Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Meet my horses...

MaĆ®te is my new partner who I had the privilege of trialling for 5 days at Parelli Instructors Russell Higgins', Ruth Carlyle & Terri Martinus' Savvy Camp in June 2014.  What a 5 day baptism of fire that was!  Maite is a complex little soul, who is supremely intelligent and is just now showing some connection and confidence with having someone on her back.  When my long term equine soul mate Tuff went on loan during the course of 2014, I set out to find a new partner.  I'm pretty sure my list of prerequisites did not include a 4 year old 15.1hh PRE mare, but I'd seen her advertised and was inexplicably drawn to her.   When I rang her then lovely owner Tally, she informed me over the phone that this girl had a distinct presence and energy, and she would in no way be offended if I decided that she was not the one for me.  I have to admit my interest increased at this point, so off I set one overcast May day to go and view this youngster....

Yes, indeed her energy was almost tangible, and I did wonder if I had any business taking on such a well bred, intelligent mare, but when I sat on her for the first time I knew she was mine.  I am not convinced she was so set on the deal but she humoured me at least.  So, with agreement from Tally I took Maite to a 5 day clinic which exposed her lack of foundation as a baby, and exposed me as a learner.  It was intense with a group of 19 other horses, this young mare who although at times had sticky feet, she never put me in any harm and stuck with me.  I actually look back now and think I must have been brilliant or sublimely mad in taking a young horse I didn't know to such an event, but on the other side of that I believe if we coped with that together, then the world is our oyster.   Being under the eye of such a competent, intuitive horseman such as Russell was a complete pleasure and the support from Ruth and Terri was amazing.  I don't necessarily suggest you follow my lead, but it made me appreciate having a support network, particularly one of such calibre.  

Roll on a few months and my family and I have relocated to Lincolnshire, which means more grazing and horse time for Maite, but for me it means support in bringing my youngster on in the form of Jody Ruysen.  We all need support, even as professionals, and two heads are invariably better than one.

Maite is now at the stage of becoming confident and truly accepting of a rider, and I am pleased to say she will be my partner when we attend Buck Brannaman's first UK clinic this year.  I am so happy this little mare has started to take me into her heart and I firmly believe she is a horse of a lifetime.


Tuff came into my life in  February 2012 and is and always will be my funny Valentine.  He is an big, bold, bay 11 year old 15.3hh American Quarter horse and is a super learner.  Natural horsemanship has been the making of him, although he had a very good western foundation thanks to his previous owners (and my dear friends Janelle & John).  He is acutely clever but at times very insecure horse, and I have spend the last few years building his confidence and progressing together.  We have enjoyed, clinics, hacking, and refinement together.  He has been a teacher to me in more ways than one.   

I have such a connection with this horse that words cannot describe it or do it justice.  I made the hard decision last year to put him out on loan, as at the time we were living in south Essex and the livery and turnout situation did not suit him.  It broke my heart but I will always do what I believe is best for my horses.   In a fantastic turn of events we have relocated, which means January 2015 Tuff is coming home.  To say I'm happy is an understatement.   This horse has been my confidant, best friend and mind reader for 3 years and I have missed him an unmeasurable amount.

Watch out Maite, uncle Tuff is going to teach you a thing or two....

Both my horses now enjoy 24 hour turnout at a lovely yard in my village, where they can be horses and live as naturally as possible.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Morning After The Night Before

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We've all been there, something seems like a fantastic idea at the time.  The decision to partake is fuelled by a passion for the subject, situation or scenario (or in some cases alcohol and enthusiastic bystanders).  Then the cold light of day hits you and the enormity of what you have done starts to permeate the brain...and so do its friendly bedfellows, panic and nausea.

Now this does not necessarily mean that your decision was ill conceived or foolish, sometime it just means that it is a really big deal to you, and therefore carries a certain amount of expectation.   This was how I felt on the 1st of January 2015.

Once the euphoria and hangover had dwindled (not to mention shock... shock was a pretty big player when I found out I had a place), it suddenly dawned on me what actually having a place at this clinic meant.  My brain started fizzing and came up with this frantic list of thoughts:

1. OMG
2. I have a place...
3. That means I will be riding with Buck...
4. Which means fantastic opportunity and a pretty big deal...
5. What if my horse isn't up to this (thought quickly dismissed)...
6. What if I'M not up to this..(this one got more grey matter time)
7. Yep, I am useless and should not embarrass myself...maybe I'll just spectate
8. Oh crap I forgot about spectators...
9. Right I'm going to hide, eat cake and drink wine.
10. (Glass of wine consumed) Ah it'll be fine, carpe diem and all that...hic

Let's be clear, I am professional horsewoman who loves her job and I love learning everything I can about horses.  I study endlessly and although having had 3 children has sometimes dented the old confidence in the saddle, I have been know at times to be almost competent around a horse or two.  However, there are some situations in life where you feel like an awkward 12 year old girl.  This is one of those... so I did what I do best (no, not drink wine), I gave myself some advice.  This is a once in a lifetime deal, this is the biggest thing I will do in 2015.  The best way I can truly do justice to myself, my horse and to Buck, is to be prepared mentally, physically (stop laughing) and emotionally for this experience.  If for no other reason, so that I can embrace the learning on offer and use it to the benefit of any horse that crosses my path.

At the end of the day, that's why we are all in this gig... for the horse.

I also look forward to meeting like minded souls on this journey, and hope I can support my fellow participants at Aintree.

Oh and getting a cheesy grin picture of me on my pony with Buck that I can impress the grandkids with when I'm old :)

See you on the flip side x

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Great News to End 2014

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Buck Brannaman is a horse trainer and leading practitioner within his field.   He is someone who I've had a great respect and admiration for for many years.  I've read his books, watched his documentary & DVD's and I've tried to improve my horsemanship over the years with his help.  

Buck often conducts a variety of clinics predominately across the USA, but also has been to mainland Europe and Australia.  He has not however been to the UK.... until now.  Due to the persistence of the wonderful Tina Griffin of clinic sponsors Total Horsemanship www.totalhorsemanship.co.uk, Buck will be spending 3 days with 50 lucky horses and riders at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool in June 2015.   

Now when I say lucky, I really do mean LUCKY.  Not just from a learning point of view, but also form a logisitical, ability to take part perspective.   It started back in August when it was announced on the Total Horsemanship Facebook page that there was a possibility of Buck coming over to the UK.   Dates were yet to be finalised but if you were interested it was a case of please email clinic sponsor and they will contact you in due course.   I should say at this point a flurry (if not a frenzy) rippled through the natural horsemanship and western community.  Of course people were interested, who wouldn't be?  We were all very patiently British about it and then we found out what we knew was inevitable.... interest had outstripped places available, and once venue and dates had been confirmed a draw would take place.  

The date for the draw was later confirmed to be New Year's Eve 2014.

I'd just like to add here that I'd often wondered what it would be like to take part in one of Buck's clinics, and I whimsically imagined that at some point I could convince my husband that it would be a great idea to go to the States to allow me to do so....complete fantasy, but definitely on my bucket list and one that I hoped one day in many years time I might get a shot at fulfilling.  Never did I think I may actually get a chance to do it here in the UK.  This was too big surely?  My chance of actually getting there as a rider was slim but when an opportunity to learn from a true horseman presents itself, you have to take a chance and have faith.   I also crossed everything possible.....

So on NYE I found myself constantly checking my email in hope I may get a message telling me I was in.... then I saw on Facebook that the draw had started at around 5.30pm, and it was predicted all those who were lucky enough would be contacted within the hour.  I discovered this after 6pm, and with every minute that passed I became more discouraged.   Now I'm not exactly sure what time my email came through, but my husband tells me he has never seen me leap so high or so fast off a sofa in my life ( I doubt he will again!) 
when the first word I read said CONGRATULATIONS.......

Suddenly this 35 year old was jumping around the living room, air punching, whoot whooting, and generally being ecstatic.  The children and the dogs on the other hand thought I was having some sort of episode or medical emergency, and offered mummy another glass of wine.

So in short my friends,  I'M IN!!!!

Now, this blog will be following my preparation for Buck's clinics with my horses Maite and Tuff.   Maite is my young 5 yo PRE Andalusian mare who will accompanying me to the clinic, and Tuff is my 11 yo American Quarter Horse Gelding (who would be in his element meeting Buck).   I will do a proper introduction to them in another blog, and I'm sure you'll get to know me along the way.  

In the meantime, here are some links about Buck and the clinic.   See you on the flip side x

www.totalhorsemanship.co.uk  Great resource for equipment and Buck books/DVD's