Not just a mentor, a super-mentor!!! Duffyduck put us in contact, and I will be forever grateful!! BerryBridge, I love you!!!
So - Progress so far.....
Last week I bought a nice soft halter for Shergar, and after lots of time and practise with her, and lots of treats to help her put her nose in, she now accepts putting it on without too much fuss....although she is still wary of hands being raised near her head.
We put up electric tapes to line the route from the barn to the field, and this helps - although it now looks like we are expecting a royal visit in the front garden!!
The trainer that came originally said that we should lead Vicky, with Shergar just following, for 2 weeks, and that then they would know the way and we could just let them out to run free to the field.........I was unhappy with this on several counts - firstly, it just seems so 'hands off' - especially with babies. Also, as they have to go through the garden and round the house, it doesn't seem particularly safe or controlled - we have small kids!! But also, it implies that Shergar is meekly following Vicky, when in fact she is doing exactly as she pleases, charging off whenever she feels like it or something spooks her.....racing back towards the barn, then racing back to find Vicky.......all of which makes Vicky very jumpy too.
Whilst putting them out with the trainer watching, Vicky stopped as usual, so I tried nudging her rear end around in a circle to get her moving again - as has been suggested, and it worked a treat!.....but the trainer told me off, and said that I should only let her move forwards, not turn her at all....that someone should follow behind with a stick or crop to tap her with if she refused to move...... only ever to go forwards out to the field....hmmm.
Bringing them in again now presented a new problem - Shergar is unkeen on someone walking behind them with a stick, and so once out of the field and into the garden she started to bolt round to the drive - which Vicky then immediately copied, leaving me behind! Fortunately they at least have no-where to go, and wait by the barn, so collecting Vicky's lead again was not problem....
He also told me to halve the daily pellet amount - they were getting @1Kilo each, split into 2 feeds. Shergar didn't like the reduced rations - she always seemed hungry - and got more aggravated each day.
I also wormed them both last week - then I know for sure they are done.
Given the reservations I had about some of the advice being given, and the language issue, I took DuffyDuck up on her offer of help with finding an English speaking trainer in this area ......... and to my amazement she came back almost immediately with a solution.......enter Super-Mentor!!!
A phone call later, BerryBridge had agreed to come over on Saturday - I couldn't wait!!
Bless her, her approach is everything I could have wished for - caring, understanding, common-sense, no-nonsense and patience - even with me!! (In fact, just before she finally escaped home, my 2 youngest sons to decided they were puppy dogs and immediately set about training them to ''fetch''!!)
Her advice was endless.....she suggested adding a second line of electric tape on the route from the barn to the field, explained how to control Vicky and stop her running off, and that someone walking ahead would help stop Shergar bolting, rather than following them with a stick, that we could put tapes up in the barn to let them have some freedom from their stalls on days they cannot go out - which also gives me more space to practise with them.
She had lots of help and suggestions about bulking their food - that Shergar was underweight and they should go back to full rations (which has immediately calmed her down again). This coming weekend we have session 2 planned, which will include a more detailed winter feeding plan for them both and an educational visit to the feed Merchants.
She explained the 'Indian rope trick' - which we put into practise after they came in....leaving a soft cotton lead rope attached to their headcollars for a short while.....this seems to work a treat. Then practising leading, backing, stand....with Vicky in her stall, and also some hands on with Shergar in her box - very gently, showing her nice manners and behaviour. Also holding her lead through the bars to get used to standing and being restrained - all of which she accepted with minimum fuss.
As proof of her wisdom and experience, the very next day I was able to lead Vicky to the field without the need of a following stick, and have been able to control her coming back in every evening since!!
Sorry - rather than an update, this is starting to resmble 'War and Peace' - but hey, I'm just so thrilled with everything!!! DuffyDuck - hope we can meet up soon - can't thank you enough! And BerryBridge - can't wait for Saturday!!
Thanks to everyone for their continued help, comments and interest - will try to post some photos of the things later.