Straight from the horse's mouth...
Sherry Blenden, DVM:
Theresa McManus provided the keys of knowledge for me to unlock my horse’s potential.
I am a lifelong horseman, having started out with all-around ponies and progressed to lower level eventing and dressage. After many years of studying dressage and as a working student at a grand-prix barn I became frustrated with the heavy contact and had lost the joy of simply riding; the freedom of just cantering across a field was gone. I was drawn to Parelli Natural horsemanship which gave me my horses back. I developed relationship and partnership with my horses again and soon was riding bareback and bridleless. I progressed to PNH level ¾, even officially completing my level 4 online. However I was lacking the horsemanship fundamentals to progress to level 4 under saddle. Sure my horse could walk/trot/canter, open gates, sidepass, etc all bareback and bridleless, but we could not find the lightness and balance needed for flying lead changes, rein-back, or spins; instead we got bucks! I struggled for several years trying different instructors, reading books and watching dvds. Then my equine veterinarian and osteopath mentioned Theresa McManus, saying the horse’s (and their riders) that studied with Theresa did not continually come back with the same back, postural and osteopathic problems; in fact they were all remarkably healthy!
Theresa has given me the long-sought goals of lightness, balance, relationship AND fun with my horses.
She showed me the tools to help my high-strung Arabian relax, so then we could both learn together. I took those lessons and transferred them to my new, lovely, gaited Kentucky Mountain Horse, Sunny. He was so stiff when purchased that he did not know how to bend his neck to the rein, on the ground or under saddle; he also could not move his back enough to even gait. After a few sessions with Theresa’s lessons he became relaxed and supple. She has taught me how to lightly and easily have independent shoulder and hip movement; this translates into shoulder-in and travers/renvers with just a slight shift in the seat and lift of the rein. And as soon as Sunny was able to swing his hips in haunches-in he suddenly could gait (yay!). It is so fun to have a light, balanced horse that can easily transition from shoulder-in to haunches-in, to half-pass, and all while moving down the trail. I found it simply amazing that the basic dressage exercises that I struggled with for so long could be so easy with correct instruction (no more pointless 20 m circles!!).
I also love that Theresa gives me references to read and videos to watch to further develop my eye and independent learning. Sunny is an endurance horse in his first season of 50 mile rides, and the classical dressage foundation with Theresa has given me everything I have ever wanted in my horses. I can’t wait to continue my education into the next level with spanish walk, lead changes, and more!
You can see Sherry's blog at www.sunnyandsherry.blogspot.com
I met Theresa 1 ½ years ago, and our journey has been nothing short of a miracle. Theresa taught me an entirely new way to communicate with and ride my horse. No, it is not natural horsemanship! Until you have met Theresa and put into practice her method of riding, you are missing something spectacular. Theresa McManus is a classical horsewoman who can teach any rider, no matter which discipline they ride. As Theresa says, she is not training your horse, she is giving the rider the tools to know how to work through problems with their horse, and the results are amazing.
Sense Equine is alive because of this one story...
I bought Thor, a young haflinger with a rather standard knowledge of horses. Having ridden all of my life, this was my first time backing and training a youngster.
Fast forward a couple of years...Thor had injured himself a fair few times during his 2 year old year! As a consequence, he was on box rest for long periods of time and his energy levels were at an all time high. This was part of my excuse that I couldn't handle him.
When it came to backing, my aim was to give him something to think about and to not "work" him. I called in help from a Western trainer and also from a Classical Dressage instructor. Over the next year, Thor was subjected to side reins, spurs, a double bridle, whips, lunging, and being pushed forward to achieve an outline and good contact. Now...I must stress, the trainers I called upon are highly respected, lovely people and providing a service from their own learning - I took their advice, being a student. None of the methods used were out of the ordinary - in fact, all were common practice here in the UK.
Theresa called me.
I was sitting on my horse's kidneys...restricting movement...the saddle was wrong...he was dead to my leg...he was evading the bit...he was not happy...I was terrified of riding in open spaces...and on the ground, he was a brute! (Didn't I just sound like the model equestrian!)
So the changes began!
Theresa told me to buy a bareback pad and bitless bridle. Because Thor was young, the saddle would be introduced later on. The bareback pad would be more comfortable for him and improve my balance as a rider. The bitless bridle was introduced so I wasn't using "heavy hands", would learn to not rely on the reins and to not move Thor by his mouth. Was this lady crazy?! Yes...yes she was... but what did I have to lose?
I got on Thor, bitless and bareback for the first time in August. The rider who was scared of an outdoor school, was now in open spaces, bitless, bareback and on the same horse. I was told to forget my legs - they are no longer used for now! My hands were held up high and I was right back to basics. Despite the criticism, the skeptics, the laughing at my high hands, I carried on. I listened to everything Theresa was telling me and began living these methods. I would spend anything from 30 seconds to an hour working with Thor at any time. The most important piece of advice I received was to work at our own pace. This is what we have done.
Fast forward just 8 months - Thor was able to move his hips and shoulders beautifully! In that time he moved yards twice. He was still bitless, bareback, was able to be ridden bridle-less, liberty work had been started on the ground, bareback hacks were a thing and he had just transformed!
How did we do it? It was all via video call! Theresa was my "eyes on the ground" in another continent! The idea is to make the training you own - so you aren't relying on a trainer all of the time. The tools are given to you and help available when you need it. This is what I wanted to be involved with.
I started getting interest. People asked about this "natural horsemanship" and I would reply that it is a classical basis - no fads, no unnecessary pressure. It is just being a good horse-person.
These methods have changed my horse's life and my passion has awakened. It is my mission with Theresa, our mission, to bring understanding and education to riders - opening the eyes of equestrians worldwide to methods and teachings of the Masters which seem to have been forgotten somewhere along the way.