Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sofia in training

Sofia, four days after arriving, February 2004.

Sofia, October 2005.

I had some lovely visits with Sofia last week. She is a 5 year old Canadian/perch cross that I bought through the internet three years ago. One of hundreds of fillies and mares that were sold when the PMU industry downsized. Because she has such a remarkable laid back temperament, I decided she would be a good candidate to learn to pull a cart or drag logs or whatever handy things I might think up.

There is a wonderful draft horse farm in Brattleboro, Vermont, called Fairwinds Farm. (Website: Months ago I contacted them and made plans for Sofia to spend April there. Then I started working with her myself, thinking the more she was comfortable around harness and ground driving and such, the more they could accomplish while she is there. And my work is paying off.

This past week, they had Sofia in harness ground driving and then ground driving double with an older been-there-done-that Suffolk Punch mare who helps with the training of these youngsters like Sofia. What a joy to watch Sofia under the guidance of that mare and her two humans, figure out and accept just what was being asked of her.

Some of the good things I've been watching in her training at Fairwinds, I am trying here at home with my Morgans. I am making progress with getting my mare's attention and interest without the old feeling between us of: 'do I HAVE to?' I've given her a couple of years off from much of anything other than hanging out in the herd, hoping that it would be a good start for re-establshing a better feel between us after a few years of my using a quite forceful "natural horsemanship" approach with her. She was obedient! But she was cranky about it.

I had not known at that point that a horse can comply willingly. I had not known how to recognize the early signs of a horse getting ready to do what is asked. Hence I was asking her to do things long after she had already committed in her mind to do those things. I was nagging her to do things after she was doing them. ACK! No wonder she has resented me. Now I'm feeling prepared to ask her to join me again, with some confidence that my presentation and timing are better, and that she will understand my changes and develop some respect for who I am now.

It's been a long painful recovery for me. And it ain't over yet.

Thank heavens I have a horse like Sofia in my life who I've not upset like I upset Kacee.


At 19 April, 2006 20:46, Blogger ELL said...

Oh, she's lovely LJB! You are very good at the natural horsemanship ground work. You did such a good job with my Suchin. It makes all the difference when someone takes the time to let a horse get comfortable when teaching new scary things. It also takes a practiced eye to notice their comfort levels. I am working on developing mine. Suchin is good teacher. As with all horses her responses are pure and honest. You have given her the basis to trust that I will learn and be fair. Therefore she forgives me when I push her into an uncomfortably big response. We are teaching each other. I can see you out there hitching Sofia to one of those trees you just limbed with that new chain saw. Cutting them is one thing, getting them moved is quite another!

At 19 April, 2006 22:11, Blogger LJB said...

I'm continually glad to hear that you and Suchin are learning together -- that is the frame of mind best suited for some of these horses we come across. Especially Suchin needs a human who understands the value of awareness -- I recognized this in you.

Perhaps Suchin would understand a job like pulling a log? RNB spent the whole day opening up our vast new view (I should take my camera there!) and I spent a couple of hours clearing felled trees from our house site. It was tiring but good tiring to be outside working like that.

At 20 April, 2006 08:29, Blogger ZinniaZ said...

Sofia is beautiful. I love how it *feels* to work with a young horse, with no scars, little resistance. They are so open and accepting of experience. Even physically they express that wide open feeling...

I checked the link to Fairwinds Farm but it is a place in California. Have you got a different link? Or is Sofia living an extravagant west coast life???

At 20 April, 2006 08:52, Blogger LJB said...

Oops! I'm correcting the original text to read: www.fairwindsfarm.ORG!

Yes, these fresh young horses are a treat. And each one comes with a genetic component that influences their temperament. Sofia is a fine mix of genes and we-ain't-messed-her-up!


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