Float loading | Groundwork
New equine companions can be pretty adept at challenging our skills and knowledge!
Recently we were very fortunate to find and purchase a new life long friend, Lozza. My daughter fell in love with him at first sight. Then she watched and tried his skills under saddle and was further enraptured with him. So home he came!
Now, we are used to a 13.2hh pony, Lollie, and whilst he has taught us an amazing amount over the past six years he is only 'little'. Our new boy has feet like dinner plates and only has to lift his head and pull back and head collars and lead ropes pop and disintegrate! Lozza came from a very competent home and was used to confident and experienced horse people. So whilst he floated perfectly for his previous owners...he wasn't sure about us!
My daughter is very confident and at ease with him but my husband and I are a bit in awe of his size and strength. Seeing as we are the ' strappers and rousabouts' at competitions this was a problem. Our first competition day lead to a rather dangerous and scary floating experience which put the wind up all our tails! This resulted in Lozza being just as scared of getting on and off the float as we were of getting him on and off the float!
Soo to the rescue! Soo came round to our place and instantly saw and fixed a few ground work issues I was having with simply holding and leading him. She then, in a very calm and patient manner, proceeded to demonstrate and explain how equine and human partners can communicate through body language and actions. Lozza needed to trust us and understand what we were asking of him and we needed to give confident and predictable signals to him that he could understand.
Soo reinforced with us that patience and consistency will get the desired result. She gave us all the skills we needed to solve our problem. We then practised this for 10 to 15 minutes a day over the next two weeks (OK ... I'll be fair ... my husband did all the practising). We earned Lozza’s trust and confidence and empowered ourselves with the knowledge that we could do it!
Our next competition outing was rewarded with Lozza just walking straight on to the float. No hesitation. And then calmly off at the other end! I'm sure he was saying "what was all the fuss?"
The beauty of this is that Soo was able to teach us all the skills we needed within an hour. It was then up to us to implement her strategies. It all looks (and is) so simple when it’s so calmly and clearly explained and demonstrated.
I would highly recommend Soo for her knowledge of how to communicate and interact with our equine partners. She is also a highly competent educator of humans too!