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.
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
I'm not complaining though because they love the snow and I love watching them in it. Jack in particular is such a big kid! He has to push his nose along through it all the way to his paddock, and has been known to just HAVE to stop for a roll on the way there, as he can't wait any longer.
Usually in the winter they all go out about midday, for a couple of hours, and I fit in working them either side of that. At the moment, while it's been so sunny and lovely out, they've been going out after breakfast with a pile of haylage, and coming in about 3pm. It means I have to carry water buckets out to the paddocks, as the troughs are solid ice now.
I had a very nasty moment today though. I'd just got Bella and Russell in and tied them in the yard to change their rugs when our Jack Russell, Flora, started barking. I have to shut the dogs in a stable when I need to leave the yard gate open, as Flora has what has been a near fatal attraction to standing in the middle of the road, for some reason known only to her, so the dogs can't be left to free range like most of the animals here.
I had to leave the gate open to let the returning poultry, who do free range, back in to get into their stable for the night. I had the radio on and kept shouting at her to shut up when it eventually occurred to me to wonder why she was barking. Our Golden Retriever often does, in protest at being shut in, but Flora usually only barks for a good reason. I turned the radio off and immediately heard a calf sounding distressed in the cowshed, which backs onto the stables.
I ran around there and OH had shut the cows back out of the front passageway, so he could drive the tractor in, and disappeared. We have two young calves, just a couple of weeks old, and one had become wedged (with a little help from the cow in the pen who isn't his mum, I suspect) with his head through the gate and his bum tight up against a ring feeder. The gate was pressing on his windpipe and he was suffocating.
I tried to untie the gate but he had jammed the knots tight and I tried to push his bum out of the tiny gap it was wedged in but nothing gave an inch. I was shouting for OH, who always carries a penknife, but no joy. I racked my brain for where I could quickly lay my hands on something sharp and suddenly remembered leaving a knife in the shed opposite. I ran over and grabbed it and got back just in time to see the calf go limp as he lost consciousness. Cursing my slow reactions I cut the string and the gate shot open. It had been holding the unconscious calf up and as he fell to the floor he began to gasp again. I stood guard over him, so he didn't get trampled, until he came around and staggered to his feet and then, low and behold, OH appeared!
I apologised profusely to Flora for shouting at her when she was trying to tell me that something was making an unusual noise and needed investigating. If it wasn't for her that calf would be dead now and he's SO cute - red and woolly like a Highland, although he's an Aberdeen Angus. OH would have been distraught and blaming himself for leaving them unattended, and the calf's mum is devoted to her first ever offspring. We all have a lot to be grateful to Flora for.
Bella and Russell were still tied in the yard and waiting, surprised but patiently. I really appreciate my pones endless patience at times like these. The other day my next door neighbour came into the yard for a chat when I had just got Jack in and tied him up. He stood watching us thoughtfully, ears pricked as though taking an interest in our conversation and never moved a muscle. When we finally went over to him he said hello very politely to her but then leaned towards me, as if seeking my assurance that she was OK. I've often noticed him doing this when someone goes up to his stable door in front of me - he will say hello but then look around them for me. It's really touching and makes me feel really close to him. Dales do seem to be quite 'one person' ponies. I am so glad that I'm Bella and Jack's 'person'!
I would be grateful if Bella didn't try to eat other people that go near to her stable though, especially OH. It doesn't endear her to him too much!!!!!!
- Motivation of Dressage Horses - Richard Hinrichs
- Taking Stock.
- Snowy Days.
- Photo Albums 2008.
- Snowy Days Photos.
- Frosty Photos.
- Philippe Karl Style Flexions.
- Giving the Horse a Voice.
- Aspirations and Expectations.
- First Time Evers.
- I found these clips on You tube yesterday and they...
- Russell's Story.
- Saddle Fitting.
- Photos of my Pones Backs.
- My Little Helper.
- ▼ January (15)