It seemed like a good idea at the time, to run clinics in November to accommodate interest after the Monty tour. And with the weather so unpredictable, there was no particular reason to suspect the weather would be much worse than it had been during the “summer”. In fairness, we got perfectly normal November weather: cold, windy, some light rain, some heavy rain, and the odd bright spell. And as usual, an interesting group of students.
First (I have to put him first, because his owner is so proud of him), there’s Mouse, an Exmoor with a lot of baggage and history. His owner, Steve, is an experienced Intelligent Horsemanship student, and has done a lot of great work with him. We’d had him on an extended stay before, to work on his feet and general happiness around humans (Mouse, that is, Steve is already quite sociable), and now he was back to be backed. He had been sat on a fair bit before, but quite a long time ago, and the plan was to get back on him and try to get him as established as possible before Steve took him home again, in a week or so. He was the star of the clinic, and was ridden on three consecutive days, each time more calmly, in spite of the blustery weather. And all done in the way we like best – so calmly that it’s almost dull for the spectators to watch. Excitement is not the name of our game, here.
Pele had also been here before, with a massive issue about being mounted, which after a lot of work he has completely overcome, but his owner reluctantly felt she needed him to have a bit of a haircut, as it had taken him several hours to dry off after a fairly un-strenuous lesson she had had at home. I know lots of readers won’t be keen on clipping, and it’s not something we feel the need to do with our horses, but I can accept that some horses are so woolly that it can cause them difficulties. He was worried about the prospect, but with gentle desensitisation to electric toothbrushes and massagers, and very useful cordless clippers, he was getting much better, and his owner has plenty to work on to gradually get him happier about it all.
Then there’s the lovely mare who perhaps shouldn’t be named, whose owners had only had her for 3 weeks, and she had been in training with someone else, but she was aggressive in the stable, and generally a very unhappy horse, and the owners were feeling that she really wasn’t getting any better. Adam worked with her, and the transformation has been nothing short of spectacular. As suspected, under those bared teeth, there was a lovely horse who just wasn’t quite understood, and who really wants nothing more than to be pleasant and agreeable. A lot of the frantic behaviour around food disappeared with giving her more hay than she could possibly eat, and cutting out the hard food.
We also had a mother and daughter over from Germany, who had only been riding for 18 months, and who just felt they could be making more progress. It was lovely to see the penny dropping as they changed what they were doing and got the results they had been looking for.
So all in all a very successful weekend, and one which more than made up for getting a bit cold, damp, and windswept. And if it sounds like I’m blowing our own trumpets for having helped these horses and people? Well, not really- it’s always just testimony to how well the techniques we have learned over the years work. Without them, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing today, getting paid to do what we enjoy the most.