Following John’s mare: mouthing & the first rides

Text & photos by Jenny Barnes with quotes from Mark Langley

I’ve lumped a few days together in this blog. Mark has continued to work John’s mare every day since the last post. He has covered different lessons with her such as mouthing, lunging outside, ponying in the forest, and as you will see, he has ridden her twice now.

Normally Mark mouths them from their backs. But John’s mare needs to keep learning and moving forward even though there is not a lot of riding going on. To catch up, Mark starts to mouth her from the ground. She has had the bit in her mouth a few times before.

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Following the mouthing, Mark took her out on the property – through the forest and over logs.

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Later, Mark is ready to sit on her. A big test. Mark has to make sure he has no pressure on her head. He is prepared to ride whatever comes and to go with whatever she wants to do. She takes a few steps in a circle. She wants to keep her eye on him. Some horses just stand still on for the first time Mark sits on them. He will get on and off on both sides, and that is enough for the first ride. Similarly, this is a short lesson. She copes, and he leaves it on that good note.


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A moments reflection and a catch of breath. Should he get on again? She coped so well…Look her standing so calmly.

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No, he leaves it. The ride is over and the relief for everyone is palpable.

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Today, Mark wanted to give her the space to move a bit more, if she chose. The deeper sand and the greater width of this round yard also gives Mark a bit of a help if she was to buck.

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Nothing. Phew!! She only walked again. Both circles – keeping her eye on Mark. She was yet to properly walk forward.

“She could walk around but she was quite weary. She had a lot of attention on me which was expected. She walked around me on both eyes reasonably well and remained calm.  I felt though that she wasn’t relaxed enough to ask for anything more than a walk. I think that she could have gone either way – she may have panicked and ran a bit but I think that after that she would have stopped and wanted to stand still, shutting down, because moving is too scary. So I was happy to just relax her at a walk and reward her for that. This will develop confidence for the next lesson: a very important thing for horses that have allowed all their barriers to be broken down and accept the more submissive situation of being ridden. Asking extras can sometimes work and won’t matter on certain horses but on some, like this mare, it can take away confidence and make the next ride a little bit more difficult. There is no gain in nervous or hot blooded horses to push a win one day only to create tension for the next. As I left it, we were both winners.”

2 thoughts on “Following John’s mare: mouthing & the first rides

  1. that’s fantastic Mark and Jen, love the way you are treating her, Mark and allowing her to progress. I love following her story especially seeing the same bush that I rode Lola in with you that first time, it brings back memories :O)) Mandi

  2. Pingback: Starting John’s Mare: the last day here | Mark Langley's horsemanship blog

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