Wild Horse Mentors'
October Workshop Reunion
(Second week after the '98 gentling workshop)

A film crew for Bay TV asked to stop by and do a followup story about the mentors and horses which were adopted in Antioch. Mary, Jan, Donna, Sara, Joyce and Ben were available to stop by and demonstrate some horse training. (Joyce and Ben had a 6 hour drive!) Donna brought Starfire over and Joyce and Ben brought Sarge and Molly down.

The film crew wanted to see what kind of stuff we did. Since we were trying not to put on a rehearsed performance, we decided to go out and work in the horse course which none of the horses had seen. Mary and Jan brought out Tess and Quincy and I brought out CJ to serve as role models in case the "wild horses" got fussy.

We decided to attempt all of the obstacles. The objectives we were most focused on included getting the horses to lead on a soft line, getting them to lower their heads and observe the obstacles and their feet, keeping them from rushing ahead and getting them to observe and respect the handlers' space while navigating the obstacles.

We focused on the handlers keeping track of their body position so that it would be easier for the horse to learn his or her position relative to the handler. We also wanted to develop ways of encouraging the horses to move forward without pulling their heads. Pulling prevents them from relaxing and considering where their feet are going and oftentimes a handler will pull a horse off line into his or her space.

We wanted the horses to remain somewhere in the handlers' peripheral vision so that if the horse did have trouble, the handler could detect it early on, give the necessary aid and not get unexpectedly knocked down if the horse spooked.

Each of the horses had some little place where they got "stuck." None got fussy or stressed about it. As the class progressed, the handlers were getting sharper with their signals and body position and the horses were starting to look like pros.

Joyce and Molly
first time on the stairs

Sarge and Ben on the stairs
Joyce and Molly carefully going
first time through the pit
Joyce and Molly
Really smooth next time through
Helping Sarge get unstuck with some
hind end pressure
Ben providing some hind end pressure
(Note he doesn't pull the horse by his head)
Donna and Starfire in the pit
Donna and Starfire crossing the culvert

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