The Montana Diaries
THE MONTANA DIARIES
Part One – by Lisa Gregory
Of all the blogs I have written over the last couple of years one of the most popular has been my insight into how I trained our lovely young Andalusian mare Nymeria.
I have trained many horses over the years – I hate the expression ‘breaking’, I like to call it ‘training’ – but Nymeria proved quite challenging and I had to think out of the box, adapt and try new ideas.
My methods worked beautifully and Nymeria is doing fantastically well in her ridden work. I am riding her out on Cannock Chase regularly and it won’t be too long before she is ready for experienced clients.
The interest sparked by Nymeria’s story gave me the idea of taking you all along with me on my next training journey.
As you all know, we have some beautiful young horses here sired by my Dutch Warmblood stallion Zidane. Three of them – Dakota, Oregon and Arizona – are already regularly ridden by clients and Indiana is not far away with her training progressing very well. She is proving both calm and confident out on the Chase.
The next in line for training is the gorgeous Montana. I am just starting the training process and I will be sharing the experience with you step by step in a regular blog I am calling The Montana Diaries. I hope you will find it interesting.
Montana is also by Zidane and her mother is our super registered Welsh Section D mare Larosa – known to us all as Lola. This pretty bay mare is hugely popular for her willing nature and speedy paces.
Her foal was born on May 12th, 2015, so is four this spring and currently stands at 15.2 hands but I am sure she has a lot of growing still to do.
The tri-coloured Montana has been a good girl since the night I delivered her. She has never been the slightest trouble and I am very much hoping that happy nature will indicate how she is going to be during training. Of course, all our babies are very well handled from the day of their birth and that proves invaluable.
She comes in and out from the field regularly wearing a head collar so on Day One of training it is time to get her used to wearing a bridle.
I always give a little bit of feed to encourage taking the bit and Montana is no trouble at all as I gently put the bridle over her ears and do up the buckles. She looks as if she does this every day!
She is soon yawning and playing with her tongue as she gets used to the feeling of the bit in her mouth. I always put the bit a little bit higher in the mouth than it will be when they are ridden so that I avoid the problem of them learning to get their tongue over it. If they learn that habit they just mess about.
I like to leave the bridle on for about half a hour to give a baby time to settle and Montana is very calm and quiet. She is just loving the attention and having me to herself!
I am looking for Montana to be completely quiet and relaxed and really happy with it and I am pleased that she has not been worried at all.
Now I am going to quietly try her with her saddle. If she is upset I will remove it straight away. Sometimes I start with just a soft numnah but Montana is so relaxed I think she will be fine.
I lower it gently on to her back and she is rewarded with lots of kisses and cuddles before I gently do the girth up one hole at a time. This has to be done very kindly as she has never had anything under her belly before.
What a good girl Montana is! I move around the stable with her so she can understand how the saddle feels on her back and I spend time grooming and stroking to reassure her.
At first she doesn’t want to move because she can feel something on her back but she soon follows me. I will leave the saddle on for about half an hour.
Montana takes the whole process in her stride and is still chilled out and happy as I remove the saddle and bridle.
The next step will be to attach the reins loosely and then to venture into the arena. I am so proud of her and looking forward to our next training session, which I will tell you about in part two of The Montana Diaries.