This is my new blog to continue my journey with my Dales Ponies. It will also be the story of my building a new life for myself, alone now, except for my friends, horses and dogs, since my partner died in March 2009. We had lived and worked together, mostly twenty four hours a day, for nearly 28 years and I have never lived alone before. It is a tribute to my wonderful friends that I am still here, still sane(ish) and ready to re-invent myself. I love them all more than words can ever say and can never thank them enough for all they have done and are still doing. It is also a tribute to Alexandra Kurland and 'The Click That Teaches' that I know how to save myself now. To new beginnings.......

Friday, 28 August 2009

Video of Saphire.

Saphire is a four year old who has been here for a couple of weeks now. She was described as dangerous and aggressive by her former trainer whose yard she came here from. She has had a couple of sessions of targeting and this is her first matwork session, which I chose to do to tackle her issues of rushing, not thinking about what her feet are doing, pushing back into pressure and getting impatient when asked to stand still.

Saphie's young owner is a natural clicker trainer with a real understanding of timing and the need for patience and waiting for the desired response. I only did the whole session myself because she wanted to film it. I'll put up all the clips but they're a bit like watching paint dry! I think that the first and last clips illustrate the difference in Saphie's attitude and demeanor by the end of the session - not that she was bad at the start. I think that for a four year old she is quite exceptionally tolerant and easy to work with, and she picks things up like lightening.


  1. Thanks for posting those clips, they were so helpful,
    I was sitting here cursing the howling wind because I could'nt ride, when your vids inspired me to try some mat work and head down in extreme weather.
    We had a really good session, and I managed to keep her focus thro all the gales.
    Hope its a bit calmer with you for your demo and all good wishes for a happy and successful demo.

    You look so much happier,its great to see and you are at your all tine best when you are training.

    Saphire is a beautiful girl and i cant see any sign ofan evil horse, just a pushy babe,keep the cips coming there great, All Love Jx


  2. Oh, thank you Janette - those are such lovely things to say!!!! They rode Saphie in the school yesterday and, after having been made really nervous of her at the last yard, all I could hear was laughter and cries of "good girl!". I love my job!!!!!

    I don't mind the wind for my demo, I just hope it stays dry. I have someone lined up with a video camera so fingers crossed!!!!

  3. What a beautiful and CLEVER mare! She even ignores the goat. I think my Teena woudl have tried "to cut" the goat ^-^

    Very interesting work. Different of what I thought.

    It is nice to see you smiling.
    I cannot wait for your demo. where would you do it? At home?

  4. Thak you very much Muriel! I have always had a reputation for being a very smiley person, especially around horses, and I'm glad to say that I still am.

    It was at home and it went really well inspite of blustery winds. I was really pleased with them as they're not used to having an audience but they stayed focussed and with me throughout. I was SO proud of them!!!!

    The whole thing was videoed on a borrowed camera and I hope it all came out well. I will find out tomorrow.

  5. How lovely to see you work – thanks for sharing, Helen.
    Beautiful horse!
    I liked very much to see the change of attitude in her.
    At first she did not want to be with you, did she? She was interested in the content of your pocket, yes, but apart from that she was a bit impatient and uninterested.
    In the end, her preferred place was with you, Helen.
    It is that change of attitude I love!

    She reminds me about my horse Fame, both in her exterior and how she behaves.
    When I got Fame she was 3 yo, and had been out 24/7 with other horses, and not so much handled. So she walked over me, did not want to be washed on her legs or stand still, and was a bit unruly when I led her.
    She wasn’t bad, just young and unhandled.
    So I used treats to keep her attention, and clear rules about keeping her distance to me.
    I don’t have the clicker knowledge like you, but soon she clearly understood my praise-phrase/voice, and it worked very well.
    What I seek is that I want the horse to want to work with me. It is a reward in itself, but on the way I also feel that I have got a self-confident and trusting horse, which is just as important.

  6. Thank you very much, HorseOfCourse!!!

    It's really all about capturing and holding their attention, isn't it, and being polite to and respectful of each other.

    The thing I love about clicker training is that you can highlight the little subtleties and speed up progress so much, plus really engage the horse's brain and give him/her real choices.

    There are some not great clicks in those clips and my rapid treat delivery is very messy in places, where I'm reaching for my pocket before I click, but I'm not used to performing for an audience and a camera either and got more relaxed about it towards the end. Luckily for me Saphie is so bright that she worked out what I wanted anyway.

    I was much more relaxed about working with my own horses in front of a camera and I loved having an audience with them because I believe in them 100% and knew they wouldn't let me down. I can't believe that Bella has learnt to bow all the way to the floor in just a week. She spoils me rotten because she is so clever.

  7. Fantastic clips Helen - I LOVE the difference between the first and last clip. In the first one she really doesn't see the point, is not really interested in what is going on or the fact that you are there. By the last one, well, what can I say?? She really has got it, and looks so pleased with herself - no more 'ants in her pants'.

    She is a very beautiful mare and clearly very intelligent (and no doubt sensitive) - I do think that these horses are easily misunderstood and their frustration at this can lead to pretty negative labels. tig used to throw tantrums if I wasn't being clear - I thought that she was being an idiot but er...think the idiot was at the other end of the reins!

    It must be fantastic to hear her owner enjoying her. I was feeling so very ill today, but Hylo made me laugh out loud, so desperate was he to play and show off!!

  8. Lovely mare.

    I only watched the first and last clips as my computer was being slow about the load.

    What a nice difference in Saphire's attention to you and the task at hand. She was much more mannerly and focused at the end. Nice job!

  9. Thank you very much, Jean!!!

    Charlotte, that really means a lot, coming from you. Thank you SO much!!! I always feel like a bit of a fraud when I haven't even been to any of Alex's clinics. It's part of the reason that I do 'my own thing' a bit and just look for ways that work for me, rather than stick to the exercises to the letter.

    I also help the people who keep their horses here free of charge, as I'm still learning too, and experimenting with what I can get from other people's horses. I'm not setting myself up as a professional clicker trainer - just aa s livery yard owner who helps point people towards clicker training and helps out when asked.

    Apparently the video from yesterday is looking pretty good and will hopefully be downloaded today. I'm also getting more requests from other people who've heard about it to do another one, and I'm always happy to show my pones off!!!

  10. Fantastic news, Helen - can't wait to see the vid!

    I am sure Alex would be happy you're taking what you've learned via her DVDs and books and are making a difference to horse's (and handlers) lives. How lucky your liveries are!

  11. Thank you, Charlotte, that's really kind of you!

    Still waiting for video to be downloaded as borrowed camera had the wrong leads, I believe.