We’ve had a lot of enquiries from western, and would be western riders out there who have a horse or pony that isn’t being ridden. In some cases it’s a youngster, sometimes it’s a child’s pony, and sometimes it’s because the horse has a temporary, or even permanent, physical problem that means it can’t be ridden. It could even just be that the horse or pony has been out-grown.
Many of these enquiries have come from owners who are concerned about giving their youngsters the best possible start in the early years. The way we look at, young horses are like children; they need a well thought out education system that allows them to develop their potential. We certainly believe in working with our own horses from a very young age, just asking them to do things that are well within their physical and mental capabilities. Take a look at the picture of Skooter to the left. She's pictured here with her mum Megan. She was just a few days old, but was already starting to get used to wearing a foal slip and responding to cues from a human. (Obviously this was always done with safety as a paramount consideration - as a young foal she only wore a foal slip under supervision.)
So we’ve decided to respond to these enquiries by developing an internet based Ground Skills Programme. This will be launched in the summer of 2012, and will be in addition to the Western Rider Development Programme. If you...
have a horse or pony that isn't ridden (for whatever reason)
would love to build a great partnership based on mutual trust and respect
would enjoy working within a structured training programme to learn more, and also
have your achievements recognised...
... the Ground Skills Programme could be just what you're looking for.
For those of you who might want to follow this Programme with a young horse, there's no doubt that working with youngsters can be great fun and very rewarding. Like anything else involving training horses, it requires good communication and an awareness of equine behaviour. Even 'mummy's little angel' will have the occasional tantrum, and when he or she does, you need to do the right thing. Just take a look at the picture of Skooter on the right! This is the same Skooter who's now practically perfect in every way.... check out the ears and the attitude - and she was barely 12 hours old!
So, working in basically the same format as the WRDP and following the same principles, the Ground Skills Programme will also offer support via this website and follow a comprehensive and progressive syllabus that covers a wide range of skills. The precise content of the Ground Skills Programme is being developed and will be piloted during the Spring of 2012. Registered members Kate Eldridge, Jeanette Jones, Pam Pursley and Lucy Turmaine will be helping us to fine tune it, and will no doubt feature in some lovely photos and videos. Provisional content addresses:
Establishing a good relationship between horse and handler
Getting control of the feet
Teaching your horse to move forwards, backwards and sideways
Developing confidence in a young horse
Working with in-hand trail obstacles
How to present your horse to a judge
What to do if things don’t go to plan!
It isn’t intended as a definitive guide to starting a young horse under saddle, but all the exercises covered will give a youngster a solid foundation prior to being backed and ridden. Remember this is open to any horse or pony from weanlings to veterans, there's no age restriction and no time limit for completion.
Launch of the WRDP e-Newsletter
January 2012 saw the launch of the WRDP e-Newsletter, which is available exclusively to registered members. These will be published every two months and contain all the latest news and information relating to the Programme, together with training tips and detailed schooling plans.