YES, I know, I'm known as a gaited horse trainer/instructor, BUT, I began my horse career as a non-gaited horse trainer. I feel, in the Equine world, I am bilingual. I can converse with and instruct riders who ride either gaited or non-gaited horses. I know what is similar and what is different and how to explain where someone needs to tweak their horsemanship to fit the breed.
The two day session this fall at Duvall, WA was a combination of helping Theresa Christianson and one of her son's, Casey, work with their four Norwegian Fjords and Ellen Hankins with her Tennessee Walker mare.
These four Fjords were wonderful to work with and if they are good representatives of the breed, they have a lot to offer. I found them very smart and level headed. They didn't spook or get emotional like some other breeds of horses and yet were very sensitive, which surprised me !
Theresa wanted to get back in the swing of working with their horses, so we decided a good place to start was at liberty in the round pen. Theresa had been a rider but in the past several years had not been able to do much with any of the horses because of a busy family life and an ankle injury that had taken a very long time to free up. She just now was feeling more mobile and felt more confident to do something with the horses again.
Over the two days she worked with Kaia, one of the mares and Spence and Toren, their two geldings.
Casey has his hands on Toren's face, while his brother, Cody, is watching the interaction.
Cody now has Toren's attention
Kyan is a sweet and gentle soul who has been lucky enough to find an owner (Ellen Hankins) who recognizes these qualities and tries not to push too hard. Ellen knows Kyan will give her 110 percent if she asks for it and Ellen is wise enough not to take advantage of such a giving heart.
I first met Ellen and Kyan several years ago at a clinic I was doing further north. At that time Kyan was a confirmed pacer and Ellen was hoping I could give her some ideas and direction on how to change Kyan's pace to either a stepping pace or a running walk. Kyan, being a Tennessee Walker, is bred to have a running walk.
In this two day session Ellen wanted to work on getting Kyan to move out with more energy like she does when she is being ridden on trail. In an arena, it is not as interesting for either of them, so it becomes more of a challenge to get the mare to move out like she does on trail. On the second day we started in the round pen with Ellen aboard Kyan and I using my lounge whip to encourage more speed out of Kyan while Ellen held the frontend from going too fast. Once Ellen felt that Kyan could do it then we transferred the incentive created by the lounge whip to a riding crop which Ellen tapped on Kyan shoulder. When Ellen got the feel of how to use the riding crop, I opened the gate and turned them out into the large arena. Pretty soon Ellen was getting a faster stepping pace and she was giggling. When I asked her what was so funny, she said it was so much fun to feel how freely Kyan was moving and for the first time it felt like it did on the trail. She said she could feel Kyan was also liking it !
Ellen and Kyan