Connected Horsemanship

Photographs Taken While Working With Jewel Van Der Weeme

Jewel age three

The above photographs are of my Friesian mare Jewel taken just after I bought her at age 3. She had been started, but was totally green, and was very anxious about being ridden. Saddling and bridling her was problematic, she would refuse the bridle, hump her back when saddled and walk off on mounting. When ridden she had learned the only way to avoid pressure in her mouth was to adopt an extreme over-bent head set and was broken in the third vertebra.She moved in extreme inversion, her head high her nose tucked in towards her chest, her back hollow. She had overdeveloped muscles under her neck, a dip in front of her withers and overdeveloped muscles at the front of her forelegs from dragging herself along on the forehand.


While this was less noticeable when not ridden any contact whatsoever would cause her to recoil her neck and revert to this extreme posture. I do not a have photo of her like this but you can see from the first photo her mane falls to the opposite side to the rest of the mane about six inches behind her ears. This is the area where she was "broken", the muscles here were non existent allowing the mane to flop to the wrong side. When ridden her neck adopted the "swan necked" posture.


Two weeks after I bought Jewel she developed puffy hocks although she was not lame. This it is was thought was largely brought on by being started when too immature and also because she is not strong behind.


I made the decision to let Jewel rest and mature for a year and restart her in her fourth year. Sadly the puffy hocks did not totally resolve although they did improve. She appeared not to be in any discomfort however and was never lame at any time.


During her fourth year she had a series of abscesses in her front feet. This gave us a great opportunity to bond and to develop trust. She had been anxious about giving her feet, being rugged and was impossible with the farrier.


We did a small amount of work in hand encouraging her to drop forward and stretch her topline, She had trouble with co-ordination, often standing on her own feet. I  felt she really had difficulty learning,.I consequently realised I had to be content just to be with her.



This Year age 5

The pictures below show Jewels development this year.


Jewelno longer has a swan neck and very rarely over bends. She no longer has a break in the third vertebra. She is beginning to build muscle at the base of the neck She has learned to look for the contact. She is confident  with rugs and tarps and her feet and water etc etc


The first picture shows her yawning  seconds after the bit enters her mouth. She has been doing this every day now for two weeks. Its so cool.


In these pictures she has been  lunged for three months and has about 40 hours under saddle.


In pics 2 and 3 we are doing “in hand “work to encourage softness in the bridle, bend through the ribcage, freedom in the shoulder and engagement of the inside hind.


The lunge work was initially done to encourage her to stretch her topline in a low and low outline (pics4 and 9 )


In our ridden work she is soft in the bridle in walk and we can do very nice soft halts into back up, change the bend and  off in the other direction. In trot we are rather  unbalanced, falling in and  out on her shoulders every few seconds. My skills can be found  wanting in helping her.  She continues to be an awesome teacher.


I am so proud of my little lady