Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gemma's Assessment - Everything is brand new!

Gemma is a gorgeous girl and she is very eager to work with me. She always greets me at the fence and waits for me to come and get her. She is so excited when it is her turn to come out and play and she follows me eagerly out of the paddock.

It is fun to work with a horse that has such a positive attitude and is very willing. However, when working with Gemma in her ground training assessment, I realize she has a lot to learn - so it is a great thing that she is so eager to learn it all!

Similar to Bree, who is also in for training this month, Gemma takes a lot of time to think about things. I find myself giving her lots of pauses so she can fully digest what she has just learnt - but this is expected because she doesn't know a whole lot.

For wiggle to back up, it took several times before she started to move backward off of a softer cue. For circles she stared at me a bit, or would try going the wrong way before figuring out what she was supposed to do.

The nice thing about Gemma is that she doesn't get too worried or upset. She might not understand something right away, but she doesn't panic and try to run away.

We have been working on establishing solid basics on the ground. One thing she is learning is to become sensitive to the cues I want, and desensitized to things I don't want her to react to. Her confidence level is medium to low right now - and this is just because she hasn't been exposed to a whole lot.

To help her confidence, I introduce her to new things, like doing circles with the end of my string hanging over her back - this was quite scary for her at first, but she realized with a bit of time that my body language was relaxed and the string meant nothing.

Desensitizing Gemma to lots of things on the ground will help make her to be a much quieter horse for riding.

Gemma's dominance level is medium - she is in the middle out in the herd, but she also does little things to test my leadership like slowly trying to inch her way into my space so that she is close to me. However, she has not done anything aggressive at all and has never pinned her ears or shown any aggression in that sense. Her medium dominance level just means I have to be sure to correct her attempts to invade my space so that she learns good manners, but more importantly to be safe and respectful.

Her sensitivity level is actually fairly low. She doesn't pick up on very subtle cues, and I can get to a pretty intense phase of cue and she doesn't get bothered. I think over the course of her training I will get her to be more sensitive - she just needs to learn to be more sensitive, and once she understands the cues better this should happen.

Her confidence level is low to medium right now, only because she has so much to experience. She handles everything really well and will try what is asked of her, but sometimes she takes a bit of patience to allow her time to think. When I tossed the string over her back and asked her to trot while doing so, at first she was worried and ran forward a bit, but it didn't take her long to realize that nothing bad was going to happen and everything was ok.

With some more training on her, I expect over the next few sessions her confidence will grow quickly. She is a very curious horse which is a sign of bravery - she just needs to try more things to become tuly confident.

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