This is the story of my quest to train my three Dales Ponies for classical dressage, primarily by using Alexandra Kurland's clicker training methods, with a touch of others such as Philippe Karl and Anja Beran thrown in. I turned to clicker training because I had come up against some issues that I didn't know how to fix and because I wanted to inspire them to become enthusiatic partners. Bella and Jack are all my own work and have never been ridden by anyone else.

Bella, Grace and Jack

Bella aged 6

Bella aged 6

Treat Delivery

Jack aged 7


Monday, 10 November 2008

I would very proudly like to introduce my new Baroque dressage horse. Grace is a 12yo Dales mare who has been here for some years, so we already know each other very well. She is very different from Bella and Jack in as much as she is higher behind than at the withers, as you can see in the picture, whereas Bella is about level and Jack is withers high. She is also much shorter legged as, although she is about the same as them in length and girth, she is a good couple of inches smaller than Bella and about a hand smaller than Jack.

She is a slight headshaker, although she has been a lot better this summer than previously. She is not really suitable for a treed saddle as she has muscle atrophy either side of her spine, which causes bad bridging problems, but luckily I already have a Fhoenix Suberpanel, which is ideal for her. She hasn't been ridden for about six months so I will just hack her out gently for a few weeks, with a bit of in hand work, before I begin any ridden school work with her.

She is a very sweet, obliging mare, but not very athletic and she is very unbalanced in canter, which doesn't come naturally to her even without a rider. At the moment, although she has already done some lateral work in hand, lateral and longitudinal bending are not easy for her, and she is nothing like as light, either in hand or ridden, as Bella and Jack, so we will have plenty to work on.

She will be very good for me, as it's been a while since I rode an older horse more set in it's ways, and, as she has already been ridden by many different people, I now have a horse that I don't mind friends riding (only with me though, I am very over-protective!). We are going to have a lot of fun together!

Here she is:

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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!