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 🙂
- Shelley – HorseSavvy
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 🙂
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.
This video hopefully shows two of the things I always strive to get over time to make mounting better. The first is asking the horse to square his feet up so that he’s balanced and ready for me to be on his back, the second is asking the horse to learn to sidle up to the mounting block and later whatever I am standing on to mount (ie. gate, large stone, quad bike, another horse!). These two things get better with practise so I will film us again doing these after our first 7 practise sessions to show how we’re getting on with it.
And here is a short update on ‘squaring up’ with Spirit…
The 3F’s: Slowly my Familiarisation, Feel, Focus techniques are working more together, I’m working on trying to connect the cues from a focus first, a thought, a body stance, then some energy and then a feel if necessary and with Familiarisation I’m working on showing Spirit that things that flap, make noise and move don’t mean he has to move, only when I put my own energy towards him it does it mean move..as in when I move my body and flap with my stick/string to encourage forward movement.
Familiarisation: Umbrella and rope over head
Feel: Changing sides with a forehand move, Rope around Spins
Focus: Starting half circles and circles in trot
Again we will practise these particular moves for 7 training days in a row, the first 2 lessons games will also be included now and then so nothing gets left or forgotten.
The weather has been good/bad and on/off for a few days, we never seem to know what it’s going to do so are relying on the forecasts from The Met Office and The BBC. Beginning of March supposidly coming in like a Lion so decided on the 5th to bring the herd back to the house in case of snow. If too much snow falls we have trouble getting the mile down the track to feed and tend them so safety first, get the horses back to the house and see what happens.
Sweet Spirit has also had a wee bit of a snotty nose so we brought in our vet and he’s taking 5 days of antibiotics (also took bloods and snot swabs to rule out anything nasty). Being at the house we can keep an eye on him and make sure he’s cosy and warm.
Because Tara is old now and she really walks slowly we decided that Mark would ride Stormy (bareback) and pony/lead Spirit from him, they have a similar pace and they have bonded really well. Tara and I walked companionably together at her pace (slow) and just enjoyed the walk rather than her having to try to keep up with the boys. It worked out really well and I was so proud of Stormy for stepping up and doing a great ponying job, he’s only done it once before in the field, and for Spirit for being a good boy being lead when he’s probably never done it before.
Well the weather really isn’t being as bad as any of the forecasts are saying, the house paddocks are getting rather muddy and so we decided today to take them back to the big field. There is more old ‘grazing’ for them, more space, flat space for old Tara and no mud SO Mark takes Storm and Spirit back by riding/leading and Tara and I mosey on back in our own time behind them. Spirit’s ‘cold’ seems to be clearing nicely with the antibiotics 🙂
Really nice bit of leading and riding from Mark
Tara with me, taking our time on our walk together
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Back to feed the herd in the late afternoon and found that Spirit’s been working on some of his own extreme Familiarisation…flapping broken rug, energy, motion and noise…no problem 😉 lol
I changed Spirit’s rug to his best one as I want to keep him cosy until the bad weather has passed, give him a chance to get rid of his ‘cold’ fully and because it was so windy we had to put their hay in their ‘hay bags’ tonight…..so pleased Spirit wasn’t fazed by having to eat out of the flapping heavy duty plastic bag…Familiarisation comes in many forms 😉
The herd from the top track..Spirit, Stormy and Tara…all with their individual hay sacks, happy, warm, contented and well fed 😉
We’ve had awful weather this week so no play apart from small bits of draw and drive for a treat at feeding time, moving hq’s over to turn, Stick 2 Me walking together to the hay etc. There is always something small we can work on which all helps with our connection.
BUT there was a lull in the bad weather and I took advantage of it by filming Spirit’s update on his Lesson 2, you can see it on his video category, “Spirit – Training Video’s”, scroll down or up a bit to find the Categories section in the right panel of this blog >>>>>>>>>>>>
(here is the page if you can’t find the Categories section: https://horsesavvy.co.uk/index.php/category/spirit-training-videos/
A lovely day day weather wise so out to play with Spirit and we managed to film our Lesson 3, it is in the blog category “Spirit – Training Videos” where there is the collection of all our training sessions.
Spirit is learning very well and I’m enjoying being around him and teaching him. We now have seven practise days to do from Lesson 3 but I’m also thinking of doing Lesson 4 as it will be the beginning of his Bitless riding journey which is very exciting… Watch this space 🙂
Another nice day and a good training session. I filmed a Training Tip and also Spirit’s Lesson 4 which is the start of his Bitless Riding Journey. Again it is on the right side of this blog, Category are ‘Spirit – Training Videos’ & ‘Training Tip Videos’
Today I went out to saddle and ride Spirit to get more of the basic ridden stuff going but instead I ended up putting some agility obstacles out (for Mark to play with the horses whilst I’m away training next week) and low and behold all 3 horses came into the open area to see what I was doing…Stormy also made it quite clear that he wanted to PLAY and play now…here’ s some pics from the afternoon of fun we had 🙂
As you can see Spirit was quite happy to go and look at things, sniff them but found it harder to do stuff with them SO that’s why at the end I put his halter/rope on to help him find that confidence to go onto the pedestal (his 2nd time…see Lesson 5 video), he’s not being bad but almost respecting that he doesn’t do something he thinks he shouldn’t (unlike Stormy who pushes, pulls, rubs on and bites everything going. lol). Giving him the confidence to play online will help with playing at liberty and also his basic bravery when I ask him to do something with/for me which will create a stronger bond of trust between us.
The end of the month: We have been practising our lessons regularly and things are really starting to come together. He learns well and is curious and happy to learn but I have to give him a lot of time before it settles into his every day routine and taking that time is well worth it so that he gains techniques, confidence with them and in himself and also it deepens our connection.
Training Video 2 – Progressing Familiarisation & Feel games + adding Focus games now too.
So now I’m starting to communicate to all four of his feet, his inside shoulder and his mind. We will continue to progress these new games and start using them for a purpose as we go. Once we have some real connection through the games we can start having fun and adding obstacles to the mix. I will do an update in a week or so to show how we’re getting on so remember ‘Practise makes Progress’ 🙂
LESSON 2 UPDATE – showing Spirit’s progress with last week’s lesson
This video shows how I use a ‘half circle’ technique to ask my horse to go through something without me moving. This helps keep me safe and is a great way of teaching bravery for the horse to go through something without just following me. I use this technique for going through gates, into stables, over jumps, through streams and trailer loading.
The technique uses a lot of the basic ABC’s of horsemanship techniques: backup, move shoulder away, forward away from me in an arc, disengage hindquarters to face and wait then back up again to give me space to close the gate 🙂
February has been very cold up here with lots of rain and wind so not much playing going on but when I can I’ve been doing little bits of practise with Spirit in the field at liberty, things like asking for backup before putting his feed bowl down, moving his hq’s around when he’s eating his hay, drawing him to me to get his apple treat and following me with transitions going to new hay piles. He’s slowly understanding things which is lovely to see.
When we finally get some sunny days they are glorious and the horses take time out to rest together.
Spirit almost hidden sleeping behind Stormy
Another afternoon the boys sleep standing up really close together
Spirit is always the first to look up with his cheeky face
Today was a really lovely sunny day so I took Spirit for a little walk to catch up on some practise on the games we already know. He’s getting easier to connect with but it’s not a deep connection yet. Here’s how the games are going:
Familiarisation: very good with stick/string, rope over his back and today I took the rope around his rump and he did a ‘simple spin’ very nicely.
Feel: Moving his forehand and hindquarters over is getting lighter now and he is starting to step under himself more thereby stretching and flexing his pelvis and hips more. Backing him up off the halter is light and he understands the verbal cue much more now too. Right at the end of the session I tried out some sidepass off a hand cue at the girth and he took a second but got it pretty well on both sides.
Focus: Moving his forehand and hindquarters is very easy now, he will even change sides with the cue of my stick/string moving the energy by his shoulder when he’s behind me, he’s not worried by the stick/string and understands to move over in a calm manner……I think Stormy’s been teaching him well 🙂 He is understanding more about giving me a half circle which is further away from my feet and waiting and going through gateways is really lovely now.
I’ve also asked him again about crossing the small stream on our walks out. Today he figured out that he could do a small jump across a narrow section (the stream is lower than ground level and almost invisible to see in some places), he has not figured out how to step down into the stream to cross it at the place I walk but that will come when he has confidence in me more, jumping it is always an easier choice as it keeps his feet safe.
He lowers his head to see if the stream is safe to cross….easier to jump than to walk down into it and up the other side at the moment.
Spirit looks on the other side of the gap too, this is where he did a wee jump over it and then back again so successful river crossing today
To help with me asking Spirit to move into and over things we have a bit of fun with an icy puddle….back feet into it no problem
And front feet into it too after a small conversation about it
It always helps when there is grass to graze for a reward 🙂
Another good day weather wise so out with Spirit after doing horsey chores. We walked further away from the paddocks and other horses today and we also spent quite a long time at the stream where eventually Spirit managed to not only jump a narrow bit with more confidence but also bravely went down into the stream and jumped out which is a big improvement of his confidence in me today. Hopefully over the next few days he will be able to just follow me down and out of the stream and then go into it on his own with a half circle game like I use for going through gateways. For today I’m very pleased with our progress to connect and communicate.
Testing the ground for going into the stream rather than jumping it
I spent a lot of time just standing and talking to him, walking in and out of the stream the way I wanted him to do it so he could see it was safe and then gently asking him to try walking into/out of it which he eventually did a couple of time but need it done more calmly next time.
We stopped on a good note and played games going back to the field
Spirit is really good at waiting for me to open both the paddock gates now on a voice cue before he moves through them on my request with a half circle squeeze and dhq’s halt to face me while I close the gates safely behind us 😉
Well today was a bit hard….we had some sheep wandering around the track but the horses could only see the slightest part of their backs passing their top field AND WIND!!! Spirit was paying more attention to what Stormy was doing than with me so a trying training session.
I had taken him out of the field and did a nice bit of walking to the furthest gateway, around on the long grassy bit and wanted to ask him to try the stream again…so far so good, nice bit of walk out and new bit walked BUT Stormy decided this was the point the sheep were worrying and was moving Tara about…Spirit spotted it immediately and his head went right up (and that’s a long way up with a Friesian!!) and he got a ewe neck and was SOLID…I tried asking for his head down, for him to acknowledge me and release some tension but he was like a rock….eyes and all SO I asked him to take one step back, crossed the stream and then asked him to gently jump it so that we could go back to where he needed to be…by Stormy and Tara. PHEW…he pushed on me a LOT…not dangerous per se but enough to make me have to connect with his inside shoulder to ask it to move out of my space. The closer we got to S&T the more he realised he was being asked something by me!
Once back in the field I decided to keep working on some relaxation and concentration on me and what I was asking from him. Still a bit high headed and pushing a LOT into my space I stuck with it until he was softer and paying attention to ME. phew, worn out from the concentration myself! lol
I first started asking him to do a nice half circle over a pole, it brought up his pushy shoulder more so we worked on that a bit more, asking him to keep his neck more to the inside and not allowing him to take his head away thereby pushing his shoulder into me. I then asked him to take that half circle into a full circle keeping an eye on what his ‘shape’ was doing, was his head inside, was his shoulder away, was he far enough away from me, was he relaxing or tensing up, was his head high or getting lower?
I then asked him to concentrate on walking over the pole with just his front feet and backing off (draw & drive) which he did nicely so I could tell he was listening to me more.
The obstacle wasn’t the task really, the object was to use the games to help him learn to relax in a stressed situation, to listen to me, to trust me and to know what my ‘ground rules’ are.
My basic ground rules are:
1) Don’t run me over (don’t push into my space from the front or side)
2) Listen when I ask (so at least try if you can for me)
3) Keep an eye on me (keep your shoulder out of my space and circle with an arc in your body around me)
4) Learn to relax and listen when I’m talking to you (concentrate and connect)
5) Learn to trust me (this will take time and for me to keep working at his friendship/trust)
Once he did the pole nicely I let him off and walked down the track moving the sheep out of the way, back to their field (there’s a hole in the stone wall!!). I then went back and caught Spirit and walked him up/down the track as far as he could go, when he stopped with head up I backed him up and approached a bit or turned his hq’s and walked back to the paddock gate, rested then re-approached. We got quite far and I praised him for his effort and popped him back in the field. I then took Tara out and showed the boys how it’s done, calmly, quietly and without hesitation, she and I went past the paddock and had some peaceful grazing, much to the boys annoyance! LOL
Really loving how the herd is coming together more and more
Tuesday 19th – Lesson 2 / day 2 of 7
Good session today, Spirit did all the new things we started on the weekend really nicely.
Familiarisation w/flag: not bad at all
Half circle over flag: not bad
Lateral Flexion: very good
Circles x 1 in walk: fair
Sidepass with the Feel game: bit sticky
Draw & Drive: getting so much better (and did them through gateway too which was a bit sticky but then he got it )
Half circle through stream: fabulous
Walk out with transitions: pretty darn good (including walk through stream again, moving forehand and hindquarters with the focus game and also a wee jump over the stream too)
Spirit: Connection feels bit better, he’s trusting me more
Me: Happy Bunny
Out for a walk in a slightly different area today, played some games along the way for good measure but mostly just hanging out together while walking out. We also did had some play over a pole asking for halt near it, over it, two feet over it and halt and then backing up off it 😉
2nd hoof trim today, it’s been a month already and although during Winter Spirit could go longer between trims I wanted to get him used to me doing it even more so monthly is good. He was very good at putting his foot on the hoof stand, standing still for me and just munching on his hay and we used some of his new games to move him about and reposition him regularly which was great. It’s good to show your horse that the games have a purpose 🙂
Lovely little ‘tete a tete’ with Spirit this afternoon. I was busily poo picking the paddocks when he came over to be with me and asked me to rub his head, not once but he did it twice. Found out he LOVES his ears being scratched – inside and out
Sunday 24th – Lesson 2 / day 3 of 7
Have taken Spirit out for walks but this is the third proper session we’ve had of lesson 2 and it went really well. Added Familiarisation of the saddle into the mix too and he did all the games but just a little bit better.
Familiarisation: Flag – getting better, not too worried but not fully relaxed with it’s motion. Also familiarisation with the saddle AND asking him to stand still at a man made mounting block (big stone) .
Feel: Moving hq’s and fh full 360* nicely, stretching his hq’s more now. Sidepassing well both ways.
Focus: Half circles everywhere…even through the stream now. Circling 3-4 circles in walk now, having to pivot with him at moment as he tends to push his shoulder into my circle so once that is nicer I’ll ask him to do the circles on his own more and more…he did some nice trot circles too although I didn’t really ask him for those.
Draw and Drive is very good now, mostly on a very light phase and going back the full 12′ from me now….will start using the 22′ for more soon
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 😉