Bella’s Challenges

I’ve been posting some ‘Challenges’ on my FB HorseSavvy group to help others to play with their horses whilst we’re all on ‘lockdown’ with the Coronavirus ;(

1) The first challenge was to do as many things with a TARP…here is Bella’s video…

It was a lot of fun and used a LOT of my imagination. I was SO proud of all the things she did that until that day she’d not done before as we didn’t practise it. What a fab girlie she is πŸ™‚


2) Our 2nd challenge is a POLE, this was done about a week after the first challenge…





  • Shelley – HorseSavvy




Bella – April 2020

Thu 2nd April

Bit windy to do any much today but we practised for our 2nd obstacle challenge which we have a week to practise, this week the obstacle is one POLE πŸ™‚

For a bit of fun after practising pole work I took Bella to the pedestal. She has a very solid front feet up on it now and today I asked her back right up with a rope and when she left that there for a while I went over the other side, she shifted her weight forward and picked up her last hoof up onto the ped…I was over the moon….AND she kept it there while I rewarded her big time for this effort πŸ˜‰

Here’s the video of her doing her FIRST 4 feet on pedestal….


Sat 4th April

Today we had another FIRST for Bella today….a short ‘walk out’ with Stormy. Hopefully this will help her familiarise to things outside her field and get her ready for hacking out later on. For our first walk out we went out of the lower gate, down a small hillock, over the wooden bridge and into the big field called ‘the haugh’. The field is quite big so we just walked straight across it to the edge of the river….we all rested a bit, Mark found a stone wall to climb onto to mount Stormy and we walk back to the bridge. Then I give Bella’s lead rope to Mark and he ponied her back to the field while I took my time walking.

Me and our beauties



< getting Storm’s bareback pad and bridle on..all ready to go


Bella led for the first half, Stormy wanted to graze, Bella doesn’t know that’s allowed πŸ˜‰ >






< B watching S go across the wooden bridge


Me and B crossing the bridge nice and calmly >






< all the way to the river πŸ˜‰


On the way back we walk calmly and Mark walks Stormy in circles around us >






< Bella really connected to me even though Stormy circling us

Stormy showing that a piece of silage plastic is nothing to be worried about, Bella says ‘I’m not worried but I don’t want to touch a piece of old plastic thank you’ >






< Big hill coming up, I can walk it slowly and Mark can lead Bella off Storm πŸ˜‰

Easy over the bridge together >




< Storm like to canter up this hill…Bella keeps up with her huge trot

waiting for me to catch up..both calm and happy >





< last trot to the gate for home >




This is the route we took, there and back πŸ™‚



Sun 5th April

Today we went out and I played with Bella already saddled up and then rode her for a bit. It was a bit windy and she was good but had sticky feet a bit to start with but then got going ok. I’m thinking of making a rectangular or square arena to ride in, it might be a bit more interesting for her….we’ll see πŸ˜‰


We are working on more movement in the games now so half circles and circles I don’t stay static in one place but walk about a bit so she gets different obstacles or space to walk or trot in.


Her leg yields on a circle with ‘feel’ game (hadn on her side to represent my heel when riding) are coming along nicely and we even had some leg yields with ‘focus’ game too (this is where I use my ‘focus and intent’ to move her over at a distance)








Circles on the move where we came up to the scattered poles…she was fab over them, really looking and knowing where her feet and energy was πŸ™‚









Getting ready to ride and a bit treat after her play session.




I then had a nice ride in the round pen with a FIRST of getting on her from the right side πŸ˜‰ She didn’t bat an eyelid about it and that’s one thing about her, she has no previous training so doesn’t have any hangups about doing things that the rest of the horsey world find strange πŸ˜‰ It was a nice ride, some sticky feet to start with but let her have her stops, her rests and time to think then asked again and continued for a bit longer today. Her Lateral Flexions to left and right are really nice and getting light and soft, she needs some more work on her DHQ’s left and right as she thinks about bracing every time I ask SO I have to find a way to ask even nicer for her so she doesn’t think about that and does some nice hindquarter moves. All going in the right direction.


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tip – Bella bridling

I am training Bella for bitless riding and since backing her Sept last year (2019) I’ve started her in my normal rope halter with clip on reins. Recently I managed to get a 2nd hand Transcend Sidecue bitless bridle off ebay, it’s the same make as Stormy’s big black bridle so one day I hope to be riding in this. For now I like training in the rope halter as it gives quick, easy signals and I can use it to help lighten up the cues a lot quicker BUT I still need her to help me put it on as with big horses (or any horse really) they can be hard to bridle unless standing on a mounting block SO I choose to train my horses to bring their heads down and help me put the bridle on. This short video is the first of these sessions with Ms Bella today. With consistent work and rewards when right I know she’ll soon be putting her head down and into the bridle like Stormy does for me πŸ˜‰


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Bella’s Agility Video 7

Today I put together our next agility course and as it has a few things on it we’ve not done for a while I know we’ll have to practise SO, here is Bella’s first practise with the course. Things to work on: 4 feet in hoops, curtain, transitions between bunting lane, t-h transition at end.



  1. Trot over pole square
  2. one foot on small pedestal
  3. stand on big pedestal and sidepass horse around pedestal
  4. 4 hooves in 2 hulahoopos
  5. under curtain
  6. moving fig 8’s
  7. under arch
  8. through bunting lane
  9. halt over pole at end of bunting lane
  10. Trot over pole into square and halt in centre πŸ™‚



  • Shelley- HorseSavvvy



Bella’s Agility Video 6

After a few months off over Winter here is Bella’s 6th Agility course, it was fun and we did have a couple of sessions playing with it as she really likes consistency and learns by repeating things over a few days/weeks πŸ˜‰


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Bella’s Lesson 5 Video – Stage 1 Assessment

Here is Bella’s Stage 1 assessment. I like to do these for all horses to check where we are with training and to give myself permission to progress. Here is herΒ  Ground work assessment video…. PASSED


And the next day I did her Stage 1 ridden part…. PASSED



  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Bella – March 2020

Mon 2nd March

After a week of rain/snow/sleet/wind we have some nice quite, calm, chilly, bright days this week so I’m going to take advantage and play a bit with Bella at Liberty in the roundpen to reinforce the cues I’ve been teaching her online since we got her. The last session in February went quite well but she was reacting to the stick/string and energy more than was necessary so I’ve just got to play as often as possible to give her some consistent persistence.

Today was a very good session, she walked away a couple of times, got sticky feet a few times with no draw but eventually started to realise what I was asking her and was putting quite an effort in to draw to me which was lovely. I did the whole session at liberty, not a rope in sight as I just wanted to try to be a good teacher and figure out some communication between us without resorting to putting her back online (unless I really needed to).

Here’s a few bits of video I did of our session showing me working on DHQ’s to Drawing her Forehand to me and doing it as often as it takes until it starts to become workable cues.


And after our session I opened up the round pen gateways and then asked her to draw to me from quite a distance…..she did and I was over the moon πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚














And after I gave Bella and Stormy lovely grooms I gave them some treats for being such good babies πŸ™‚










Tue 3rd March

Another beautiful sunny day (bit chilly but ok) so OUT with horses for some F.U.N.

Here’s some pics of my session with Bella, starting at Liberty, she had a bit of a yeehaa which she needed. went online for some balance, she had another yeehaa with some fab canter circling and then back to a lovely Liberty session with a lovely calm connection.


Sun 8th March

Got out with horses again today, on/off showers but we managed to miss most of them for a change. Firstly I played with both horses together, then a wee bit individually which all went well. I then did some S2M with Bella who was saddled and Mark sitting/riding her. I asked him to use his voice (walk on) and left then right heels to ask her to walk on with me using the words ‘walk on’ too and while we were walking it was up to Mark to move her with left and right reins to keep her to my side and to change direction. It went really really well and I was very happy with her walking on and also a wee bit of trot too. Here’s some pics from today…




































Bella walked with me at Liberty while I was following Mark riding Stormy…..great feeling of connection with her today πŸ˜‰


Mon 9th March

Dodging rain clouds again today but managed to get out for a good grooming session with the horses…they are both moulting their winter coats so they loved it. I had a sore back today but Mark wanted to play with Stormy for a bit SO I gritted my teeth and did some Agility play with Bella too and I’m SO glad I did as she was at her best today…calm, attentive, responsive and happy to play, I think she’s starting to enjoy our play sessions and using herΒ  brain to interact and connect. We did lovely Agility tasks and then a lovely Liberty walk about together which melted my heart <3 πŸ˜‰











































Fri 13th March

Today we did a first with Bella….trying to groom her from the mounting block. To do this I have to have basic moves of FH & HQ’s, moving forward one slow step at a time and familiarisation with me above her. She did really well and it gave me the opportunity to figure out what else she needs to know to be able to do this as well as Stormy…video shows them both at the block πŸ™‚

Mounting Block Grooming w/Bella – Session 1


I also had a nice play session with her with me sitting down (bad back) and she was FaBuLoUs…here’s some pics…



Backing Bella up and Drawing her back for a kiss






Circling…both ways were rhythmic, calm and flexed and the COD was smooth and non-reactive πŸ˜‰





Sitting down and tossing rope over her head for a rope around spin, just had to stand for a bit to get it over her hq’s…..





…and she did a really nice spin.

I also asked for a sideways around me and after the mounting block grooming realised we need a hq’s towards working to a sideways towards.




To start her with hq’s and sideways towards I go to a fence (hard to see) so that she didn’t just spin around or circle. Taking my time she managed one wee step towards…..



…and I gave her a big reward/treat for trying something new with me.

I then went back to sitting down and asking Bella to trot circles which went very well….she has lots of rhythm, balance, relaxation and flexion on BOTH sides πŸ˜‰




Her right/hard side is slowly becoming asymmetric with her left side….so pleased she is finding her symmetry πŸ˜‰

She did a lovely dhq’s and draw towards too, even though I was sitting down…our connection is getting really nice πŸ˜‰



So lovely to have her friendship and love <3

I take her halter off while still sitting down and invite her to follow me…..




…and she followed me at Liberty beautifully….when I got back to ‘base’ I gave her a big herbal treat reward given on the ground and session over. Really lovely session πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚




Tues 17th March

Weather still on/off rain at moment but I did managed to get this slightly 2nd hand Transcend Bitless Sidecue from ebay for a great price and it fits Bella beautifully πŸ˜‰












Also over the moon that the familiarisation is going really well, here they are at liberty eating thier breakfast with the rugs drying off on a big gate and being blown about, they didn’t bat an eyelid πŸ˜‰






Weds 18th March

Some fun play today with Bella…managed to get her Stage 1 assessment/ground work filmed and passed.Β  Her video is up on her ‘Lesson Vids’. She did really well and considering she has only been with us 8 months and not overly handled or ever played with…I’m SO proud of her <3

Here’s some pics of her and Stormy….him showing her how to put 2 hooves on the pedestal while being ridden….

Stormy had Spring in his step, Bella followed me around at Liberty and we had a lovely play day with them both πŸ˜‰











Here is a short video of Bella giving it some wellie going back to where Stormy is….



Thurs 19th March

Today I managed to get my riding boots back on and do Bella’s Stage 1 ridden video. I haven’t ridden her for 4 months since my heel operation and yes my heel is sore from riding today but it was so worth it. She did very well with the assessment tasks and the video of it will be with her ground work one from yesterday in the folder ‘Bella’s Lesson vids’ πŸ™‚

Pics: Stormy having fun at Liberty with Mark and an Agility course and Bella all saddled up for me to ride today…








Some pics from the video of Bella passing her Stage 1 riding assessment….



Fri 20th March

Today we played with yesterday’s agility obstacles but challenged ourselves to doing something completely different with each one πŸ˜‰ lots of fun and was joyous to see how relaxed Bella was with all the changes and also how well she coped with it all πŸ™‚


< Sideways through wide gap

Fig 8’s with two cones on opposite sides of my weave circle >




< Step over tall pipe, front legs only and halt

Rest a light weight jump pole on side >




< Individual feet over pole…she did all 4 then backed up

First time putting one foot on the smaller tyre pedestal >



< Trot circles with me standing on pedestal

Sidepassing over pole length wise >




< Fig 8’s around 3 obstacles, changing obstacle each time

Half circles in trot through gap >



THEN….we did some more riding after yesterdays good start. She had slightly sticky feet today but she is just learning stuff so I just took my time and made sure we worked with relaxation and consistency. In the end she did a nice circle around the inside of the round pen in walk both ways, nice backup, LF and DHQ both ways and turns. I also dismounted on the right side today.Β  We left it on a very good forward motion note and left it at that. Good, short sessions will give her the confidence to repeat and progress each time πŸ˜‰













Sun 22nd March

What a beautiful sunny day today, bit chilly with the breeze but I’ll take sun any day, really cheers you up doesn’t it. Today Ms Bella did some fab play, we took fig 8’s and did them ‘on the move’, she did a nice jump, followed a tarp that Mark was dragging behind Stormy whilst riding AND she let me put three feet on the ped and didn’t take it off for ages. Here’s some pics of our play….
























We then had a very nice ridden session (3rd one in a row) with her doing 1 lap to the left and right around the inside of the round pen, backups, LF and DHQ’s and it is great to be able to use a looser rein now with her, think it’s helping her forward motion as it’s the same slackness I use when doing S2M on the ground. I dismounted on the right again too. I’m doing short sessions but trying to be consistent and stopping on a good note. I will slowly increase the time we walk the arena and take it up to trot when it feels right to do so.














Wed 25th March

Have had two days off play/riding as had to do other things but today we were out playing and riding again. The weather is mild and enjoyable and I first put up our next Agility course (#7) and we had our first practise session with it. The course runs like this: trot over pole square, one foot on medium pedestal, sidepass both ways around large pedestal with me standing on it, four feet in two hulahoops, under the curtain, moving fig 8’s in trot x 3, under archway, w/h/w through bunting lane, over pole with ff and halt, walk off then trot to pole square again and halt in centre πŸ™‚

Bella did pretty well, fab with fig 8’s, under the arch, putting one foot on ped, through bunting lane and transitions, pretty good try at hulahoop task but really not happy putting her ears through the curtain, once her ears were under it then she didn’t worry about it at all SO we need to work on a couple of things so that when we film it next time it’s smooth and flowing πŸ˜‰

After a good play session we rode in the round pen again. Today we managed backup, DHQ-LF both sides, DHQ-fh forward motion twice around the roundpen on both sides and also a nice right turn to COD and dismount on right again. Really pleased with our progress, think she’s really getting it now.


< My heel is slowly getting better and I’m able to use it in the stirrups ok now.

She’s very good at standing still once I’ve mounted and doing up the girth >



< backup from the mounting block…really nice back up.

Loose rein riding more now, focus, energy and leaving her alone when all ok >



< Loose rein, moving about in the saddle, moving my arms about, she’s great.

Right hand turn…eyes focus, inside shoulder back, belly button focus, outside leg on and open right rein >


< Right turn >




< Enjoying ourselves, Bella’s walk getting more forward each time we practise πŸ˜‰

Dismouting on the right side >



< Lots of treats for such a good girl


Ground tying going really well and today I put my rope on the saddle for her to carry it for me…no problem πŸ˜‰




  • Shelley – HorseSavvy





Sun 29th March

The weather is totally on/off rain/hail/sun/wind this month so we’ve had a few days off but managed to sneak out before it got rainy again this afternoon.Β  We started by giving them both a good ‘de-moulting’ groom and then I played with Bella on the 22′ line. Today I decided to just play around my ‘tyre’ round pen as the 8 tyre barrels are good for quite a few games in trot.



< Leading the two beauties

Back up and draw on the 22′ line >




< Circling in walk and trot both ways with me sitting down >





< Rope spins

And a FIRST for Bella, today we started doing some leg yields on a circle….me on the left easier than me on the right (for her) >



< leg yielding >





< Weaving in trot and at a distance

Fig 8’s on the whole 22′ line πŸ˜‰ >




After a lovely play session I rode her in the round pen again. All getting better, easier mounting for me, she stands still beautifully, backup great, LF getting softer and DHQ getting better. We managed 2 laps both ways which was good then it started getting windy again so I called it a day as getting quite cold.


Tues 31st March

Last day of March, beginning of Spring and am enjoying playing and riding Ms Bella. Today we did a video ‘Training Tip’ for the start of asking Bella to lower her head for bridling AND with another video of a fab TARP CHALLENGE that friend Kat gave us (and put on my HS FB group for some fun). After that playing about I filmed Mark doing his Tarp Challenge with Stormy at Liberty and when I looked around this is what sweet Bella did….


All on her own she investigated the pedestal

Then she gently stepped up on it




And THEN she turned her head to look at me as if to say..’is this right mom?’…

what a sweetheart, she stayed there for ages and I went over and gave her a treat for a fabulous effort and imagination πŸ˜‰



She did the Tarp Challenge amazingly. Up until now she’s only just got used to walking and trotting over it but our relationship has come along in leaps and bounds recently so doing other things with the tarp was fun, she did all that I asked and I was over the moon with her effort, understanding and relaxation πŸ˜‰


After all that fun we had a nice wee ride around the round pen….


< Ground tying is going really well

Standing still at the mounting block fab >





< Walking out going really well, she sometimes stops but is easy to get going again. LF, DHQ all working well, working on more lightness but that comes with time and patience >




< Turns going well, still using reins at moment but building it to where she will understand my focus/weight/leg cues as we go

Dismounting from the right fabulous >



< Ground tying whilst I put stirrups back up and loosen her girth

Love when my babies follow me after a session at liberty >




  • Shelley – HorseSavvy






Bella’s Lesson – Undemanding Time, Mirroring and Liberty

This is one of the first lessons on trying to really Connect to Bella at Liberty. It’s so worth taking some quite time out to let a horse smell you, figure you out a bit and to hang together finding friendship. I also want to see her become more curious about everything as this will help her bravery…So, here is our UndemandingΒ  Time session with the beginnings of some Mirroring and Stick 2 me at Liberty…..



After working a bit on Undemanding Time, Mirroring and Liberty the other day I did a small, calm session online and then back to Liberty.
Things I learned:
  1. Bella’a Liberty and Connection are better once we’ve done a bit of online connection first
  2. She is food orientated so treat training works for her
  3. Because she’s food orientated I need to train a cue then get off the treats quickly and reward her for new things, relaxation, clarity and not all the time or she gets TOO focused on the treats and she needs to start learning to focus on the ‘click’
Good session and hopefully when the weather starts to clear again we can do another session of UT, M & OL-L

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Bella – February 2020

Sun 2nd Feb

Can’t believe it’s February already and today we start Winter it seems. We had a very very very cold night last night and woke up to snow warnings SO we went down and brought the horses back home by which time it just started snowing…well timed home coming πŸ˜‰


Wed 5th Feb

Kept horses up at house whilst the snow was on the ground and while it was so very cold but for now the snow has gone and it’s much milder…horses even going 24/7 without rugs some days. Today Mark took them back to the field, again riding and leading. Mark is certainly getting his hacking hours up this year πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚








Mon 10th Feb

Warnings of snow coming today so we went and collected the horses back from the big field to the home paddocks. It was too slippery to ride really so Mark walked them half way back and I walked them the other half. Now all safety tucked up in their rugs with the weather coming in.
























Mon 17th Feb

Well we’ve had quite a few days of really bad weather here from snow, heavy snow, to heavy rain and wind with some serious storms. The horses have been up at the house since the thick snow fell as we couldn’t get down to the big field with that laying down BUT today, after 2 days of serious rain the snow has all gone and the home paddocks are muddy and need cleaning up a bit SO horses were walked, by me, back to the big field, which is about a mile. I think they really enjoyed being taken back today, rugs off and free to run around if they want.






























Sun 23rd Feb

WOW, we had a day of blue skies and sunshine today, albeit it was bitterly cold still SO it was a choice of poo picking old paddock OR go play with a horse or two…guess which one won πŸ˜‰ lol

Started with some Liberty with Stormy, then tried a bit of Liberty with Bella….she was a bit sceptical and rusty on cues SO back online for a bit and then a nicer Liberty session afterwards. Lovely to be out if only for an hour and to feel good about how far Bella has already come but also to see how far we have to go.

Some pics from today….

























































Tue 26th Feb

Today I went out early to their dinner time and gave myself and Bella an hour to do some ‘Undemanding Time’ and ‘Mirroring’ at Liberty. She didn’t really get it but I persisted in just sitting there waiting for her to come over to me if she wanted to….eventually she did and investigated my hand/arm, head, jacket etc. It was really nice to see her curiosity coming out.

I then did some ‘relaxation’ techniques where I stood at her shoulder facing her tail with my hand on her withers. I stand there thinking relaxation, breathing deeply and when she finds relaxation (head lower and/or tipped towards me) then I calmly walk away for a bit to tell her she’s a clever girl. I did this a few times on each side and then did it further down her back (behind where the saddle sits), she took longer to relax there but worth waiting for.


After this and a bit of a break I stood next to her on her left, hand on her withers and waited to walk with her…’mirroring’. She is so used to either being left alone or following someone that is leading her in a halter that she really didn’t understand what I was doing….it might make a difference in Spring when I can do this when she’s casually grazing. Today she just walked step by step backwards trying to put me further in front of her drive line. SO, I did this for a bit and then started to ask for forward movement with my energy/focus and outside hand pointing forward and lots of praise when she eventually started walking forward and me following her. I will endeavour to do more of these UT & M sessions and in between I will gently play online with her so that she starts to associate those cues with what I’m asking at liberty.

Another short break and I put her online and did a very short, calm, relaxed play where she did some walk circles both ways with relaxation, sidepass with the minimum energy cue and tossing the rope for a rope around spin πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ she was really good so I took the halter off and she ‘followed’ me at liberty for a short session. Ended it on a really good note, set her free with some treats and then took her and Storm over for dinner and hay πŸ™‚

The video of us doing this session is on ‘Bella’s Lesson Videos’ page…..


She even goes on the pedestal at liberty for her apple now πŸ˜‰


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Bella’s Agility Video 5

Last Agility with Bella was in October last year, it’s been 2 and a bit months and we didn’t practise this course at all, just trying it out to see how we get on. I think we did really well πŸ˜‰

This is the set up of the course:









I also did the same course with big Stormy at LIBERTY, to show what we are working towards….

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy