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 🙂
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.