I've recently acquired new students, friends and many new followers who may or may not know the extent of how Sense Equine all started. In the beginning, it was my own story - my issues and lack of understanding which set me on the path to my passion and what is now becoming the beginning of my life's work.
My bridle-less horse was not always so calm.
He used to barge - y'know, when your horse pulls you to a grassy patch and plants their head in the foliage, with no consideration to you hanging onto the rope for dear life! Many a time I was pulled to the ground in pursuit of a lush bank of grass. In fact, one time I distinctly remember thinking I had lost a few fingers as the rope wrapped around my hand as he bolted off... uuuff!
My horse wasn't just difficult to handle, he was borderline dangerous. Now, don't get me wrong, he wasn't malicious in the slightest, he was just dominant. Dominance is dangerous when it comes to handling a horse. With every bit of "cheek", my confidence dwindled. He was just a youngster...and I didn't really know enough when faced with these issues. Small problems became a little tougher, but I never gave up!
I got assistance from different trainers; Western...English..."Natural Horsemanship"... Emphasis was always on controlling the horse but not helping us to be calm and connected. Months passed and we seemed to be making progress, albeit bucking when ridden and the odd tanking off in hand! I put it down to being "a youngster thing" and carried on trying my best.
My fateful meeting with my own trainer, Theresa, was in the USA, at a trade show. I asked her what she thought of my horse...this crazy lady was overly familiar with me as she told me I was in an ill fitting saddle, sitting on my horse's kidneys, with an armchair posture and absolutely no relationship with my beloved horse! So, naturally, I ignored her for a couple of years...!
After the birth of my little girl, I called Theresa. I asked her what I should do. I was getting tired of battling with my horse, trying to "tame" him. I just wanted a horse to ride safely and to enjoy. At this point, I was only riding in an indoor school, religiously lunging to rid him of excess energy and always ensuring I was never alone when riding. I was told to start from the beginning. Get a bareback pad and bitless bridle and start again!
So that is exactly what I did. I bought my Ultimate Bitless Bridle and Skito Bareback Pad and began to learn.
The first time I rode with my new bridle and pad, I honestly thought I was going to die! No lunging, I took my horse into an open, outdoor arena, hopped on board and just sat. I asked him to move forward with just my hands - lo and behold, he moved! My horse was calmer than I had ever known him to be! This was a sign, to me, to listen. I wanted to learn all I could to help us move forward.
It took me months and months of exercises; moving the hips, shoulders and lowering the head. I learnt to assess my horse and how to read him. I started becoming aware of how he moves, when he is feeling good and when he is not feeling so great. I began to become in tune with my horse. I was being given the tools to communicate with my horse in a simple, soft and calm way. I would love to hear if any horse would oppose to that?! Consequently, my horse began to respect me.
For the first time, he wanted to be in my company, he wanted to play and to learn with me.
He became by best teacher.
It is because of what I have learnt and what I am continuing to learn, that I am passionate about helping others and their horses.
I understand how it feels to be anxious. I know what it is like wanting what's best for your horse but not always making the right decisions, without realising. I have been there. I have had to swallow my pride many times and have taken the bad days with the good. I believe I am stronger for it and can help to encourage and support others on their journeys.
Ultimately, there are many ways to the same goals, no "rights" or "wrongs" - I choose to train with the horse's health in mind, for calmness and for fun. I give my students the tools to become the great horsemen and horsewomen they are.