I have had Diago for about 4 years now, he came to me a very scared, stiff and unconfident horse. He was owned by a Dressage Instructor who felt he wasn’t going to make it as a dressage horse and his thing was that he would buck whenever being brought back into riding after a spell. When she tried to move him on, she found it quite difficult as everyone one who come to ride him would get bucked off!
Why did I buy him you ask? Well I actually only had a friend look at him and hadn’t seen him myself, but I had always loved paint horses, I had one as a kid …. and …. well … isn’t he gorgeous! All the things you don’t do when buying horses I know, and I also felt I had the skills to be able to help him out. BUT! What a journey we have been on!
I remember when I first brought him home, I put him in his yard and gave him a feed. I just happened to have my stick in my hand at the time and thought I would show it to him. He bolted instantly! There was no way I was going to get that thing near him! Right then I had a pretty good idea of why he bucked – this is going to be a piece of cake I thought, just got to build his confidence. Although at that point I didn’t realise how much confidence I was going to need to build with him.
To help Diago, I started taking him through the Quantum Savvy Foundation Programme and even though I have done a lot of work with many different horses, he still had lots of lessons for me. Diago had a very small comfort zone and a HUGE Chaos zone and only a tiny learning zone which means that it was easy to stretch him too far and he was scared of a LOT of things. To give you an idea of just what he was like, for the first 6 months I owned him, Diago would constantly be trotting and walking around his yard, even though there were horses right next to him, he just could not stop moving.
As I worked with Diago, I got the progress of his training on film through the assignments in each level of the Foundation Programme and I am very excited to be able to share this progress with you. This first video was filmed way back in 2012, not all that long after I got him. It is where I start with all horses – the Basic Skills which are the skills you need to achieve any task with your horse – your steering, stopping and everything else you do with them. He certainly looks very chilled here and nothing like the horse I just described…what a difference you can make with just going back to the basics!
You can see though, when I start asking him to move with the stick that his head goes up and he kind of ‘wakes up’. An indication that he isn’t totally comfortable with it at this stage and is the reason why we don’t just rely on desensitising them – they need to be comfortable with all the tools we use around them, both when they are not meaning anything as well as when they do mean something, otherwise you end up just scaring them around and that won’t help to build their confidence or your relationship with them.
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