walking off. Working on DHQ and FH moves with COD’s and circles using both forehand and hindquarter moves.

Standing still for dismounting too is fab πŸ™‚

 

 

Sun 21st

More practise sessions while the weather is being kind to us.

Familiarisation: the flag is a hard one, he is a bit worried by it by his sides and behind hips but okay at the front or standing on it so more work to be done with flapping things, tarps etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circles: He is doing very well with the amount of circuits he does, up to 4 in walk/trot now and I’m just starting to ask for a draw to finish as well as the disengage, the draw is to set up the Change of Direction (Cod) for more games later on such as fig 8’s. What I need to address soon is his high head/hollow back with the circles, I will first try the game on a longer, 22′, length rope and in our next lesson session I will be asking for leg yields off a circle which I hope will help him get his balance dynamics better for arcing the circles πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding: Did very well with squaring up and sidling to the mounting block today and a nice ride. We’re doing more bitless techniques (LF, DHQ, FH, BKup) but his right side is stiffer so we need lots of short sessions to try to unbrace his neck/mind with the DHQ (disengage hindquarters) but as he’s never done anything like this before it will take time and patience to help him get it.

I also put the sidling to the mounting block to a different use today to help him understand this more, I sat on the mounting block and he had to sidle over, both sides,Β  to help me take his saddle off. Always love putting a purpose to the games I teach to help them become more understandable πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tues 23rd

A bit windy today but out for a bitless riding practise session (this was 3 of 7 since videoing Lesson 6). Some things are moving on nicely, finding lightness with our forehand move (direct rein) and back up but a bit of brace with the hindquarter move (disengage/indirect rein) so we tried using a bitless bridle today as the reins work from the sides rather than underneath as with the rope halter but although regular moves still nice and light the DHQ is still stiff SO back to working slowly through it with the rope halter makes more sense and I know given the time he needs to understand it he will get it okay.

Pics of the four bridles I tried on him today…

 

The Transcend Double bitless bridle. Reins are just on the ‘sidecue’ part of it and the ‘curb’ is free at the moment in this pic,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dr Cook’s bitless bridle (or cross under as some call it). Have used this one regularly with last horse SollyΒ  as it hugged him and made him feel safe, but it will be up to Spirit which one he prefers using.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Karen Rohlf Bitless Halter. A lovely bridle that was used by our old horse Holly, she loved this one as it allowed her face to be freer than the others and she stopped on a big breath out, we’ll see how well Spirit goes along as this and/or the Transcend will be the first ones I try as they are the least intrusive and rely on a good relationship connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light Rider Bitless bridle from Cynthia Cooper in Australia. Nice that all these bridles fit him nicely, once we have a focus/seat/leg connection I will try each bridle out to see which he prefers πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here he is set up to do a bit of riding today. Karen Rohlf bitless halter with reins and rope halter with reins over the top so I can use/try both individually πŸ˜‰

 

 

Riding with one set of reins and the other set knotted and secured to the saddle with a leather, poppered, strap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus 25th

Good session with ground work today, started working on circling COD (change of direction) to get more communication with his direction and my body language πŸ˜‰

 

 

Riding session 4 of 7 (from video lesson 6).
LF going well, finding some lightness but he’s still stiff to the right so just taking it slowly until he ‘gets it’ πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun 28th

Session 5 of 7 (from video lesson 6).

Riding coming along now, we’re finding lightness now with the LF and DHQ on both sides now, allowing him the time to figure things out has really helped him learn and become confident with all the ridden changes. He is turning with the open/direct rein almost from my weight/outside leg aid and I’m only using a light rein if needed. The DHQ is light as long as I take the time to put my weight on the inside and inside leg on before the rein and we had our first trot today, just a few strides but a nice start to transitions. I will work on lowering his head/relaxation with our ground work more to help him do that when ridden πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mon 29th

 

 

I moved our Agility area from the corner of the field into the middle of the track today, mainly because the old agility area where the scratching post and shelter are has now become Tara’s paddock as she is getting older and needed separating from Spirit who was pushing her around a bit and she was tired and too old for that SO I moved some obstacles into an area where we can play with the boys without disturbing Tara. Spirit watched me doing it all but was still a bit ‘shocked’ to see the obstacles in that area so we went and played with them all to familiarise him to them again in the new environment πŸ™‚

 

 

 

I then took him into the new 20×40 area I’ve sectioned off for an arena and played/rode him. This ridden session is #6 of 7 from the video lesson #6.

With our ground work I’m looking to help him lower his head/relax when in trot. He’s started to do it when going over poles and when he blows out and lowers his head I dhq/halt him and reward/praise to help him realise this is what I’m looking for. Pic on left shows him lowering his head over the pole, pic on right he has just blown out and lowered his head πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

Ground tying is coming along nicely now too πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried a Light Rider rope halter/bridle with rein rings on the side to see if side rings made communication easier at this stage, it didn’t and he’s becoming light from the regular horsemanship rope halter so I’ll stick with that for now. We have plenty of time to see what suits him but for now the basic’s are important to learn for us to connect with our riding πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightness for LF on both the right and the left now πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

 

 

Spirit – Training Video 5

Today we just hung out together after I had trimmed Spirit’s hooves and I decided to just have a wee session with the techniques we’ve been learning. To use those techniques for a purpose is what it’s all about whether it’s trailer loading, getting ready to mount, riding or going through a river….putting feet up on a pedestal helps with all those kinds of things as it builds a trusting connection that gives the two of us a way of communicating. What I try to do is set things up where I ask a question which involves a task and through the process of Spirit asking questions about that task he uses his brain to figure out what it is that I’m asking him. This thinking process is what bonds us more. We started off with the ABC’s of that communication but slowly we are getting more fluid in this language together.

 

Pedestal Update: Third practise session….going pretty well….

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Training Tip Video: “Familiarisation with a Shelter”

Getting our herd used to our new shelter today. Stormy and Tara were okay on line and at liberty but Mark and I helped Spirit get used to it through repetition and approach/retreat until he was a bit more confident about it. We will continue to do this so that he gets acclimatised to it more and more.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Training Tip Video: “Saddling”

Just a short video showing how I saddle. Soft, kind, no tying up, working on both sides and always looking for relaxation and acceptance from the horse πŸ™‚

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Spirit – Training Video 4

This is Spirit and our first Bitless Riding Video together and the start of his Bitless journey. It shows the very beginnings of riding for us which is our halt, what is known as a one rein stop or Lateral Flexion. This is our emergency halt and we will practise this a LOT, from a standstill, then from a walk, then from a trot/canter which will be after I’ve directed him onto a circle, into a disengage of the hindquarters and into a LF for that relaxed halt with Spirit’s neck/mind nice and soft and that goes for my body/mind too. Later on I will be doing this now and mostly stopping through our breathing, body cue connection but for now practising our emergency stop will make it easier if I have to ever use it and it won’t cause a brace as it will become a relaxation technique through learned behaviour.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy