Trying to source equipment for a 36” stocky Shetland pony is not easy. I eventually bought a really cheap harness just to continue introducing new things to Rebel, to see how he would react. He accepted it, but was somewhat bemused and concerned when I tried long reining. He really didn’t like me (a) not at his head, and (b) walking close behind him.
Back to the drawing board: baby steps required.
We stayed in the car park, and I walked around him, talking to, stroking and scratching him until he was happy to stand with me standing behind him.
Then we walked in harness, in hand. I kept him walking, and dropped back from his head to his shoulder, and if he tried looking for me, I moved back to his head. We practised for several weeks until he was happy for me to drop behind, change sides from behind, do figure 8s, circles. It was hard work, especially as I had to stop often to catch my breath - but that in itself was no bad thing as a training exercise, and the effort was good for my own fitness level. My lung function by this point had dropped to 45%.
I was now confident enough to long rein on the road, and we happily wandered for a mile in either direction from home, stopping frequently for me to sit and rest, or to reassure Rebel that the tractor whose tyres towered above our heads were in fact benign and not pony killers. The local farmers very quickly learned to slow and stop if my pony stopped, or I would step out in front of them anyway. Lorries, cars and vans were generally okay; bicycles were definitely not, quads were sabre toothed tigers in hiding, walkers were definitely suspect, and pushchairs and small children - well! There are no words!
Rule 9: You reap what you sow!
© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021
Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion