Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
Well she's still improving on her bending. Just about there at a walk! Next will be keeping it at a trot and hopefully eventually a canter. We've had nonstop rain for the past 24 hours so it's going to be a while before I can take her out in the field but i've been riding her up and down the roads.
I know Bella (and my other mare, Chico) HATES the indoor arena. They both get attitudes if they're under a roof. She doesn't like to run so it takes alot of encouragement when we're at the arena to get her to break into a lope. She bucked on me once but that was nothing ha ha Chico gives me much worse!
She also doesnt like to jump much even on the line but we're going to fix that (hopefully!)
As for bending, i've been using the Natural Horsemanship methods (Pat Parelli to be specific but the others are just as good. I just prefer the way he explains things.). Basically I started out getting her to yield her forehand & hindquarters while on the ground, first with just physical pressure/"porcupine game" (start light & increase pressure until she moves off, then release. That's the key part).
After I moved to rhythmic pressure (driving game) & used my short training whip to tap the areas I wanted her to move. If she didn't, again id increase pressure until she moved off.
By now i've got her yielding her hindquarters away from me very nicely. Her forehand is much better too, though with alot of really friendly/bold/pushy horses they do not like to move their front end away because that is their place of power & they don't like to sumbit.
Another part of the "porcupine game" is getting her to bend her head around while I stand at her shoulder. I put one hand on her wither and with the other I grab the side of her halter and gently bring her nose towards me. At first she wanted to spin circles, so I just went with her until she stopped, then I released. Now she's got it that she just turns her head without spinning because she knows that's what I want & I just hold it there.
Another trick (i can't do it yet with Bella because her tail's a little short & her back is long) is to grab their tail and make them bring their nose around to touch it. Again, they really like to spin until they figure it out.
Once I had her doing all this fine & bending on the ground, I got in the saddle & did the same. Just pull the rein slowly & gently until her nose was touching my boot & hold it there. Even if she spun, I kept the pressure until she stopped completely. Do it in both directions a couple of times over before even riding off.
It's still a work in progress but she's so smart & patient!
As for personal space issues, Bella had them too (she still does at times, but again she's improved). A good NH game for this is the "yo-yo game". Basically you're making the horse back away from you in a straight line & then come back to you on the same line. It starts with the "porcupine" and "driving game", where you get them to back away from you using pressure (starting light & increasing until they move). Even one step is good at first. Then bring them back.
Wiggling the rope is another step to this as well. Start with a light wiggle through your fingers, then your wrist, then your elbow and increase until your entire arm is swinging if the horse doesn't back off. Eventually the rope will start to "snap" in their face & they will back off from it. That's when you relax and let them stand & think it over. Then repeat & eventually all you'll have to do is wiggle your finger at them & they'll back up.
The only time Bella has any personal space issues now is when she's getting her feet done lol. She does well for the farrier but she spends her whole time trying to find something to chew on!
Hope that helps ;) If you're interested at all you can look into some NH books or videos. You don't have to go with Parelli, that's just my personal choice. I like the way they break everything down & make it easy to learn. Just ignore the mustache lol but he's got alot of neat tips & ideas. And trust me, it really does work if you do it properly. I've found Fjords are very intelligent & always like to be doing something interesting so this sort of training is really stimulating for them because it's something new every time!
"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly." www.wildestheartart.com