Mojo has never been good with lifting his feet and foot handling in general. I have been working in getting him ok for me to touch his legs, brush feathers and trim feathers. All these seem to be progressing positively but having them trimmed is a different matter.
So after 2 farriers refused to even try any more I found a new trimmer. He is patient and his wife also came and she reads horses emotional states extremely well.
Mojo was very apprehensive and didn’t want to come out of his stable. We waited and chatted and then he decided it was ok to come out. The trimmer was introduced and just talked to Mojo and gave him some scratches. Picked out his front feet and then started trimming. Mojo was ok with the nippers but it seems to be rasping that is a trigger. We had lots of breaks and went for a little walk, the trimmer then held the lead rope and led Mojo whilst I walked next to him. We managed to get both fronts correctly trimmed and balanced but not rasped. So Liz will do the final rasp another day just to tidy them. We left it there – the trimmer did lift the hinds but Mojo was going over threshold by then so he will come back next month and do the hinds.
I have it on video so will review and send a snippet to Jo Hughes who helps with online coaching. We still have work to do and it is extremely slow progress.
Equi-libre Academy of Positive Horsemanship/
I do wonder what happened in his past to make him so anxious. He didn’t fight just tried to run away, which is when I just took him for a little walk to calm down.
May 11th 2019
We have been having a little trouble getting out of the field as there is a very friendly pony who always gets to the gate first.
Mojo was OK to get out of the field, I had Liz with me and she distracted the pony who keeps chasing Mojo away. I took him into the stable to groom and pick out feet. He offered all 4 feet with me just saying “lift”. This is the cue my yard owner has been using, so I need to keep the consistency. No kicking, snatching or putting them down before I had finished cleaning them. He was eating his lunch at the time but got a few more treats for being so good.
Then we went in the arena and I put out an L-shaped corridor. We did that one way and then he backed on cue a few steps with in the poles. I asked him to back over a pole which he did well but then I decided to try the corridor again but going the other way. He got a bit confused and thought I wanted him to walk over the poles.
We ended with him standing on the tarp and getting a handful of treats. I left him in the school whilst I put a few things away. I had bunting tied to the fence as the yard owner wanted to do some obstacle training with her son and his pony in the afternoon. As i was unravelling it Mojo came to have a look, he was very eager to touch it.
Well finally got Mojo in the school to do some pole work and short lining. We haven’t managed much recently apart from grooming and a little targeting on the yard. I used my new short lines from Whinny Reins – they were brilliant, very easy to hold and didn’t get all tangled up like the feather lines, I must take a photo next time.
Anyway Mojo was very good, he walked well over the poles from a “walk on” cue and stopped on a “whoa”. He went to the frisbee I threw for him and even had a little trot, must now get the trot on a reliable cue. Only did a few minutes and now must build it up so we do more and then some ridden sessions.
Update 25th January 2019
Due to cataract surgery I haven’t done anything with Mojo – apart from pulling some twigs out of his mane. Today he was in for a rest from the wet fields, with a big pile of hay in his hay bar. He popped his head over the door and looked at me out of the corner of his eye. That is probably due to his unruly forelock blocking vision. I went in his stable and groomed him – well the bits that were dry, then put on my treat bag and loaded it with grass pellets. We went out into the yard and I groomed him a bit more, pulled the twigs out of his tail, sprayed it with “Mud Away” – not sure it does any good but we will see. He had a few pellets to nibble on in a bowl whilst I tidied up his tail and mane – scissors and a solo comb. I got the frisbee I use as a target and did his stretching exercises. He stood quietly whilst I switched on the small trimmers and just walked around the yard. We then did some targeting of an umbrella – just to make sure he hasn’t forgotten anything. It is amazing with these horses that even after doing nothing but being a horse in a field for nearly 2 months he was still enjoying touching a moving umbrella.
My plan in the next few weeks is to get him happy to go in the lorry and be driven around the block.
February 11th 2019
Mojo had a flu booster today, all was good the vet was superb, she hugged him and as he was wondering what she was doing the injection was done and he never even flinched. Plenty of treats followed.
Before the vet arrived I groomed him and did some stretching exercising with the target. Also I had the trimmers on and walked all round him, he even let me touch him with the back of my hand whilst the holding the trimmers which were on. The battery is dying so it wasn’t very loud but a few weeks ago he would had have just left.
A couple of snippets from our 2nd lesson with Sally Ede. Mojo was calm and relaxed and focused. I used my body and a slight open rein to turn. We used scratches as reinforcement and he was forward going so only a slight touch with the leg to indicate ‘yes” that is what I want.
I now want to add verbal cues to the rein cues but that will come after I get more confident riding. At the moment Mojo doesn’t seem bothered by my riding and as long as he is under his emotional threshold all is well.
I did feel a little guilty as I wanted to use more positive reinforcement in our ridden sessions but I also need to know he can be ridden by anyone, as he will most probably out live me.
Well we only managed one session of training last week, but Mojo was much calmer at the top of the arena. I used the cones to settle him and get his attention away from the mirrors and scary pigeon producing hedge.
He was very good at his cone touching and then he stood at the mounting block and turned his head rather moving backwards for the reinforcement.
We did the mounting block at the top, middle and bottom of the school.
Here is a little montage of the session at the lower end of the school.
Another lesson with Sally Ede on Friday 17th so hope all goes well.
Mojo and I had a lesson with Sally Ede – a Ride With Your Mind coach, and great confidence giver.
We worked on getting Mojo standing at the mounting block – due to me not having done much mounting block training recently he had reverted back to swing his quarters towards me. He was at his emotional threshold once we got in the school as we worked at the top end in the shade. It just goes to show how important generalisation is in our training. He hadn’t been up that end much in our training sessions.
As he was at his emotional threshold all it took was a pigeon flying out of the hedge to tip him over in to a flight response.
This a very bad video of the event, the video was too far away and I had no help to reposition.
By the end of the lesson Mojo had calmed down and was beginning to stand still and not swing round.. I managed one foot in the stirrup a couple of times and then added some weight in the stirrup. So my homework is more mounting block training and to so this in other areas of the school.
Also to remember to breathe and do my grounding exercises before and during sessions.
To this end I have written a shaping plan. I am often too lazy to write them but it is a good idea to have a written plan. Having also just complete an Advanced Animal Training course I ought to know and do better!!
Mojo up date – he had been in all night as he asked the yard owner to come in last night. Apparently he looks directly at her kitchen window and stamps his foot when he wants to come in to his stable. It was obviously too wet for him last night as at 5pm he was happy out and at 7ish he was at the gate asking to come in.
He was a very muddy beast and quite hot, with all his hair, this morning, I brushed as much as I could and got lots of hair out. Then we went in the school to walk over the poles that were nicely laid out in a fan shape. Mojo was very good at this but did knock a few out of place. Then did his “carrot” stretches using a target and then giving the food. I left him in the school after the end of session signal and he went to look in the mirrors at the end of the school, he seemed quite intrigued at his reflection.
We just need some dry weather for a prolonged period so the fields are not so waterlogged. Is this really Spring?
It has been a while since I wrote anything on this blog, winter is always a difficult time of year for horse owners. Our fields are muddy and Mojo is a mud monster. He is still out unrugged, he does come in if the weather is particularly foul or the fields get too poached.
Consequently I have only done basic care with him, a little bit of target training on the yard so he remembers, and some standing still on the yard too. He has a stationary target and stands there and eats hay whilst I groom him or pick out his feet. I am revisiting foot lifting as his fronts are perfect now but he still struggles a bit with the hinds, some times more than others. One of the liveries said when she got him in from the field he seemed a little stiff – probably slipped in all the mud. I checked him and did his stretching exercises – I do these with a target stick and he was very supple laterally. He is not so good at stretching down between his front legs but that was more that he was unsure of where the target was at first. He stretched his near hind but was a little stiffer on the off side, this is always the side the physios pick up on.
We have regular physio visits and/or massage therapy. Plus saddle checks – not the I sit on him very often but it is important that he is comfortable.
I do hope the wet weather stops soon and the fields can recover, we are fortunate to have a good school that doesn’t freeze or flood, so I can take him in there to do pole work or long lining – I must get on and do these again but can’t rustle up the enthusiasm in the wind and rain. Horses like just to be horses and as long as they are cared for and happy they will be OK. Plenty of forage in the field and friends to groom and hang out with, some shelter by the trees and a stable to come in to occasionally to dry out and have a sleep.
I will make a list of things we need to revisit and reintroduce tack in the school before riding him, I don’t want him always to associate the arena with being ridden. The arena needs to be a place where fun things happen and I wont ride unless I know he is OK with everything to do with being ridden.
Gone are the days when I just got on a horse, even when they are fidgeting or moving away from the mounting block – yes I have done that in the past but I know better now. This equestrian journey is never ending – as it should be for everyone. We never know everything and learn all the time – if we don’t we get stuck in the past and never progress in our horsemanship.