This is another article that I found in the back end of the old website. I still remember this little pony vividly. Oh man… he was NOT a happy camper. Working in this field, it’s hard to remember just how many horses there are out there who are THAT unhappy… sadly far too many of them.
Yoshi and Mary came to a clinic with me way back in 2006. She’d been trying hard and loved him to bits, but his behavior… holy snapping turtles – her pony club couldn’t deal with it and her non horsey family had no idea how to cope with it.
Mostly she couldn’t catch him. He reared up when being saddled, was difficult and occasionally impossible to bridle, jumped around while she was trying to get on, wouldn’t stand still, he didn’t enjoy any touch on his body and severely disliked anyone touching his legs or feet (forget shoeing!). A simple bot fly caused him to bowl straight over the top of the nearest human. Altogether the ideal pony club mount (yes, that was a joke!)
Even though in extreme fear, this plucky little horse had been careful not to hurt Mary. In 4 short days of a clinic, the increase in their bond together was absolutely awesome.
The focus of Mary’s clinic was to help seriously terrified Yoshi to establish a deep comfort zone with humans on the ground. Getting that comfort zone was a really big deal and took quite some doing at the time. These days we have an even better understanding of that kind of fear and even better ways of dealing with it.
But even so, from that base Mary was able to expand Yoshi’s comfort zone and gain gentle leadership with him following her around at liberty in a 2 acre paddock, with him choosing to be with her, moving where she wanted him to go.
She used the same philosophy and principles to get Yoshi happy about being saddled. The first day of saddling, to get Yoshi in his comfort zone with the saddle took nearly three hours. The next day was less than 10 minutes. Not bad to go from rearing at the saddle to that and then this picture in one day!
Then again, the same philosophy and principles were applied to getting him happy with his bridle. And then with Mary getting into the saddle.
The keys to Mary’s success were using her connection to listen to Yoshi; listening to her own fear and using that fear to make herself safe; listening to Yoshi’s fear, helping him to be and feel safe and then systematically expanding his comfort zone; breaking the task down into tiny steps so that he didn’t have to come too far out of his comfort zone; and understanding how to get his co-operation.
… All things we teach you how to do on Fast Track to Brilliant Riding, which has even more understanding and better techniques for teaching than I had back then.
Four days transformed this pony and this little girl’s life – what could you do with a year on Fast Track and a lifetime of support?