Spirit – Training Video 2


Training Video 2 โ€“ 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’ ๐Ÿ™‚


LESSON 2 UPDATE – showing Spirit’s progress with last week’s lesson



  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Training Tip Video: “Going through a gateway”

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Spirit – February 2019


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 feedย  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







Sunday 10th

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 teachingย  him well ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚






Monday 11th

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 theย gates safely behind us ๐Ÿ˜‰





Wednesday 13th

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 walkedย ย 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)ย 

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



























Saturday 16th

Really loving how the herd is coming together more and more


Tuesday 19th –ย 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 allย 
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 itย ย )
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 moreย 
Me: Happy Bunnyย ย 






























Tuesday 20th

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰











Wednesday 21st

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 ๐Ÿ™‚


Friday 22ndย 

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 outย 



Sunday 24th –ย 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






























  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Spirit – January 2019

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 firstย  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:ย 







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 easierย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚






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… 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰




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 ๐Ÿ˜‰








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 ๐Ÿ™‚





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 ๐Ÿ™‚






Having a sweet moment when the halter is off






He turned his head towards me and we had a ‘moment of connection’ ๐Ÿ™‚





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 ๐Ÿ˜‰



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 ๐Ÿ˜‰


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 ๐Ÿ˜‰





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 ๐Ÿ˜‰




  • Shelley – HorseSavvy








Spirit – Training Video 1

Training Video 1 – Basic Familiarisation & Feel games

Familiarisation = getting Spirit used to things, energy, motion, noise using approach and retreat and not over facing him with stimuli. I want him to be able to become familiar with things and not be frightened or shut down. I’m looking for relaxation when doing this so I will go as gently as he needs but progress when he’s okay about it. This game is the most important one and as relaxation is the goal I will be able can return to it often to reassure Spirit to find that sweet spot regularly when he needs it.

Feel = This is where I ask for specific moves by touching the horse. I work on these to help him understand my riding aids and I want to make sure those are good before I ride him, more so because he will be going bitless so working on a feel from the halter/lead rope is paramount to a good bitless start. These moves are done by pulsing cues between halter/rope and hand on body and I’m looking to move all 4 feet in all 4 directions with equal understanding, lightness and purity as we go along…for now, just one step is good but I will make sure that one step is done well before releasing/rewarding so that Spirit understands.

Process = Play for 7 days in a row to ensure lessons are understood well. Just one step and reward after by a big breath out, release hands on lead rope and horses body to cause a stop, some scratches at his withers which he loves or even just resting next to him. I will give him a BIG reward at the end of each session with some of his favourite pony nuts on the ground just before I rub him and walk off showing the end of the session clearly.

Progress = After working on asking for one step for 7 days I will start to introduce more steps slowly, making sure I use my ‘pulsing cues’, this makes sure I end up with smooth moves and no brace in the horseย  (physically, mentally or emotionally / neck,head, body, legs, mind). I will show this progress as we go ๐Ÿ™‚

For more on my training you can buy my instructional dvd’s here:ย


Lesson 1 video UPDATE & PROGRESS after working on the basic ABC’s of horsemanship communication.


Hope you can see how much Spirit has progressed on the first steps of his journey. Lesson 2 is coming shortly ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Spirit – January ’19 (First week)

WEEK 1 (17/1/19)
SO…this is SPIRIT, he arrived at 12.30 today on a Gillies big lorry.

His details are:
Free Spirit
Clydesdale x Friesian x Hanovarian x Cob
16 hh at moment (but very bum high so expecting 16.2-16.3 hh when 8yrs old)
5yrs old (born 2/6/2013)

Apart from his breeder he has had one lovely caring home before me and sold only due to the young lady being at University and working hard with her job and recently finding out she’s going to have a baby this year ๐Ÿ™‚

I will be taking him slowly and at his own pace through my HorseSavvy Horsemanship training, working through some fun Agility and teaching him to be ridden bitless so that we can have a long, fun relationship together.ย  This is the beginning of our journey together and I hope you enjoy reading about our adventuresย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 1:
Here are some pics of him arriving, the walk to his new home/field and having his first dinner with us.



Just off Gillies lorry






Very calm walk to the field





In own paddock for first night or two to help him settle and not be bossed around by Stormy





Rugged for the cold night and some dinner with plenty of hay and fresh water






He is veryย  calm and happy to just looking at our two older horses Stormy and Tara. We had them separated by two electric fences over night. This is to help Spirit get his bearings, feel safe and to settle in calmly but also to allow our two to get used to him in their field. it worked out very nicely, all calm within an hour or so, Stormy pacing a bit and pooing his territory but Spirit just keeping his head down and eating his hay. They all ate their dinners calmly and we left them for the night.


DAY 2:

Everything going really well, Spirit has such a lovely nature and Storm and Tara very calm so we opened up our big horses field to allow Storm and Spirit to touch noses over just one fence (made sure electric off so they don’t get zapped whilst being nice to each other). It went so well. Calm and Spirit giving calming/baby signals to Stormy (lowering of head, licking/chewing, following and mirroring him and turning head away). After a while they stopped parallel to each other so I put hay in front of both of them and they happily munched away at the hay. Tara stayed at the breakfast station eating hay, she will visit Spirit in her own time and when she knows the boys are friends and isn’t in the way of male bonding…wise girl ๐Ÿ˜‰




Standing about 16 hh at moment, very bottom high which means his withers are playing catch up, he will fully mature around 8yrs old






Enjoying a wither scratch






Stormy goes to meet Spirit when we let him out to say hello, keeping one fence between them allows Spirit to move away if he feels he needs to but also allows them to smell each other and get used to one another





Nose to nose…this is how horses greet and meet each other ๐Ÿ™‚






After parallel following and mirroring each other they stand for a while next to each other SO I give them both some hay and they’re happy to eat next to each other with the fence between them





Go down to see Spirit for a while before dinner and he looked happy to see me and even started walking towards me when I called his name, what a nice boy he is




Wanted to measure his height SO started off some Horsemanship Familiarisation, first with the tape measure. He wasn’t sure at first but quickly realised it was okay, this is a great way to build trust and get our connection




I then put the tape opened up a bit on the floor and after sniffing it when I bent to touch it he quietly and easily walked over it. This is teaching me a lot about his responses and reactions to things so we can start having more ‘conversations’ about things, energy, motion, noise etc.





Here I ask him to touch the ‘spirit level’ that I use with the tape measure to measure his height





Fed, watered, plenty of hay for the night and rugged so nice and snuggly

as going to be a bitterly cold night tonight.ย  Nitey nite Spirit, sleep tight ๐Ÿ˜‰




DAY 3:ย 

Today we put Spirit in with Stormy and it was such a calm, happy event it was really a non-event ๐Ÿ˜‰ We kept Tara separate for now to help the boys bond, she’ll be in with them tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚


Stormy following Spirit (or is he moving him on? ๐Ÿ˜‰







Spirit checking out the fab views. He can see horses across the glen, sheep in the field below, cars on the road, houses, lights, noises and smells…big views






Storm and Spirit eating hay peacefully near each other ๐Ÿ˜‰





Storm and Spirit, a view I will never tire of






A little bit of ‘liberty play’:


Familiarisation: getting Spirit used to being touched with the training arm/stick and string






Touching with hands is very important, Spirit likes being touched and around humans which is super




Hanging out together





Familiarisation of energy: this is a hard one at liberty but I wanted to see how my energy/skipping about affected him, he wasn’t overly worried but will get this better once I start working on line




DAY 4:

Today after breakfast I let the boys and Tara out together, opened up all the fences so they can meet each other properly and have enough space to get out of each others way if necessary. Spirit and Tara exchanged breath, which is how horses meet each other, and Stormy and Tara taught him some of the ‘house rules’ that horses do to make sure everyone knows their place in the herd. Spirit is so non-confrontational and has such good social skills that all went really well. He also was confident enough in himself to check out the whole bottom area of the field, poo piles, hay piles, put his nose onto the cones and into the tyre stacks. Loving his confidence, calmness and the every now and then he looked to me for a ‘good boy’ too.



Spirit and Tara ‘nose to nose’ greeting






So photogenic against the beautiful Perthshire hills






The BOYS ๐Ÿ™‚






Spirit checking Tara out more, Tara lets him know where her personal space ‘bubble’ is and he stays on the edge of that out of respect ๐Ÿ™‚






I hang out with the herd for a bit…I call this Undemanding Time where we all just hang out together





We did our first little Play Session today. Haltered him in a rope halter and 12′ line and did some Familiarisation with my hands and then the very basic set of Feel games which involved moving his feet in all 4 directions. I was just asking for lightness and one step on each game which will develop the basic Foundation of Horsemanship moves for later on. If I get these done nicely and with lightness then our journey towards refinement will be easier ๐Ÿ™‚

I have set up another Category to see all Spirits Horsemanship Video’s so check it out on the right hand side of the page: ‘Spirit – Traning Videos’.


Day 5:

Today the barrel of water in the field was empty so I decided to walk Spirit to where there is more water just in case he didn’t know. We have a trough near the bottom of the field and a small stream running at the top of the big hill.

I haltered Spirit in a ‘normal’ headcollar and rope’ as this is what he’s used to and I want to change things slowly for him so that there isn’t too much to think about at any one time, they also have breaking points in them in case of emergencies which my rope halters/lead ropes don’t have and until I am certain of his nature and we have a good connection I won’t risk him getting into a panic and getting into trouble. I use my horsemanship equipment in a safe environment first (round pen/arena) and once I know we’re okay then I’ll use it all the time, best to be safe than sorry ๐Ÿ™‚



We walk together nicely, we have walk on/halt (breath out) going nicely enough but when I get too far from the herd (Stormy & Tara) he tries to get in front of me with a little bit more energy than normal. I see this sign as the ‘baby stop’ signal that foals use to stop their momma’s when they need feeding, are weary or are worried by something. Taking this signal seriously helps me to adjust where we go SO instead of just going where I want to go I change direction back where we came from so that Spirit can feel more at ease. This ‘approach & retreat’ technique helps me see where his ‘thresholds’ are (threshold today was going away from the herd into new territory) and stops me pushing him over the edge of that to where he could panic or loose his confidence in me as a leader. Another technique I use when he’s a bit worried is to just stand, back him up a step or two with my hand on his chest and wait until relaxation kicks in.


Pic above shows Spirit smelling a poo pile. From this pile he gets a LOT of information about the herd, we’ve recently put some fresh poo onto the piles around the field to help settle him in. The info is important, they often poo when on a new trail so that they can find their way back, others can follow, others know the status of the horse and what emotions they had at the time, whether in season etc SO poo piles are like postcards of knowledge and I’ve noticed this week that he has pooped in all the new places he’s visited around the 10 acres of field, this helps him return to them knowing he’s already been there and helps him map out the field in his mind ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t get to show him the water sources but it did give me an insight into how he will learn and it was lovely to see Stormy come over to see where he was going and that helped Spirit go further on which is great to see as that means the boys are bonding.


After our little walking in-hand session the herd eat hay companionably.
Lovely to see them closer each day.







We had serious weather warnings for snow/ice/wind today, supposedly coming in tonight so we decided to not chance the horses being too far away down the road and bring them back to the home paddocks. Our two know these paddocks well but it will be Spirits first time here and on top of only just arriving it will be a challenge to bring them up and to settle them into a new place again. Easy travel options is for me to take normal two, Stormy & Tara, together in front to show the way and for Mark to walk Spirit up behind, this also emulates the herd dynamics where Spirit is following Stormy around and Stormy knows he can stop Spirit by stopping and waiting himself.

Fab, it worked well and Spirit was happy to follow us up a new track to our house. The paddocks are a fraction of the size of the big field so we knew there were going to be some shenanegans getting the herd settled again SO the first thing I do is walk Spirit around two of the three sections of his new home, this way at least he will know where the fences are, where the stream is for water (and to know where it needs jumping into paddock 3). Stormy whinneyed for him as we went over a hill so again when Spirit’s energy came up and he walked in front of me to stop me I turned and walked back to where the other two were.

We let them off and Stormy ran around a bit showing Spirit his territory, Spirit following but also being moved about a bit. One of the things Stormy will do (and was doing in the big field) was shielding Tara from the newcomer SO we decided to once again let the boys bond and settle by taking Tara out of the equation and putting her in our large back garden. She is very happy there, knowing the boys are about but knowing she’s not getting in the way or being pushed ๐Ÿ™‚


Taking Tara out in-hand allows the boys to follow at their own pace and without me being in the middle of any territory chasing. Notice how Stormy will follow Tara, he’s also blocking Spirit from being near her, and how Spirit is happy to follow on behind. The natural order of things in the herd is the best way to take it, knowing that Storm will follow Tara and that Spirit being the new boy will follow Storm makes going up the big field hill easier for me.



It’s nice to know that Spirit is non-confrontational as I know he won’t try to shimmy in on me and Tara’s space and Stormy has him under his control…here Storm shows that the order is in place by stopping on the hill and waiting, testing his herd place by stopping Spirit in his tracks behind him.

We were concentrating on leading the horses so didn’t get any on the track this time.




Once in the home paddocks Stormy stands at the water barrel and so clever Spirit walks down a hillock and finds his own natural wee stream to drink.





Stormy makes sure Spirit is still listening to his requests….This is MY corner, move away and he does. There is quite some running around with Stormy making sure Spirit moves, follows and stops with him.





Spirit following, Stormy showing him the paddocks but makes sure he’s behind him.





Storm racing up the fence line, Spirit jumping the burn/stream. Now Spirit knows where the water source is ๐Ÿ˜‰




The boys stop and realise Tara is still close by but out of reach of being pushed around.






Beautiful Spirit, lovely paces this boy has ๐Ÿ˜‰




Spirit following Stormy…bonding going on now, quieter and less running around.






The boys got so sweaty running around, mostly on neck and chest area’s which to me says not so much physical but emotional SO rugs and neck covers on tonight to allow them to warm up and dry off.




DAY 6: (Wed 23rd Jan ’19)

First 24hrs in home paddocks for the boys and Tara in our garden. All seems to be going well, the boys were quite close on the hill this morning. Spirit is quite hungry for his food so we’ve upped the amount and giving them all plenty of hay. We are also rugging Spirit at night as he has very little muscle mass so want him to make the most of the food we give him by allowing him the comfort of staying warm with a rug (for now).



The boys rugged and together ๐Ÿ˜‰





Stormy has realised that Spirit is listening to him a lot and shows some refinement in asking him to move hay piles this morning….



Storm on his pile, Spirit on his…






…Storm decides he wants Spirit’s pile of hay so wanders over calmly with head lowered and ears pinned, Spirit politely listens, lowers his own head and moves his forehand away….






…Stormy keeps his left ear on Spirit as he moves away, notice how Spirit knows where Storm’s personal space ‘bubble’ is and keeps on the edge of that, moving in would mean Stormy would push him out again, the language of Equus is not that hard but thereย  are rules and Spirit is learning Storm’s rules….




…horses happy eating at changed piles of hay. Lovely to see such a peaceful exchange, shows me they are bonding and settling. Knowing how Spirit moves from ‘pressure’ from Stormy is helping me to know how to ask him when I train him ๐Ÿ™‚





After breakfast this morning the boys move off, I wonder why as they jump the stream and then realise it’s because Tara has moved in the garden.


Stormy, who is confident in himself and his environment just walks over the stream…..






Spirit is confident in himself and getting used to the environment jumps the stream with ease, nice to know there’s a jump in him






Tara has moved along the garden fence line and the boys want to be close to her…at least this way Tara isn’t in the way of things, she’s quite old now and doesn’t move quickly so don’t want her pushed about.





This is the closest the boys have been without being pushy, they share some grass and water together.





After poo picking I see that they have all found their places. Tara laying down as close to the fence line as she can (she doesn’t often lay down so this is wonderful to see), Spirit is being look out and taking care of Tara while she sleeps and Stormy is on the hill keeping an eye on things and allowing Spirit to be near Tara…..a huge change in dynamics and allows Storm to rest too…lets hope it applies when we put Tara back in the paddocks with them later on this week hopefully ๐Ÿ˜‰




Beautiful and so peaceful ๐Ÿ˜‰






Day 7:

Lovely seeing the boys together every morning, one reason we love having them at home for a while.







Hungry Spirit has eaten his breakfast and tucks into his hay so I decide to have some ‘Undemanding Time’ with him for a while. I put my hand up and wait to see if he wants to touch me which he does really gently, then I just sit with him When he touches my nose I breath into his nostrils the way another horse would do.


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy





Comfort Zone Training – Solo in-hand/riding

Part 1

Helping a horse that is ‘herd bound’ is challenging as we need to help the horse grow it’s trust in us and it’s comfort zone area so that it feels safe going out alone. Easier said than done for some horses.

Our Stormy has been the member of our herd since 11 months old, he’s been surrounded by 4 other members to start with but now at the age of 15 he is just one of two left in our herd. He is happy to go out and about with other herd members and has done that throughout his life but the other horse left now is our aged Tara who can do small bits of in-hand/riding work but really is retired and a bit slow and dodderyย  SO, how do I help Stormy learn to be brave enough to go out alone?



Our first session was mostly walking in the field next to the horses home field. Walked and played some games to help his brain think, these games were slow backup and sideways moves. He was okay for a while but I could feel he was worried about going further down the steep part of the hill SO I retreated with him backย towards the home field, this allowed him to breathe and think, to respond and not react BUT he had a couple of slips on the hill where it has been raining heavily and is now muddy and also touched his leg onto a thistle and he rushed off back home to the gateway….his reaction was quick and although mud and thistles don’t normally worry him I could see this would make him react if he wasn’t totally connected to me first SO I got him backย and did a small bit of walking about near the gateway to their field to end on a good note.


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Training Tips: “Keep the Partnership”

The Partnership between horse/human is delicate and like all good friends you have to take time to really listen to what each other has to say, this way you learn to truly have a conversation and each party of the partnership can learn to enjoy and trust their friend more and more.

In these pics I am having a conversation with Big Storm. There is absolutely no way I am going, nor want, to argue with my friend but I also want to help him to learn to listen and trust me in new situations more (or even situations he’s not recently familiar with).

The saying ‘take his idea, make it your idea, trust together’ is the one that goes around my head all the time when with my horses (also with my husband and friends!




Stormy decided he needed to back off from something it was the noise of the stream going under the road at this point). I took his idea of going backwards and asked him to do it a wee bit faster than he was thereby making it MY idea and he relaxed and when I asked him to move forward he did so nicely.

I’d understood his point of view, took it, worked it and allowed him to change his mind and follow my idea .



Here I asked him to turn right, he wanted to turn left so I took his idea of going left and asked him to do it faster and a full circle thereby coming back to the starting point of my original request of going right which he did easily.

It’s almost a distraction technique by using their thoughts, allowing them to fulfil that thought and be free to take my request/thought more easily. With horses that have a strong will, which can also be a sense of worry, allowing them to have a say in the interaction you can dispel that worry about something (which would lead to a worry about you and your partnership/leadership).



The pics below show our 2nd ride from above and us going away from home and his herd mate Tara and we see a huge buzzard flying from post to post along a fence. I acknowledge what he has seen (pic 1) and then turn away from it to release any tension (pic 2). After a bit I turn him purposefully around using a hindquarter yield and go back towards where we turned the first time and the buzzard area and we go further this time and because we have more trust we manage to turn another way, over a stream and jump back all with relaxation, confidence and a good connection :














  • Shelley – HorseSavvy


Looking for a New Horse


Questions, questions…always questions when thinking or talking about getting a new herd member. What breed, sex, colour? what temperament, spirit, personality? height, age, training done? All of these and more have been circling in my mind just thinking about making the decision to maybe THINK about getting a new horse and herd member ๐Ÿ™‚

BUT…what am I actually looking for in a horse when I go out looking at potential partners?


  1. HEIGHT:ย 16.hh + for me to feel comfortable that it can take my height and weight. For me the front legs say a lot and I look for a squarer top to the chest from the legs, which says to me it’s a ‘heavier’ type of horse rather than a thinner type of horse who has a upside down V shape at the top of legs/chest.
  2. AGE: 4-7 years so that it’s had a start but I can put the foundation of ground work, bitless riding and agility there.
  3. GOOD START:ย I’m looking for a horse that has had a good start in life (I don’t want a huge project with a horse that is fearful of life).
  4. CURIOUS: I’ll beย looking at responses not reactions. seeing if the horse has an interest in surrounds, is not spooky or reactionary and hopefully naturally attracted to me for that all important connection.
  5. PERSONALITY / SPIRIT:ย  I’m looking at spirit and personality of the horse. I would like a thinking horse (left brained) with a medium spirit (introvert = extrovert)
  6. WHORLS:ย I will be looking at face and body whorls and will try some horsemanship ‘tests’ to see if it responds or reacts, how big or small a reaction and how it takes to maybe learning one new thing to show me how that process affects it.
  7. Sex/Colour/Looks: just don’t come into it ๐Ÿ™‚


What am I wanting to do with new horse? Well, a bit of everything really. I would love to hack out again with Mark and Stormy but also I love teaching and I want a new horse to be able to enjoy that process with me. I would like to be able to teach some lateral/dressage moves for flexibility and good body dynamics and also that it enjoys a wee jump. A good all rounder and a happy riding horse hopefully.


I will have to look beyond what I see initially and think about how I could organise progress for the horse. I want a horse I love and that loves me, that’s very important in the mix of things ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Shelley – HorseSavvy



Training Tip Video: “Point 2 Point”

This ‘game’ is one I use often to help teach horses (and myself) to become straighter when riding. If your horse is used to a contact then you may find going to a loose rein difficult, try using a slightly loose rein and get the rein longer and longer as you work at it, often a horse can become ‘lost’ if it’s used to a contact so don’t upset it, just try to get on a loose rein as you go ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy