Training Tips: “Spontaneity”

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SPONTANEITY:

Using kind consistency with our horse training is a super way of helping our horses learn, some horses love a good solid routine. But it can often become boring if overdone and some horses hate being bored SO we need to learn the art of becoming balanced between being CONSISTENT and SPONTANEOUS.

Yesterday I wanted to do something with the horses but with the weather being on/off I didn’t plan anything, in fact I didn’t even take saddles or bridles. When the weather stayed dry it was a ‘LETs DO IT’ moment and I took the opportunity and played/rode both boys with what I had….rope halter and reins for Solly and used those reins to make a cordeo for Stormy. The pics  show the end of a completely spontaneous play/riding session.

What was lovely was that the boys were up for it too and because I had no plan, just wanting a good feel with everything I did, it felt GREAT. Think the boys enjoyed it too <3

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

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Training Tip Video’s: “Imagination”

Putting a few regular tasks together makes up a much more imaginative days play and helps keep things progressive and fun.

Games used are: Circling, transitions, narrow corridor/squeeze, fig 8’s done with Relaxation, Willingness, Impulsion and Flexibility.

 

Using some IMAGINATION with fig 8’s and a jump. IMAGINATION is the key to having a good time with games and keeping it fun for you and your horse 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Picture Quote 17 – “Everything is about Balance”

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Balance is needed for riding, especially bareback riding but balance is also needed in others ways. We may have to think of balance between our work and leisure times, balancing our family and horsey time and also balancing our inner self with our outer self but also we must think about balancing time we train our horses, time we relax with our horses and time we have fun with horses. Balancing the time we spend with our horses, no matter what our goals, is a wise move towards a happier partnership.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Comfort Zone Training – part 6

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Today was our 6th CZT session. We did it in the larger area again where we did our 4th session. Today our ground work went very well and apart from the initial ‘getting away from the mounting block’ thing that he seems to have done the last few session, our ridden session was pretty good too.

 

 

 

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Firstly our impulsion was there…light off the cues and happy.

 

 

 

 

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Secondly our willingness was there…connected and focused.

 

 

 

 

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Thirdly our flexibility was there…..together in harmony.

 

 

 

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And lastly it was FUN. Fun to be in a different area. Fun to have our harmony, focus, willingness and togetherness back.

 

 

 

 

Short video of some fun doing leg yields today…..few strides one way, straighten up and few strides the other way. Solly and I have to be connected through focus and mind to be able to do this….he looses concentration right at the end!

 

 

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

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Positive Thoughts

IMG_0320One of the hardest things I’ve found is to be able to train or teach a horse whilst still having fun.

Horses that are innately internal and sensitive, introverted and wise (what normal folk call stubborn, lazy and stupid) are often the horses we can offend the most. They don’t show their feelings like extroverts do, they don’t run around taking offence at our high energy or kick out in a strop. They are much more subtle than that! Introverted horses need to feel they are loved just for themselves and training can’t seem like normal training to them or they become mentally, emotionally and physically braced and a brace in the mind is a brace in the body! Sometimes this brace looks like stubbornness, sometimes an extreme brace can make a horse look lame!

So, how can we find a way to help train our shy horses? I think we need to look back at our childhoods and remember why we love horses in the first place. We often have no idea why these beautiful animals tug at our hearts so much but we do know that as children we just want to run with them, play with them, brush them and love them unconditionally.

How can we train with fun you ask?

I feel we need to ‘Find the Child Within Us’ again to train with fun. Once any safety issues are smoothed out then we can still train with fun, this way we stop making it ‘personal’ to our horses and they will enjoy training and being around us.

Firstly what we we need to do is change the mental attitude we may bring to our horses when training. Our mental attitudes often are of doing things TO the horse, doing things to bring about CHANGES to the horse, doing things to the horse that changes his attitude or physicality! This is just too personal for a horse to take, it’s like ‘Bullying your Best Friend’!! If we think of our horses with us as a herd, of being partners, of being best friends and then ask for things in a way that isn’t personal then the horse won’t be offended.

Here are some idea’s:

1) When asking your horse to back up try saying something like ‘ooh, dropped something, better pick that up quickly’ and smile whilst stepping forward towards your horse. I did this the other day with my very introverted mare and she went back very willingly as there wasn’t anything about moving her backwards in my thoughts or voice, no demands, just needing to do something and she moved out of the way for me.

2) When moving hq’s maybe try saying something like… ‘ooh, forgot my gloves at the gateway’ and walk towards the horses hindquarters whilst bringing the rope slightly upwards. Horse will move their hq’s over quickly without us being specific about a particular move. We could also do same thing but move towards horses forehand for a forehand move over whilst walking.

3) Even when doing something like circling or other circular/half circular patterns we can have a totally different attitude to doing these by adding lots of ‘YES’s’ when every little thing goes right….lightness onto circle, YES, bending to the inside, YES, how beautiful horsey is, YES. Works very well when riding too, lightness off leg, YES, turning without brace, YES, leg yielding like floating dance together, YES.

4) Extreme familiarisation  with stick and string can be more of a feeling of helping horses swish flies away, very good fun and they really appreciate it, with this ‘helping horse’ in our minds we have no anxiety, no agenda too.

5) With impulsion try claiming the space ‘ behind the horse in a game of ‘tag’ which gives it more of a game attitude.

6) Finding impulsion when riding can be challenging for an introverted horse too. BUT if you start with small point 2 points (going from one thing to another like corners, cones, barrels) and putting things in your mind like ‘quick, we need to get to the corner before the bear eats us’ (moving away from something) OR ‘wow, there’s a chocolate biscuit on the barrel how quickly can we get to it before someone else gets it’ (moving towards something). People are usually motivated positively by either  ‘moving away’ or ‘moving towards’ things, find out which you are motivated by and use this technique for positive results.

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Extroverted horses enjoy this method too as they are often very playful. If they are a worried type of horse this can work too as by making things a ‘game’ and with a playful attitude it takes fear pressure off and they can relax and learn more easily.

Our attitude and thoughts can really make a big difference between making training fun or making training work!

I hope you manage to find the child inside you and remember to have FUN 😉

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Liberty Challenge 9

Just 5 challenges this time but push your progression to do these in an open field. Start slowly in a small area and work up to a higher gait in a bigger area. CHALLENGE YOURSELF to progressive, positive changes so that you and your horse get  more and more connected in a common language that create signals for all that you do together.

1) Weave around cones on a circle.
Use as many cones as you like, 5 is the minimum on a circle. Make the circle large or small depending on your skill and your horses flexibility. Start in walk together and build up to trot and more distance between the cones and you and your horse.

2) Stick 2 Me Transitions.
Use as many transitions as possible, be on the left and right of your horse and see how straight you are together.

3) Jumps.
Big or small jumps, as many or as few as you wish and done how you like, either one and stop, turn and jump again OR as a small liberty course…it’s up to you to know you and your horses abilities but remember to build up to more difficult jumps as you go and higher transitions between.

4) Spins.
To left and right and even spins whilst leading your horse, see what you can do.

5) Back horse up from behind.
Use cue from tail or any other you may have, do a least 6 steps and more if you and your horse are up for it.

I will be doing these 5 Challenges in our 10 acre field with the other herd members grazing around us. I test my horses connection to me by working in this area as they have the freedom to run off if they want or to stay with me. I cannot run as fast as they can but have a good draw back to me if they go faster than me. How connected to you is your horse in a big field?

 

Liberty Challenge 8

Remember to do it at you and your own horses pace and level, the horse owns the time you take for this so don’t push, just encourage for more effort, lightness or precision as you go along. If you need to do it in walk online then do so but remember to progress as much as possible and practice it over the whole month to see improvements. Come back to the challenge at liberty and ridden when you are ready to do so.

1) Liberty & Ridden: Push a ball through two raised poles

2) Liberty & Ridden: 4 x trotting poles (any spacing you think best for your horse)

3) Liberty & Ridden: Canter down a bunting corridor (liberty: handler to stay outside corridor)

4) Liberty & Ridden: Turn on the forehand (front feet pivot whilst hindquarters turn 360*)

5) Liberty & Ridden: Trot a clover leaf pattern around cones (Pattern explanation below)

6) Liberty & Ridden:  Jump/halt/sidepass off jump (if you do not know this move or don’t wish to teach it then jump and halt straight after jump then sidepass a few steps)

7) Liberty & Ridden:  Transitions (whatever 2 or 3 transitions you are good at)

8) Liberty& Ridden:  Use cones to ride the outside and/or inside of a square….forwards / sidepass / backwards / sidepass

9) Liberty & Ridden: Familiarisation on the move (try at walk but trot if you can)

10) Liberty & Ridden: walk into water tray, halt in the tray then walk off  (or a foot in a bucket with water in it! I have a plastic jump water tray I will be using…you could also put an intact tarp on the ground and roll up the edges around jump poles to make a pool and put some water in it!)

ENJOY

NB…CLOVERLEAF PATTERN: this is walking/riding a shape like a 4 leaf clover. First set up 4 cones at equal distances from each other in a square. To walk at liberty or ride it you need to then choose to either just do left or right turns around the pattern…you shouldn’t do both unless you do the pattern twice!

The first move is to walk/trot straight through the centre, then turn left and do a left circle around 1st cone back through the centre of the square then circle left around 2nd cone, back through the centre and then circle left around 3rd cone, straight through centre and then circle left around 4th cone and then onto next task.

To do the cloverleaf outside this challenge I usually always start and stop in the centre of the square of cones so that the horse is always searching for X at the centre, Picture of map of tasks below hopefully will help too.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

LC8

 

 

 

 

Liberty Challenge 7

Try this Challenge at Liberty and also Ridden, preferably bitless or even bridleless if you are that advanced.

If you are just starting Liberty work you can play around with these tasks online. All tasks are changeable and do what is best for your horse and your abilities. If something is too hard then do something similar  and then progress to the harder tasks as you practice over time.

1) Liberty or Ridden: Open gate, squeeze horse through any way you want, close gate.

2) Liberty or Ridden: Trot through narrow gap, halt just before end and back up through gap. Trot on out of gap.

3) Liberty: Trot weave around 6 cones in a straight line with flags (or something flappy) in them. Horse to weave, handler to stay on one side and direct horse in weave.

Ridden: Either trot weave or weave using leg yields in walk

4) Liberty & Ridden: Jump small jump, handler to run alongside with liberty one

5) Liberty & Ridden: Drag an object for 10′, you and horse side by side, and then turn horse and yourself to drag with you and horse backing up together.

6) Liberty: Trot onto tarp and halt then turn the horse 180* any way and trot off again.

Ridden: Trot onto tarp, halt then 180* turn on the forehand (ie. turn the horses hindquarters and pivot forehand)

7) Liberty & Ridden: Ask horse to follow you around a Labyrinth pattern

8) Liberty: Trot your horse through some sort of ‘washing line’ with clothes hanging of it.

Ridden: Same (or if you and horse not used to going under things then go to washing line, take one item off the line and ride with it around the line where you put it back up on the line without horse worrying)

9) Liberty & Ridden: Trot fig 8’s twice around two barrels or tall  obstacles. Obstacles close, about 5-6 paces apart.
NB. Large obstacles could be 3-4 tyres stacked on each other or a tall jump wing!

10) Liberty & Ridden: Sidle over a largish pole, left feet on one side, right feet on the other side. (Try to use a pole thicker than the average jump pole)
NB. If cannot sidle one side of horse over then do 2-4 feet over then back up over it.

11) Liberty: Get a flag and wave it about whilst walking around your horse.

Ridden: Wave flag whilst sitting on horse.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

LC7

 

 

Liberty 

 
Ridden bitless

 
Ridden Bitless and Bareback

 
First time EVER ridden agility bridleless on Solly

 

 

 

Liberty Challenge 6

Remember this can be done online if you’re just starting liberty work yet but as you go along maybe test liberty or put the rope around the horses neck and don’t touch it but a good way of getting the horse back if they walk off. Then when things get better take the halter off and just have the rope around the horses neck…soon you’ll be working totally at liberty.

1) Trot to a hula hoop, transition down to a walk and put hind feet into hula hoop

2) Walk to gate together, open gate then back horse through gateway, close gate and walk off.

3) Transitions: walk forward 3 steps. halt. walk back 3 steps. halt. walk sideways (towards or away) 3 steps. halt. walk off.

4) Front feet on a pedestal. halt. Move hindquarters around the pedestal keeping front feet on pedestal 360*

5) Weave at a trot through 4-6 cones. Up to you how you position the cones, straight line or circle!

6) Trot through scary corner, but halt before leaving it. Back all the way through SC and then trot forwards out of it again

7) Halt horse inside a square made of posts and then walk around horse familiarising to some noise, either extreme friendly game with stick/string or swishing of flag or coins in your pocket even…you find what you horse is okay with and use that. Remember this is not about frightening your horse, it’s about allowing them to gradually get used to scary stuff.

8) Trot over a bottle bank (crushed bottles put inside a square made of poles). Try to make it so that horse doesn’t jump it and actually touches/crushes some bottles.

9) Fig 8’s x 2, using jumps.

10) Trailer load or simulate trailer load. Either squeeze horse in from outside or lead in normally, horse must be relaxed and rope must be in a nice ‘smile’ (slightly loose). Halt then back up any way you want.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

LC6

 

 

Liberty Challenge 5

Do it mostly in trot if possible, run on either side of the horse, changing when you can and remember to ‘HAVE FUN’


1) Hula Hoop over horses head
Take this slowly, make sure you can put a hoop of rope over first, this can be quite scary to some horses!

2) Trot through 2 poles on the ground, halt after poles, back up through poles and then trot through again

3) Horse to fig 8 around 2 barrels – handler to stand one side
Use any two obstacles, barrels are just bigger but cones, electric posts, tyres, cola bottles…whatever you have…this task is all about equality of draw/drive

4) Horse to trot through some form of arch, decorated if possible to represent tree branches
if you happen to have two trees close together with branches then fab, if not then try using some old water/drainage pipe with wood in the sides OR whatever you used for a curtain last month would be good but with maybe soft tree branches or plastic flowers around the edges! be creative but keep it safe

5) Horse to push a ball 10′
Horse can use front feet or nose, any size ball from a large tennis ball to a NH ball…your choice

6) Small jump and halt within 2 strides after jump
Try to just use your energy/breathing for this task, see if your horse and you are connected!

7) Horse to circle around you in walk or trot
This goes together with task 8….circle inside the cone circle then go to task 8 afterwards

8) Horse to weave around cones put out in a circle around you  – walk or trot
6 cones works well. Again this is about connection, draw and drive in equal doses

9) Walk through a labyrinth of poles
Takes 6 poles, keep them a good distance apart and work over the year on making those distances smaller

10) Horse trot to halt and then familiarisation with an umbrella
You may only be able to walk around horse with umbrella closed. You may be able to work on opening/closing umbrella by horses side. Ultimately you want to be able to open/close umbrella pretty close to horse whilst walking around him/her.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

    LC5