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 Undemanding 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:
Bella’a Liberty and Connection are better once we’ve done a bit of online connection first
She is food orientated so treat training works for her
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 😉
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 😉
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 😉 🙂
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 😉 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 😉 🙂 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 🙂
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 😉
This is Stormy and me having fun with just one obstacle. I love to try to think of as many things as I can with just one thing and it gives us the opportunity to test that we have communication to each individual foot. Stormy loves brain teasers so this was good for him too.
I have been ‘apple saucing’ with a syringe for years now to help each horse hopefully just get used to syringes so that worming, when I need to do it, is a little less stressful for them. Bella hasn’t been wormed since being here as we worm count and she’s not needed it BUT in Winter we need to worm for encysted redworms as these aren’t found on worm counts SO…we need to prepare Bella before we need to do it.
Here is our first video starting our apple sauce journey…
We’ve been apple saucing every day, here is a short video of our 5th session today. She is now looking for the syringe and apple sauce, she doesn’t like the feel of the plastic syringe on her front teeth, or the sound of it…she’s very sensitive to sounds, but is making good progress with this familiarisation. On Friday (2 days time) we will worm both of them and continue a couple of days afer with the apple sauce.
Made some apple sauce to get Bella ready for worming soon, she was hesitant to touch or take the syringe, which is how I thought she’d be, but hopefully a few days of apple saucing she’ll be okay with the wormer. Video of this first attempt is on ‘Bella’s Lesson Video’s’.
After the syringing Familiarisation I played with Storm & Bella together for a bit of fun. We did these few things:
Draw & Drive together
Half circling together, one in front of the other
S2M with a horse on either side of me
Enjoyed it a lot even though it was only a short play
Sat 4th Jan
Played with both horses today, it seems this is what my new ‘thing’ will be, playing and riding with two horses. They are so connected it’s easier and a lot of fun to do. We played with the pedestal, circles, half circles and Bella did a little bit of liberty play for her dinner apple slices 🙂
Sun 5th Jan
Managed to get out today with some good weather so we had a lovely play session first trying on some packs for Bella, making sure she was okay with them. Then playing with Bella & Storm together as it’s quicker to play with both of them than individually…it’s also good as Stormy gives Bella confidence. Here’s some pics from the fun session…
Wed 7th Jan
Weather has been a bit wild today. we’ve had mild to heavy wind, drizzle to heavy rain and mild temperatures. to help keep the hay from blowing into the next field full of sheep we put our hay into large buiilders bags, tie the loop handles over it all and the horses put their heads in and eat without loosing too much of it. Bella has been good at accepting this way of eating her hay 🙂
Fri 10th Jan
Well tonight has a full moon and that is great for worming as it’s the moon of movement and cleansing SO we wormed Storm and Bella this afternoon with Equest for Encysted Red Worms (which can’t be picked up on worm counts so needs doing in Winter regularly).
Since working on the apple sauce syringing I was over the moon when they both took the wormer, then some apple sauce, another wormer portion and a last apple saucing in their strides. They were calm, heads down, no dropping it out of their mouths, no tantrums with next syringe and finished with relaxation and an apple sauce taste in their mouths. I am SO proud of them and SO happy I took the time to apple sauce them for a few days beforehand. I will continue with the apple sauce I have left, no point in wasting it, and will do the apple saucing again maybe a couple of times during the year so it’s not always about worming 🙂
Stormy getting his wormer
(no pics of Bella unfortunately)
Mon 13th Jan
Bad weather forecast from Storm Brendan so we decide to bring the horses back to the house just in case. Here are pics of Mark doing a fab job bareback, bitless riding Storm home leading Bella who was easy, calm and happy to be led (might be a way of getting her and me riding more by using this method!! watch this space 😉 )
Friday 17th Jan
Today the rain and wind has stopped so we decide to take the horses back to their big field so that they can move about more, and stretch their legs. Mark rode Stormy bareback and bitless as normal and Bella’s leading is becoming SO good…I think this is their 8th journey to and from our home now 🙂
Large stone mounting block….fabulous when you have a big horse to get onto
On their way home, nice and steady together
Bella stretches her legs and straight to the hay
Stormy enjoys a long roll/scratch up and then they both eat hay together 🙂
Lovely vid showing last trot to big field. Love Mark’s loose reins on Stormy and a lovely loose rope to Bella and how synchronised are these three…watch their trot to walk transition 😉 FAB, SMOOTH, CALM, CONNECTED 🙂
Sun 19th Jan
Yesterday I put together a new Agility course and today we just did it to see how we got on and to check what Bella has remembered since our last Agility play session, which was in October last year. Here are some pics of the 13 obstacles we did and the video of us doing it is on ‘Bella’s Agility Videos’ which you can find on the Category section in the right hand border of the blog >>
1. half circle through gateway
2. back over pole between barrels
3. weave through cones with poles
4. 2 feet on pedestal
5. walk on/halt/walk off tarp
6. trot poles
7. small jump
8. 2 feet in hulahoop
9. sidepass to the right
10. draw/drive between narrow lane
11. S2M transitions (w/t/w/h/bk)
12. under arch
13. sidepass to the left
14. Familiarisation with flag
Mon 20th Jan
Today Mark did a bit with Stormy then lead Bella from him. She was really good and they started becoming so synchronised.
And then I sat on Bella for a wee bit, we moved backwards and we did some lateral flexion and walk forwards for a few steps. I didn’t want to do more as my balance isn’t great at the moment bareback and she’s been off for Winter so will take it slowly getting back into things with her 🙂
Was a good day and not too cold….will try to get out as much as we can while this lovely weather lasts 🙂
Thurs 23rd Jan
Today I went out with the idea of saddling Bella and seeing if she was up for a wee sit on…I’m SO glad we always take each day as it comes as she had Spring fever in her feet and it wasn’t a day to get on her but she did a lovely leading from Stormy session with me (my first as Mark normally does it) and then played some half circles from Stormy to change sides with her. Really enjoyed the day even though I didn’t do what I thought I was going to do….really good to have a Plan A, B & C to make the most of whatever the horse brings to the session and to not feel we didn’t do something good even though my first plan didn’t happen. This are her ‘yeehaa’ moments….
I didn’t let her yeehaa’s get to me, just calmly waited for her to find her own calmness out of them to start with and then when she offered some sidepass I took it and asked her for more. After that I put her exuberance into something that used to worry her….a small jump or two, which she had no bother doing well today 🙂
I then enjoyed leading Bella whilst riding Stormy, this was my first time with Bella doing this as Mark has been doing it. I’ve done other horses but this was my first time with her 😉 It went really well and I also did some nice half circling game with her whilst sitting on Stormy, Stormy was super good standing so still while I threw the rope over his head while she moved around 😉
Fri 24th Jan
Today I decided to go out and stick to the similar plan from yesterday, play, play with saddle then lead Bella from Stormy and I’m going to continue this plan until I start to see more relaxation with the saddled games (or if the bareback pad works but saddle doesn’t to figure out why….it might be the noise of everything with the saddle!). I’m also finding that after her initial yeehaa that she is quite balanced and confident so I’m allowing her behaviour but then asking for more thereby taking her idea and making it mine. I did a lot of this with Stormy (and others) as a youngster and although Bella is now 11yrs old we are doing stuff that is normally done with a 3-5yr old so I’ll take that as her ‘riding age’ 🙂
Some pics from today…first play with yeehaa, 2nd play with saddle and very balanced yeehaa and then Mark leading her off Stormy which she did brilliantly.
Sat 25th Jan
Today was the 3rd day of play/circling with Bella. First we do some basic online play and then with a saddle pad on. The first day with saddle had some big yeehaa/spring fever in her feet, yesterday she still had some yeehaa in her feet but today she was much calmer and slightly more attentive. Next play session i will try the saddle again.Here’s a video from today…
Sun 27th Jan
AND today we have had warnings of snow and ice for tomorrow SO Mark rode Stormy and led Bella back to the house paddocks again. Lovely bit of exercise and they were both stars. They are now tucked up in rugs ready for the weather (if it comes).
Fri 30th Jan
And today the horses went back to the big field again, the snow came and went and it’s now drizzly and windy so going to the big field helps to save the small home paddock from getting extremely muddy.
Bella is worried by the sound of Velcro and it’s everywhere nowadays…gloves, her rugs, jackets etc SO I have started treat training sessions for her, this is the first one, hopefully after some training consistency we’ll do a progress video to show how it’s going 🙂
Today Mark took the horses back to the big field, hopefully they will have 2-3 weeks more there before returning to the house paddocks for the rest of Winter. Mark rode Stormy bareback and lead Bella from him. They both were fabulous, calm, well behaved and happy to be returning to the space of the big field where they can stretch their legs, get exercise going up/down the hill for water and have more old grazing before it’s hay and snow for a while.
Mark riding down the track with our beauties
I got down there on the quad today and managed to walk Bella to her dinner bowl 😉
Bella’s off…come on Stormy
what are you waiting for 😉
Sun 15th Dec
Well it’s been over a week again since seeing the geegee’s but today I got out and had a great wee session with Bella. She was very happy to see me and I took her into one of my main round pens, we connected by doing some S2M together and a bit of other games too but only to get her mind/energy and our breathing connected and not to go fast or anything. She was fab and after a very short time I decided to take her headcollar off and put the rope over her neck and work like that with S2M. She was SO connected that I quickly decided to just see how we could walk at Liberty together….I was surprised and very happy that she stayed connected to me with only one run off but with a great draw back. She seemed very happy to play with me and I think she’s missing me as much as I’m missing her.
On a good note I am not using my ‘moonboot or crutches’ anymore and although my heel operation has been 6 weeks now it is still quite sore and my achilles and calf muscles aren’t working fully still yet, that will take quite a long time with some serious physio over the next few months…BUT I’m happy to potter about more than before and to make sure I don’t over do things.
With rope over her neck
At liberty, S2M and close circling
LOVE that DRAW 🙂
Here is a short video of us working for the first time on ‘liberty close circles’ 😉
Mon 23rd Dec
Today got out with the horses to take their rugs off and managed to have a small play session first at Liberty with Story in a roundpen and then online with Bella.
So LOVELY to see both beauties today…even the sun came out for us.
Happy to see me as I’m happy to be with them 🙂
I also managed to start working on some familiarisation, approach and retreat and treat training to help Bella start to tolerate and then accept the noise of Velcro. She really over reacts to it and it’s everywhere nowadays, on rugs, gloves, jackets etc SO I really need her to get used to it. We did a short video showing our first session…
Weds 24th Dec
Well it’s Xmas Eve and although we normally only bring the horses to the house when bad/snowy weather is forecast we decided that we normally have bad weather at this time of year and the horses have always been with us at the house by Xmas Eve so why change that habit. We really enjoy them being at the house and it makes it more Xmasy with them here with us SO we went and fetched them home this afternoon. Happy Xmas everyone….
Sun 29th Dec
Today Mark, Storm, Bell and I went for a wee walk in the grass opposite our house. We’ve often taken herd members across here for some walking in-hand exercise, some agility fun and to graze but this was Bella’s FIRST time over there and first time really ‘going out’ for a walk with us. She was a big sceptical at first but then her curiosity got the better of her SO I spent time walking when she wanted to walk and then halting and waiting when she needed to stop and look about.
She was happy and calm with me, didn’t worry where Stormy went and we managed to ‘play’ our normal games as we went about (which is how they’re supposed to used). We did S2M transitions, me being on either side of her, backing up, half circles through gaps, grooming (familiarisation), moving her hq’s when changing directions and moving her forehand when walking together for turns away. She was lovely and calm and it was lovely to take her out for an hour or so.
She didn’t realise that she could graze in-hand either and wasn’t really interested in the grass but when she spotted/smelled the heather sprigs she and Stormy tucked in big time 🙂
😉 And Mark had a good time with big Stormy too 🙂
Tues 31st Dec
For the last day of the year and decade we take the horses back to their big field. They get more exercise searching for grazing there and there has been no rain or snow to keep them at the house now…we will bring them back when that happens…but for now they can enjoy the bigger freedom of the 10 acres with hill stream to keep them happy 🙂
Mark riding Storm back to the field and leading Bella. They worked together very well, calm and easy. The whole field is open for them now including the steep hill, they will find some grass there.
Down on the flat part of the field in the glorious winter sunshine…and then eating hay together at dinner time 🙂
The end of 2019, missing all our horses that have passed, Fortune, Holly, Solly & Tara but looking forward to some new adventures in 2020 with Stormy & Bella 🙂
Whilst watching a very interesting docu-film recently I discovered something I was initially aware of as a child but which I forgot about. Scientific discoveries and processing our teeth shows that we are actually NOT PREDATORS.
Predators have sharp, pyramidic teeth for tearing flesh, just look at a dog. We have some ‘canine’ teeth, which are used for fighting which funnily enough other prey animals can have including horses.
SO, from now on I will not be calling humans predators, but that we can be ‘PREDATORY’ in our behaviour