'Stripes' is learning to earn his stripes...
This video captures my first session with the young pony Stripes & his new owner Zoe. I was told that Stripes, now 6yo, was "broken" to ride and drive by his previous owners and sold suitable as a children's pony. Unfortunately the first half of our session was not captured on video, which would have shown you a very scared unsure pony, with a very high fight & flight response to problem solving... and at that time not safe for children. So below is a description of what happened in the first 30 minutes and the video is evidence of the amazing transformation of Stripes' mental, emotional & physical state, even in such a short space of time. Much work is ahead of us, but that's already a great start... When I met him that day, he was very nervous and easily spooked. I was told he didn't lunge on the left rein and would rear or bolt when trying to direct him onto that rein. So we went into the arena and Stripes tried immediately to break away from me on the lunge line. When he felt the pressure at the end of the rope he stopped, faced me, reared and tried to break away again. I just stood and held my ground at the end of the rope. This time the pony stopped to face me again, but without the rearing. I just stood there with him for a few moments, allowing him processing time. I then gently asked him to come to me and when he did, I gave him a rub on his forehead. When I tried to stroke his neck, he shied away from my hand. While facing me, I stepped quietly to the left, standing near his right shoulder. Looking and directing my core energy towards his hip, the pony first moved his hindquarters and then started to walk away from me to the right. I walked with him on a loose lunge line on a 10-meter circle. At first a bit tense, Stripes soon relaxed. After a few calm rounds, I stopped, invited the pony into the centre and gave him a lovely rub while standing quietly for a few moments.
I then stepped to the right towards the pony's left shoulder and he instantly tried to bolt, but stopped after a few meters, faced me and then came back to me. I repeated the precious step, and this time the pony stood, still a little tense, as I stepped towards his left shoulder and I then asked him to move off to the left. A little rushed at first, but he soon realised that there was no pressure, Stripes began to relax and walked calmly with me on a loose line on a 10-meter circle to the left. I repeated these steps several times until the pony was no longer fearful, but very relaxed and enjoying my company. At that point I invited Zoe to come and take over...while I took the video.
It's been a pleasure meeting this young pony and I look forward to our next sessions. With patience, consistency and perseverance this pony will definitely make a lovely children's pony in the near future. Stay tuned, stay safe.