Normally we are told not to look back, because the future is in front of us. However, I like to look back to see how far we have come and acknowledge our hard work and triumphs. To ground ourselves in our roots and stop ourselves from rushing forwards.
I’d like to share a little about my journey as a horsewoman. I’ll try and keep it brief!
I began riding when I was about 3 years old, by the age of 5 I was riding independently and by 7 I was competing successfully in local shows and novice show jumping.
I rode many horses, either that came on loan, were bought at the sales or for other people. Horses being backed, horses with a multitude of problems (human caused I might add). Ex racers, pacers, every breed from 11.2hh to 16.2hh. Not one was ever a ‘ready made’ ride.
Now I never classed myself as the best rider (and still don’t) or the one that won everything, we had plenty of trophies, but nothing of an higher or international level and I always thought that one day I would get there (I might still, you never know!). But as I say, I never classed myself as the bravest for going over the biggest jump, or the smoothest for keeping my reins longer than every other kid.
But let me tell you a story about a little pony, you could pick any one of my horses for this, the stories are always the same. The pony or horse that couldn’t, the pony that shied away from people, that couldn’t be caught. That everyone said was a ‘no hope’. That was where I didn’t know it, but I was the best horsewoman (or girl) I could be. I wouldn’t ask anything of them, even when I was being told to kick on, to shorten my reins. I never listened. I always did it my way. Not to be a rebel, but because it would make my feel sick inside to do it. I knew how far to push those ponies, what they would do for me, how much they trusted me and in my mind no one would make me hurt them. I refused to carry a whip save for the show cane that was never used on a horse.
I have only a few photos,but I have many memories and many videos.
But now that I look back on my own past, it has inspired a new future. One in which I’m not afraid to be different. to have the long reins, to be on the forehand, to lift my horses up through a kind approach with as few aids as possible.
I’d like to mention Teddy at this stage. He is 10 years old now, he should by rights be at the top of his game, but he isn’t. He isn’t because I don’t think he’s ready yet, we’re still working and training but he’s getting closer every session. Time is the biggest training asset that isn’t used nearly enough.
Before Teddy could even begin his groundwork and ridden training we had to work through a long list of problems including: Napping, Bucking, Bolting, Refusing to Trailer, Rearing, Shooting forwards, Running away from the saddle, Not wanting to be caught, Refusing the bit…. and we got through all of this because I changed my approach. I went back and rediscovered what I knew as a child before I was conditioned with traditionalist values. I stopped listening to what the world was telling me to do and I started doing what felt right.
Science and research is now able to tell us why traditional horsemanship ultimately isn’t working, why so many horses are breaking down even though so many refuse to see it. I could never explain before why the way I was worked with horses, but now I can – and I’m discovering that there are many other trainers like me out there too. We aren’t alone!
The message of this blog is to look back, look at what you have achieved, then you can look to the future and know what you need to work on, to inspire positive changes in your horses.
Be prepared to give it time.