I am SO behind on this blog! But, with this horrible hot weather we're having, I guess I have time to catch up, its too darned hot and humid to do anything outside.
Last weekend, I brought my friend Bernice, and her Curly horse Buddy to a Dan Sumerel clinic at Live and Let Live rescue (http://www.liveandletlive.org/) in Chichester, New Hampshire. Buddy has been having some issues with saddling, i.e., he is scared to death of the saddle after a misguided attempt at saddle training by a hired "trainer". Apparently this trainer felt it is appropriate to saddle up a young horse for hte first time then slam the stirrup against his side to "desensitize" him. What actually happened, was he scared the crap out of this poor horse, who bolted up and down the aisle, then slipped on the tar and fell.
So, when I heard that Dan was going to be out this way again, I suggested that Bernice could get some good use from attending this clinic. Dan teaches you how to convince the horse that you are good enough to be an alpha, all in a calm, pain-free way. If Buddy puts his full respect into Bernice, he will be able to get over his saddling issues easier, becuase he will trust that she is not going to hurt him. Sure, it will still take a little time, but it sure will cut down the anxiety on Buddy immensely.
I arrived at Bernice and Buddy's barn around noontime on Friday to pick them up. We loaded all her gear up, then brought Buddy out. Buddy decided he did not feel like going for a ride that day. It took about 90 minutes to get him loaded, but he eventually did so relatively calmly. He still wasn't too thrilled about it, but we didn't beat him, yank on him, use whips or butt ropes. Just a lot of approach and retreat, and patience.
We arrived without incident, tucked Buddy into his pen, dropped the trailer, met all the wonderful folks at Live and Let Live, said Hello to Dan, and then we headed to the motel for the night.
Saturday listened to Dan lecture on barefoot, saddle fit, bits, stabling vs. turnout, etc. Of course, he was only preaching to the choir, everyone there was on the same page, which was very refreshing!!! There was not one shod horse there, everyone already used gentle methods and clicker training, many horses were ridden in halters or bitless bridles, there were very few bits, although most of the horses there were rescues. Teh farm itself houses over 60 rescue horses and donkeys, a few goats, some pigs, dogs, cats, puppies, some exotic birds, its a very busy place!
Then a few people worked with their horses Saturday afternoon, then on Sunday Bernice went first. She and Buddy did very, very well, we were both quite pleased with Buddy's reactions to this method. Later in the afternoon they did a leadline class with all the horses in an outdoor arena and they did some ground exercises. Again, Buddy was a star! Granted most of the other horses were rescues, but some were very, very upset, although these are horses with some very deep seated issues.
I videoed the event for Bernice, so she can refer to it later as she continues working with Buddy.
It was great to see Dan again, and I wish Jocelyn could have made the trip too. I picked up a few tips and reinforced some of the things I've been doing with Lakota and now more recently, with Jen. And of course the improvements I need to make are: "Do less!"