Llanilar Twm
A Welsh Cob Section D, born in May 2004.  I bought him through Llanybydder Horse Sales as a 3 year old, as a birthday treat for myself, knowing that my riding horse, at that time, was not enjoying being ridden. He had a nature that appealed to me instantly and, although he was turned away to grow on, he was constantly seeking attention.  He was, and still is, full of mischief and playfulness, and is possibly one of the most willing horses I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He now stands at 14.2hh and, although he was started under saddle last autumn, he started his training in earnest in spring 2009.  I have thoroughly enjoyed developing the skills of natural horsemanship, as taught by Pat Parelli, and when Twm and I went to our first show at the Aberaeron Dressage Festival in the May, I was so pleased I had the skill to work with the horse that came out of the trailer!
The Pembrokeshire Hunt Show was such an education!  We only had one in-hand class but the rings were set out in such a way that the horse walk-way was straight up through the middle where we were able to meet miniature ponies, blue ponies, cantering ponies, marquee’s, loudspeakers, children, pushchairs, fancy dress, umbrellas…. You name it, we met it!  What a great opportunity!  Our class was also an opportune moment to make new friends and thankfully, there was no need to do a lap of honour! Having enjoyed the morning we called by with friends and family for a quick cup of tea and decided to meet the Parelli girls who were playing with their horses at a nearby school.  Well that was a new concept for Twm.  Although he has learnt to be light to handle, he hasn’t been in a Parelli style playground before. There were toys everywhere and, having got over the initial shock of tarpaulins, umbrellas, balls, poles and cones filling the school (not to mention the other horses), he soon got into the spirit of the day!  After he had inspected each and every item a course of action was suggested; get Twm to touch (and accept) a tyre, then the umbrella, walk over the two tarpaulins, touch the chair, weave through the cones, jump a pole, touch the ball and walk calmly through a series of poles.  It was all too easy, so he developed his own games along the way. Touched the tyre and umbrella, picked up one of the tarpaulins and walked over the other, accepted being brushed with a peculiar object, touch the chair, mastered the send and return to achieve a fantastic weave through the cones, popped a little pole and touched the ball!  Touched the ball again and rolled it!  Touched again, picked it up and did not want to let anyone else have it!  I did contemplate letting him carry it through the last obstacle but that was a bridge too far!  Next challenge will be to increase the mental stimulation on my part so that I don’t bore him! Lots of travelling followed by acupressure to relieve the tension brought about from travelling mountain roads and my little pony slept like a log that night – I know because I had to fish the sawdust out of his ears the following morning!  HR Saddlers are coming on Friday to find a saddle that fits more comfortably and the next show is at the end of the month!  You can follow Twm’s mental and physical progress on our Blog and you might like to take a look at our relevant links
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My handsome, quiet Cob turned into a snorting, prancing handful, excited and exhilarated by all the activity around him!  My first thought was, ‘I’m not going to get on that!’  I quietly walked down through to where the horses were warming up as dear Twm flounced around on the end of his lead rope doing a fairly good impression of an Arab stallion! I remembered to breath and stay calm before returning to my trailer to saddle up.  No hassle!  He chilled instantly. I took him out again in-hand, turning this way and that to successfully gain his attention before returning to my trailer and mounting – with delight and confidence!  Our first competition and we were now looking forward to it!  It was just a simple introductory dressage test and Twm was compliant with my every aid, even if his attention was in the other ring!  The judge thought he was a pleasure to watch and I couldn’t help but smile for the whole test!  Here was a fantastic partnership in the making! We continued to develop our relationship and his education through June by attending three more shows, one in-hand showing class at the Towy Valley Riding Club Show and two more introductory dressage competitions, thanks again to the Towy Valley Riding Club and to The Foss-y-ffin Show.  But July is the best month so far!