Well, it has been quite a weekend! As I write this, we have just finished our inaugural Your Horsemanship Camp here at Risebridge Farm and are now sitting, exhausted, reflecting back on what has been a very successful three days.
Twelve riders took part and our aim over the weekend was to teach horses patience and to teach riders to relax. When asked to relax and ride without a contact many riders find this a real challenge as it goes against their natural instinct to hold on, especially when in a pressure situation. However, relaxation and rhythm in a horse is almost impossible without the rider being able to do the same.
The participants started with a Ridden Confidence session where they were given different options to use when their horse reacted to different situations. Further sessions in groundwork, gridwork, showjumping, hacking out and mounted games all contributed to encouraging both horse and rider to relax and experience different situations and above all to enjoy themselves and each other.
There was even a polocrosse session where every horse, without exception, accepted the stick and saw the riders happily scoring goals!
The weekend culminated in a challenge incorporating all the elements learnt over the previous days.
For us as coaches, the smiles as everyone successfully completed the course were the icing on the cake. Plans are now afoot for future camps in 2015 – watch this space!
Claydon makes progress
I thought I would give an update on Claydon, the rescue pony that came in a few weeks ago from the Happy Endings Rescue team. He has settled well in his specially erected pen and enjoys watching the comings and goings of the yard.
After the initial groundwork and capitalising on his natural curiosity I started making contact with him through the use of a long, soft pole that acts as an extension of my arm. The next step was to get a halter on him but as I hadn’t even managed to get near his head yet I lassoed him first – easier than it sounds as he was used to turning and facing me.
At first, he was defensive but he soon quietened down and accepted the situation. Over the next few days he became used to the lasso and I was able to use the soft pole to rub his face and muzzle, shortening it each time until at last I was able to touch him with my hands. It was then a matter of carefully slipping the headcollar on.
Since this process I have been increasing my contact with him. When I first took him out of his pen my work to date was tested as he was startled by someone stepping out in front of him. He turned to run and took some rope with him but he took the option of turning and facing me rather than fleeing; a sign that he is starting to look to me for answers.
We have now got to the stage where he is lunging at walk, trot and canter with a roller. Today (Wednesday) he wore a bridle for the first time. It’s small, slow steps, but I hope to be riding him by my next blog!
Aside from working on the horses in for training, I have also been having fun working with my own horse, Diesel, for our demonstrations at Your Horse Live in a month’s time. I have been working on some dressage movements that have been helped by a couple of sessions with Damian Hallam, and his bridleless work has developed too (pictured right).
Riding without a bridle or rope is really liberating, not to mention a good test of your training and your balance and I’m even enjoying throwing a polocrosse ball around!