Yes I did… after 30 years of no association with horses, no horse riding lessons, having a horse when I was 15 and just because we were getting my daughter one after her riding lessons of 3 years I thought I would buy a horse as well. Why did I think this was a good idea because it would be far more fun for us to go out for a ride together?
The thing is I’ve been pretty naïve when it comes to thinking this new hobby will be easy, it’s like riding a bike isn’t it, I’ve done this before. I have to be honest and say I have just taken it in my stride and used common sense, I should be right.
I’m so wrong.
What 10 month journey it has been. My daughter’s horse has just been a complete bitch and in the end she had to stop riding her because I was concerned for her safety. She never bucked or reared, but she would bite you when you went to saddle her, not stand still when you went to mount her and rush when she was ridden or lead.
I got to the stage where I decided to give her back to the previous owner because I believed this horse was suitable for my daughter.
It was a hard call to make.
I rang the previous owner and said she is just not working out and I have decided to return her. Due to the previous owners not being able to come and get her for a while she stayed with us for a few weeks.
Every day when I went out to see my horse there she was. I cried, I was broken hearted to let her go, I couldn’t understand her bad behavior - I had given her top feed and a good place to live. Why was she such a nasty horse to us I could not understand this?
I was frustrated what could I do. I did some research on horse training and found a program about natural horsemanship and the next day I went out and started the ground work training with her. Each day I could see a little improvement with her attitude towards me and her willingness to do as asked on the ground.
I was so impressed and felt the connection between her and I was coming together slowly. The day before she was to go I rang the previous owners and said can you give me more time with her as I have started ground work with her and have seen such an improvement in her.
I couldn’t let her go knowing she was trying.
In the middle of this my farrier came to do her feet and when I told him what I was doing he said I know a local lady that may be able to give you some time Nicole to ask questions and work out if what I was doing was right.
As soon as he left, I rang her to ask if she would give me some advice about ground work with my horse. Now she is not a horse trainer just a lady that has read books, attended clinics and has learnt off her own back.
She asked me why I wanted to learn ground work and I said “Because it’s not the horse, it’s me I need to learn how to build a relationship with this horse”. In an instant (note she does not train people to communicate with horses). She said to me I will help you Nicole. I burst into tears. I was so grateful.
So with her advice, my new virtual mentor Warwick Schiller and Carlos Tabernaberri I took on the job of understanding this horse.
So here we are in December and our girl is still with us and my daughter has started riding her again, with much more respect and care for us both. Together we are building a "happy horse".
So I thought leading into in the new year, I would share a little personal story about something new I'm learning and give you some inspiration to learn something new in 2020.