Our adorable resident pony has been making great strides in his training. As you may remember, Bentley joined the program in early July from our friends at the MSSPA. He was only gelded earlier this year, and it took a few weeks for him to settle into the routine here at Horses with Hope.
Now that we’ve gotten to know Bentley a little better, we can report that he is a super smart and curious little guy who loves to engage with people. He now pays close attention to his handler when in work, and no longer worries about where his friends might be. He joins up beautifully in the roundpen, and has become very soft and responsive to lead. We’ve worked him through all of our obstacles and he didn’t bat an eye, so the next step was to introduce him to a surcingle and ground driving.
We like to begin this process by first introducing a horse to the feeling of ropes around their body. An important starter exercise for steering and ground driving is shown in our video clip: we bring the lead around behind the hindquarters, asking the horse to turn around by following the feel on their halter. This will be necessary for steering later, and has the added benefit of accustoming the horse to rope pressure around their haunches.
Horses can often be reactive when beginning this work, but Bentley took everything right in stride. It’s important to make sure that a horse can move freely with a rope around their girth area (in simulation of a girth) and hindquarters (as a precursor to ground driving). With the soft rope loop around their body, we can practice applying a little pressure for go, and then releasing pressure. Our goal is to make sure that a horse can stay relaxed while the rope moves around–if there are points of tightness or tension we want to find them now. We also like to slide the rope back to their flank area in gentle simulation of a rear cinch.
The video below shows Bentley’s step by step introduction to ropes, the surcingle and ground driving. As you can see, he was a model student! We’re thrilled with his relaxation and focus during these training sessions, and are excited to continue with his education. Next up: refining those ground driving skills, and introducing a saddle and bridle.
**For safety reasons, we always recommend consulting with a trainer before beginning any rope work.**