Happy New Year! Sorry, I know it’s a bit late, but I hit the ground running after new year and haven’t stopped since! I’ve been teaching, training my own horses, been to my first Phillipe Karl course and done a talk on clicker training in Scunthorpe.
The talk in Scunthorpe went really well, with loads of interest in clicker training so hopefully I’ll be seeing some of you again in the near future! Unfortunately, there was a bit of a technical problem with the projector connections so I was unable to show all the videos. But, I’ve taken some of the clips and am putting them up here!
The first one is a fantastic piece of clicker training by one of my clients, whose horse needed to use an inhaler due to respiratory problems.
More clips coming soon, I’ll keep you posted! The other talks went down really well, too. Isobel Harker from Spillers talked on the importance of keeping weight off our horses and headline speaker, Gillian Higgins, looked at how horses move and the importance of building core strength. A great day all round!
For those of you who don’t know, Phillipe Karl is a French Classical trainer and author or Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage. His approach is based on respect for the horse and training for soundness and performance without using force and pain. I was impressed with how the horses on the course freed up in their movement, becoming more balanced and lifted through the back. At this stage, he ensured all horses had their noses in front of the vertical, which was lovely to see, as he emphasized that high head carriage and vertical flexion is an aim, not a means of schooling. I’m auditing the course and it’s 3 courses per year for 3 years, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the work develop and trying it with my own horses, too. For more info visit Phillipe’s website.
With my own horses, I’m on a fitness tirade with Toby, who is distinctly round after his break before Christmas, despite the lack of grass and cold weather! India has come back from her time off more mature once again and ready to work. She’s back to following be around the yard bugging me to work with her and galloping down to the gate as soon as she sees me! It’s wonderful to have that enthusiasm from her. With her, I’m currently consolidating a lot of the work we’ve been doing, so getting back on her and ensuring she’s calm and attentive, getting her out and about, body awareness exercises and, of course, tricks like fetch and spanish walk which we both love doing.
Finally, my clients have been teaching me tons, as ever. A big lightbulb moment happened just after new year, teaching someone with a lovely cob, who gets a bit anxious when being worked. We had been looking for signs of calmness to click and treat, such as head down, ears forward etc, but not getting anywhere fast. Eventually I suggested that the owner think only about herself, her own breathing, how she walks etc, not even looking at her horse. Instantly he calmed down, walking easily by her shoulder, a relaxed expression on his face. Well, talk about pressure – even looking at this horse proved to be too much! I’ve since tried this technique with several clients with anxious horses, and they all instantly took their lead from the handler and became calmer and more focussed. I also used similar techniques when riding India, focussing on exactly where I wanted her to turn, stop etc and keeping all my focus on my own body and what I was doing. She became more balanced and seemed to respond to only my thoughts. Give it a go, you may be surprised by the results!