News

Part 3

11 September 2017
Part 3

Bridleless

03 September 2017
Bridleless

Trimming

08 August 2017
Trimming

Maverick

01 August 2017
Maverick

Page 2: Ebony

13 July 2017
Page 2: Ebony

Part 1: Echo

13 July 2017
Part 1: Echo

Aurora and the Hawk

Aurora is rising five. When she was three and a half I was in the process of starting her. I pony my horse's out a lot during this period, as I like introducing them to the world without the pressure of a rider, and they get to feed off the confidence of the more experienced horse I’m riding.

One day, I was riding Zefir and I had Aurora on the left and Maverick on the right. We were walking quietly down the road, and as we rode past some flax bushes there was a huge ruckus!! The bushes went wild flapping and rustling and we all got a hell of a fright!! There was a moment of craziness before I got the horses back under control . It appeared that are young Hawk had come down with it’s wings out into a flax bush and had got stuck. When we approached, we had startled it. I glanced back and noticed the hawk had freed itself and as we continued down the road Zefir and Maverick gradually settled down and while alert, were able think again. Aurora on the other hand, had clearly thought she was going to die and remained on high alert and tense for the rest of the ride.

A few days later I had the same three horses and we were doing the same ride. About 100 m away from the flax bushes I could see the tension starting to build an Aurora. Shortened stride stiffness through her neck and body and her head came up. Zefir and Maverick on the other hand were completely normal. The anxiety built in Aurora and by the time we went past the flax bushes, she was on tippy toes and this continued until we were well past them. For the next three months this was the case every time we went past the flax bushes with Aurora. The reaction did lessen over time, nevertheless the anxiety in her was still noticeable. On the occasions that I was riding her, just before she would start to get anxious I would ask her to leg yield, zig zagging up the road to keep her body soft and flexible and to take her focus away from the flax bushes, which did help. That was my only course of action. I didn't make a big deal of it, I knew she was worried about it. I simply focused on helping her through that anxious moment.

After the three months winter came and Aurora was turned out for 2 months. When she came back into work I took her out on the lead again with Zefir and Maverick. We went past the flax bushes and all three horses were completely normal and unfazed, Aurora appeared to have let that worry go. I found it fascinating that 3 or 4 seconds of scary stimulus had caused 5 months of worry in Aurora, when Zefir and Mav had let it go by the next day.

Rather than see that as a negative in Aurora, I thought I had been lucky to gain such a valuable insight into her character right at the start of her training into the ridden part of her life. I realised if a fright could set her back that many months, I was going to need to prepare her really well for all the firsts that were coming her way.

Many years ago I would have reacted differently.

A week or so after the incident I would have become annoyed by her behaviour and thought it ridiculous given there wasn’t anything there now...I would probably have kicked her forward when she started backing off, telling her not to be so silly, toughen up, there’s nothing there, get over it, kick kick kick…. I wouldn’t of realised that by taking that approach I was actually adding more pressure to her already anxious mind and deepening her worry. Furthermore it would stay there unresolved and the next time something else worried her, it would add on to what she already had. Gradually her confidence would dwindle, she would be less inclined to try and less able to cope with pressure. If I was still adding pressure in my approach to managing her, she and I, in terms of our partnership would become further apart because instead of building her confidence up, I would be tearing it down.

In the past few months I have started taking Aurora out to a few different training days and events. She has blown me away, not only with her willingness to try but her ability to cope when something doesn’t quite go to plan. It has been hugely satisfying seeing the work and effort I put into her preparation paying off. I am mindful of her character and I think ahead about how certain things might affect her. If I feel there could be an issue I might introduce her on the ground first...after all she is still young. I treat her confidence as though it is a precious jewel, I know it can be lost in a few seconds if I am thoughtless and inadvertently throw her in the deep end.

I can already see Aurora becoming one of my most straight forward horses...but it could so easily have gone the other way. Although I prepare all my horses for their first experiences, I put a lot more effort with Aurora and introduced many more scenarios at home. After seeing how she has handled going out to events, I will now take the same approach with all of my horses, you can’t overdo preparation.

I see horses like Aurora every day in my work. There are thousands and thousands like her out there.They often have confidence and trust issues. I’d love to see people reading that better in their horses. See it as I did, as a valuable bit of information about your horse,rather than a reason to give them a hard time, build them up! Be the hero who swoops in to help them when they get stuck and you just watch them become an amazing partner for you.

#ManestreamHorsemanship #Partnership #Aurora #Confidence

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Louisa Andrew
Phone: 0274 300 875
Email: louisa@manestreamequine.co.nz

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