Educating a Shetland: day 2
Today I started Coco on the long lead to give her plenty of space from the stock whip. I just kept walking away from her with the whip, putting a crack in every now and again. I kept encouraging her to follow me until she would just walk along behind me at a distance and calmly follow the whip. This was also designed to build her confidence because whilst ever she is following it, it will make her more confident and brave as oppose to the whip coming towards her.
She started to cope really well until she would stand dead still whilst I cracked it. Then I asked her walk up to me one step at a time, then I would crack it and ask for another step. Still when she is close to the whip she is worried, but this is a big improvement from yesterday.
Then I started to do some guiding on her and getting her out on a lead, getting her to follow the rope, getting her to look into the turn and then change directions – as in change directions in front of me – this was encouraging her to change from one eye to the other because she was quite nervous at the start with anyone on her off side. She started to change directions really well, I was really happy with her progress. She started to do turns quite evenly and comfortably.
Then I introduced the stick. The stick was not there to chase her or to make her change directions so I deliberately put it up in the air or away from a horse when they change directions so that they can think about the pressure on the rope and change their focus through the guidance of the rope. I was using the stick to encourage energy so I would give a gentle bump with the stick as a rider would with legs. I wasn’t chasing her or driving her with it, I was just getting her used to the stick and to not be frightened of it. I was using it to touch her in all areas while she was moving. I could touch her down her legs and down her rump and find any areas of worry.
Then we introduced Ebony. I would say this is the first time she has had anyone on her guided from a distance so I led her around for a while and then let Ebony out from a distance and she went very calmly and changed directions smoothly with Ebony on her back. I also got Ebony to bump her with her legs occasionally to encourage energy. She started off reacting a little bit abruptly but became a lot smoother with understanding.
I am very happy with her progress. I think people spend a lot of time trying to quieten a horse of this type whereas I have spent my time guiding her and slowly introducing things – I kept her mind busy whilst I introduced things. My guiding has been to build focus, trust and leadership – I guided her by leading her towards me and then when she was ready, I allowed her to walk around me. I haven’t chased her around at all. Just guiding her. Now she is less worried and she is remaining more focused and starting to relax more.