Text and photos by Jenny Barnes with quotes from Mark Langley
The joys of working horses: the mare has come in lame; and it’s raining. Taking advantage of the circumstances Mark says it is probably a good time for her to have an easy lesson anyway. He catches her in the big yard. The mare is looking the most soft and attentive I have seen her yet.
Mark walks away with just a rope draping over her shoulder. She follows.
As she stands whilst he puts the halter on, there is a tangible calmness with both of them. She even leans towards him he does it.
Mark wants to check her hoof. He has never touched or tried to touch her legs before now. We’ve all seen this mare kick out, rear, buck and nip. Picking up her legs could have been quite an issue. But waiting until this opportune moment, when she already knows how to stand, when she has had enough time with Mark to trust him, makes this lesson superbly stress free. And this is what I find truly thrilling about horsemanship: if you get things right, they work. Not just for what you are teaching at that moment, but you also set them up to understand more concepts than one. Watch this.
First she lets him stand right beside her rump, and rub her back legs, right down to her hoof. Brilliant.
Mark rubs down every foot with her standing. Then he tries her sore hoof. She lets him pick it up straight away. There is nothing to see and Mark suspects a stone bruise.
Now for a bit of fun..what will she do when Mark squats down in front of her again? There is no physical connection at this point between them, and she is in a big yard with other horses around her. She is as curious as him I think.
When Mark stands up, she doesn’t raise her head up in the air in a nervous way but maintains his gaze. You can see Mark is pleased at that.
The rain was getting stronger, so apologies for the drops on the lens! A bit of softening and then Mark sees how she reacts to him jumping by her again. She is alert but doesn’t move much. That’s enough.
There will be a pause in this blog as Mark is running a couple of 4 day clinics. When we come back next week, it will be interesting to see how she is after the time off. Mark won’t have had a hand on her for 10 days. Just keep an eye on our Face book page (www.facebook.com/equineability) or sign up to the blog to be notified of the next one. See you then!