I have always had a great love for the horse and wanted to get to know and understand this wonderful animal. I increasingly wanted to discover what makes them tick, or not, in some cases.
Horses are my leisure and I have spent time earning my living with them. I achieved BHS AI accreditation in 1996 but knew there was still plenty more for me to understand.
In 1989 the seeds were sown for the path I was to follow when I went to see Monty Roberts on his first trip to the UK. I later found Parelli Natural Horsemanship and then the world opened up to reveal a host of extraordinary horsemen and women who are all striving to offer the horse the best deal by working with his nature.
Since 2002 I have consciously been a Student of the Horse and have learnt all that I can about how a horse thinks, feels and moves and relating this to the domestic horse who finds himself completly under the influence of humans. I spent time studying with the highly regarded Dave Stuart, including starting young horses.
First ride on a young horse
During the summer of 2005 I spent six months in France at Haras de la Cense, the Equine Ethology Centre near Paris. Here, under the guidance of Andy Booth, Chief Instructor, I passed Equine Ethology Stage 7 and graduated as an Assistant Instructor.
I have learnt about using energy to communicate from Mark Rashid. I have studied with Ken Faulkner, an expert on how to help the horse move in balance and therefore gain perfect impulsion. I have watched the Master, Ray Hunt, at work in reading and educating colts.
Many people consider "Natural Horsemanship" to have a very Western image which in some respects it has, particularly as this recent revolution in horsemanship originated on the working ranches of California and Colorado. However, it is just as applicable to the English rider or the driving fan as it all about what makes sense to the horse. There is however, much that can be learnt across disciplines. Studying with Bruce Logan in Texas was not only a lot of fun, but when working with cows the horse very much has a job to do, and he can learn to be perfectly balanced, soft and responsive, just as we would like a jumping or dressage horse to be.
Bruce Logan lets his horse perform
I continue to learn from as many horsemen as I can and am always striving to progress my own horsemanship. I learn something from everyone about balancing the mental, the emotional and the physical aspects of the horse, and I have learnt that if you listen to him, the greatest teacher of all, is the horse himself.
My path of learning has taken me into to world of Classical riding because my horse was particularly crooked and had physical body issues. Biomechanics has become an "in" word in recent years but the realisation of just how much your body will influence the way your horse moves, both on and off the horse, is an encouragement to study good equitation and build towards straightness in both of you. The Classical exercises such as shoulder-in and halfpass help to develop symmetry and strength to enable your horse to carry you with ease and longevity without damage to their own structure. A horse in balance and self-carriage will be much more balanced in their emotions and if you allow the horse to discover this place without force, riding can be as enjoyable and therapeutic for them as it is for us.
I have a great interest in how to help the horse use his body in the most efficient way. It is so important in the goal of ultimate softness and lightness. This lead me to study The Equine Touch a form of non-invasive bodywork which helps to release tensions, imbalance and blockages within the body. I combine the two aspects of Equine Touch and good Horsemanship which complement each other so well, to help rehabilitate horses with physical and behavioural issues.
I have also spent several years as a bodyworker with the human body using the human form of Equine Touch, Vibromuscular Harmonisation Technique VHT. Feeling and releasing the held tensions, restrictions and retained emotions in the human helps to restore balance and function to the body. All of this is the same with the horse where attention to body condition and posture are so influential on wellness and happiness and quality of life.