NIGEL AND ROSIE TWO REMARKABLE PONIES
Both the ponies are doing well, Nigel has come round a big corner and now loves to work. A real change for him. Rosie is a bit upset by the pregnant mares in the next field which is like a pre-natal clinic and she is reluctant to work. But I have jumped her and she has also been ridden by children and is ready to go onto Pony Club events.
I have been riding both the ponies and they are now ridden by two children. Rosie is turning out to be a very good pony, and loves to jump. Nigel however is still a bit stubborn and needs a bit of help, and he did try to buck me off the other day, but it was priceless, as he did not succeed and had to jump the jump as requested by me. He is a character and much loved by both of us. The ponies look marvellous and have lost the weight they put on by being fed non-stop haylage, which is very bad for them. They are now looking trim and slim and we are all delighted. They hack out with the children.
26th April 2017
I began working with the two ponies on 3rd October 2015
Gill and Paul have clearly worked a good deal with them to get them leading properly and Rosie and Nigel have been ridden. Rosie is clearly a very bright pony, and Nigel is clearly very turned off. Nigel can be led, but not long reined as he backed into Gill and double barreled her. He must have been forced into shafts, or bullied and has turned right off, which has stimulated a level of non compliance. Rosie was scared of the girth and being mounted from a mounting block, so a program of desentization commenced.
Nigel was beginning to move off when you asked him to, but he has to be led. Rosie did stand like a rock at the mounting block after an initial kicking session. So is now showing some improvement. Gill and Paul have continued to work with them.
This time we got Rosie to work on the long reins. She has a tendency to rush into a trot, caused by anxiety I think, but she will get better, Lauren worked with her. She is a lazy horse, I think.
Nigel making some improvement in that we can long rein him, but he needs support at his head, so we begin close and then move away, sometimes he stops.
Rosie is improving and this time Charlie and Lauren worked her. She does get to a point where she thinks it is time to stop, and demonstrates this. This must not be allowed to happen, and she must know that we are in charge, not her.
The mounting block problem is becoming less of an issue. She also only occasionally kicks out when you fasten the roller. But she still can, if you do it up too quickly. She needs time to think about it.
Rosie is now making good progress on the long reins. She has a problem with her halt. But she backs up and is now trotting sensibly. Charlie and Lauren were good with her, but I did have to take over when she suddenly pulls out of the circle or bolts back to the gate.
I got all the saddles down and did a saddle fitting on Rosie. I did not think any were really any good. One old one was nice, but not level. The pony saddle had too short flaps. My advice to anyone about buying saddles is DO NOT BUY THEM OFF THE INTERNET. Tack shops often offer a service whereby you can pay for the saddle take it away, see if it fits, and then bring it back if it does not.
I would love to write an article on saddle fitting. I am not a qualified saddle fitter, but I should explain that most of it is common sense. Don’t put a saddle on that goes past the last rib. Make sure the seat of the saddle, at its centre is horizontal. Make sure the cantal sits on the back of the horse, often they are too high and very little of the pad sits on the horse. Make sure the width is right, by running your hand along the under the pommel, and make sure that the saddle sits all the way along the back and does not have gaps. Run your hand under the saddle to check.I did some work with Rosie and stopped, it was a long session.
Nigel was first today. We long reined him at a walk, and Charlie was able to move away from him. He did some stopping and I backed him up 3 times in all. Suddenly he got it and moved off and began to trot on a circle, Eureka. Amazing. He is long reining. We stopped and gave him a lot of love.
Rosie was great, but she does suddenly twist her head with that, “it was not my idea,” when she thinks she has had enough. That will not do, she must be told to go back to work with the sternest of commands. Then once she has done a bit of work, I get her to walk with Charlie, as we did last week, and she did not want to know anymore, so we have to continue to turn her and walk with her until she agrees to be compliant.
She must not be allowed to get away with being lazy and making decisions contary to that of her the handler. She seems to be beginning to enjoy knowing she is being well managed, and licks and chews.
We have to jump a bit here to this year. 2016.
I have continued to work with them every Sunday. Rosie has been ridden by Charlie, who is a very good rider. I have also ridden her. She bolted with me and dumped me in the hedge. Very unpleasant. She absolutely cannot be stopped once she wants to bolt, usually back to the field or Nigel. We have a problem. She is fine if she is behind Nigel and has him as a leader. We long reined them up Chalk lane many times and she will try to get back to the field if Nigel is behind.
I mentioned before that I think she had anxiety problems, but I am still not sure how I could get around them. Dogs that come into the field may have worried them and might have left a legacy of fear. We put Rosie back onto working in the school and there we discovered that she still wanted to bolt off. She showed anxiety and would not halt. Getting her to slow down was hard.
I explained to Gill that we were going to have to make some changes. We put on her a ‘Be Nice’ halter. This we put onto another long line and we used three lines to take her anywhere, up Chalk lane or working in the school. When she bolted off, the line tightened on her and she did not like it. At last we had a measure of control, all be it not much. Then we started a program of walking on the long reins until we could get her to halt from walk. It took forever, weeks in fact. She would shuffle, or just not stop. I used the third line to increase the command hoping in the end she would finally listen. This went on for quite a few weeks showing a modicum of improvement. We did not trot her. Just on the long reins walking and halting.
Finally she got it. She suddenly started stopping at the lightest touch of the lines. Triumph. We then ceased to put a line onto the ‘Be Nice’ and attached it to the rein, which was attached to the roller. So there was no pressure. She was finally listening. I was able to step to one side and let Gill long rein her alone. She began to calm down. I realised that we had on our hands a very frightened pony, who wanted to be top dog in the field, but had been frightened possibly by dogs and the pony had lost her confidence.
To date 25th October 2016, we have arrived at a change in behaviour and that is how long it can take.
Nigel went into himself and shut down again and stayed there after the possible dog attacks. He is a gentle soul would do anything for anyone, but was shut down. His work had to consist of getting him to find interest in working and interested in life again.
Compared with Rosie he is easy, but still a challenge.
To begin with he just backed into Gill and double barrelled her. We could not get him to move so I had to use the leadership technique of having Gill at the head and me behind.
He has come on wonderfully and now loves to work despite being overweight due to being fed hay all through the summer and winter. Ponies live on ‘fresh air’. they need poor grazing and a little feed with trace elements and nutrients if the ground is poor. He came on leaps and bounds, and is now jumping and loves it. With Nigel you have to get excited and will him to enjoy himself with Rosie you have to be calm and quiet. Poles apart.
Gill has now found two small children who will be riding them, we hope in the Spring and at shows, and I hope they will do well.