We had a beautiful day for the first day of Spring.
As usual we forgot to take any photos, so I’ve put in some I was playing with of Pan and our Shadows……
Due to some interesting discussions over a preliminary cuppa, we skipped the Horse Assessment Practice and went straight into Chestline Driving, a TTEAM exercise, preliminary to long reining/ground driving.
This wasn’t following the book in order, but Simone and I have been doing some two person TTEAM with Stewie and I was hoping since it was a small group that we could learn HOW to do it with Pan and Sirocco, then apply those skills to teach Stewie, and any other horse who’s owner was interested.
I had learned it with three people and a trainer in Wyoming, so this was the format that we followed, taking turns to be a leader or the person with the long reins.
Barb and Simone were the first leaders as Quita hasn’t done much TTEAM (yet!) and had missed last month’s session where we had practiced Homing Pigeon. We started with Pan, and I demonstrated all the tiny baby steps and checks that you would do with a horse who had never done it before to make sure they were comfortable with each step of the process, starting with stroking the body all over with the wand, then a “Pigtail” to check how they responded to a gently flapping rope end on the wand. The leaders practiced a few stops and go’s, then we added the third person walking towards the horse from a few different angles. If the horse was calm and relaxed Person #3 then took over the voice cues, and the leaders had to give the horse a few moments to respond before they added their backup wand and body language cues.
We then added walking beside the horse with the rope held around the base of his neck. If that was good the rope was tied, first just on one side. The Driver then added the rope cue to their “aaannd walk(ing)”, with the leaders assisting if necessary. After a few steps the rope cue was given simultaneously with “aaaannd Whooaa”.
Everyone found it quite challenging to change their habitual responses and to RELEASE on the ” Whoa”, allowing the horse to stop in balance but with no pressure to stop from the rein for him to push against. It was really hard to NOT hold on until he stopped!
Once the team had all the component parts working in a reasonable fashion, we moved the rope to the other side and checked it all out again. Since Pan was fine we added the second rope, and Quita then drove with both reins, using only one to signal go, but the slide and release with both to halt.
Barb took over at the back and after I had shown her the rope signals, Simone and I coached Quita in the art of being a leader in Homing Pigeon. There are a lot of subtleties and it is challenge to do well, but worth it. After a few stop’n’go’s Quita felt Pan had had enough, so we swapped to Sirocco and went through the steps again. I think Simone started as the Driver, but didn’t write down the order…… Sirocco was a star as usual and coped well with the changing leaders/drivers.
Helen was our next horse and being mindful of her issues with her ears and hindquarters, she did really well going through the steps. We finished with Jess and she was not comfortable with some of the earlier steps, so they only did as much as she was happy to do. I realised that it would have worked even better if I had changed the arena setup a little, we didn’t have the obstacles spread around as much as usual, some of the ones set up were too close together to allow Homing Pigeon easily, so we missed out a little on the repetition of something familiar while adding one new piece, which gives so much confidence and reassurance. Steve turned up while we were playing with Helen, and not long after a neighbour’s young dog had gotten away from her and was scampering around in the horse paddock, so I had to leave briefly to ensure he didn’t get hurt. Mimi and Will did enjoy chasing him out……! All the horses were prancing and snorting like dragons, Spring is definitely here!
After lunch and another stimulating discussion, we were all keen to get on. The original plan in the morning was that we would practice Trail riding on the drive and in the empty paddocks, taking turns to lead and follow etc, in the context of everyone keeping themselves and their horses firmly in their Comfort Zones, heading back to the arena or getting off when needed. However we didn’t get to that, so if you are planning on coming to the November Practice day that is on the agenda.
We did practice the Connected Riding posture in the saddle, Barb was delighted to find again what she had felt in the chair last time. There was also a discussion/brief demo on Philip Nye’s “Confidence in Motion” and how that was helping Simone and I find a rhythmical walk, and then trot. Quita was excited that she had mounted without any assitance for the first time in this arena (and a tad disappointed that we hadn’t noticed…… :-), sorry Quita, but it was fantastic!) Simone and Sirocco looked like they were moving together in a lovely forward way. I didn’t see if Steve rode as I had another interruption, but the groundwork he did was looking really special, Lofty and Twist seemed to be enjoying themselves.
I was last on, and Pan and I had a wonderful schooling session, as he patiently stood while I was saying goodbye to people, and although he still wasn’t comfortable with either the float or the truck driving past him, he managed to hold it together fairly well, and happily followed each one up the drive to the gate. After doing this he wasn’t reacting to the occasional car that drove past while we stood behind the gate as he had done at the start of our ride. When everyone was gone we had a little more practice on “My Grass”, and as that improved called it the end of a wonderful day.
N.B. 1. No Practice Day scheduled for October due to Trisha Wren Clinics etc. There are still a couple of places available in each clinic, if any fill there will be a small clinic rebate. We may organise an impromptu Practice afterwards, but it will be at short notice.
2. Robyn Hood will be here in December for a 5 day workshop (weekend only is possible, but it’s so much better if you can come for all 5 days). see the booking form on this web-site if interested in attending.
Please remember that if you have any questions about either of our main modalities, TTEAM or Connected Riding , bring them along. The idea is to share what we each remember so that we can all progress faster. Supposedly up to 75% of the information learned is lost after 24 hours, so none of us will remember every little piece, and you may have remembered or learned something that no one else does/did.
If you can’t attend – still send me the query and I’ll throw it out there for the group to ponder over, we might even find a solution or two! I will then add a reply in my “report” on the day.
If you attend other clinics/lessons or discover interesting “stuff”, please feel free to share this with the group, you are welcome to give a demo or presentation if you would like to share what you’ve learned. Our goal is to keep improving our relationship and connection we have with our horses.
Enjoy the Spring weather, things are definitely looking up this week!