Montana Diaries – Part 4 by Lisa Gregory
Montana – the perfect package
My training journey with our beautiful mare Montana is proving to be both exciting and very satisfying.
I have loved this little girl since the moment I delivered her when she was born four years ago. I always believed she would be very special and she is already proving me to be right.
As I have already told you, she is the daughter of my Dutch Warmblood stallion Zidane and our beautiful and very popular Welsh Section D mare Lola. Montana is proving to be the perfect combination of both her parents, with good looks and intelligence and her mother’s pretty face. I think that Montana is the perfect package.
I know that lots of you are waiting with great excitement for the chance to ride her, and quite honestly, she is proving so easy to train and is such a quick learner that I do not think you will have too long to wait.
My last session in the indoor school with her proved to be such a success that I decided to push on and back her, and Montana accepted my weight in the saddle for the first time with no worries at all.
So today I am back in the arena for our next session, again with one of my staff Leah Dodd, as my assistant. All my girls have a project horse and Montana is Leah’s. Assisting me in this training project will benefit Leah in her equestrian qualifications.
And apart from that, Leah adores this little mare and I made her day at the end of the last session when I allowed her to have a little sit on.
Never rush a young horse
I never make a plan before I start a training session. The biggest thing is never to rush a young horse and I think if you have a target in mind at the start then you can end up disappointed. It is best to go with how it feels on the day.
But one thing I do want to do today is put a little more work into asking Montana for reverse gear. She is reluctant to step backwards and it is an important thing for her to learn. It is not just about obedience and submission, it also assists in muscle development.
I have Montana in a Monty Roberts training headcollar and we work our way through instructions to stand, walk, and back up and I immediately I am able to long rein her from behind. We move through walk, trot and canter with ease and Montana is engaged with me and concentrating on what she is being asked to do.
I also teach Leah to do some long reining with Montana, which will be important for Leah’s qualification.
Our only little sticky moment is with backing up. Montana really isn’t relaxed and happy with this so, just like last time, I call on the help of my trusted steed Chase. I hop on him bareback and give Montana the voice command to go back. She instantly responds. Perfect!
Chase’s reassuring presence gives her the confidence to do something she is a little uncomfortable with, so we are solving a little problem without pressurising her.
I do some join up with her and then Leah and I take Montana to the mounting block where she is calm and quiet as I mount. She stands like a rock and is so confident that I dismount and pop Leah up on her while I carry on my work from the ground.
Montana is instantly responsive so I push for Leah to ride her out on a wide circle while I hold her on a lunge line. This is really going beautifully and after a few circuits I feel ready to turn the pair of them loose.
I continue coaching them from the ground, encouraging Montana to go forward and we then push for trot in both directions.
We are now at the point where I don’t have to help drive her forward and after a few more circuits on both reins I finish the session by jumping on Chase and riding alongside Montana and Leah.
I was so pleased with her, I decided to take her straight out onto the Chase on the one hour trek. She took it all in her stride and led up the front with Chase. My next step will be taking her out myself to do her first canter. So exciting!