Bit windy to do any much today but we practised for our 2nd obstacle challenge which we have a week to practise, this week the obstacle is one POLE 🙂
For a bit of fun after practising pole work I took Bella to the pedestal. She has a very solid front feet up on it now and today I asked her back right up with a rope and when she left that there for a while I went over the other side, she shifted her weight forward and picked up her last hoof up onto the ped…I was over the moon….AND she kept it there while I rewarded her big time for this effort 😉
Here’s the video of her doing her FIRST 4 feet on pedestal….
Sat 4th April
Today we had another FIRST for Bella today….a short ‘walk out’ with Stormy. Hopefully this will help her familiarise to things outside her field and get her ready for hacking out later on. For our first walk out we went out of the lower gate, down a small hillock, over the wooden bridge and into the big field called ‘the haugh’. The field is quite big so we just walked straight across it to the edge of the river….we all rested a bit, Mark found a stone wall to climb onto to mount Stormy and we walk back to the bridge. Then I give Bella’s lead rope to Mark and he ponied her back to the field while I took my time walking.
Me and our beauties
< getting Storm’s bareback pad and bridle on..all ready to go
Bella led for the first half, Stormy wanted to graze, Bella doesn’t know that’s allowed 😉 >
< B watching S go across the wooden bridge
Me and B crossing the bridge nice and calmly >
< all the way to the river 😉
On the way back we walk calmly and Mark walks Stormy in circles around us >
< Bella really connected to me even though Stormy circling us
Stormy showing that a piece of silage plastic is nothing to be worried about, Bella says ‘I’m not worried but I don’t want to touch a piece of old plastic thank you’ >
< Big hill coming up, I can walk it slowly and Mark can lead Bella off Storm 😉
Easy over the bridge together >
< Storm like to canter up this hill…Bella keeps up with her huge trot
waiting for me to catch up..both calm and happy >
< last trot to the gate for home >
This is the route we took, there and back 🙂
Sun 5th April
Today we went out and I played with Bella already saddled up and then rode her for a bit. It was a bit windy and she was good but had sticky feet a bit to start with but then got going ok. I’m thinking of making a rectangular or square arena to ride in, it might be a bit more interesting for her….we’ll see 😉
We are working on more movement in the games now so half circles and circles I don’t stay static in one place but walk about a bit so she gets different obstacles or space to walk or trot in.
Her leg yields on a circle with ‘feel’ game (hadn on her side to represent my heel when riding) are coming along nicely and we even had some leg yields with ‘focus’ game too (this is where I use my ‘focus and intent’ to move her over at a distance)
Circles on the move where we came up to the scattered poles…she was fab over them, really looking and knowing where her feet and energy was 🙂
Getting ready to ride and a bit treat after her play session.
I then had a nice ride in the round pen with a FIRST of getting on her from the right side 😉 She didn’t bat an eyelid about it and that’s one thing about her, she has no previous training so doesn’t have any hangups about doing things that the rest of the horsey world find strange 😉 It was a nice ride, some sticky feet to start with but let her have her stops, her rests and time to think then asked again and continued for a bit longer today. Her Lateral Flexions to left and right are really nice and getting light and soft, she needs some more work on her DHQ’s left and right as she thinks about bracing every time I ask SO I have to find a way to ask even nicer for her so she doesn’t think about that and does some nice hindquarter moves. All going in the right direction.
After a week of rain/snow/sleet/wind we have some nice quite, calm, chilly, bright days this week so I’m going to take advantage and play a bit with Bella at Liberty in the roundpen to reinforce the cues I’ve been teaching her online since we got her. The last session in February went quite well but she was reacting to the stick/string and energy more than was necessary so I’ve just got to play as often as possible to give her some consistent persistence.
Today was a very good session, she walked away a couple of times, got sticky feet a few times with no draw but eventually started to realise what I was asking her and was putting quite an effort in to draw to me which was lovely. I did the whole session at liberty, not a rope in sight as I just wanted to try to be a good teacher and figure out some communication between us without resorting to putting her back online (unless I really needed to).
Here’s a few bits of video I did of our session showing me working on DHQ’s to Drawing her Forehand to me and doing it as often as it takes until it starts to become workable cues.
And after our session I opened up the round pen gateways and then asked her to draw to me from quite a distance…..she did and I was over the moon 😉 🙂
And after I gave Bella and Stormy lovely grooms I gave them some treats for being such good babies 🙂
Tue 3rd March
Another beautiful sunny day (bit chilly but ok) so OUT with horses for some F.U.N.
Here’s some pics of my session with Bella, starting at Liberty, she had a bit of a yeehaa which she needed. went online for some balance, she had another yeehaa with some fab canter circling and then back to a lovely Liberty session with a lovely calm connection.
Sun 8th March
Got out with horses again today, on/off showers but we managed to miss most of them for a change. Firstly I played with both horses together, then a wee bit individually which all went well. I then did some S2M with Bella who was saddled and Mark sitting/riding her. I asked him to use his voice (walk on) and left then right heels to ask her to walk on with me using the words ‘walk on’ too and while we were walking it was up to Mark to move her with left and right reins to keep her to my side and to change direction. It went really really well and I was very happy with her walking on and also a wee bit of trot too. Here’s some pics from today…
Bella walked with me at Liberty while I was following Mark riding Stormy…..great feeling of connection with her today 😉
Mon 9th March
Dodging rain clouds again today but managed to get out for a good grooming session with the horses…they are both moulting their winter coats so they loved it. I had a sore back today but Mark wanted to play with Stormy for a bit SO I gritted my teeth and did some Agility play with Bella too and I’m SO glad I did as she was at her best today…calm, attentive, responsive and happy to play, I think she’s starting to enjoy our play sessions and using her brain to interact and connect. We did lovely Agility tasks and then a lovely Liberty walk about together which melted my heart <3 😉
Fri 13th March
Today we did a first with Bella….trying to groom her from the mounting block. To do this I have to have basic moves of FH & HQ’s, moving forward one slow step at a time and familiarisation with me above her. She did really well and it gave me the opportunity to figure out what else she needs to know to be able to do this as well as Stormy…video shows them both at the block 🙂
Mounting Block Grooming w/Bella – Session 1
I also had a nice play session with her with me sitting down (bad back) and she was FaBuLoUs…here’s some pics…
Backing Bella up and Drawing her back for a kiss
Circling…both ways were rhythmic, calm and flexed and the COD was smooth and non-reactive 😉
Sitting down and tossing rope over her head for a rope around spin, just had to stand for a bit to get it over her hq’s…..
…and she did a really nice spin.
I also asked for a sideways around me and after the mounting block grooming realised we need a hq’s towards working to a sideways towards.
To start her with hq’s and sideways towards I go to a fence (hard to see) so that she didn’t just spin around or circle. Taking my time she managed one wee step towards…..
…and I gave her a big reward/treat for trying something new with me.
I then went back to sitting down and asking Bella to trot circles which went very well….she has lots of rhythm, balance, relaxation and flexion on BOTH sides 😉
Her right/hard side is slowly becoming asymmetric with her left side….so pleased she is finding her symmetry 😉
She did a lovely dhq’s and draw towards too, even though I was sitting down…our connection is getting really nice 😉
So lovely to have her friendship and love <3
I take her halter off while still sitting down and invite her to follow me…..
…and she followed me at Liberty beautifully….when I got back to ‘base’ I gave her a big herbal treat reward given on the ground and session over. Really lovely session 😉 🙂
Tues 17th March
Weather still on/off rain at moment but I did managed to get this slightly 2nd hand Transcend Bitless Sidecue from ebay for a great price and it fits Bella beautifully 😉
Also over the moon that the familiarisation is going really well, here they are at liberty eating thier breakfast with the rugs drying off on a big gate and being blown about, they didn’t bat an eyelid 😉
Weds 18th March
Some fun play today with Bella…managed to get her Stage 1 assessment/ground work filmed and passed. Her video is up on her ‘Lesson Vids’. She did really well and considering she has only been with us 8 months and not overly handled or ever played with…I’m SO proud of her <3
Here’s some pics of her and Stormy….him showing her how to put 2 hooves on the pedestal while being ridden….
Stormy had Spring in his step, Bella followed me around at Liberty and we had a lovely play day with them both 😉
Here is a short video of Bella giving it some wellie going back to where Stormy is….
Thurs 19th March
Today I managed to get my riding boots back on and do Bella’s Stage 1 ridden video. I haven’t ridden her for 4 months since my heel operation and yes my heel is sore from riding today but it was so worth it. She did very well with the assessment tasks and the video of it will be with her ground work one from yesterday in the folder ‘Bella’s Lesson vids’ 🙂
Pics: Stormy having fun at Liberty with Mark and an Agility course and Bella all saddled up for me to ride today…
Some pics from the video of Bella passing her Stage 1 riding assessment….
Fri 20th March
Today we played with yesterday’s agility obstacles but challenged ourselves to doing something completely different with each one 😉 lots of fun and was joyous to see how relaxed Bella was with all the changes and also how well she coped with it all 🙂
< Sideways through wide gap
Fig 8’s with two cones on opposite sides of my weave circle >
< Step over tall pipe, front legs only and halt
Rest a light weight jump pole on side >
< Individual feet over pole…she did all 4 then backed up
First time putting one foot on the smaller tyre pedestal >
< Trot circles with me standing on pedestal
Sidepassing over pole length wise >
< Fig 8’s around 3 obstacles, changing obstacle each time
Half circles in trot through gap >
THEN….we did some more riding after yesterdays good start. She had slightly sticky feet today but she is just learning stuff so I just took my time and made sure we worked with relaxation and consistency. In the end she did a nice circle around the inside of the round pen in walk both ways, nice backup, LF and DHQ both ways and turns. I also dismounted on the right side today. We left it on a very good forward motion note and left it at that. Good, short sessions will give her the confidence to repeat and progress each time 😉
Sun 22nd March
What a beautiful sunny day today, bit chilly with the breeze but I’ll take sun any day, really cheers you up doesn’t it. Today Ms Bella did some fab play, we took fig 8’s and did them ‘on the move’, she did a nice jump, followed a tarp that Mark was dragging behind Stormy whilst riding AND she let me put three feet on the ped and didn’t take it off for ages. Here’s some pics of our play….
We then had a very nice ridden session (3rd one in a row) with her doing 1 lap to the left and right around the inside of the round pen, backups, LF and DHQ’s and it is great to be able to use a looser rein now with her, think it’s helping her forward motion as it’s the same slackness I use when doing S2M on the ground. I dismounted on the right again too. I’m doing short sessions but trying to be consistent and stopping on a good note. I will slowly increase the time we walk the arena and take it up to trot when it feels right to do so.
Wed 25th March
Have had two days off play/riding as had to do other things but today we were out playing and riding again. The weather is mild and enjoyable and I first put up our next Agility course (#7) and we had our first practise session with it. The course runs like this: trot over pole square, one foot on medium pedestal, sidepass both ways around large pedestal with me standing on it, four feet in two hulahoops, under the curtain, moving fig 8’s in trot x 3, under archway, w/h/w through bunting lane, over pole with ff and halt, walk off then trot to pole square again and halt in centre 🙂
Bella did pretty well, fab with fig 8’s, under the arch, putting one foot on ped, through bunting lane and transitions, pretty good try at hulahoop task but really not happy putting her ears through the curtain, once her ears were under it then she didn’t worry about it at all SO we need to work on a couple of things so that when we film it next time it’s smooth and flowing 😉
After a good play session we rode in the round pen again. Today we managed backup, DHQ-LF both sides, DHQ-fh forward motion twice around the roundpen on both sides and also a nice right turn to COD and dismount on right again. Really pleased with our progress, think she’s really getting it now.
< My heel is slowly getting better and I’m able to use it in the stirrups ok now.
She’s very good at standing still once I’ve mounted and doing up the girth >
< backup from the mounting block…really nice back up.
Loose rein riding more now, focus, energy and leaving her alone when all ok >
< Loose rein, moving about in the saddle, moving my arms about, she’s great.
Right hand turn…eyes focus, inside shoulder back, belly button focus, outside leg on and open right rein >
< Right turn >
< Enjoying ourselves, Bella’s walk getting more forward each time we practise 😉
Dismouting on the right side >
< Lots of treats for such a good girl
Ground tying going really well and today I put my rope on the saddle for her to carry it for me…no problem 😉
Shelley – HorseSavvy
Sun 29th March
The weather is totally on/off rain/hail/sun/wind this month so we’ve had a few days off but managed to sneak out before it got rainy again this afternoon. We started by giving them both a good ‘de-moulting’ groom and then I played with Bella on the 22′ line. Today I decided to just play around my ‘tyre’ round pen as the 8 tyre barrels are good for quite a few games in trot.
< Leading the two beauties
Back up and draw on the 22′ line >
< Circling in walk and trot both ways with me sitting down >
< Rope spins
And a FIRST for Bella, today we started doing some leg yields on a circle….me on the left easier than me on the right (for her) >
< leg yielding >
< Weaving in trot and at a distance
Fig 8’s on the whole 22′ line 😉 >
After a lovely play session I rode her in the round pen again. All getting better, easier mounting for me, she stands still beautifully, backup great, LF getting softer and DHQ getting better. We managed 2 laps both ways which was good then it started getting windy again so I called it a day as getting quite cold.
Tues 31st March
Last day of March, beginning of Spring and am enjoying playing and riding Ms Bella. Today we did a video ‘Training Tip’ for the start of asking Bella to lower her head for bridling AND with another video of a fab TARP CHALLENGE that friend Kat gave us (and put on my HS FB group for some fun). After that playing about I filmed Mark doing his Tarp Challenge with Stormy at Liberty and when I looked around this is what sweet Bella did….
All on her own she investigated the pedestal
Then she gently stepped up on it
And THEN she turned her head to look at me as if to say..’is this right mom?’…
what a sweetheart, she stayed there for ages and I went over and gave her a treat for a fabulous effort and imagination 😉
She did the Tarp Challenge amazingly. Up until now she’s only just got used to walking and trotting over it but our relationship has come along in leaps and bounds recently so doing other things with the tarp was fun, she did all that I asked and I was over the moon with her effort, understanding and relaxation 😉
After all that fun we had a nice wee ride around the round pen….
< Ground tying is going really well
Standing still at the mounting block fab >
< Walking out going really well, she sometimes stops but is easy to get going again. LF, DHQ all working well, working on more lightness but that comes with time and patience >
< Turns going well, still using reins at moment but building it to where she will understand my focus/weight/leg cues as we go
Dismounting from the right fabulous >
< Ground tying whilst I put stirrups back up and loosen her girth
Love when my babies follow me after a session at liberty >
Can’t believe it’s February already and today we start Winter it seems. We had a very very very cold night last night and woke up to snow warnings SO we went down and brought the horses back home by which time it just started snowing…well timed home coming 😉
Wed 5th Feb
Kept horses up at house whilst the snow was on the ground and while it was so very cold but for now the snow has gone and it’s much milder…horses even going 24/7 without rugs some days. Today Mark took them back to the field, again riding and leading. Mark is certainly getting his hacking hours up this year 😉 🙂
Mon 10th Feb
Warnings of snow coming today so we went and collected the horses back from the big field to the home paddocks. It was too slippery to ride really so Mark walked them half way back and I walked them the other half. Now all safety tucked up in their rugs with the weather coming in.
Mon 17th Feb
Well we’ve had quite a few days of really bad weather here from snow, heavy snow, to heavy rain and wind with some serious storms. The horses have been up at the house since the thick snow fell as we couldn’t get down to the big field with that laying down BUT today, after 2 days of serious rain the snow has all gone and the home paddocks are muddy and need cleaning up a bit SO horses were walked, by me, back to the big field, which is about a mile. I think they really enjoyed being taken back today, rugs off and free to run around if they want.
Sun 23rd Feb
WOW, we had a day of blue skies and sunshine today, albeit it was bitterly cold still SO it was a choice of poo picking old paddock OR go play with a horse or two…guess which one won 😉 lol
Started with some Liberty with Stormy, then tried a bit of Liberty with Bella….she was a bit sceptical and rusty on cues SO back online for a bit and then a nicer Liberty session afterwards. Lovely to be out if only for an hour and to feel good about how far Bella has already come but also to see how far we have to go.
Some pics from today….
Tue 26th Feb
Today I went out early to their dinner time and gave myself and Bella an hour to do some ‘Undemanding Time’ and ‘Mirroring’ at Liberty. She didn’t really get it but I persisted in just sitting there waiting for her to come over to me if she wanted to….eventually she did and investigated my hand/arm, head, jacket etc. It was really nice to see her curiosity coming out.
I then did some ‘relaxation’ techniques where I stood at her shoulder facing her tail with my hand on her withers. I stand there thinking relaxation, breathing deeply and when she finds relaxation (head lower and/or tipped towards me) then I calmly walk away for a bit to tell her she’s a clever girl. I did this a few times on each side and then did it further down her back (behind where the saddle sits), she took longer to relax there but worth waiting for.
After this and a bit of a break I stood next to her on her left, hand on her withers and waited to walk with her…’mirroring’. She is so used to either being left alone or following someone that is leading her in a halter that she really didn’t understand what I was doing….it might make a difference in Spring when I can do this when she’s casually grazing. Today she just walked step by step backwards trying to put me further in front of her drive line. SO, I did this for a bit and then started to ask for forward movement with my energy/focus and outside hand pointing forward and lots of praise when she eventually started walking forward and me following her. I will endeavour to do more of these UT & M sessions and in between I will gently play online with her so that she starts to associate those cues with what I’m asking at liberty.
Another short break and I put her online and did a very short, calm, relaxed play where she did some walk circles both ways with relaxation, sidepass with the minimum energy cue and tossing the rope for a rope around spin 😉 🙂 she was really good so I took the halter off and she ‘followed’ me at liberty for a short session. Ended it on a really good note, set her free with some treats and then took her and Storm over for dinner and hay 🙂
The video of us doing this session is on ‘Bella’s Lesson Videos’ page…..
She even goes on the pedestal at liberty for her apple now 😉
Made some apple sauce to get Bella ready for worming soon, she was hesitant to touch or take the syringe, which is how I thought she’d be, but hopefully a few days of apple saucing she’ll be okay with the wormer. Video of this first attempt is on ‘Bella’s Lesson Video’s’.
After the syringing Familiarisation I played with Storm & Bella together for a bit of fun. We did these few things:
Draw & Drive together
Half circling together, one in front of the other
S2M with a horse on either side of me
Enjoyed it a lot even though it was only a short play
Sat 4th Jan
Played with both horses today, it seems this is what my new ‘thing’ will be, playing and riding with two horses. They are so connected it’s easier and a lot of fun to do. We played with the pedestal, circles, half circles and Bella did a little bit of liberty play for her dinner apple slices 🙂
Sun 5th Jan
Managed to get out today with some good weather so we had a lovely play session first trying on some packs for Bella, making sure she was okay with them. Then playing with Bella & Storm together as it’s quicker to play with both of them than individually…it’s also good as Stormy gives Bella confidence. Here’s some pics from the fun session…
Wed 7th Jan
Weather has been a bit wild today. we’ve had mild to heavy wind, drizzle to heavy rain and mild temperatures. to help keep the hay from blowing into the next field full of sheep we put our hay into large buiilders bags, tie the loop handles over it all and the horses put their heads in and eat without loosing too much of it. Bella has been good at accepting this way of eating her hay 🙂
Fri 10th Jan
Well tonight has a full moon and that is great for worming as it’s the moon of movement and cleansing SO we wormed Storm and Bella this afternoon with Equest for Encysted Red Worms (which can’t be picked up on worm counts so needs doing in Winter regularly).
Since working on the apple sauce syringing I was over the moon when they both took the wormer, then some apple sauce, another wormer portion and a last apple saucing in their strides. They were calm, heads down, no dropping it out of their mouths, no tantrums with next syringe and finished with relaxation and an apple sauce taste in their mouths. I am SO proud of them and SO happy I took the time to apple sauce them for a few days beforehand. I will continue with the apple sauce I have left, no point in wasting it, and will do the apple saucing again maybe a couple of times during the year so it’s not always about worming 🙂
Stormy getting his wormer
(no pics of Bella unfortunately)
Mon 13th Jan
Bad weather forecast from Storm Brendan so we decide to bring the horses back to the house just in case. Here are pics of Mark doing a fab job bareback, bitless riding Storm home leading Bella who was easy, calm and happy to be led (might be a way of getting her and me riding more by using this method!! watch this space 😉 )
Friday 17th Jan
Today the rain and wind has stopped so we decide to take the horses back to their big field so that they can move about more, and stretch their legs. Mark rode Stormy bareback and bitless as normal and Bella’s leading is becoming SO good…I think this is their 8th journey to and from our home now 🙂
Large stone mounting block….fabulous when you have a big horse to get onto
On their way home, nice and steady together
Bella stretches her legs and straight to the hay
Stormy enjoys a long roll/scratch up and then they both eat hay together 🙂
Lovely vid showing last trot to big field. Love Mark’s loose reins on Stormy and a lovely loose rope to Bella and how synchronised are these three…watch their trot to walk transition 😉 FAB, SMOOTH, CALM, CONNECTED 🙂
Sun 19th Jan
Yesterday I put together a new Agility course and today we just did it to see how we got on and to check what Bella has remembered since our last Agility play session, which was in October last year. Here are some pics of the 13 obstacles we did and the video of us doing it is on ‘Bella’s Agility Videos’ which you can find on the Category section in the right hand border of the blog >>
1. half circle through gateway
2. back over pole between barrels
3. weave through cones with poles
4. 2 feet on pedestal
5. walk on/halt/walk off tarp
6. trot poles
7. small jump
8. 2 feet in hulahoop
9. sidepass to the right
10. draw/drive between narrow lane
11. S2M transitions (w/t/w/h/bk)
12. under arch
13. sidepass to the left
14. Familiarisation with flag
Mon 20th Jan
Today Mark did a bit with Stormy then lead Bella from him. She was really good and they started becoming so synchronised.
And then I sat on Bella for a wee bit, we moved backwards and we did some lateral flexion and walk forwards for a few steps. I didn’t want to do more as my balance isn’t great at the moment bareback and she’s been off for Winter so will take it slowly getting back into things with her 🙂
Was a good day and not too cold….will try to get out as much as we can while this lovely weather lasts 🙂
Thurs 23rd Jan
Today I went out with the idea of saddling Bella and seeing if she was up for a wee sit on…I’m SO glad we always take each day as it comes as she had Spring fever in her feet and it wasn’t a day to get on her but she did a lovely leading from Stormy session with me (my first as Mark normally does it) and then played some half circles from Stormy to change sides with her. Really enjoyed the day even though I didn’t do what I thought I was going to do….really good to have a Plan A, B & C to make the most of whatever the horse brings to the session and to not feel we didn’t do something good even though my first plan didn’t happen. This are her ‘yeehaa’ moments….
I didn’t let her yeehaa’s get to me, just calmly waited for her to find her own calmness out of them to start with and then when she offered some sidepass I took it and asked her for more. After that I put her exuberance into something that used to worry her….a small jump or two, which she had no bother doing well today 🙂
I then enjoyed leading Bella whilst riding Stormy, this was my first time with Bella doing this as Mark has been doing it. I’ve done other horses but this was my first time with her 😉 It went really well and I also did some nice half circling game with her whilst sitting on Stormy, Stormy was super good standing so still while I threw the rope over his head while she moved around 😉
Fri 24th Jan
Today I decided to go out and stick to the similar plan from yesterday, play, play with saddle then lead Bella from Stormy and I’m going to continue this plan until I start to see more relaxation with the saddled games (or if the bareback pad works but saddle doesn’t to figure out why….it might be the noise of everything with the saddle!). I’m also finding that after her initial yeehaa that she is quite balanced and confident so I’m allowing her behaviour but then asking for more thereby taking her idea and making it mine. I did a lot of this with Stormy (and others) as a youngster and although Bella is now 11yrs old we are doing stuff that is normally done with a 3-5yr old so I’ll take that as her ‘riding age’ 🙂
Some pics from today…first play with yeehaa, 2nd play with saddle and very balanced yeehaa and then Mark leading her off Stormy which she did brilliantly.
Sat 25th Jan
Today was the 3rd day of play/circling with Bella. First we do some basic online play and then with a saddle pad on. The first day with saddle had some big yeehaa/spring fever in her feet, yesterday she still had some yeehaa in her feet but today she was much calmer and slightly more attentive. Next play session i will try the saddle again.Here’s a video from today…
Sun 27th Jan
AND today we have had warnings of snow and ice for tomorrow SO Mark rode Stormy and led Bella back to the house paddocks again. Lovely bit of exercise and they were both stars. They are now tucked up in rugs ready for the weather (if it comes).
Fri 30th Jan
And today the horses went back to the big field again, the snow came and went and it’s now drizzly and windy so going to the big field helps to save the small home paddock from getting extremely muddy.
Today Mark took the horses back to the big field, hopefully they will have 2-3 weeks more there before returning to the house paddocks for the rest of Winter. Mark rode Stormy bareback and lead Bella from him. They both were fabulous, calm, well behaved and happy to be returning to the space of the big field where they can stretch their legs, get exercise going up/down the hill for water and have more old grazing before it’s hay and snow for a while.
Mark riding down the track with our beauties
I got down there on the quad today and managed to walk Bella to her dinner bowl 😉
Bella’s off…come on Stormy
what are you waiting for 😉
Sun 15th Dec
Well it’s been over a week again since seeing the geegee’s but today I got out and had a great wee session with Bella. She was very happy to see me and I took her into one of my main round pens, we connected by doing some S2M together and a bit of other games too but only to get her mind/energy and our breathing connected and not to go fast or anything. She was fab and after a very short time I decided to take her headcollar off and put the rope over her neck and work like that with S2M. She was SO connected that I quickly decided to just see how we could walk at Liberty together….I was surprised and very happy that she stayed connected to me with only one run off but with a great draw back. She seemed very happy to play with me and I think she’s missing me as much as I’m missing her.
On a good note I am not using my ‘moonboot or crutches’ anymore and although my heel operation has been 6 weeks now it is still quite sore and my achilles and calf muscles aren’t working fully still yet, that will take quite a long time with some serious physio over the next few months…BUT I’m happy to potter about more than before and to make sure I don’t over do things.
With rope over her neck
At liberty, S2M and close circling
LOVE that DRAW 🙂
Here is a short video of us working for the first time on ‘liberty close circles’ 😉
Mon 23rd Dec
Today got out with the horses to take their rugs off and managed to have a small play session first at Liberty with Story in a roundpen and then online with Bella.
So LOVELY to see both beauties today…even the sun came out for us.
Happy to see me as I’m happy to be with them 🙂
I also managed to start working on some familiarisation, approach and retreat and treat training to help Bella start to tolerate and then accept the noise of Velcro. She really over reacts to it and it’s everywhere nowadays, on rugs, gloves, jackets etc SO I really need her to get used to it. We did a short video showing our first session…
Weds 24th Dec
Well it’s Xmas Eve and although we normally only bring the horses to the house when bad/snowy weather is forecast we decided that we normally have bad weather at this time of year and the horses have always been with us at the house by Xmas Eve so why change that habit. We really enjoy them being at the house and it makes it more Xmasy with them here with us SO we went and fetched them home this afternoon. Happy Xmas everyone….
Sun 29th Dec
Today Mark, Storm, Bell and I went for a wee walk in the grass opposite our house. We’ve often taken herd members across here for some walking in-hand exercise, some agility fun and to graze but this was Bella’s FIRST time over there and first time really ‘going out’ for a walk with us. She was a big sceptical at first but then her curiosity got the better of her SO I spent time walking when she wanted to walk and then halting and waiting when she needed to stop and look about.
She was happy and calm with me, didn’t worry where Stormy went and we managed to ‘play’ our normal games as we went about (which is how they’re supposed to used). We did S2M transitions, me being on either side of her, backing up, half circles through gaps, grooming (familiarisation), moving her hq’s when changing directions and moving her forehand when walking together for turns away. She was lovely and calm and it was lovely to take her out for an hour or so.
She didn’t realise that she could graze in-hand either and wasn’t really interested in the grass but when she spotted/smelled the heather sprigs she and Stormy tucked in big time 🙂
😉 And Mark had a good time with big Stormy too 🙂
Tues 31st Dec
For the last day of the year and decade we take the horses back to their big field. They get more exercise searching for grazing there and there has been no rain or snow to keep them at the house now…we will bring them back when that happens…but for now they can enjoy the bigger freedom of the 10 acres with hill stream to keep them happy 🙂
Mark riding Storm back to the field and leading Bella. They worked together very well, calm and easy. The whole field is open for them now including the steep hill, they will find some grass there.
Down on the flat part of the field in the glorious winter sunshine…and then eating hay together at dinner time 🙂
The end of 2019, missing all our horses that have passed, Fortune, Holly, Solly & Tara but looking forward to some new adventures in 2020 with Stormy & Bella 🙂
I’m out of action for a while after having heel surgery on Halloween but the horses needed to be taken back to their big field until Winter SO Mark took them back down there…Riding Storm bareback and leading Bella from him. He said they were very well behaved and really enjoyed a wee yeehaa when let off back into the big field. He also opened up the hill grass for Autumn, I’m sure they’ll really enjoy that 🙂
Stretching their legs in the big field feels GOOD…also having a lovely roll….mucky girl
Oh and a very muddy boy Stormy >
Weds 6th Nov
Am missing the horses a lot whiles not able to do anything at all for a while with foot out of action, even once I start to ‘walk’ again it will take quite a while to get my heel/leg back to normal SO Mark took me down to the big field to have some equine cuddles…..just what the doctor ordered 😉
They didn’t have any worries about my crutches, my wobbling walk or the plastic bag on my moonboot
Stormy wanted to check out the plastic bag on my foot….Bella was fine with it too but not so interested in it, well there was no food in it for her. lol.
Bella was fine with me ‘hand grooming’ her, getting the dried mud off her neck, side and bum. I held onto her withers for stability and she was a very good girl standing still for me to hobble around her.
Such a good girl AND Stormy didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked for a theraputic Storm-Hug with my crutches flailing over his back 🙂
And…last but not least Bella and I had some connection kisses <3 SO lovely to spend some time hanging out with them, it’s going to be some time before I can ride again but hopefully once I start to get a bit better I can do some ground work play whilst sitting down 🙂
Thurs 14th Nov
While still not being able to walk without crutches I’m not able to see the horses everyday but Mark took me down to them today for a wee visit. They seemed genuinely happy to see me and think Bella has missed me and her play sessions quite a lot. It was lovely to have lots of hairy hugs and kisses and it was also fab to see Bella hasn’t forgotten any of our training…she, and Stormy, were STARS.
First of all I groomed Bella and her ‘Ground Tying’ is coming along in leaps and bounds and made it possible for me to ‘hobble’ around her without her moving and without me having to hold her rope…
We then had a very very good play session with me sitting down on the mounting block and for the first time Bella had a 22′ rope on her, very proud of all she remembered and tried for me and how well our communication and connection was.
< Bella circling really nicely
She was good on moving out on the circle to go around a jump wing before coming back to me >
<FIRST ever backup on the 22′ line and she did it with smooth enthusiasm
Backup over a pole too went pretty well >
< Fabulous Fig 8’s and I stayed sitting down the whole time >
Bella went up on the pedestal with front feet no problem today (pic below)
Bella was also extra special in helping me to ‘hop’ back to the mounting block…..I held onto her neck/withers and mane and she wasn’t worried or spooked by my hanging onto her, the plastic bag on my ‘boot’ or my crutch…super star girlie 🙂
We also had some lovely ‘moments’ of connection and friendship today….with sweet Bella hanging out while I played with Stormy too…
< Storm backing over pole…Bella watching intently from both sides >
< Bella hanging out with me while I play with Storm
Bella being super sweet with me >
< Both horses were precious today, hanging out, playing and being so gentle around me
A very special ‘moment’ with sweet Bella >
Sun 17th Nov
Bella has only just been with us for over 4 months and I love that Bella and Stormy are now so bonded. When Bella first came she was very hungry, slightly underweight and orientated on feeding herself as if she had another baby inside to feed. We don’t think she’s ever had a bucket feed and we feed twice a day to give them something other than grass in their bellies so it’s taken a while for her to understand we won’t let her down on feeding and she can relax and not try to pinch Stormy’s food too. So it’s especially brilliant to see that our two beauties can eat together without fussing each other off the hay 🙂
Wed 20th Nov
Slowly our track system has been expanded to allow the horses all of the hill grazing. Tonight, at their dinner time, Mark opened up the whole acreage to the horses, the new bit not having been grazed on all year so what we call ‘standing hay’ really and they’re enjoying stretching their legs and eating the grass they’ve been looking at all year.
Thurs 28th Nov
Well today, after 2 weeks of not seeing horses due to recovery of heel operation and terrible wet weather I finally got down to see the dynamic duo for an hour or so and it was true therapy for my heart and soul. I found my SMILE again 😉 and I think they were pleased to see me too 🙂 🙂
As it had been quite a while since seeing/playing with Bella she was at first tentative but soon remembered all the good stuff she’s learned but often times with some excitement involved so we spent some time on each request finding relaxation for her and TBH she remembered and found it pretty quickly today. Was fabulous to be with her again, she definitely missed me as much as I’ve missed her <3
Some pics from today, first playing with Bella, then some hug time and finally a naughty bareback ‘sit’ on big Stormy….I could not resist and as my back, hips, leg leg etc are all sore from not walking properly due to wearing moonboot he really helped work those parts of my body to restore some semblance of harmony for me…thanks Big Storm 🙂
Draw & Drive and then some circling
Circles to right had some issues, she has got a bit sensitive on that side again and after some yeehaa moments she started to get over it quickly
Some fab sidepass circles with me pivoting today, she’s not done much of this but she did it with softness and a light cue
Fig 8’s remembered very well and in trot too
Ask for a draw towards off Fig 8’s and you can see she was ready to repeat left part of Fig 8 here but came back to me quickly once she realised it was a draw. With not being able to move much due to foot in moonboot/bag my signals/cues were more subtle….great way to progress 😉 lol
Storm wanted to do a bit at liberty with us so I asked for them both to back up together 😉
Sidepass along a pole, a first for her today >
Such flexible limbs/body she has 🙂
Sidepass other way great too
Circle and half circle over raised pole. She was okay going to the right but going to the left (with me on hard right side) was difficult, she got over sensitive and had a yeehaa but we stuck with it until she found relaxation and balance with that energy before we halted.
Trying to find relaxation and balance again.
Feet over the pole, sometimes 1,2,3 or all 4 forward and then back again 🙂
And sidepass off a pole a first today too
< Connecting nicely through play and relaxation >
< Teaching Bella to ‘hug’ me 🙂
Coming for treats >
< My two beauties
Stormy giving me a really BIG HUG here, he knows how to squeeze so nicely >
So a great afternoon for me, my heart and soul renewed with my beautiful big girl Bella but one thing remained…..to have a wee sit/plod on big Stormy. I am SO glad we’ve done tons of Familiarisation with plastic as my moonboot is in one at moment when out and about to save it getting dirty, he was fine with it. Am also really glad he’s used to moving/stopping/turning from my breath/focus/weight cues as I wasn’t going to use my legs as left one still very sore. He did brilliantly and as soon as I got on I realised how squint and sore I was on my left side due to hobbling about in moonboot for last month. My back, hip, leg was all very tense and achy but after just a few mins of just being a passenger on him I felt the benefits as I allowed his movement to move me and soften up my whole body. Thanks Stormy, you and Bella are the BESTEST therapy a girl could have 🙂 <3 xxx
Sat 30th Nov
Well Mark bought the horses home this morning not because of bad weather, although it was about -9 to -10 last night, but because both our quad bike AND our 4×4 car wouldn’t start (batteries we think)….totally gobsmacked but he walked the mile to their field and rode/walked them back home…at least I get to see them every day now which is a huge bonus as I’m just starting to walk about a bit now. SO for the last day of November Bella did exceptionally well walking back home with Storm and Mark and it definitely worked bringing them back earlier in the year as she was calm, quiet, happy to be in the paddocks and calmly using the bridge too 🙂
Here’s some pics of them coming home and in the paddocks….
Lovely to see them using the bridge calmly and happily
Breakfast at home, Bella ate hers then went and pinched some of Stormy’s too
And it was fabulous for me to potter about in the garden and see our two beauties watching me 🙂
Not sure if they’ll stay at the house for the whole of December but it’s nice to have them here for now 😉
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 🙂
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 🙂
Working away at the first lesson games, today we worked with poles too so that she can see what the games are for. Here is how things are going….
1. More steps happening now
2. Lighter cues
3. Games working around obstacles
4. Upping energy and noise with familiarisation of stick/string
5. Understanding ‘stay’ after backing up
6. Back up wiggle is slowly getting lighter
7. Moving forehand is getting there
8. S2M is going well and she’s slowly allowing me in her right more
Sat 4th Aug
Well today we worked on playing some games with POLES and also playing them whilst Mark rode Stormy away from us. Bella was a star, she kept an eye on where Storm went but was able to connect to me and play nicely too which is great. The pole work we have started on is:
walk over 4 trot poles without hitting them
walk over one pole just front feet and halt
back up off pole with front feet
We tried backing up over pole with back feet but she really doesn’t get this…yet 🙂
I also did a huge amount of Familiarisation with our bareback pad, girthed it up and then played some games with her wearing it….it went very well, very pleased with her progress today, here’s some pics from the bareback session….
Tues 6th Aug
I’ve been continuing with the basic HS NH games over the last few days with Bella, introduced some half circle trot with calmness and also some Feel sidepass moves L&R which I was very surprised with how well that went. She’s getting used to me being on her right more and I’ve also started asking her to lower her head with some ‘manic butterfly’ focus games building that more and more so that her face familiarisation is getting better. She can raise her head as if startled when a hand comes near her which isn’t bad but I want her to be fine with hands near her face and to learn to lower her head instead of raising it and she is learning that lowering her head is good, brings about relaxation and that the worrying thing goes away when head is down…this also helps relieve her of any unnecessary negative adrenaline (-E) being around and so she falls in love with relaxation/head down and the endorphins it produces, just like the endorphins that are produced when grazing.
Today we also did more familiarisation with things on her back…..a sweat rug and a saddle with pad. I’m not sure at all if she’s ever had these things on her or if she has whether it’s been a positive experience BUT she took to both nicely and am going to build up time with these and a bareback pad and treat her as if she’s a youngster being backed for the first time…better to be safe than sorry, for her and for me 🙂
Thurs 8th Aug
More Familiarisation for Bella today with a visit from the farrier.
She did very well but we realise she’s not had this done as often as she should have and was feeling a wee bit unstable at times, even though farrier was quick, calm and kind and gave her LOTS of scratches.
SO…our job is to put her foot up on a stand every day for longer and longer periods, to make sure she feels happy and secure with her foot in the back and forward positions ready for her next trim.
Fri 9th Aug
Well the heavens have truly opened up today and Storm and Bella were getting soaked SO it was a great opportunity to Familiarise her to a rug. She was a bit sceptical but took it well, she was ok walking around in it and still happily in it a few hours later when we took it off as the rain stopped. By winter she’ll be used to one no problem 🙂
Sun 11th Aug
Its been raining on and off for days and its been hard to try to get out with Bella and Storm for any length of time SO today when I went out to feed them their dinner at 5 o’clock and it was still drizzling I decided to put together a new Agility course and it was lovely that both of them came over to see what I was up to…a great start to a short play session I thought 🙂
First was a really nice liberty play with Storm, it is lovely for Bella to see me playing with him, he’s so confident and calm with all the obstacles that it gives her confidence. Bella’s online session was very good but it showed in our familiarisation with the stick and string over her back that I’d not done it for a while…..we need to have much more consistency doing this so really hoping the weather behaves itself soon. Here’s some pics from today…
Mon 12th Aug
Today we had some nice weather during the day so Mark and I got ourselves together and out to Storm and Bella for some fun. I started out grooming Bella and then playing with the Agility obstacles online. She did really well and is starting to really understand my cues now…and my cues are able to get lighter now too 🙂
< Foot in hulahoop
Bunting lane >
< Draw through bunting
Bunting backup >
< Over tarp
Over tarp >
< Fig 8’s
Fig 8’s >
< 2 feet easily on ped
Back feet on ped >
< Trot poles
Trot poles >
< Fig 8’s
Beginning sidepass >
It was a lovely session of Agility. We also walked in-hand up the field and hill while Mark rode Big stormy. She was calm, attentive and responsive to my breathing transitions, backing up off a light cue on the halter/rope and didn’t worry or try to catch Stormy up no matter what gait he did or where he was in the field 🙂
And in between Bella showed she can have a yeehaa when she doesn’t understand something….but what a lovely yeehaa she had, engaged in her core and not in a nasty way at all…
And last, but not least, we had a lovely calm session at the mounting block…here, most of all, I’m looking for her to find relaxation with me here. I will do this more and more and ask her to rest with me at the block…our ‘sweet spot’ 🙂
What a nice day, great that the weather allowed me to catch up on Bella’s training today
The 13th Aug
Bella and I need to do more undemanding time so thought we’d try to do more today. We went into a round pen for some ‘together time’ but I didn’t realise how bonded Storm and Bella have become because as soon as Mark started riding Stormy round and about her total attention was on him and where he was! how interesting! LOL
< distracted Bella
took 20 mins she lowered her head >
< Bella watching Storm’s every move
Mark and Storm >
I think I need to do our ‘undemanding time’ when Storm is close by next time! LOL
Weds 14th Aug
Today I thought about trying some ‘hanging out time’ with Bella as tomorrow I’m away to teach a clinic in Dumfries & Galloway for 5 days SO it’s time for some hugs 🙂 We started off at liberty in the round pen with me sitting in the centre but she just started grazing as there is quite a bit of grass in it SO…..I took her out on line and stood on the crate to give her some hugs and get her used to me being at her saddle area, on both sides. She was quiet and attentive and I loved our quiet time together today….must do more of it 🙂
The Dynamic Duo
Weds 21 Aug
I’ve been away teaching over the weekend so today was my first day back with the herd, 6 days without any contact. Bella yesterday at dinner was sceptical if me like when she first came but it only took 5 mins to be back in her ‘bubble’ so today was as if I’d not been away 🙂
We started off with a bit of play in the agility area but with a bareback pad on, I need her to get used to moving with it on her back and a girth around her ribs.
We also made sure her new 7′ rug fits well…
Both the pad and rug are familiarisation games which she took too well 🙂
Next Mark went out and rode Storm in the long grass of the field and Bella and I went and walked and played in that area too… She has not been out here yet so it was interesting to see if she was ok, which she was and we had a nice time.
Fri 23rd Aug
Today Mark played with Bella, their first official play session together. She wasn’t sure what was going on as Mark is the food man and I’m the play girl so at first, at liberty, she was a bit unsure of it all, but online she understood and they had a good, calm, quiet session which included half circles in a relaxed walk over the pole corridor, through the labyrinth, behind the flapping bunting which had a raised pole nearby, onto a pedestal and over the noisy tarp.
Relaxed 1/2 circle over pole corridor >
Weds 28th Aug
Today we had a couple of firsts but before that we did some nice S2M, circles, fig 8’s and weave in the grassy part of our field, this is not where the horses graze regularly but our winter grazing section so Stormy is used to being out there being ridden but it’s only Bella’s 2nd time.
< Circles >
< More shape through circles >
< Fig 8’s >
< Fig 8’s >
< Fig 8’s
We also had a FIRST with the start of flag familiarisation, I’ll need to do a lot more to help her relax around it but it was a good start today 🙂
The 2nd FIRST today was teaching Bella to learn how to jump, nothing big but for her to learn how to get her weight onto her hq’s and lighten her forehand to get over it and work her fronts and back legs together.
Final try jumping which worked out nicely
AND the last FIRST we did today was for me to put my weight fully on her back 😉 So pleased with her 😉
Thurs 29th Aug
Today I played with Bella after her dinner because it had been drizzly all day up to then and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of a play session with her. We got some nice relaxed S2M over the poles with halt transitions on a breath out and the pole under her belly, we also got some nice half circles through the poles and some fig 8’s around the tyres 🙂
< Getting our Connection
Following me >
Friday 30th Aug
Today it wouldn’t stop drizzing so we decided to try to keep the consistency of a bit of daily play…the rain started becoming heavier as we were playing but I didn’t stop and ended on a good note. Today we did some regular games that she is getting used to but also put in some flag play which is new to her. I’ve helped this play by putting up a couple of flags in the field so that she can get used to their movement and noise 24/7 and as Stormy isn’t worried by them he can help her become familiarised to them….AND because it was raining we also did the beginning of umbrella familiarisation, again with Stormy showing her how to be ok with it 🙂
< Storm keeping dry
Bella learning from Storm >
< More familiarisation needed for tossing rope over head >
< Helping Bella learn familiarisation of the rope so we can do a spin later on >
< Circling to the left
Circling to the right >
< Familiarisation with flag…she isn’t sure of it on her body yet >
< slowly getting there with the flag, she’s starting to learn that it goes away when she halts >
< following the flag goes well >
< flag familiarisation and she’s finding some curiosity >
< Flag curiosity >
< Feet familiarisation with the pedestal, only 2 feet so far but working on all 4 as we go
2 feet in hulahoop >
A couple of moments of bonding between games 😉
Sat 31st Aug
LOTS of heavy rain this morning but we managed to get out and play with Bella in the afternoon between showers and I’m so glad we did, we filmed her 2nd Lesson which shows her progress nicely and the video is up on the blog category ‘Bella’s Lesson Video’s’ 😉
BELLA ((Isobella)- details:
Shire broodmare (we’ve been told she was ridden by a previous owner)
17.2hh and 10 yrs old.
Thursday 11th July – Bella was delivered to us today and Mark walked her the mile along tracks to our field where she will now rest up, get used to us and our routines and start to feel at home. Soon she will be in with Big Storm and we hope they will be the best if friends.
< Walking towards new home with Mark
With me in her new field >
First day: Friday 12 July
Bella was a little sceptical today but I just made sure she felt safe and not pressured to do anything at all. She was nicely curious about things like the grooming kit the halter and rope on the floor, the quad bike and me too 🙂
Allowing her curiosity will help her feel at home
She’s also enjoying her meals….starting off small and just forage it will help her settle and help us connect with her quickly.
In the afternoon we spent some time faltering her, grooming her, fly spraying her and getting the tangles out if her name and tail.
it’s a short tail at the moment but is fabulously thick and will be glorious once its grown again 🙂
Bella stretched her legs this afternoon too when Mark rode Stormy nearby in the field. She has lovely gaits and I can see why she was a broodmare for a couple of years, her babies must have been lovely.
Sat 13th July
Lovely sunny day for Mark and I to hang out with the herd. We’re taking things very slowly with Bella so that she learns to trust us and finds confidence in our routines, it must be weird for her to have been taken from all she knows to a place and people she’s never met before SO first in my mind is for her to find relaxation in the small basic’s we do, things like feeding, haltering, grooming, fly spraying etc. Once she’s used to those things then we can start with more training.
Today it was lovely to see her curious enough to follow Mark about as he did things in her part of the field, working at liberty with these small things allows her to know she can move away if she feels she needs to and to come to us if she feels she can 🙂
< Following Mark
Watching Mark >
< Bella’s beautiful soft eye
Loving her grub >
Sunday 14th July
Today’s session started with Bella moving away when I asked to halter her….no problem as she is allowed her opinion and it allowed us to have a conversation. That conversation consisted of me following her in a ‘neutral’ way (ie. not pushing her or driving her, just following and her leading). When she got to an open area she turned her head and put her ear towards me, I stopped, lowered my eyes and rested so that she could think about her next move. She didn’t move SO I walked forward but giving her a wide berth and took my focus onto a barrel on it’s side. When I reached the barrel I sat down and thought about anything other than Bella. She stood for a while and then came over to me, this is the curiosity I want to encourage, that gives her the confidence to come to me and to know I’m okay to be around 🙂
I started off by allowing her to smell my hand, then I stood up and stroked her neck/shoulder and started walking off with my hand at her nose. She followed me in a lovely Stick 2 Me (S2M) at Liberty. I then stroked her neck again and haltered her and we managed some nice halt/walk breath transitions together 🙂
< Liberty S2M
Haltered S2M >
Next we repeated the haltering process…on/off/on/off with me asking for relaxation, head down and towards me to halter. I used +R treat training to help her know she’s doing well.
After a nice session we took one electric fence away from Storm and Bella, now they are about 8′ away from each other, can see and smell each other more. This is the start of their relationship….they were curious about each other but not prancing about nor running away. We will make sure Bella is ready to be friends with Storm before we let them loose together, it has to be on her terms, when she’s confident and happy about being with him.
Thurs 18th July
Managed to get out with Bella today. Mark did a quick flare trim on her hooves as they were quite bad. Wil do a proper trim next week but today we wanted to make sure she was ok being trimmed and ok putting each for up on the stand. She did really well. After the trim I decided to just start with a couple of basic HS moved to see how she reacts/responds to things.
Here is what I did:
1) Familiarisation: hands all over, patting and moving around her with some energy (much better than when she first arrived)
2) Feel: moved her hq’s and fh away (good on hq’s, sticky on fh but only because she didn’t understand the first time, second time much easier…learns quickly)
3) Focus: moved hq’s 180′ (easy and fluid-nice)
I look forward to having more play sessions but have to remind myself that she is a real beginner so slow and gentle is the way ahead and to not do too much at once. Mark talked to the original breeder of Bella this morning, be owned her from birth to about 7yrs old. She was bred with and gave him 2-3 foals. The last owner, who we purchased her from, also took 2 foals from her so I am treating her like a youngster to keep her confidence and earn her trust.
Mon 22nd July
Mark moved the horses fences closer today so that instead of being 8′ apart they are now only a couple of feet apart 🙂
Tues 23rd July
Today our two Shires went in together. They’ve had enough time to get used to each other and recently touch noses and they’re both wanting to be in together SO we opened up Bella’s fencing and let them get to know each other more.
At first Bella went and checked out Storm’s bachelor pad and Storm checked out Bella’s area which was very interesting, then slowly they started interacting and it was really nice to watch. They respected each other’s space, no pushing or rushing, no biting, kicking, running, bolting or legs in the air…phew 😉
Wed 24th July
Today was our 2nd small play session. Keeping all of the games short and sweet so she has time to understand things and is happy to come back and do more next time. we did the same as on the 18th but managed to do 2 steps on each if the games this time and added the beginnings of wiggling the rope for a backup and a soft draw towards.
Moving hq’s >
< Move forehand
Move forehand >
< Move fh towards
Wiggle to halt/backup >
< Move hq’s
Head down >
Fri 26th July
3rd session today, all going well and building up the time we play now.
Mark is also riding Stormy daily (when he can) to get him fit and Bella is keeping him company which is great to see.
Sat 27th July
Another nice session with Bella, after dinner time today 🙂 We did same as before, more steps and more lightness which is fab, I also added her first 1/2 circle through a gateway. We also managed to film our ‘Lesson 1’ which I have put up on the Category to the right called “Bella’s Lesson Video’s” 🙂
Storm and Bella are really starting to enjoy each other more now with lots of mutual grooming going on….
Sun 28th July
Well we’ve had Bella 2 1/2 weeks now… Such a short time but it feels like she’s been a part of our lives for a long time she’s fitted in so well.
SO…Today was our 5th session and we practised our basics on our FIRST Agility session. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see Bella understanding what we were doing and it was helped by us watching Storm do his session first…. He learned by watching our horses Holly and Tara at the time and now it’s his turn to teach.