Gossip and Oya

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Horace's Mum
Joined:Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:10 pm
Re: Gossip and Oya

Post by Horace's Mum » Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:28 pm

Well, I promised to update when I had chance, so here goes. We are about to start a very exciting time so some of you might like to join us in the journey!

Update so far - both ponies have been working hard with their clicker training when my health and the weather allows it. Gossi prefers things to involve toys, so even flatwork is done with cones scattered around just to make him feel like it is a game. He has worked hard at his rope handling and leading - he is very easily distracted and stressed, but is FINALLY learning to trust me and listen. Last week I brought him in from the field along the road to the farm - there was a galloping stallion shouting on one side and 2 small herds running and shouting on the other. Goss was getting uptight, but I had "worked" him with the clicker across the field already so he was nicely with me and I was able to put into practise the theory we had learned at the end of last year before the winter off. We had been working on "head down" to a rope cue, partly as an incompatible behaviour to anxiety which results in him being a giraffe. Well giraffe syndrome was in full swing so I thought, what the heck, waited for a split second that showed me he was ready to listen for a cue and asked him - and down went the head! It helped him relax enough to move on a few steps, then we had to repeat the exercise, and did so several times to get up the road safely and calmly, but I was so impressed with him. It's the first time he has really demonstrated the maturity to use his "games" outside in the real world - he can work so beautifully in the field but outside is a real struggle for him to focus.

Really excited about his potential this year - this is the first time he has remembered everything and is incredibly light and accurate with it - until now we have more or less had to start from scratch every year (they have 6 months off over winter to play in a 30 acre mini-fell and are more or less feral in that time). His projects are to start longreining (2 yrs ago he freaked completely, virtually crying with confusion, last year he was more willing but not quite confident enough to push too much) and to learn how to free lunge using cones as markers that we can gradually expand until he can work the circle independently of me. He is still something of a Scooby Doo when scared (tries to jump in my arms) so I'm hoping this will help develop his confidence away from me - essential for driving - as well as being his first in-depth shaping exercise.

He is, however, and absolutely delightful person to know, just wants to be part of everything and allowed to join in everybody's activities! He is also exceptionally sensitive to my moods and I have learned that I cannot work him at all if I am not in the right frame of mind. He is wonderful for me to find peace with, but he isn't the one who can set my head straight when it is going a bit wonky. Mind you, he is the one who tells me I need to sort myself out before working with him, which is useful if I haven't acknowledged my mindset isn't good enough yet!

Oya is just beautiful. Very quick to learn, very mature in her attitude to life, just wants to work. Started longreining 2 yrs ago but only seriously last year - very quickly she was out with me on our own, walking for miles round the roads and tracks. Her response to the voice is stunning, and she always makes me feel like I could just put her in a carriage and ask her to go and she would just accept it. It took the best part of 2 yrs for her to learn to trust me, and it was immensely frustrating, at times I felt we would never bond, but then it just clicked, she realised I was on her side and we have built on from there. She is my therapy pony, always makes things right. She wants to be with me just because, whereas Goss gets bored if food or fun isn't involved. She does question things, went through a long period of planting when she was worried but I realised early on that I needed to let her just look, and wait for her to be ready - when she was she responded straight away to her voice cue. I think that has taught her that I won't ask her to move if it isn't safe, and generally these days she stays with me.

She LOVES target work, we sorted her loading out by just using a cone and asking her to target it bit by bit up the ramp and in. First time took 20mins, second took 3min, from then on it now takes just a few secs. When she gets stuck I can ask her to target, either my fist or the scary object, that's the closest she comes to playing games rather than doing serious work!

I sat on her a year ago, she wasn't at all worried and I was immensely proud when she walked on, halted, turned and reined back on the first ride all from voice and without any hesitation. She still felt to physically young though, hence longreining for another year. She is starting riding for real in a couple of weeks when my dad is up for a week and I am off work - we can work her every day for a few mins and hopefully by the end of the week she'll be ready for me to carry on without a helper.

They really are incredible little beasties, they have been happy to ignore me all winter but last week made it quite clear that they consider it time to come and work now. They have always done this - told me when they were ready to learn and when they needed a break, it used to be a few days of each but now they can manage more and more. They are coming home on Monday so hoping to do some intensive recapping for a few days and then a little rest before Dad comes to help with riding Oya and longreining Gossi.

Joined:Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:20 pm
Location:Dorset, UK

Re: Gossip and Oya

Post by JudyN » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:22 am

Thank you for the update, HM - it's great to learn so much about training ponies and what makes them tick.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Joined:Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:40 pm

Re: Gossip and Oya

Post by Nettle » Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:05 am

That is such a lovely update. What fortunate ponies that you listen to them so well. We humans have so much to learn about working with horses at their speed not ours.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog


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