Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Getting To Work

So, now that River has had her feet trimmed, it's time for her to start her schooling.  I know that there are many different ways to start horses, and this blog isn't meant to be a training blog - it's simply meant to show how River progresses with what training methods I have used for many years to start colts.   And, if today is any indication, River loves this new chapter in her live!  Jessi and I were so pleased with how readily she took to everything we asked her......she truly is a gem!  I know we will have our fair share of bumps in the road ahead, but today was a genuinely great start!

The first thing we like to do is to get the hind legs moving, opening and crossing the legs as she steps her hind end around her front end.   

Jessi made sure that she could do this in both directions.

River was very shy about her head when she came, so we were both very happy that she let Jessi put the lead rope over her head from both sides.  Remember, River has only been here for 8 days, and most of that has just been settling in and getting her feet trimmed, so to start her schooling with such trust and willingness is, I think, quite remarkable.  You can see from the images below that she stayed cool, calm and relaxed with the lead rope.

The next thing Jessi did was to get the rope around her girth area to simulate a future cinch.   Again, the first few days River was here, we could barely brush her sides or belly.  I know she was groomed at Safe Haven Horse Rescue, but she didn't know us at first, so was not at all sure about allowing us to touch her sensitive areas.  Well, today it was not a problem for her at all!


On to the "flag".   There are so many uses for the flag - I like to think of it this way - what if you ride in a Cowboy Dressage competition, and someone hands you your test and  your horse spooks at the sudden movement of the white paper?  Or, someone walks behind your horse, touches them on the haunches, and gets a kick, again, because the horse has not been touched all over before.  The flag is an extension of our arms, as well as other uses.

River was curious and aware, and even though this was what I thought would be hardest for her, she was awesome!   I wanted to show Jessi a few things, so I stepped in for a minute, and she snapped the photos.

I really don't remember what was so funny here, but you can see that River's schooling sessions are fun as well as "serious".

Of course, I have to pontificate - always the instructor!

Jessi took over again, and worked on River's  head and front end - especially the right side, which River used to have real trouble with.  She was a champ, so trusting and willing.

After so much "thinking", it was time for River to move around and see what she could do about listening to and learning about body language and "hooking" on.  There is no need to run a horse around an around and get them all frazzled - they won't be able to think if you rush them around too much.  River got to get some kinks out, and we were amazed at how fast she understood what we wanted from her.  You can see her inside ear is always on Jessi, and it didn't take much to get her to come in for her reward - a rub and a scratch.

River finally got a carrot - with a back handed delivery!

And a well earned "What a good girl!"

Of course, the best thing of all was her back rub - ooooooohhhhhh!!! I had to be sure to do both sides.

Then she got to wander and relax in the arena for awhile.  We accomplished a lot, in a relatively short time - I don't believe in working a horse too long in the round pen.   Both Jessi and I look forward to our next session with Miss River!  


  1. How wonderful for River! Looks like fun for everyone.

  2. I look forward to each of your posts. thanks so much for sharing the journey with River.

  3. She has a very kissable nose! What a sweet expression. Lovely (lucky) girl.

  4. Lovin this blog Lesley. Lovin the pictures. They make my day! Thank you!

  5. Lol told you she loved her butt scratched!!!!! She was always good when i would work her in the round pen, not much more that a walk with her feet, but she was very responsive! Glad to see her doing so well!

  6. I am SO thrilled with all her progress with you. River captured my heart as soon as I saw her first picture posted not long ago. She is so intelligent, giving and her curiosity about everything just melts my heart. What a wonderful mare. She has tremendous potential in so many directions. Just my thoughts but I hope that she will wind up in the home of a lifelong partner. Could see her doing so many things - she is built so strong and balanced. Very happy to see her filled out so well and getting flexible. I love endurance riding for the partnership between mount and rider. (Different than many I know.) But the two of you rely on each other so much, there has to be such trust and deep appreciation. Wishing you all the very best and thank you again for all the work you do with a loving, kind and understanding heart. <3