Misty and Marley were evaluated this afternoon by a natural horsemanship clinician who is holding a colt starting/special project clinic for the month of April. Misty and Marley were worked on the ground to see how attentive they are, how much they understand, and how they move when asked to yield to pressure.
The clinician was holding Misty while her co-clinician worked with Marley. I was a little embarrassed when my spoiled mare acted like a lap dog, crowding the clinician, getting in her face and trying to give her kisses. A few gentle but firm reprimands from the clinician and Misty stood quietly at a respectful distance on a loose lead. She's a bright mare and learns quickly.
Marley was quite stiff and braced as he worked in a circle, especially his hind end. When the assistant walked the rope around his rump and pulled gently on the lead line, asking him to turn and yield his hind quarters, he stood for a long time with his head bent around to his shoulder. And while standing bent like this, he started nibbling on the lead rope, oblivious to what the trainer was asking of him. When she applied a little more pressure with the rope to his hind quarters, he finally moved. But rather than yield his hind quarters and turn with a fluid motion of both his hind and front ends, he kept his back feet firmly planted and moved his front feet around in a circle while pivoting on his back feet. The trainers found this to be interesting and a significant reason why he has been so successful in running off with his former riders. They said we need to get control of the motor.
The game plan for Marley is to get him moving and yielding those hind quarters and improve his flexibility and bending on the ground and under saddle. They will work on his control issues (the mental ones) and will ride him out away from the barn and away from Misty and place him in a situation that will challenge him.
Misty was the opposite of Marley. She was more fluid with her hind quarters, but a little braced in her front end. She was acting a little spooky about something she was seeing in one corner of the arena. She is inexperienced, but willing. She just needs some training hours put on her.
We return to the ranch on Friday morning to begin training. I'll be observing and learning for now.
P.S...Let me add too, that this was my first time hauling both horses. We did ok, although Misty got a little freaked out loading into the trailer for the return trip home. But the trainers helped me get her in. They also had to back my rig out of my parking space for me. It required advanced trailer backing skills as the afternoon progressed and more boarders and visitors arrived, parking their vehicles helter skelter along both sides of the one lane driveway. The trainers got my rig backed into a T-branch off the driveway - a 90 degree turn with other vehicles to maneuver around. Then they turned it over to me and guided me forward and back so I could make the turn onto the main driveway, again with more vehicles ranging from pickups to little sports cars parked along the sides of the drive and in front of my truck. A couple of vehicle owners came out of the barn a little cranky and concerned about their vehicles during all this back and forth maneuvering of my rig. For heaven's sakes, it would have been a lot easier for them to have moved their little cars and trucks and been courteous to the fact that this is a horse stable, training is going on, and people will be bringing horse trailers onto the property. But it is all a learning experience and thank goodness for skilled drivers to help me out of a bind. Although, they did say they charge extra for trailer backing lessons...but with a giggle. ;-)
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