Our first riding session with the saddle and stirrups. She did amazingly well, not bothered by any of the saddle/stirrups or me moving about doing up the girth.
- Shelley – HorseSavvy
Our first riding session with the saddle and stirrups. She did amazingly well, not bothered by any of the saddle/stirrups or me moving about doing up the girth.
It’s been 3 days since I last played with Bella so today I went down at breakfast to be with her and see if she wanted to play. At first she was sceptical and this made me realise that she needs some play or interaction every day with me….this is totally normal and once she has been here for longer and this routine is a good routine then skipping a day or two won’t make that much difference BUT this initial 6 months to a year is vital for our successful connection.
< Firstly we did some ‘mirroring’…this is where I walk the way she’s walking, at her speed, step for step and also then with the same energy and even breathing if we connect well. It really helps our connection and shows her I can ‘be’ with her in her world, we don’t always have to play or do something.
We then did some circles on a hill in w/t, moving circles w/t, circles over a pole w/t, draw & drive from a distance and sidepassing without a fence using Focus L&R 🙂 She did very well and our connection is back in tact ready for our next session.
Tues 8th Oct
After not doing much last week I now need to find my Connection back to Bella. It will just take some regular play and weather so won’t take long but made me realise how short a time Bella has been with us and how fragile the bond is. Today I managed to get half an hour between rain showers and we did some nice S2M including TROT 🙂
Weds 9th Oct
Today was on/off drizzle again BUT I managed to get out an hour before giving them their dinner and I’m so glad I did. We managed some nice play in the Agility area adding poles to the cone circle/weave which went well. Then I put her saddle on and we played around with circles in walk and trot with the stirrups down and she didn’t bat and eyelid. I then did some DHQ into LF on the ground both sides which went well and then stood on the mounting block and asked her to come over to it, relax and stand still. I then put my foot in the stirrup and put my weight on/off it to make sure she was okay with that sensation and then as it was okay I mounted and sat quietly in the saddle. She stood quietly and then turned her head to the left with a nice LF to smell my foot and then I got off. One small step but a big step. Hopefully next time we will do some walking and the saddle will help keep my balance if she decides to go up to trot.
< Cone circle/weave with poles
Ground tying >
Trotting with saddle on and stirrups down >
Sitting on Bella w/Saddle and Stirrups
We have made wonderful progress together. Now we need to work on our basic riding skills/techniques with the saddle on firstly in the round pen, then in a larger arena and then in a bigger area.
Sat 12th Oct
Today was the FIRST time riding Bella with the saddle/stirrups on. She did amazingly well and I’m so proud of her. I think I will make a bigger rectangular arena for us to work in now so that will encourage forward motion more for her. I have this session on video in the ‘Bella’s training video’ section and we also did a fab 4th Agility session also on video in the ‘Bella’s Agility video’ section >>>>
Sun 13th Oct
Today we took the smaller round pen down and made a rectangular arena for Bella to work in, the longer straight lines will help her walk out more in our riding sessions and we can also use this for her to follow Stormy to give her confidence following another horse. Today we just allowed both horses to work/ride in it for a short time. Here’s some pics from today including some of the fun ground work we did together:
< A ‘moment’ together
Managed one foot on the smaller pedestal >
< Sidepassing without a fence 🙂
Getting a nice ride on big Stormy today >
< Storm is now a ‘teacher’ for Bella
Nice ride on Stormy >
< And such a nice trot with Storm today working on the Corners Game
Bella’s Lateral Flexion on BOTH sides today was soft, light and easy >
< Managed to get more walk steps working in new bigger area today
Also walked out of the arena back to where I take the tack off, through the agility area >
Mon 14th Oct
Today I decided to try a new thing to help Bella’s confidence in being ridden…..asking Mark to ride Stormy with us in the arena. This really helped Bella, she followed what Stormy was doing and we managed a lot of just nice walk next to each other. It will take time for Bella to gain new muscles for being ridden and taking weight on her back but she’s doing really well.
Riding together is a lot of fun and I can see she and Storm will make happy hacking pals once we’ve done more training and then walked her out locally (probably next year now)
We walked companionably on both sides of Stormy, love that these two get on so well, no niggling, no kicking out or trying to bite each other.
Tues 15th Oct
Had a lovely play with Bella today and it turned out to be a play with her AND Stormy together a bit too. Stormy at liberty, Bella on line…some pics….
Playing the games with Stormy helped Bella feel more confident, allow her to see Stormy doing the same things and to make Stormy feel included more 😉
Draw and Drive over a pole went incredibly well with the two of them 🙂
Some treats for both for a good job done.
4 feet on the pedestal at last….well 2 of Storm’s and 2 of Bella’s…great to see how well they get on that they can be this close 🙂
Pedestal fun and then some solo circling with poles for Bella. She really engages her core when there are poles around so we will continue to build with the pole work to help her muscle up for being ridden 😉
After some play I went to do a bit of riding, Bella was good but very very distracted by something (farmer moving cattle probably, very noisy business) SO I decided that it would be easier and better for Bella if Mark rode her and I stayed on the ground with Stormy so she could follow me and be near Stormy. It went very well and Mark had a couple of really nice TROT’s on her which was great to see.
Good start and her basic bitless techniques are going well (LF. DHQ. FH and Walking on). She is still more confident with Stormy around when being ridden but that’s to be expected 😉
You can see she is thinking about something in the middle distance here.
Mark did a great relaxing job riding Bella today. Her trot ridden is as nice as her trot when she’s working online which is lovely to see.
Here she’s trotting well following Storm and me. We still need to work on left and right but am very pleased she’s got walk and now trot under her belt, we can progress slowly now.
I then spent some quiet time with Bella which was really bonding. She is really cuddly and I love being around her.
Tue 22nd Oct
Just back from a clinic in the Borders so have missed 5 days training with Bella this week BUT hopefully that has given her a small break to think and rest which is often a good thing for any horse. Went out to give them their dinner today around 5pm and take this opportunity to get ‘re-connected’ to her and Stormy.
Bella remembered everything we’ve done and we had some nice circling in both directions, realised we need to start working on a 22′ line now to help her trot circles be easier for her. Draw & Drive was light and polite and she did two very nice, light Lateral Flexion both directions. Lastly, after I took her halter off, it was lovely to have her follow me for a bit at Liberty 😉
Sat 26th Oct
Bella has had a slight swelling in her right udder so we decided to be able to keep an eye on her more to bring her and Stormy to the home paddocks. (at the time of writing this her udder is 50% smaller so looks like it is probably hormonal). It will also allow her to get used to the Winter turnout before they have to come up for Winter so it’s good in two ways. She was a bit sceptical coming out of the field she’s been in for 3 months since coming to us but not too worried that she couldn’t move and follow Stormy. Stormy is a great confidence giver as he’s been doing this run every Winter for 10yrs although this is the first time with Bella. Here’s some pics of our wee adventure.
Bella was quite unsettled to start with , quite sweaty too but I went and rubbed her down with some dry grass and that helped her, she also had to listen to Stormy with how to not worry about the wee bridge we have in the middle of the paddocks over the wee stream. She relaxed enough to watch and think about it and figure it out so that hopefully tonight she’ll know where things are and relax into a quiet night.
Wee video of Bella figuring out the bridge 🙂
Sun 27th Oct
We left the horses to just mosey about today, allowing Stormy to show Bella around the field more and all the nice tasty spots of grazing, find their resting spots and for Bella to get used to her new surroundings. She is on lookout a bit but nothing worrying, just her getting used to where all the normal sounds are now coming from as she is nearer the farm and road noises.
When I go and walk doggie Beau, Bella walks the fence line with me, she likes watching everything that is going on.
Bella also likes to follow us whilst poo picking, she like to make sure we do it properly. She is also mirroring Stormy often, he knows the field well so is a great help to give her confidence and calmness.
Resting together is lovely to see and also how calm they are coming and eating their 2 meals a day 🙂
Mon 27th Oct
Bella is really relaxing more each day she’s here in the home paddocks, this is going to help her so much when they come back for a few months over Winter, usually end Dec through to March. It makes it easier for us to feed and take care of them as often we can get snowed in here. She isn’t fully relaxed yet but it’s only been 2 full days so far and I’m impressed with how Stormy is helping her and being a good partner for her.
Today she followed me around while poo picking and that was even over the bridge but it was also lovely to see them both coming over for their breakfast nice and calmly and Stormy even allowing Bella to share the end of his bowlful…she is a cheeky minx, lol
Tues 29th Oct
Today I decided to ask Bella to have a wee play session and walk up the road by the paddock. This gives her the comfort of having Stormy int he field next to her but also allows me to see how she can respond and connect to me. Having her able to play will allow us to develop a deeper connection in a new place and for me to gauge her emotional and mental fitness. Here’s some lovely pics Mark took of us today….
Weds 30th Oct
This morning it was interesting to see the Storm and Bella following each other around. There was a bit of noise and movement around the estate with the farmer moving cattle around. Our two are so sensitive to changes at the moment but happy to be relaxed and calm around us.
Today was also ‘trimming hooves’ day, Bella’s hooves are so much better than when she first came to us 3 months ago, still some way to go with her back hooves but getting there. They were both pretty well behaved even though this was a new place to stand and hang out for Bella 🙂
This is the 2nd time I’ve backed and walked her on but the first time (2 days before this one) she didn’t understand how to move forward due to the difference in balance with my weight on her, this video is only 2 days later and although she is stop/starting a lot there is much more understanding with her balance and my cues. I look forward to helping her learn more riding skills as we go along our journey together 🙂
This is Bella’s 3rd lesson video. We’ve got all the basic ABC’s of HorseSavvy Horsemanship under her hooves now and we’ll be progressing each game for lightness, politeness and then higher gaits and longer ropes…..having fun and think she is too 🙂
I’ve been laying over Bella’s back and sat on her a couple of times once with me sitting on her with Mark walking her in-hand a bit and also had Mark sitting on her and the start of walking forward, this video is the first time I sat on her and asked her to walk on. She seems a bit off balance and unsure but by taking it slowly she will get there, her confidence and relaxation are the most important things going forward 😉
Here is a map of the course (we missed #11 – the sidepass on the round pen but never mind 😉
1. Weave walk
2. Flag familiarisation
3. Narrow bunting lane
6. Draw/Drive between two barrls
7. 2 front feet over pole and sidepass off
8. Tarp transitions
9. 2 feet on pedestal
11. 2 front feet in hulahoop
12. Relax by mounting block
Didn’t manage to sort out doing a video for this course but here’s some pics of Bella doing it really well 🙂
1. Pole – Transition
2. Under Arch
3. Trot over poles
4. Onto Tarp, halt for 5 seconds then walk off
5. Walk calmly through Scary Lane
7. 2 front feet in hula hoop
8. Walk Cone Weave
9. Under Curtain
10. Front feet on Pedestal
Bella has learnt the basic ABC’s of HorseSavvy Horsemanship over the last 8 weeks we’ve owned her and she is progressing really nicely. Using obstacles is a great way to help her understand the HS moves and to bring about another dimension of understanding our ‘cues’ together and I use those obstacles individually and then build to an Agility course where the cues and techniques come together in a more flowing way.
Here is Bella’s 3rd small Agility course, we’ve started to bring in more testing obstacles such as a longer scary corridor, the arch and the small jump, soon it will have the ‘curtain’ too but only once she’s happier about going under the arch 🙂
Here is the map of Bella’s 1st Agility course
Sun 1st Sept
Been doing daily play sessions with Bella but decided to give her a wee break today so just checked her feet (familiarisation with the foot stand) and took her for a short walk into the long grass part of the field for some hanging out together while Mark rode Stormy.
After a nice walk around the field I did a short session of familiarisation with the mounting block and having my weight on her back. She moved away from the block a few times when my weight went on her back but I think this was more about her not having the saddle pad on and me being balanced on that on her back so my weight was more on the inside so she moved away from that pressure. Anyway, because she was moving about a bit I took more time than I thought we’d need to just keep getting off, asking her back to the block and putting my weight back on her until at the end she did two nice standstill’s for me when I did it. Her reward for standing still was to be taken away from the block, head collar off and a nice big herbal treat.
I will work on this often from now on to get her ready for saddling and being ridden later on.
Thurs 5th Sept
We’ve had a bit of rain this week so today was the first day in a while that we could play with Bella and Stormy so we decided to do a bit of agility first (check Bella’s Agility Video’s category for her video) and then take them both out onto the long grass part of the field. Bella is becoming more used to this area and settles quickly even when Stormy trots around away from her, so she’s trusting me more which is great.
Fri 6th Sept
Out for some more agility fun with Bella and Stormy, today we had the flapping curtain up too, a first for Bella 😉
< Bella waiting until she feels safe to be able to go through the archway >
< We’re getting such a lovely connection now, trotting together with ease and working with techniques with obstacles is fun now >
< Really lovely transitions together from walk through the narrow lane to learning to pick up the energy for a small jump >
< Working on her right side is constantly getting easier for her.
Waiting for her to feel confident about the curtain >
< Pulling one side of the curtain back for her…then asking Stormy to show Bella how to do it >
< Storm at liberty showing Bella how the curtain is done…then Bella confident to do the curtain too >
Great agility fun with B&S today…loving our light cues and connection, really enjoying helping Bella figure things out with me, our partnership is growing beautifully 😉
Sun 8th Sept
Today we did some more agility and this time we did some different tasks on some of the obstacles which will help Bella learn it’s about our connection and trust and we can do any game with any obstacle SO she will start to look to me more for direction as we progress to riding.
We started off working with reins loose over her back as I wanted to make sure the Familiarisation of flapping reins wasn’t going to freak her out…all went really well 🙂
We then played with some obstacles and did transitions through the narrow scary gap, weave and fig 8’s around the cones, in and out of the jump wings/poles, rope around spins, nice jump, three feet on the pedestal (I helped her put one back foot on it but it helps her understand what I’m asking for), and nicely under the curtain.
Also Stormy by himself decided to show Bella how the curtain can be done easily…..Stormy has become the teacher 😉 🙂
Tue 9th Sept
Well today Bella and Stormy were on their toes, heads up and running around a bit but once I haltered Bella and started to groom she settled and we had a lovely play around the agility obstacles and when Mark rode Storm out in the long grass field we accompanied him in-hand and played with some S2M, weave, fig 8’s and sidepass.
I then put a bareback pad on Bella and whilst in-hand with me at her head Mark sat on her for the FIRST TIME 🙂 SO happy she has been good about having someone on her back, we saw previous owner trotting down the road with her but have never been sure if she’s had any proper training or been backed/started at all. Hopefully now with the ground work Mark and I will continue her bitless ridden journey too.
Before Mark sat on her I lay on her with the bareback pad on, she moved but I managed to stay on and the rein turned her in a small arc around my legs, when she stopped I jumped off rewarding her for standing still. What a good girl she has been for me and Mark.
ALSO we did some lovely play with the obstacles, on the long grass area and she was really good with our connection which was lovely.
We even upped the energy with the flag….yeehaa 🙂
Weds 11th Sept
Today we managed a small play session after dinner in the new round pen. She is quite good orientated/motivated so the long grass helped to give her rewards. Here’s what we did:
S2M around half the arena. Half circles in and out of the pen. Circles in walk x 2 to the left, COD, 2 x circles to the right, COD, repeat in trot. Fig 8s in calm walk. Tossing rope over her head and doing a ‘rope around spin’. Sidpass using feel/touch and then focus/intent. Backing out of the arena. S2M around other half of arena. Half circle in calm walk back onto grazing track.
Fab play with a calm, willing Bella and a very happy me 🙂
Thurs 12th Sept
Great afternoon of play with Bella, lots of games played with obstacles and then some fab ‘ground tying’ practise while I held Stormy as Mark trimmed his hooves.
< We started off playing familiarisation with an umbrella as it started to rain.
But then played and got 3 feet on the pedestal today. Bella really thinking to her feet >
< I also did some more Lateral Flexion, from the ground and then from the mounting block.
Standing still by the mounting block, making that a sweet spot to stand is a great exercise to teach her halt and not be afraid of the block >
< mounting block wait
Tried on her new light weight rug…fits great >
< AND…..sat on her today for the FIRST TIME…felt great. Mark walked me in a circle in-hand and she was super cool >
Fri 13th Sept
Did a short play session after their dinner in the afternoon today.
< Trot half circles with pole.
Sidepass along fence >
< Sidepass to the right is awesome.
first time for Fig 8’s with a pole >
< Fig 8’s with pole >
< Fig 8’s
Hanging out with a new mounting block in a different place…no problem with it 🙂 >
< Nice calmness between games >
< Rope around spins going well including tossing the rope over her head 😉
< Halter off and the beginnings of Liberty play with some S2M and a big head hug and kiss for being such a good girl >
We also tried on her new lightweight rug today, it fits really well, nice length and tail section and a lovely deep neck line so she’s comfortable and able to still graze 😉
Sat 14th Sept
Today we managed to get out and make a new Agility course for us to play around with AND also put up a round pen in the Agility area too so that I can start working on the beginnings of Bitless Riding after a few more times sitting and walking in-hand. Exciting times coming up 🙂
Bunting lane >
< Tarp trot
3 feet on ped >
front feet in hoop >
It was a lovely session, lots of thinking, calmness and connection through the agility course. We ended at the mounting block with some rest, leaning on her back and helping her find her ‘stand still and rest’ sweet spot at the block 😉
Mon 16th Sept
Weather was a bit in the way today but managed to find a dry patch at evening feeding time today so took advantage of it. She was willing and relaxed, had a bit of a hoolie going into circles to the right (her hard side) but I kept my energy neutral and invited her mentally to join me in that and she soon asked to come to me and relax which is a huge difference from last week, she is starting to look to me for direction. Here’s some of the things we did…
< S2M on the right with loose rope
S2M halt and back up with pole and loose rope >
< Circles to the left, nice and calm and Bella looking to me for direction.
Circle to the right, slowly getting straighter in her barrel >
< Soft, calm fig 8’s >
< Really nice sidepassing both ways today
And sit on her again >
< Bella doing a great job taking my weight and standing perfectly still for me
Bella & Stormy >
Tues 17th Sept
Today was a big milestone in our journey together….I sat on her and asked for walk. She had quite sticky feet and we got backup and moving her hindquarters and then I asked Mark to sit on her and be a passenger with some directions whilst I helped move her into walk using the cues I use for circling. It worked really well and we now need to do this in small bouts to help her figure out her balance with a rider and also we need to start playing with the ground work with her wearing her saddle so that we can start using the saddle to start her ridden work more. Really enjoying backing her, she reminds me so much of when we did Stormy 12 years ago 😉
Here is a short video of my first time asking her to move with me on her back:
And some pics of Mark doing a good job directing her while I got her walking out more:
Fri 20th Sept
It was way too hot to do much with Bella or Stormy today SO the best thing I could think of to do in the hot weather is to wash Stormy and give Bella a wee clean up.
Managed to give Stormy a full wash, his mane and tail are now back to being white 😉
Bella after a small clean up next to a very white Stormy.
I did manage also to do a small play with them together, some S2M with me in the middle and weave together, both online…it was fun 😉
At least he was mostly dry before he decided to roll and at least he’s cleaner than he was this morning 😉
Sat 21st Sept
Today I video’d Bella’s 3rd & 4th lessons. Lesson 3 is online and Lesson 4 is our first Backing/Starting Riding video…both are on the category ‘Bella’s Lesson Video’s’ which you can find on the right of the blog >>>>>
We’re going to start playing most sessions with her saddle on and soon with the stirrups down, huge familiarisation with the energy/motion/noise of those around her body and once we’ve done that for quite a while I’ll know I’ll be able to use the saddle to continue her backing/starting riding sessions.
Here’s a few pics from today:
AND some from the ridden session….
She did well, took some time to figure out how to move forward with the new weight of me on her back but she was super sweet and tried her heart out 🙂
Mon 23rd Sept
Today I played with Bella and then rode her again, she did so much better today moving forward, still a way to go but much more movement some LF, DHQ and FH moves with backup too 🙂
Tues 24th Sept
Today I decided to do something a bit different, it’s been drizzing most of the day so for me riding was out as the ground is wet and so is Bella’s back SO I went and started in the round pen with the thought of some Liberty…here’s some pics of what happened….
Sun 29th Sept
Had a lovely play with Bella today and a better sit on/ride too. Her ridden walk was very slightly faster, more steps and started quicker so I was very pleased with our progress.
< Play with saddle on and getting her used to stirrups and weight in the too . Once she’s okay with it all I’ll be able to ride her in the saddle >
< Standing at the mounting block nice and calmly and still is really good now and moving off isn’t too bad either. Today Bella offered to go to the right >
< And she offered Lateral Flexion to the right too today, this is great progress. She’s managing to take quite a few steps before stopping >
< Very happy with our ridden connection and I feel I’ll be sitting in a saddle soon too which will really be good and give me more confidence with my own balance if she decides to offer trot and then we can start working in a bigger area too 🙂
Mon 30th Sept
Today I had a very short play session with Bella, my brother and nephew are up on holiday and they always come and see the herd when they’re here. Lovely to see my family with our horses, they’ve met and ridden a lot of the members of our herd over the years so it was lovely to see them with Bella for the first time today 🙂
< Brother Paul and Bella getting to know each other 🙂
Bella, Mark, Paul, Storm and nephew Alex >