I wanted to give an update to the progress of my pretty mare, Willow. I wrote in an earlier blog post how I was working with her to get over her barn sourness. Over the winter I didn't ride her much so was a bit caution when I first rode her this spring to see where she was at and how much she remembered. I am pleased to say she remembered a fair bit! Yah!! She needed a refresher but came around really well. I was SO pleased! Last time I rode her a couple days ago, I had her out beyond our property, on the road, thru a wooded area and even rode past motorcycles, scary cows and gigantic hoop houses! Good job Willow!!
The photos here are of an intermediate step I took as we progresses further and further from the barn and 'home'. My best advice to anyone in regards to horses is to progress in baby steps. It is truly how going slowly gets you were you want to be faster! I typically start in a riding arena and then expand into an adjoining corral. From there I open the gates on both ends of the corral and this gives me the big pasture and the front of the barn and my farm lane arena to ride. From there we go around the 'trotting track' (although Willow is gaited! :) ) which is a track made from bringing our fence in from the perimeter of our property to give me another loop to ride. Once we have mastered that I venture onto my neighbor's property (with their permission) and really once I can do that I feel comfortable riding them anywhere.
Willow is now at that stage. I am ready to haul her off the property to a trail. I have done all the riding with her at this point alone but will probably go with a friend on the trails.
Molly, my golden retriever LOVES running along side us when I ride. She gets so excited when I get my riding boots on.
As part of Willow's reward for her braveness at being away from the other horses, I often hand graze her at a spot with especially yummy grass. Its a great way to get their minds off of being away and getting a bonus for their hard work! Toby, my schipperke, is halfway hidden in the tall grass. He helps with the desensitizing, along with Molly, by charging out of tall grass or brush right in front of me while I am riding. Gee, thanks guys!
This photo is of Willow last year when I worked with her in hand to go on walks away from the barn. She was truly such a scaredy cat I am still pinching myself that we have come so far!
Willow last year, all filled out! She is even getting some nice rump muscles from our riding time!
Feel free to add your tips and tricks on working with a barn sour horse in the comment section.