Edelweiss Training Journal

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Edelweiss

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Thank you for posting… I’m really enjoying reading your thread (and looking at the pictures of your magnificent creatures). You have an amazing sensitivity to the animal’s energy and movement.
Thank you. I have been blessed with some beautiful horses. I try to be very much in tune with them. It is quite a feeling when they reciprocate and we are truly in sync.

Sally has been in training for a week now. Picture from tonight. She is shaping up nicely and is close to intermediate level in groundwork, starting to incorporate some showmanship fundamentals as well. She is much softer and I just love how responsive she is. She is a lot more trusting too. Always calls to me when I go into the barn and let me catch her right away in the big arena tonight, which I was very happy with.
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Edelweiss

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It's been another week and now I am really starting to see some improvement! Sally is shaping up nicely, has a lot more muscle tone and has learned to soften and use her whole body in working. She is intermediate in groundwork and basic in showmanship, starting to refine her pivot, almost started to teach her the components of sidepassing, but she needs more work on the off side first. I think she'll be ready to move on to being introduced to the harness in another two weeks or so. She is coming along quickly!
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Edelweiss

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I know it's been awhile since I updated on Sally, but after 2.5 weeks, I finally found the "footprint" of previous training and it's a big one. We have a long, long, way to go. I would not be surprised if she needs 6 months of groundwork before she sees the cart. She is intermediate in showmanship now and getting into advanced in groundwork, has a nice finished right pivot with the left coming along. Also let her start pre-sidepassing exercises and she has been doing well at them. We had to work through quite a few issues at the trot, which is where the "footprint" first started to show, but she started to come along after a few days of drills and has been steadily improving. The rest is just going to take her coming to fully trust me and forget all that she has been through. She tries to trust very much, but at times memories that are still recent take over and she can't help but panic or have a meltdown. To sum it up, she is a very sensitive, responsive mare and her "handler" used way too much force on her. She has been seriously messed up but I am hopeful that she will come through with time and patience.

In other news, I finally finished the farm website!

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Dragon Hill

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Love the website. I'm glad you found the "footprint" of her previous training, especially before you ever hooked her to anything. Sorry to hear it's so deep. It saddens me so many people "train" miniatures by bullying them into doing what they want. I'm glad you are going to continue with her and I wish you the best. I do feel you will be successful given enough time.
 

Edelweiss

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Love the website. I'm glad you found the "footprint" of her previous training, especially before you ever hooked her to anything. Sorry to hear it's so deep. It saddens me so many people "train" miniatures by bullying them into doing what they want. I'm glad you are going to continue with her and I wish you the best. I do feel you will be successful given enough time.
Thank you! Forgot a link.

Yes, that is why I do so much groundwork, especially with a horse that has had "training." It really helps you and the horse come to know and trust each other and discover any weak or trouble points.
It is so sad. What makes it worse is that she is so sensitive. A more stubborn minded horse can actually be easier as they can "take" improper handling better. Mostly, unless it is extreme, they just do not care as they want to go their own way anyway. What they love is to understand what they are doing. Then they are more than happy to listen to you. Most of mine fall into that category. Sally naturally loves to listen though, she's a follower. She is such a sweet, pretty mare who is perfectly willing to do what you want but she has so much fear now.
I can't wait until I can no longer see any apprehension and timidity. I let her out to play in the barn aisle while I am working around there and she has gotten a lot more comfortable around me. I love when they start to interact with you and be more like playful horses and less like robotic machines who are scared to do anything else but what they are told.
I think she will come along....she is really a very good minded mare.

I am definitely following this with interest - my guy has a "footprint" too so I'll be watching how your beautiful girl comes along and hopefully picking up some knowledge along the way! Thank you for keeping us updated!
If I can be of any help with yours, feel free to PM me with any questions! I'd love to learn more about him in any case. Always remember, never ever be afraid of what triggers them and never avoid it. It is only by working through it that you will overcome whatever it is. Those days are not fun but your roughest training days are always followed by a beautiful breakthrough to the next level.
As an example, this was where I discovered the "footprint." Sally was not relaxed about trotting with me, she was always leaning out as if she was trying to get away from me. The more we worked, the more everything about her screamed fear. I now know she is afraid of sudden movements or someone moving quickly around her. But I had to get her through it. Basic exercises weren't doing it, so I had to drill her and make trotting routine. So one day that is all we did for about 30 minutes, trotting in and out of a row of trees, left and right until she realized that it was not about her and she had something else to focus on. Something else I like to do is not think about the issues while you are doing it. I was just thinking of which tree and which direction I would go for next. Her apprehension dropped as she realized she was fine and she really had to keep thinking to stay balanced and with me. Since then, even straight trotting has been light as a feather with her.
I worked a lot on getting her to soften when she first came because she was very stiff. I now know that is related too. When she is afraid, the first thing she does is stiffen. So all of my training will be focused on keeping her light and soft. I don't have to mention that it is going to be a long process to get her to collect. I can already see how stiff her neck is so I am sure she has a hard mouth. That's quite a ways off though. Hopefully by then she will be more consistently relaxed.
 

Edelweiss

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Sally Cinnamon! This just popped into my head and I had to say it out loud!

Your facilities look incredible! 🤩 Thanks for sharing!
Yes she does look like a Cinnamon! I used to ride a sorrel named that.

Thank you! It is pretty nice here.

Had a beautiful session with Sally today. I'll try not to write a book about it, but I brought the backsaddle out again. Started by haltering her, putting the backsaddle on the ground and just sitting in her stall and making her feel very loved. I'm not big on vocal cues besides whoa so I just hummed to her the whole time. I did some basic stretching, pressure and release exercises with her and let her look at everything. As with most horses learning to trust again, it is a very foreign concept to her to be allowed to look at and be curious about things because a lot of things are a source of fear to them. I train looking and acknowledging for obstacle though and so I encouraged her. She gradually softened and I could see her steadily wanting to be more curious and interactive with me and the backsaddle.
Once she was comfortable and relaxed, I put it on. I went slowly but steadily forward, rubbing her all over as I fastened the girth and crupper, making sure she enjoyed it. She was really thinking today. Then we went to the round pen where I walked with her a bit then started to lunge at a walk. She was very quiet and tried so hard. Every time I stopped her, she came straight to me on her own. We did that several times each direction, walking a circle or too, stopping and rewarding, worked up to trotting too and all without any tensing or freaking.
She had been slightly fearful when we started and at times I could sense she was trying not to be nervous, but I could see the slight fear in her eyes change to trust and I could see her confidence when she set out at a trot. To win the trust of a horse is a beautiful treasure, but especially with one like this, it is an overwhelmingly wonderful feeling that is especially appreciated.

Also worked with Gaston today. He is extremely uncomplicated! Just rather slow to pick up on new things lol. But he is coming along with groundwork. He is such a big sweet pony.
 

Edelweiss

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_MG_8189.JPG General Update. Thanks to family who came to help finish the fence, my horses can finally have the front yard "pasture" and they are really enjoying it.
Sally is coming along very well. Got up to a working trot with her in hand and she was nervous but held herself together so well, staying light and with me. So proud of her. Turned her loose as usual afterwards while I did chores around the barn and came around the corner to see her running and tossing her head. That was the first time I have ever seen her playing which made me very happy. Of course she stopped and whinnied when she saw me. She is one of the chattiest horses in the barn.
My wonderful farrier was here last week so I am starting to work with Fancy and Gaston more. They are moving much more freely with their hooves done.
 

HersheyMint

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View attachment 48146 General Update. Thanks to family who came to help finish the fence, my horses can finally have the front yard "pasture" and they are really enjoying it.
Sally is coming along very well. Got up to a working trot with her in hand and she was nervous but held herself together so well, staying light and with me. So proud of her. Turned her loose as usual afterwards while I did chores around the barn and came around the corner to see her running and tossing her head. That was the first time I have ever seen her playing which made me very happy. Of course she stopped and whinnied when she saw me. She is one of the chattiest horses in the barn.
My wonderful farrier was here last week so I am starting to work with Fancy and Gaston more. They are moving much more freely with their hooves done.
 

Edelweiss

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Sally is really doing so well now. She is ready to move on to obstacle training as she is advanced in groundwork and showmanship with a finished right pivot. Sidepassing is starting to flow and her pull turn is coming along as she has learned to accept and use contact which was a huge thing to overcome. A little trust goes a long way. Yesterday I brought the backsaddle out again while she was in her stall. Just visited with her and let her be curious. She enjoys attention now. Then I put it on and she was very relaxed. Didn't have her tied and she was not tense. She came out of the barn with a happy springy step and so much confidence. I was able to free lunge her with it and she was perfectly fine at a trot. Left the halter on but didn't need to. She just wanted to see what I had!
So happy with her. Next step will be introducing the bridle, but I need to get a tiny bridle for her head first!
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Also found time to drive Amigo yesterday and he was lovely to drive. Nice and light and kept his gaits true. It's been a few weeks and he is a bit out of shape, aka a bit fat, but he is doing pretty well considering his only driving work has been long lining once a week.
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Edelweiss

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One step closer to having a new driving horse! I could tell she was a bit nervous but she held herself together and was all around lovely, quiet and soft mouthed, held contact a few times too. 2 months of groundwork has really paid off.
She is on basic obstacle now too, working over poles.
I'm getting ready to start the other three prospects and see who will be my country over horse next year. One has been on my show string for 2 years so he is ready to start right away. The other was in training earlier this year and had gotten up to ground driving so she just needs a refresher, while the 3rd needs to start from the basics with groundwork. She is just green so there is nothing else to work through, thankfully!!
An exciting new addition is coming Saturday as well!
 

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