A Few Days with Paddy

My dear friend, Paddy McKevitt has been in Virginia for the past few days working with Arthur. Paddy has worked with a number of different “Natural Horsemanship” trainers… I always am hesitant to use the natural horsemanship title as I feel it lumps to many different philosophies into one group. What most of these people are preaching is simply better communication with and how to train a horse properly – if you think about it, that is what pure dressage is. I have been fortunate enough to work with many great people, and I’m not sure where Arthur and I would be today without the patient and consistent guidance of Charlotte Dennis so many years ago. I do recognize that Arthur continues to be a very spooky horse and this has been the constant that I have to deal with him. He has made such great progress through the years, but I can still feel the fear and tension he carries in certain situations. Even in his dressage tests at Rolex and Luhmuhlen this year (where he was second both times) Arthur carried a lot of fear in the beginning portions of his test. If we could overcome this fear and tension, we would be blowing everyone out of the water in the dressage!  Arthur’s spook is very fear based. I think there was a small element of respect based behavior that developed through habit, but I do feel like I was able to address this through my day to day training. After Luhmuhlen, I really wanted to figure out if there was a better way than what I have been doing to proactively work on his spook and get him looking to me for more guidance when he becomes fearful. I had a great telephone conversation with Clinton Anderson (graciously set up by the folks at Haygain) which answered a lot of questions I had in my head about Arthur and helped me to put a plan into motion for him. I asked Paddy to come out and help me with Arthur, because I felt that he offered something a bit more and different than I have been exposed to before that would specifically address the “extremely” fearful and spooky horse. Specifically trying to get him thinking more about his fear and looking to me for guidance as opposed to just making it that much more difficult for him when he does spook. The work that I did with Paddy in the past few days was so amazing. What I loved about working with him is that the work we did on the ground and in the round pen translated so effortlessly into my everyday riding and training. I am thrilled about the progress we made in such a short time.