Hello from Grosse Pointe!

We live! In fact, we’re doing an awful lot right now. I’ve moved for my new job and Nibbles is having the best experience with Super Trainer E. As a special treat, E wrote a guest post for Back In The Tack! Check it out and stay tuned for video spam coming soon…


Hello all! This is a guest post coming at you from Elise, better known as E, who has been entrusted the honor of training the Beautiful Miss Nibbles. She’s already a barn favorite and has been since her very first day at the Hunt Club. I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to play “find the pony” when it’s time for her to leave: nobody, myself included, will want her to go!

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Nibbles has been such a JOY to get to know the last few weeks. She is still in that wonderful, innocent phase of young horse training where none of her previous handling has given her any resistance or fear. She greets every challenge I throw her way without hesitation and there is no undoing of bad habits before you can lay the groundwork for something new. Every session, whether it is groundwork, longing in side reins, work in-hand, or riding has been such an improvement from the previous one. If training horses was a drug, this is my addiction! There is such a high from seeing her progress and I’m awfully glad this blog exists to share that with!

So far she is adjusting to the life of an urban barn horse fairly well. We have limited pasture space so turnout is limited and a rotation schedule in place. She is enjoying her stall even though it’s a new concept, and likes to peek out the Dutch door to make friends. Nibbles is turned out with my gelding, Atlas, after getting a bit too attached to the mares group in her first week here. Whoops! So far, she and Atlas just sort of coexist. He’s very independent and won’t start anything, but rules the pasture with a firm but gentle hoof when necessary. Nibbles has been much more interested in the mares in the other pastures rather than with him, so it’s been a drama free zone between the two.

We have been doing a lot of in-hand work, a style of which I learned from a mentor trainer who is a student of Bettina Drummond. At this point it’s basically long line work sans long lines: one hand on each rein standing next to her shoulder. Working on just basic turning and stopping with the very beginnings of leg yield, which is great for her patience. Eventually we can introduce advanced things such as shoulder-in, renvers and half pass but that won’t be for a while. It’s a very low-stress way to introduce these elements to the horse before attempting them under saddle.

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Rides has been good, keeping them short and positive during her adjustment period. In the bridle mainly it has been working to keep her relaxed through downward transitions as she is very sensitive in the mouth and trying to install seat aids. We did a lot of trot work the other day and even did circles and figures of eight without breaking to the walk. Not bad for our third or fourth ride! With a horse so sensitive, I’m taking it extra slow so we don’t rock her world too hard and lose that young horse willingness.

Yesterday though, was the best ride yet (phew I thought we’d never get to the best part of the post!) I had a lesson to teach to one of the adult amateurs at the barn and the only one who also does natural horsemanship. Needing a horse to demo certain exercises, I grabbed Nibbles instead of Atlas as she was less muddy and he is getting hock injections on Thursday so is a little off. This was going to be a great chance to test her patience, I thought, regardless if we rode or not. Plus her first ride outside since the jumps moved to the outdoor.

I didn’t have an opportunity to longe so we did groundwork as I taught then figured I’d try tying the lead rope like reins and hop on. I knew she had been ridden in the bitless before and my emergency dismounts are pretty solid, so why not give this a whirl. She was a little flustered when I attempted to hop on from the ground the first time, but the second try was no big deal. We walked a bit doing circles and stopping and she was very, very relaxed. I tried trotting her and she kept the level head even as traffic and bikes drove by, even going through the mud puddle without hesitation.  We did some pattern work with my student at the trot which she thought was a piece of cake. Straightness is still coming so for part of the pattern, she was doing a very nice leg yield with nose to the wall. Smarty pants!

Nibbles could not have been better so I decided to try and canter her. She picked up the incorrect lead tracking right, but the canter she picked up was so balanced and in control that I didn’t bother changing. Ended up cantering once more in each direction, getting the leads both times on the first try, so pleased!! We concluded with a “hack” around the outdoor ring on the grass with the little tiny hills. She was perfect!

I texted Rabecca with an update post-ride like always to which she responded, “you cantered under saddle?” and promptly said that she had never done that before! I was/am geeking out over Nibbles’ work ethic and attitude towards new things because seriously, you could have fooled me that those were her first ever canters U/S!! Now I am so bummed that we didn’t get it on camera, but that’s tomorrow’s goal!

So much excitement to see where Nibbles goes during her time with me. Until next time!

-E

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