Training Dani

March 2015

Miep and I continue every week to work with Dani. I will take some photos of him when next there. He is now free jumping over 3ft 6 inches and loving it. He can do spreads and doubles and triples with great ease. In fact we have difficult stopping him. He simply loves his jumping.  But this is where it all began.

Dani calm over Cavaletties
dani calm over the Cavaletties

I have been working with Miep and Dani for about 2 years now. He came to Miep with a lot of problems. Probably whip broke and very nervous. He was a basket case. Rushing here and there, overbent, frightened of his mouth and really not rideable. He injured Miep by crushing her against a fence. This put his training back as Miep was too sore to continue. he was being ridden by Jason about once a week, but was showing a lot of problems.

I long reined him and he stuck his head into his chest and bolted. So we went back to the drawing board. We started him up in the field by his stable. Miep helped me by staying at his head and I began slowly by gradually while walking in small circles taking the reins over and behind him. It took several goes. Little by little we got him used to the long reins. It was an eduction for me, and also for Dani and Miep. Finally we were able to long rein him carefully and gently without him panicing. After several weeks of this, I legged Miep up and she rode him. He was still a basket case underneath but slowly learning he could trust Miep. It all takes time. It cannot be done in 5 minutes. One needs endless patience.

Gradually over the 2 years he has been hacked out and long reined and every time he works from the ground we fine new problems or new advances in his behavior. He has a weak side and tends to pull himself along. A lot of horses do this. So we needed to get him to work from his quarters. It was at this point we began to use the Tellington Touch bandages, an idea she borrowed from the physiotherapists of the human world. It works well as it increased the horse’s awarness of his own body and where his body is. We call this properception, an awareness of where your body is and it is used for people who have had strokes or who suffer with spinal and other problems. Once we put the elastic bandages on Dani moved better. He started to push instead of pull himself along. Progress was obvious. He still hung his head out of the circle, so often caused by single line lungeing.

D & M gd jump
‘Ah I can do this.’

Please do not use single line lungeing to exercise your horse. It should be used only for training riders and the horse should always have side reins attached. Single line lungeing does not train a horse because you do not have any control. You cannot turn the horse, not stop it nor reduce it pace. You have to rely on voice commands and voice commands have to be taught. Also the effect on the horse of single line lungeing is that the horse will go into the pressure of the line and pull his head into the pressure. thus getting into the habit of hanging his head out of the circle. Over a period of time this will displace his atlas. This will have ongoing problems and prevent him from moving straight and therefore completing turns and dressage movements of any kind.

We work from the ground with Dani every week, every week he improves and changes. Every week he begins to straighten and move better and carry himself more correctly. His jumping is now wonderful and his work on the lunge taken with great joy and he enthuses on the lines, enjoying every minute of his work.

I do say to Miep that every horse should be worked 40% from the ground 60% ridden. at the least. I believe that the more we muscle up our horses the better they will be at carrying our weight. Oh and by the way, Miep is slim and light, she is the perfect size and weight to ride. A lot of people are not. the horse is suffering from the overweight rider. Please if you are going to ride and you are overweight and you know it, then lose weight. You will be doing your horse a massive favour with every pound you lose. I ride at 8 stone. that is heavy enough. Gone are the days when a strong cavalry horse had to carry 23 stone of man and equipment. Those horses had short and uncomfortable lives.

Storm being trained

You can help your horse by working it properly from the ground. I do not recommend mechanical aids, and these include bungy side reins, Pessoas, Whitaker training aids, Kincades, Shires lungeing aids etc., just train your hands to feel, train your hands to work the horse. John Lyons can get a horse to drop his head by training him, then so can you. This is what being a horseman is all about, developing feel. Ask yourself what is the purpose of riding a horse? Is it to hack out on lovely country lanes? Is is to jump and do dressage at shows or events? Is it just to have fun? I ask you, surely it is about communication. It is about how you, the human, communicates with your horse. That is riding. So the purpose of riding is to train your horse to be completely wonderful, a joy to be with and a joy to ride. I leave you with that thought. For now Dani is a joy to ride.