Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
Today I went out to see Pippa again after a ten day hiatus. The trainer had sent me a photo of him sitting on her, his feet practically dragging on the ground. He's thin, but pony-rider size he is not.
He told me as his intern brought Pippa into the indoor arena and turned her into the round pen, that the day before, he hadn't needed to do any 'roundpenning', she was ready to work from the start.
Today, though, not so much. There was a guy loading fence panels on to a flat bed trailer right outside, and two horses were being ridden in the adjacent space. She needed to be sent around several times before she was ready to settle down. Then, he brushed her, picked her feet, put a saddle blanket on her, walked her around, put the saddle on, walked her around, cinched it up, walked her around .... she had nothing on her head. "I want her to be able to choose to leave if she feels she has to." She didn't leave. She didn't even move her feet unless invited for a walk.
At this point he turned the session over to an intern, a girl who was probably a bit older than she looked, and taller than me, but I could have picked her up and carried her under my arm she was so skinny. The intern put her foot in the stirrup, took it out, gave Pippa a little withers scritch, did that about five times on each side, then put weight in the stirrup, repeat both sides a few times ... slowly with many repetitions and scritches she got into the saddle. Pippa did not move, and it seemed to me she was feeling kind of contemplative about the whole thing. She wasn't relaxed, but she was not a coiled spring either.
Her halter was put on her and reins were snapped to the cheek pieces. The intern got her to move by simply turning her head with the rein and encouraging her a bit. The trainer said, "all we want at this point is movement, don't much care where she goes." At first Pippa went in unsteady jerky circles, but gradually and gently the intern got her straightened out and walking sort of in a straight line. Pippa began to get a rhythm up, and had a bit of trouble stopping. "They all do that," the trainer remarked. "She just doesn't understand the cue yet."
He told me that it was quite clear that Pippa had been ridden before. "She had some not-so-good training at some point ... let's put it this way, she has learned to be afraid of people through experience. She is not a blank slate." But he was quite optimistic. "She's an honest horse, she tries her best, and she lets you know what she's feeling. She's coming along real well."
I thought so too.
Short horse lover