Earlier this week I went to see a young client who has lost her confidence with her pony both on the ground and in the saddle. Her pony can be a little sharp in the sense that something moves, he jumps, his rider jumps, he jumps again, and I guess something like this has happened which combined with my client watching someone fall off and deciding it’s scary, has led to her loss in confidence.
I decided to retract onto stable management, and encourage her hands on Mum to step away and make her daughter do everything. My main aim was to get her confident around her pony again. We practiced putting rugs on and off and the groomed him, looking and naming parts of his body. I was pleased that she held his headcollar to keep his neck straight whilst she brushed through his mane without a second thought. Next I held up his foot whilst she picked his hooves out and then she picked up the foot whilst I used the hoof pick. Little hands always struggle to do both and I like kids to get used to lifting the leg as well as using the hoof pick.
We had a giggle when her pony put his lip in the good oil and curled it, revolted, and my client crouched happily by his legs unconcerned. I think the root of the problem is that Mum is hands of and does all the work, so if her daughter doesn’t want to or is playing with the dogs or goats she doesn’t get any contact with her pony on the ground which leads to her becoming nervous in the saddle.
Anyway, after our ride she plonked her pony in the stable and clipped up his stall guard.
“Don’t just abandon him!” I cried “You need to untack him and brush him off.”
Before my eyes, she spun round, ducked under the bar, and ran head first into his rather ample bottom!
I could see it happen before it did, and crossed everything that her pony wouldn’t kick out in surprise. Thankfully he only jumped. Which made my client jump too! She reversed quickly and then I explained that she needed to warn him where she was and not get ahead of herself in her excitement.
I suppose at least she was confident enough to run blindly into her pony’s stable!