Parelli'd to death: free schooling a clingy horse
Please save me, HF!
I'm having trouble with my gelding. I'm still working on it, but I thought i'd stick this post up firstly to get some advice from you more experienced owners, and secondly to see if you think my handling of the situation so far has been, frankly, any good. Fingers crossed!
A little background info: The horse in question is a sweet little 14.2hh 14yo Welsh X New forest pony. I found myself short of time for him, so he's been on a loan type agreement to a couple of girls, and I'm under the impression they only had him in light work, so he's not been doing too much, maybe working once or twice a week. Alongside ridden work, they've had him doing Parelli's seven groundwork games. He's really smart and a very quick learner so he's picked them up very well. Lately he's been quite cuddly, although he wasn't that friendly with me before.
So, now I have a little more time I want to start riding him again. He can be a little difficult at times and because of this I wanted to make sure our groundwork was tiptop, so I can feel at ease and have his respect. I've started freeschooling my mare and we love it, so I thought i'd try that with him. Hmmm. Not only has he gotten more FRIENDLY, he's downright CLINGY! I couldn't get him to go away from me at all. He just didn't get it. And no amount of schooling whip waving was going to change that (he figured it was a 'friendly stick', maybe?). I tried waving it, making noises, hitting the whip againt my boot to make a sound, I wouldnt hit him, but I tried a little tap to encourage him to go away, he wouldn't leave. He also feels the need to be facing me at all times, I can't seem to walk alongside him, the moment I try to walk round him his swings his hind round (kinda like in the driving game I think). He has always been good at yeilding to pressure and moving when asked, but now he won't stand still unless i'm directly in front of him. I got him to still for a bit so I could walk away from him, but he headed straight for me and just wanted to follow me around. He's such a pony-in-my-pocket!
So I figured i'd take a step back and lunge him before I try to get him freeschooling. Again I really couldn't get him away from me. I got a bit of bailing twine and tied it to the end of my schooling whip to make it a bit more.....encouraging. This seemed to get him moving at least a little. I found if I tried to get him to walk he was really confused so I tried to get him moving and managed to get him to trot but it was a real struggle to keep him from turning into me, and I had to start again a couple of times. Eventually I set up a very small jump (with no wings) and lunged him over that at a trot. Having something to focus on seemed to help getting him to go forwards but it was still a real struggle. He seemed very anxious. I got a few good circuits on each rein and left it at that for today, but I need to work out what to do next. The girls say he's fine when they're riding and he's great with their parelli games, but since he started with that the idea of regular groundwork seems to stump him. Like I said he's a VERY quick learner, and while this can be great in the right hands, it also means that if you don't conduct yourself well he can learn from that and move backwards. I don't want to make a mistake here. I'm trying my very hardest to stay patient with him, but frankly i'm a little frustrated when I can do nothing with him, I really wanted to get his groundwork good before I tried riding him again.
Anyways, thanks for reading. I'm going to keep working on this with him, and we've got through worse, but any opinions would be awesome.
Thanks guys xx
~The most important lesson my horse ever taught me is how much I have left to learn~