From understanding comes strength
Thursday 1st November
Our first visit to Horseback UK started with an orientation of the working farm and all the safety rules. We were introduced to our new SQA folders and talked through some of the work required for this qualification.
Emma took us on a walkabout where we went into the fields and met some of the horses and ponies. She explained about the horseman’s handshake and how to act around horses. We were introduced to their 4 main principles; Kindness, Patience, Consistency and Belief. We discussed why these principles are so important both for horses and humans!
We began to learn about how to take care of horses and this started with grooming; essential to create a bond and to check horses for injuries or illness. We did some simple leading exercises and learned how to get the horses to listen to us.
Jay did some team work with us and we started talking about how to be effective communicators
Thursday 8th November
We focused on developing our grooming skills today and just becoming more comfortable around the horses and ponies. We began some leading work in the indoor school, so we could understand how to control the horses on the ground. We were taught about ‘pressure and release’ and the 4 principles needed to become an effective and kind leader for our horses. We were able to lead our horses around an obstacle course using our voice and body language to convey our instructions.
Jay challenged everyone by creating a task that required good communication skills. We worked in pairs with one person blindfolded. Each pair had to direct their partner to be able to throw a ball into a bucket whilst blindfolded! Harder than it sounds! We began to understand the importance of specific instructions and how to support each other.
Thursday 15th November
We worked with the bigger horses today as well as the miniatures. Our grooming skills are developing well, and we were able to catch and halter our own horses.
The focus today was on ‘pressure and release’. We used this taught skill to make our horses back up and come to us without having to pull them. We are beginning to understand that by treating them with ‘Kindness, Patience, Consistency and Belief’ we can achieve a great connection with them. The whole group are growing in confidence and can now name all the parts of the grooming kit and the colours of different horses.
Our team building task today was to get our whole group across the ‘bridge’ without touching the floor. This is building on our communication and leadership skills.
We had an archery session this afternoon which was enjoyed by all.
Thursday 22nd November
Our horsemanship skills were developed further today as we took part in stable management tasks as well as more leading and controlling of the horses. We learned about feeding, mucking out stables and keeping the yard clean. Leading and being a good leader is vitally important, so we revisited the skills from last week. Today we also learned how to disengage the back end (get our horse to turn in a circle away from us without pulling or pushing them). Now we can move our horses around confidently and are beginning to understand the importance of body language and body energy.
As part of our qualification we are required to give a short presentation using photographs to document our journey. To help us with this Faye taught us a bit about photography. We experimented with composition, lighting, contrast and framing.
Thursday 29th November
We had a very wet but busy day at Horseback UK. Our focus was on different leadership styles and we used these skills when working with our horses. Our leading skills we tested when we had to lead our horse and give different commands at various stations. It was great to see the confidence building and all the work of the last few weeks coming together. We learned about desensitisation and helping the horse overcome fears in different situations. For this we needed to use all our confidence and show good leadership. We also developed this in our group game, see no evil hear no evil where we were learning about good communication.
Thursday 6th December
It was our final day at Horseback this term and we ended it by getting in the saddle. We completed our stable chores and took in the horses to groom. We were shown how to put on a western saddle and prepare the horses for being ridden. Emma gave us tuition on the wooden horse ‘Woody’ to show us how to mount, get the horse moving, stop, turn left and right and dismount safely. There were some nerves, but everyone was successful in getting on and riding their horse. This is the first step towards the riding we will do next term with the final ride out through Glentannar Estate. We finished our day with a fun Christmas game in two teams. We had to search for clues hidden around the farm and follow the instructions. The final part of the game was to dress up Patrick and Pinky in tinsel and reindeer antlers and have one member of each team dress as Santa and an elf! A great end to our first block of work.