Freddy The Star (2011):


Young Freddie the donkey is one of my very talented pupils from Cumbria who was asked to play in a star roll for a promotion of the play 'A Man and his Donkey'.


John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a very famous Australian First World War Hero along with his faithful friend Murphy the Donkey.  John was a boy from South Shields who joined the Merchant Navy.  His ambition in life was to see the world, so he jumped ship in Sydney only to join the Australian Army and be sent to Gallipoli.  Here he was a stretcher bearer and, with the aid of Murphy his faithful friend, saved more than 300 lives.


At the age of 23 John sadly lost his own life along with Murphy.  This play is taking place in the Custom House Theatre from 4th-13th February 2011.


Freddie was a true star for his photograph day on the beach. Here you can see some of the shots taken.  Well done Freddie, Anne-Marie & Roger.

[ Gallery ]

This ‘General Gallery’ section is where you will find photos of my horses, client horses, clinics, demo’s and events.  Each photo or set of photos will have some text written by me explaining what the pictures are about.


I hope you enjoy looking through them all - and don’t forget to check-in regularly to see what’s new.  If you have any questions arising from what you see here then please feel free to contact me and I will be pleased to help answer them for you.

Q&A

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Playtime:


My lot really are a playful bunch.  Here are Bindy and Rocky having a riot, hooning around with everything they’ve got, while Pagan decides it’s just too much like hard work and grazes peacefully.


Bindy show’s off her speed and athleticism as she goes hell for leather up the fence line!


I love to see horses play.  It keeps them fit and supple, and expends excess energy (which Bindy obviously has plenty of) as well as releasing endorphins which help the horses stay calm and balanced in mind.  Being able to express themselves in an unrestricted manner (other than the restrictions placed on them by the size of the pasture) is so important in maintaining a happy horse.


Sometimes We Just Need Support and Guidance:


Storm is a feisty young 4 year old owned for the past year by Lucy.  He has been mistaken by many to be an overconfident young man as he can be quite pushy but he is, in fact, quite the opposite.  As he hasn’t been able to trust anyone else with his life he has simply taken it upon himself to decide what is best for him and Lucy was unsure on how to get over this.  His confidence is building very well but there are still areas of his life that he needs to get comfortable with and Lucy is doing a great job of working through these issues.  With a good, solid groundwork foundation in place she has the tools and handling ability to help Storm work through moments of uncertainty.


Never be disheartened if things start to go a bit wrong when they’ve been going really well.  Some horses, particularly the Storm’s of this world, really need to know that they can rely on you to keep them safe and so can go through periods of being quite testing.  In these moments you need to stand fast and be confident in using the techniques and strategies you’ve learnt to bring the horse out the other side safely.  Each time this happens and you are able to stay in control and bring the horse back down to earth, and he realises he has come to no harm, you will find you’ve sewn another stitch into the seam of your partnership, thus strengthening your relationship with each one.


West Sussex, UK

Spectators Welcome:


I often have spectators at private lessons, clinics and workshops - I am very happy for people to watch some sessions if they are unsure about what I do or are wondering whether I can help them rebalance the relationship they have with their own horses.  However, on this particular day we were joined by two very unusual guests who decided it was all quite fascinating and stayed to watch awhile!

Groundwork Clinics:


Clinics are designed to help you understand how the horse learns and how to improve confidence, handling, responsiveness & athleticism.  You will learn to develop a communication with your horse through trust, respect, understanding & consistency with an open mind, open heart and open hand.


The clinics are designed to introduce you and your horse to my methods and are great for really getting to grips with the handling techniques that you need and that will stay with you throughout your journey.


To be honest you could repeat the clinics several times and learn some new techniques each time - this is partly due to the fact that there is always a different combination of horses, which gives the opportunity for students to see different behaviours and, as such, different strategies to achieve the same result.  This serves to build confidence as your own vocabulary grows, such that if you are ever faced with difficult or unusual situations you are better placed to deal with them.


Clinics are good value for money and give a good overview of the communication, which can continue to be built upon as you wish.  I tend to keep numbers small to ensure that everybody gets the help and support they need.


These pictures show some students having fun and putting the communication they’ve learnt into practice with some obstacles.


Cumbria, UK

The Curiosity of Young Horses:


These three young ladies obviously don’t know what curiosity did to the cat! 


I just love the curiosity of a young horse.  The phrase “Never knock the curiosity out of your horse” is one I’ve heard so many horsemen use over the years and it is so true.  We can use the natural curiosity of the horse to build confidence in new situations.  Horses are naturally suspicious creatures but the curiosity balances this out somewhat as they are keen to give something a sniff or touch their nose on it to understand more about it.  The horse that has sadly been punished for his curiosity only has suspicion and this is often why they are less confident in the human world.

Trust, Respect & Understanding:


June & Mick are a wonderful pair to know.  Having had a couple of nasty falls and hairy moments, June was in the process of rebuilding her confidence when I first met her, and asked for my help on the ground as she wanted to understand Mick better and improve their relationship.  We worked on establishing a communication and June finds she is now much better able to read her horse and diffuse potentially difficult behaviour or situations before they get out of hand both when riding and on the ground.  Mick is a lovely horse who just needed a bit more support and June is now able to offer it.  June has found the groundwork immensely helpful in her ridden work too as she applies the same strategies with regard to energy, intention and direction, with rewarding results.


Once the communication was working for them both we then tackled the problematic area of trailer loading.  June was able to travel Mick but only without the partition, which posed a problem when she and her daughter wanted to go anywhere together with their horses.  I am pleased to say that Mick now loads in a partitioned trailer and June tootles about to shows, and new and interesting places to hack out without the worry of whether or not Mick will load at the end.  If Mick does ever have any uncertainties June is well armed with various strategies to help him in the moment.  Having a relationship built on trust, respect and understanding along with a number of strategies builds confidence in the handler, which sets you up for success in any situation.


West Sussex, UK

Handling Issues and Trailer Loading:


Jenson is a fell pony with a big horsenality and even bigger opinions.  His owner wasn’t having much fun as Jenson was pulling away from her when walking to the field, not to mention pushing her around with his shoulder and generally making the decisions for the two of them.  Consequently, he spent 5 days with me and through building a communication based on trust, respect, consistency and understanding, as well as working though some desensitisation exercises, he learnt to be braver, calmer, smarter and more respectful of his handler.  His fear of trailer loading was also laid to rest over two sessions and now he walks / trots / canters up the ramp with confidence and awaits the handler’s instruction on when to leave.


Hampshire, UK

A Horse Moment:


Ever wondered what your horse is thinking?

Loading Fears Laid to Rest:


Bambi is a pretty little Welsh Section B who belongs to Yasmin and was always confident about traveling places but, after a bad experience away from home (not directly associated with the lorry) she decided that the lorry was to be avoided and refused to load anymore.  I worked with Bambi over 4 sessions starting with some groundwork and generally building a communication with her, then started work with a trailer, building her confidence with the confined space without the added worry of the steep ramp the lorry has.  It was obvious straight away that she was incredibly fearful of the situation but, once all four feet had gone into the trailer once, her confidence started to build.  By the fourth session she was going up into the lorry without a second thought and standing quietly.  Her owner told me recently that Bambi’s new found confidence was put to the test not long after I worked with her when the horse she was traveling with refused to go into the lorry to go home after a ride out.  After 1.5 hours of standing on the lorry with all sorts happening around her Bambi was brought back off again.  Some 2.5 hours later, once the other pony had finally loaded, Bambi walked back up the ramp without hesitation.


Hampshire, UK

Blindness Creates a New Level of Communication!


This is one of my horses, Rocky.  He is now totally blind but together we have developed a new level of communication such that I can still play with him at liberty on the ground and, when ridden, he out performs most horses I have come across - bareback and bridleless!


Never give up on your horse.

Building Confidence and Unsticking the Feet:


I had the pleasure of working with Anneka’s horse Ellie for 5 days recently.  She is a lovely 3 year old Welsh Cob but Anneka had got a bit stuck with progressing as Ellie did not have the confidence to move her feet when being worked on the ground in the arena.  You can see from the photos that I was able to get her trotting and cantering on 12’, 22’ and 45’ lines, long-reining and moving out well with a saddle on, and all from body language and voice.  Now Anneka need only lift her energy and click twice to change up a gear.


Hampshire, UK

Basic Ridden Foundation Clinic:

Although it was very cold, we had some fun on Sunday 14th December during the two hour clinic.  I demoed bridleless first with my blind horse Rocky, to demonstrate that the communication comes from the body and not the bridle, then I rode 5 year old Bindy for the rest of the clinic.  She took a dislike to the other mare and gave us all some laughs with her antics.  Anneka rode my big warmblood, Pagan, who already has a solid foundation and so helped her work loads of things out in her body to take back to her young pony, Ellie.

Hampshire, UK

A New Member is Introduced to the Herd:


“New kid on the block”.  Mystic is introduced to our existing herd of four.  He is a 6 year old new forest gelding with fun high on his agenda.  Rocky (white) is in his element having a new playmate who likes to gallop and buck too.  Pagan & Secret chose to stand aside and let the young’uns let off steam.  Bindy joined in too after a while and the three of them hooned around together.  It is so important for a horse to have playful friends of his own kind he can interact with - it helps to keep him mentally and emotionally sound.


Hampshire, UK

Desensitising a Client’s Horse to Clipping:


This is Bindy receiving her very first clip.  It was all very scary at first but she soon got the idea and with the solid foundation background I have established with her, she was happy to stand calmly whilst I even clipped her throat.  I desensitised with both clippers and trimmers first using the method of approach and retreat, first with the clippers off and then with them running, but in this sensitive neck area I chose to clip with the smaller, quieter trimmers to ensure her confidence was maintained.  I will work further with the larger clippers when I do her belly in a few days time.


When desensitising a horse to anything it is most important to take your time.  Never give yourself a time limit and always look for a good place to stop so things are left on a positive note for the horse to think about until next time.  Allowing the horse to drift on the end of the rope is essential for procedures such as this.  If he feels restricted or held too tight his flight instincts will be heightened.


Hampshire, UK

Week of Teaching in Cumbria - November 2008:


This is the motley crew at Moorside coming to wish me farewell after my fabulous week teaching in Cumbria in November 2008.  Many thanks to Eve and Anthony for putting me up (or putting up with me perhaps) and making me feel so welcome, and well done to all my students who have made such good progress since my last visit.  Viki x


Cumbria, UK

A Rider’s Confidence Restored:


Gill is back in the saddle and smiling as she learns strategies on how to recognise and control potential problem situations.  She is learning to control her fear of falling and I’m so proud of her for taking the first and most difficult step of getting back up in the saddle.  Well done Gill, you’re doing great. 

(See learning article F is for FEAR!)


Cumbria, UK

Taming the ‘Mini-Monster’:


I had so much fun working with Blossom (see article ‘Foaling Around’ under the ‘Learning’ page).  She is a young filly cob less than a year old who, despite her small stature, had perfected the arts of barging, dragging and flipping people over with her nose!!!  After a 5-day course where I worked with her on a 12ft line and reintroduced some boundaries, encouraged good behaviour, discouraged bad behaviour and used her natural curiosity to build confidence, she is now a pleasure to handle.  She respectfully steps away from the stable door when you enter, stands quietly to be rugged and have her feet picked out, waits to be asked to come through a door or gateway, leads calmly and is currently learning the art of being brave when it comes to water and hosepipes. 

Thank you to Catherine for giving me the opportunity to ‘work’ with Blossom.


Hampshire, UK

Donkeys:


Billy and Jacob are a real pair of characters who love human attention and are always ready to ‘help’ whenever you go into the field.  I worked with Jacqueline to build a communication on the ground to help her with leading and general day to day handling.


I really enjoy working with these two and always look forward to my trips ‘up north’ when I catch up with them both!


Cumbria, UK

Bet she can’t do that with us!
Same thing as you!
What are you looking at?
?

Emily Day (2010):


I’m very proud of my niece, Emily.  She is showing huge potential where horses are concerned.  She often comes to stay with me for a few days during school holidays whenever possible and so she gets to travel around with me and see some of the students and horses I work with, as well as get some hands on experience with my horses.   When she came to stay in June I left her to play with Remi, my 4 year old Quarter Horse mare, whilst I rode Bindy.  Here’s what she got up to.

LATEST ADDITIONS

JULY 2012

Working Through Physical Problems (2011):


Towards the end of 2009, Mick underwent investigations into the stiffness and pain he was experiencing and, so in the months following I was helping him to change his muscle memory following recommendation that he be longreined for several weeks in conjunction with the physiotherapy he was receiving.  His stiffness was really quite profound and he was struggling to drive from behind and free up through his back, neck and shoulders.  We started a longreining programme, in conjunction with some strengthening and suppling exercises on-line,  and I am really pleased to say that on her visit a few months later the Physio was over the moon with the changes he had made.  It was uncertain how much improvement he would be able to make as he was finally diagnosed with some arthritic changes but his whole shape and way of going has changed and he is back under saddle again, with a bright future.


Since writing this article Mick sadly passed away in 2012 following surgery to remove a lipoma from his intestine.

Treating the Symptoms to Reveal the Cause (2011):


Izzy is a very pretty 5yr old mare whom I was called out to following the onset of loading problems.  On assessment I found Izzy to be very fixed and stiff through her neck and back with a mental block associated with the right shoulder.  A few groundwork sessions got her over the shoulder problem and she has loaded and travelled successfully ever since.  The stiffness in her body, however, was a concern and we started some softening exercises under saddle but needed external help to release the tight muscles.  A physiotherapist was brought in and, after several sessions in conjunction with longreining and gentle ridden exercises, she had freed up beautifully - but then she went acutely and profoundly lame on her near hind.  This turned out to be the cause of the muscle stiffness and fixed state of her body but she had previously been compensating for it so it had never shown up before, until all the tension had been released.  After a short period of rest she very quickly started to compensate again and was sent for further investigations.  It turned out that the locking mechanism in her stifle appeared to be underdeveloped and as a result can get stuck, causing some discomfort.  Izzy learnt to move her body differently in order to avoid the pain and so the stiffness started.  Sometimes it is necessary to treat the symptoms to find the cause.

Donkey’s Can Do it Too You Know! (2011):

Freddie is 2 years old and has been learning about the communication only since April this year. The photos outside are of his first lesson and the ones inside are of his second one, two and a half months later.  This is also his first time in an indoor school.  He is such a character and Anne Marie has a lot of fun finding new and interesting things for him to do.  He now has a driving harness and has learnt to longrein. He’s so quick to learn that I don’t think it will be long before he’s pulling a cart.

The Kingrigg Crew (2011):

When I travel north to teach around Scotland and Cumbria I usually spend a day at Kingrigg near Carlisle.  They’re a great bunch and we always have a lot of fun alongside the learning of new and interesting things.  These photos simply show some of the things we get up to.

Ever Wondered What Your Horse is Thinking? (2011):