I left school at fifteen to pursue my childhood love of riding. My Dad wasn’t best pleased, he much preferred the idea of me becoming a vet! However, determination runs in our family so I met little protest just a realistic “well how are you going to train horses? We don’t have money for arenas etc.” I didn’t have it all worked out I just knew that this was right for me. I had a difficult horse at the time, which I wasn’t really coping with, faced with a decision to either sell him or learn from him. I put him in the field and headed across the world in search of a better understanding.
Australia first….. I loved the fact that their was no strict structure of Equestrianism I was starting young horses, working cattle, retraining horses unloaded from the meat wagon and helping to give them a new life. From Oz to Spain then Portugal where I was incredibly lucky to ride alongside some of the classical masters before going to work for a top event rider in Germany. This blend of styles, techniques and cultures partly shaped the way I work horses today.
In 2001 I set up my own training centre in Devon working hard and gaining a good reputation for starting young horses and working with “difficult” horses. This became “what I did”. I am really happy working with troubled horses and their owners, each issue being different to the next, gaining a horses trust, respect and watching the relationship between horse and owner grow in confidence is incredibly rewarding – to see a young, feral animal learning to work with a human through trust and understanding is spellbinding
I have had some awesome horses over the years. One in particular changed the way in which I saw my life with horses pan out. I evented Marcus for his owners successfully for a couple of years before they announced they had to sell him, Marcus isn’t just any old horse, it’s hard to describe in words but from the first time I sat on him I knew there was something special between this horse and I. A big impressive looking stallion standing 17.2hh you wouldn’t have thought would be a good mix with a 5’3 women. This is what made my love for training horses take to a whole new level.
Marcus is one of the most trainable horses I have ever known. I felt I could literally teach him anything, I would ride him bareback and reinless with his mares and foals cantering alongside – Just by clicking my fingers he will lay on the floor so that I can jump on bareback.
Having trained horses for 17 years I have to tell you this…….the feeling you get when a young horse lets you ride them for the first time – or they learn a new move and then want to offer it over and over…..it’s the most rewarding thing. There are no rosettes or prizes for training horses just a truly special feeling that is incomparable to any other.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that horses deserve the unique place they hold in our hearts. Working with a horse in complete freedom is the ultimate in horsemanship. I have taken what I learnt from Marcus and applied the techniques to all the other horses in my yard – evolving the concept of working a team of horses at Liberty (Liberty means working with a horse completely free, no ropes, head collars or bridles)
It’s not all been plain sailing though -A couple of years ago I had a bad accident and broke my back, I followed this up shortly afterwards with dislocating my shoulder.
This was a wake-up call …….. I quickly realised that although all horses can work at Liberty to work at the highest level you need to start completely from scratch and build the relationship from the start….Back to the drawing board – how to take my dream forward?
As I pondered the breeds and types, personalities and temperaments that would blend with mine the dream was dealt another blow -August 2013 – I lost my lead horse to a debilitating disease. Heartbroken but determined to follow my dream of a team of liberty horses – a new adventure begun…….
A week later I jumped in my Lorry and drove 1000 miles to Clifden (Ireland) for the forthcoming Connemara pony sales. I had the idea of buying five unhandled Connemara ponies and starting all over again with this new team.