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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A New Blog for Bella and I.

I have had a really good day. A good friend of mine helped me to move the alpacas into their winter accommodation and to get ready to get the cattle and sheep in tomorrow before the snow arrives. I've also got a pen nearly ready for the two young Fells if the weather gets really bad, although they look like huge, woolly teddy bears at the moment and very well insulated.

She is coming back tomorrow to help me get them in and it's so much nicer having someone to work with than doing it all by yourself. I am very grateful to her.

I found a blog last night which reminded me what my hopes and dreams were for Bella and I. She says she has "piaffe dreams" and so do I, although passage was my foremost dream (for my friend Colin in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, piaffe is basically trotting on the spot and passage is an exaggerated, very pingy, slow motion trot!).

This is the blog that inspired me to get back on track:
I especially liked her last post but one where she tells how taking part in other activities requiring balance and core strength help to improve your riding, and visa versa.

Ever since I watched Jane Bartle-Wilson and Pinocchio passage their way into view on 'The Art of Dressage' tapes I've longed to feel what that feels like to sit on, and imagined doing it. Clicker training has made incredible improvements to the rhythm and cadence of Bella's trot and I believe we can get there together but my dreams have expanded further than that now, to include canter pirouettes and one time tempi changes (Colin - whizzing around in a canter on the spot, more or less, and changing the leading leg every stride at canter, a bit like skipping, sort of!!).

This is what I always had planned and I've been distracted from my plans for too long already - time to get on with it!! I've begun a new blog to chart our progress:

I also printed off an advert to sell Kate then, after riding Bella this afternoon, I had a little play at working Kate in hand. I feel as though I've spent almost no time on her and done nothing to speak of with her since I bought her and yet she has somehow learned what the click means, learned to love to work, to concentrate and give me her full attention almost all of the time, improved her balance and learned to accept the bit and give graciously to it.

She reminds me of Bella so much in the way her slightly stroppy attitude has turned to earnest endeavour and a bold and sensible outlook on new challenges. I decided that, rather than try to sell her cheaply to a good home to avoid keeping her over the winter, I've done all the hardest parts already, winning her attention and co-operation, so I'll keep on doing a bit with her whenever I can and sell her in the Spring for hopefully a good price.

I must NOT get too attached to her though. She may be like Bella but I already have the original and I don't have time for another. Bella is my pony of a lifetime and Kate will definitely be someone else's pony of a lifetime but not mine. One Bella is more than I could ever have hoped for - anymore would be downright greedy!!!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Training Justin as an RDA Pony.

I've been thinking for a long time that Justin, the black 2yo Fell, would make a fantastic Riding for the Disabled pony as everything about him - build, temperament, breed, height, weight carrying ability, docility, ability to calm himself down in an instant, even at his young age, and his sensible, laid back attitude to everything - it's all too good to miss and I think he's exceptional.

I've decided that if I would like to try and keep him for the 3 years plus it will take to train him to be a safe, reliable RDA pony and I hope that the very special person I've met might help me train him. I always used to like doing everything by myself as far as possible but I learnt last year that working together on something you care about with people you love forges very strong bonds and gives everyone involved huge amounts of satisfaction when it's for a cause they believe in.

Last year that cause was me. Now I have a huge need to do something for people less fortunate than I am and give something back.

The RDA group I helped with last Spring, before Strangles put a stop to my going, was the life's work of someone David and I knew well - Trina Hall. She taught me to ride and her dying wish was that the group should survive her early death. One of the main people who ensured that it did was one of David's partners in a two family business started by their parents. She had been Trina Hall's best friend and ran her to and from the hospital throughout her illness. She has been a good friend to me too.

The ponies at the centre are mostly getting old now and they're desperate to find suitable replacements. One of their best is a Fell who is in his late twenties.

The riders at the centre inspired and humbled me by their attitude to make the most of their lives in spite of what I would regard as appalling difficulties, and the horses and their riding meant so much to all of them. My love for horses has been my saviour in the past too so I know how important they can be and the difference they can make to people's lives.

I can't provide them with a suitable horse immediately but hopefully in a few years time I can provide them with an ideal pony, trained and ready for the job.

Here he is, Justin, the future RDA superstar!!! I think I might start a new blog about his training.


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