THE STARTING AND SCHOOLING OF A YOUNG HORSE
NOW PHOENIX IS BEING RIDDEN BY HER OWNER. March 2015
Wendy and Phoenix now go out on their own. Wendy hacks her out and she has not crossed the tiny metal bridge across the canal without so much as a second look, so we are not well on the way to getting into the Wisley woods.
Getting the hang of it.Phoenix’s owner came to me a year ago and told me she had purchased a young unbroken horse and needed some help. So we set about doing things the long slow way. Not in 5 minutes not even in 5 weeks.
I began by double line lunging with Phoenix over the winter. She was difficult and showed that she certainly had character often resisting working on the near side. That is interesting because the near side is the least sensitive and due to being handled that side. I would then change the rein and instantly she became more responsive. I let her take her own time about the concept of compliance. We then took her out onto the road. She has been allowed to slowly get used to air brakes, buses, white lines, bicycles, children, lawn mowers, builders, cars and of course the dreaded drain covers the most terrifying of all. She is fine with shadows and with noise of all kinds.
This summer just two weeks ago I got up on her after having put Chocolate Charlie up and long reined her around the roads with her new friend, I rode her. She took four steps back with me and stopped. So I just sat there after 30 seconds and I dismounted.
Two weeks later we repeated the exercise, I rolled over the saddle and then sat up. She was quite happy and of her own accord walked several feet towards Wendy. She was beginning to understand that weight on her back was altering the way she had to move. It is just like carrying a backpack. You don’t just put he heaviest one on your back and then go and hike for a day. You train yourself over a period of time to carry a pack increasing the load. One would certainly not climb mountains without a fair amount of serious conditioning and years of training on all kinds of rock faces. Why should we just get on a horse and think it is ok to ride them for an hour.
On the 7th August, I decided it was time to introduce Phoenix to what it will feel like to carry a rider. Horses are not designed by nature to carry us or anything else come to that. We impose an unnatural burden on them. The horse’s spine is still developing and changing throughout its young life and the horse is not mature until it is 8 years of age. The spine can be damaged by too much weight early on. When I got up on Phoenix I sat very still and just allowed her to register the weight and if she wanted to move I allowed her to do so but did not ask her. She took just three steps back. The second time I rode her two weeks later I allowed her once again the freedom to decide is she did or did not want to move and she followed Wendy a little way around the school.
I am proud to report that she is quiet as a mouse. But I do happen to know that she can buck and fizz like any other horse in the field. We have to remember that she is only 2 years old now. She has a long way to go and hopefully this training will set her up in the best way to be a wonderful riding horse.
This week Monday 7th October we have taken Phoenix out on the long reins but I am no longer next to her. I walk behind with Wendy. She was a little cautious but will be much better next time. I also rode her round the school and she behaved beautifully. I was able to mount her from a mounting block and dismount with no concern on her part at all.
Pheonix, Rising Star 2.
During Christmas Pheonix turned into an aqua horse with the stables at Byfleet becoming flooded, the fate of some many places around the Wey and the Mole rivers. It would seem she has quite got over her dislike of puddles as most of her field was a large puddle.
We resumed work, she has had her teeth rasped and she is now ready to go again. I resumed work on the 14th January long reining her in the school under floodlights and then riding her round the school introducing her to coming off pressure. She is still being led with Wendy at her head, but responding well to requests.
On the 25th January, we tacked her up and began with a long reining session which she did with great confidence, changing the rein and being very responsive. Then I got on her and, with Wendy at her head we set off for Byfleet village. I cannot be more pleased with her progress. She is a delight to ride and completely quiet. She has accepted me. I can mount at the mounting block and dismount also. I expect her to stand quite still for as long as I require her to. I am so impressed. I find that she listens to me and is constantly checking up with her ears that she is completed my requests. She carries me well and is responding to a soft sqeeze of the calf muscle. Lovely.
In the last few weeks in May 2014 we have ridden Phoenix for short periods of time, 10 mins or so. She is wonderful to ride and kind and does what you ask. Clearly it was worth working on the long reins over such a long period of time because she has muscled up and is quite happy to go out round the roads with me on her back. She will have a nice easy summer and then be ridden for longer periods when she reaches 4 years old. Still this may not be more than 20 mins. It is important to remember that she is a baby and still growing. So we ride her and work her on the long reins so that she remains obedient and happy with requests.
Update September 2014.
I have continued to work with Phoenix, but not more than once every two weeks. We have started school work, although not a great deal at first, just a short trot which she would only do if Wendy was at her head. We then go out into Byfleet for a short ride and this she loves. She is wonderful with buses and children and lawn mowers and bicycles. She is now going round the school at a trot, freely and unsupported. I am still riding her out once every two weeks to allow her to get used to balancing a person on her back and grow stronger. We still long rein her. I will endeavour to get some photos of her in Byfleet.
Phoenix is now being ridden by her owner and she is delighted with her. Phoenix is a great ride, strong and calm and quite a character. We have now taken her some way from the yard and explored the countryside. Wendy is delighted with her progress. Wendy is also long reining Phoenix by herself and Phoenix is very good at it. Training takes time, it cannot be achieved in five minutes. Years and years must be put into getting a horse really well schooled. It is a time honored business. Time and commitment to the horse is what really creates the good horse.