In his latest H&H blog, Jason shares his techniques to teach a horse to stand politely when being mounted and had a jumping lesson with a successful event rider on her young horse
I’ve just got back from a very enjoyable, if brief, trip back to Australia for my little sister’s wedding. It was a lovely day and Bec has married a great guy, who happens to be a fellow horse trainer!
It was also good to give Dad a hand and break in a couple of home-breds while I was there. He breeds thoroughbreds for the local racetracks and Australian Stock Horses for polo and polocrosse because my other sister, Sandra, and her husband Will Weston play polocrosse for Australia. They are breeding from some outstanding mares and look to have some great young horses coming through.
I was also entertained by my little nieces and nephews perfecting their rodeo techniques by riding the calves… not something you would see in England!
Standing still to be mounted
On my return home, I got straight back into the riding. It’s been made easier by having some really nice horses in for training at the moment and I’m also out and about a lot giving clinics and lessons.
I was out earlier this week to retrain a horse that had developed an annoying habit of stepping away when his owner went to get on. I produced a 4-point plan to get them both back on track.
I started with some desensitising to check that the horse wasn’t nervous about the mounting process and wasn’t going to be reactive to movements and noises such as the stirrup bumping against the saddle.
Following this I worked on the horse’s flexions until I could flex his neck both ways with him standing still. This is important so that the rider has control when they mount as by keeping the horse’s head bent he will find it harder to move off.
The 3rd part of the plan was to work on controlling the hindquarters, starting off by moving his hindend away from me, before teaching him the more difficult manoeuver of stepping his hindquarters towards me. This is so that I can reposition him each time he steps away when I go to mount.
Lastly, I worked him in a small circle on the lunge or rope before letting him rest next to the mounting block. This reconfirms that the mounting block is a good place to be where he gets a rest from work.
By the end of the session, he was happy to stand still with his owner getting on and when he did try to move off, she went back through the 4 processes. With a little patience and perseverance, she will be on track to crack this annoying habit.
Jason has a jumping lesson
We also had our Christmas Coffee Morning at the yard recently. Bryony Whittington, a talented event rider and lovely client, was due to give a jumping demonstration.
Unfortunately, a horse she was leading spooked at something and she found out that foot bones don’t take too kindly to half a tonne of horse landing on them! She very kindly still came along with her stunning young Irish-bought horse, Carter, and gave me a jumping lesson on him.
I think the audience appreciated me being put through my paces and being made to work hard, but I also enjoyed getting some great training ideas and constructive feedback about my riding over fences.
Bryony picked up on my tendency to collapse a little on landing, which was corrected by some tightening up of my core muscles and both Carter and I could really appreciate the difference this made.
I’m looking forward to following Bryony and Carter’s progress next year. He was so nice to ride that he almost made me want to hurl myself over big cross-country fences too!
Goodbye 2013, bring on 2014
This is my last blog of 2013 and I’m already keen to get cracking with 2014! One of the things Tom, my assistant trainer, and I are both looking forward to being involved in next year is the inaugural “Horseman’s Calling” in April. This is a UK version of the popular horsemanship events in the United States that showcase trainers’ techniques with starting young horses and dealing with problems such as loading.
Whatever your hopes and aspirations are for 2014, I hope you achieve them and in the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and very merry New Year!