Gwen – Massachusetts

Good Morning! I am new to this list having been introduced by Chuck to it. I notice a few “familiar” faces/names! Hey Anya! How are you? Haven’t “talked” w/you in such a long time! 🙂

I first heard of FT about 2 years ago when troll contacted me re: a “natural horseman’ association” I was starting up here in New England. (It’s shelved
right now for lack of interested people! 🙁 — New Englanders are a tough folk!) I would encourage any one of you following the FT thread to come on over to the forum on Penzance and read through the material that is provided there. You’ll find it VERY interesting and there is also a group who ‘hang out’ for support and camaraderie – all involved in FT.

Even though I am one who uses restraints via paddocks, halters, riding and training arenas, etc. and I also teach CT — I’ve found FT to fit right in with it all. It takes a bit more time than teachings
that are encompassed within restraining areas and halters but so far I have nothing but praise for it! I have, right now, 2 horses with which I’m practicing FT. One is a 5 year old QH who came into my barn as a trainee/boarder early winter. The other is a 4 year old UK Shetland pony whom I’ve had for 2 years. (Or, maybe he’s 5 now and its been 3 years? I’ve lost track of time …) The 5 year old was going great guns with FT initial training until I had to move him into a stall at night BUT … the FT, after restarting him for a week with it, is doing great! I couldn’t ask for a more attentive,
responsive, SOFT 5 year old!!! The pony ? Well, he’s been allowed to get away with more than any of the other horses cause he’s just so darned cute and young! But, he was (and notice the tense of “was”) a handful at feeding time. I feed him and another pony at the same time in the same area. He was barge through me, past me, stuff his head in the bucket with his paddock mate, they’d get their heads stuck, the other would kick out, the bucket would fly and the feed lost to the
wind … well, you know! I started FT with him about 3 weeks ago and just the other night I was able to ask him to walk AWAY from the bucket with me (unrestrained in any manner except by the boundaries of the paddock) and he followed me. We ended up standing about 20′ away from the bucket with his grain, the other pony was already eating and this one stood right by me until I gave him the cue to go ahead and eat. He then trotted up to his bucket and dove in. I have
to say, too, now that I’m thinking back on it, that his “manners” have all around improved greatly! He stood quietly for about 1/2 hour, no running off (unrestrained, again, btw) while I trimmed his
hooves and I had 2 other people watching to learn how to trim. So, he stood while I trimmed a bit, then had a student trim. He didn’t even offer to move off although he could have at any time! I just realized that this was a first for him. Usually he stands for about 5 mins. or so then trots off. We retrieve him and begin again. 5 mins. again then he’d trot off again. This would continue until I got a lead rope to hold him. So, I have to say that the only difference I’ve made with him was the FT exercise! I also CT and even the CT didn’t incur this much of an improvement! He’d grabbed the treat for standing, then run off and come back for another click and treat. Silly boy that he is! 🙂 He IS awfully cute!

Anyway — I thought I’d share that a bit. I would encourage any of you who are interested in establishing a relationship with the horse above competition to at least explore FT. It seems to offer a deeper and stronger tie between horse and human than even CT and the RP
exercises of teaching and training. At least that’s what I’ve found with my LIMITED knowledge and experience with it!

BTW, I’ve had over 35 years of teaching and training with horses of all ages, breeds, types, disciplines, etc. and have actually been riding horses for almost 40 years. There’s ALWAYS something new to learn and I’ve found that we can learn from so many different points of view. We just have to learn to hone in on the things that work for us and go from there. There’s a lot of good stuff out there and a lot of good horsemen as well as a lot of not-so-good stuff and people.

Keep an opened mind and heart and there’s no end to what one can discover and learn!

Gwen – Massachusetts