Well, welcome to the mares and fillies in training this year! Due to my 2-2 schedule and thus only being able to work each horse 2 weeks at a time - leaving them sitting for another 2 weeks at a time between sets of sessions, looks like I will be working with most or all of them throughout the summer. I have already put 5 sessions on each horse in May, will put 8 sessions on this set of days home (June), and will from then on put 10 sessions per month on each horse (July, August, etc). At the end of each set of sessions (if not during also, optimally), I work with each owner and teach them how to continue their horse's progression while I am away. So, without further ado, I present (and photos will accompany my next reports!):
Skittles - 9mo AQHA filly, had some groundwork prior
Our primary goal was her lifting her feet as she was in need of a trim at the time I started working with her; our secondary goal was allowing her belly and hernia to be touched (the owner would like the hernia to be able to be pushed up daily, as per her vet). By the end of our 5 sessions she was picking up her feet nicely and allowing me to push up on her hernia and touch her belly without much concern. She also quieted some and became a little less skittish as she learned the first 4 Parelli games - friendly (using tarps, ropes, etc), porcupine (releasing and responding to pressure), driving (keeping out of the handler's space and moving away according to assertive body language), and yo-yo (learning to back and come in according to pressure via the lead rope). She did progressively well; still yet much to work on over the course of the summer, including further desensitization (ie, blankets, tarps, ropes, clippers), progressing the other games, and teaching her the other 3 games and some further patterns. Everything possible so she is prepared for being started under-saddle in the future. She's a cute filly who learns very quick.
Kismet - approx. 4yo Perch x QH mare, SPCA rescue
Kismet was extremely skittish and distrustful of humans when her owner originally purchased her; she has progressed immensely however in the past time that her owner has had her. When I started working with Kismet, I found her to be quite skittish and reactive at times, but with the right approach she started to quiet and trust. While at first she held a lot of tension and wouldn't lick and chew at the end of a lesson, by the second session she was licking and chewing after each lesson and was increasingly quieter. She became easy for me to catch and quickly grasped the first 5 Parelli games (friendly, porcupine, driving, yo-yo, circling), transitioning from nervous and reactive to progressively trusting, quiet and relaxed. By sessions 3, 4, and 5 she was allowing me to tack her up and stand over her, weighting and bouncing in the stirrup over her, was walking over tarps, and was mastering the games she knew. Though she was a little suspicious yet, more repetition will do the trick and I anticipate to have her walking under-saddle by the end of our sessions in June. I will continue to simultaneously progress her under-saddle as I also progress her groundwork from mastering the games to commencing and eventually mastering the patterns and other extensions of the games.
Bella - 3yo QH filly, some groundwork
Bella is what appears to be a left-brain introvert with some reactive tendencies so while she is yet a little reactive at times, she settles quick and isn't so keen on work! We've had to work a bit on catching and on creating draw so that she is happy and willing to work. Bella has done well with all 5 games also, with more of a focus on the games that earn respect (ie, driving, porcupine); I've also had to ensure though that I have included a lot of undemanding and relaxing moments of rest and rubs though! She tried to be a little pushy at first but I just maintained blase assertiveness and she fell into line; I anticipate she might further challenge me in the future though but if I am careful to balance our focus on the right exercises to motivate and inspire her, she should progress well. She too is accepting of walking on the tarp and having it tossed over her and also to the weight of me standing in a stirrup over her back, on each side; she should be at least walking under-saddle by the end of June also.
Mesa - 3yo (3/4) Arabian x (1/4) QH mare, some groundwork
Mesa is a real treat to work with in part due to her sweet nature and also because no one (ie, previous owners) has screwed around with her! She was imprinted as a foal and has been taught some groundwork basics, including how to longe. I've continued that schooling with the 5 games and am standing over her back also, weighting and bouncing in the stirrup on each side. She was quite quiet and accepting of the saddle, as she is everything, including the tarp! At first we had to work on a little respect, as she was quite okay with walking right into my space - including very rudely walking right into me at one point after she failed to stop when I did (lol). All it took though was teaching her what I wanted and asking her to mind my space and she keenly obeyed. She should be really nice under-saddle!
Charlee - 4yo QH mare, previous training under-saddle
This mare was actually pulled out of training last year by her owner due to her high level of reactivity and unpredictability under-saddle; the trainers told this owner her horse was dangerous under-saddle. This mare is very sweet and quiet on the ground in general, though her reactivity and lack of trust at times has become apparent. The key with her is to not push her... which is not easy at times given her high level of reactivity/low threshold. She can be quite quick to respond, but because she fears an adverse response if she makes the wrong answer; she is quieting as she learns it is okay to make mistakes and that we won't push her beyond what she is capable of. When I first saddled her, she actually blew and bucked out quite a bit (which is unusual her owner tells me) - I think it was a response to her feelings of fear in general and her lack of trust in me, as a relative stranger, at the time. As she gained trust and confidence in me, she increasingly quieted - some good licking and chewing! She too is walking over tarps, having the tarp tossed over her, and is accepting of my standing over her and bouncing around in that one stirrup. Essentially, we are re-starting her on the ground as if she has had no prior training - in such a way we can hopefully fill in gaps in her training and develop her emotionally so that she is a calmer, braver, smarter little mare. Though I tend to under-estimate where a horse will be at such-and-such a date and point, I think she will be walking with the rest under-saddle by the end of June also.
Plan is to continue everyone as I have been - to simultaneously progress groundwork (teaching the last 2 of the 7 games, extending on those games, and teaching some of the patterns) while introducing and progressing work under-saddle with each horse. Groundwork will include working with tarps and ropes thrown all around these horses as well as some liberty work, and under-saddle work will start in the roundpen and hopefully soon progress to working in the (outdoor) arena. I am pretty excited to continue these mares and will try to update regularly for a more interesting and fuller picture :)