I have been working for the last couple/few months with a 6 yr old gaited mare named Pamela. The mare is owned by a lovely, but mostly inexperienced, older couple who are so tickled with the change in their horse. When we started this mare was so not OK. The slightest sudden move would have her leaving just as quick. Even though this mare had been ridden before (in fact had been a ‘show horse’) it was full of tension and worry. As soon as the rider mounted the mare was… outta there. The previous owner apparently thought this was normal and ‘just the way show horses should be’. Huh? OK not my world. But the fact is, the horse is now in my world and I say, it just doesn’t need to be like that!
So I decided to work with the mare as if she’d never been ridden before. I’ve been visiting with Pamela once a week and working on haltering, leading, ground work, and preparations to ride. My goal has been to ride this girl bareback wearing just a halter and lead rope.
Initially it took a good 30 minutes to get her to agree to let me put a halter on her! She lives with her son in a good sized paddock so I spent a lot of time convincing her that she should even let me approach her and touch her. In the beginning as soon as I touched her back she was gone–to the other side of the paddock! Now the process is down to 5 minutes.
I’ve also been doing a lot of ground work in preparation for riding. It’s all been about getting her relaxed, focused, and softly following my feel. Clicker training has played a crucial role in getting her to believe that maybe she’s left that other world for good. I’ve been very happy with her progress. And yesterday I achieved my first goal which was to ride her bareback! I even managed to get it on video.
There are three videos. The first one is the haltering process. The second one is the ten minutes or so I spent prepping to getting on. The third one is getting on and walking a little ways. It may not seem like much. I guess you’d have to have seen how uptight this mare was before to appreciate just how sweet, calm, and OK she is in these videos. A great start to a new life. (read about more progress here)