It’s been an exciting month for the team and I. On a slightly miserable Saturday afternoon, we welcomed nearly 350 people to the yard for the “Your Horsemanship” launch party. With food and drink on the go, stands to visit, a bouncy castle for the kids and a series of demos (Jason pictured top with “best mate” Diesel) and clinics, there was plenty to keep everyone entertained. But the real highlight for me, and the reason behind the day, was watching people on the iPad stands getting to know the Your Horsemanship site and what it can offer them.
I definitely describe producing the website as a labour of love; if I’d known how long it would take and how many obstacles I would have to overcome to get it right, I’m not sure I would have started!
Although the filming and editing of over 200 video lessons and the construction of the website had their difficulties, the hardest thing for me was committing 100% to my training programme. I have always been someone who wants to know more and to improve, but along with this, it can lead to self-doubt and thoughts like: “Can I do this a different way?” There were many sleepless nights when I questioned whether each step was necessary, or how I could explain it better. In the end, the whole process has actually been a kind of professional therapy and I am now so much more confident and relaxed about my work. It also helps that Your Horsemanship is now being used by the public, and a great little community is developing too. We’re now working on getting it out to a wider audience and I hope it will go on to help many more people and their horses. I won’t be resting on my laurels either; if there’s one thing I have learnt, it is that the journey with horses never ends!
In a very different way, doing my leadership and management days with performance psychologist, Charlie Unwin, is also like going to therapy. Charlie and I while away the hours discussing the similarities and differences of the human and equine minds, and how understanding both can not only improve a partnership between horse and owner, but can be a profound learning experience for business leaders.
We were working with JLT Insurance again, with thirty managers from all over the world, the majority of whom hadn’t been near a horse before. But by working with the horses, they learnt about emotional intelligence, leadership and communication and how they could improve these areas in their work.
Back to the day job, Laura Tomlinson’s horses are back in work after a short break, and I’m really pleased with how they’ve come returned.
Among the other horses on the yard at the moment I have three young horses in that are all struggling with canter. Although it is not unusual for a young horse to disunite in canter at times, each of these horses do it as soon as they lose focus or become slightly unbalanced. I am doing a bit of detective work to see if they have anything in common with each other, so I can use that knowledge on horses that I work with in the future. Is there a physical problem? Is it their conformation? Is temperament a determining factor? Or, is it genetic? In reality, aside from physical discomfort that has been ruled out by vet checks, it is probably caused by a combination of things. These three horses do have one thing in common though; they all carry more weight on their front end and when I ride them, they feel like they lack a “push” or “drive” from the hindquarters.
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I am spending a lot of time on walk and trot patterns out in the fields with these horses, making sure that they can stay “upright” on a straight line and not fall in or out of circles even with lots of distractions to contend with; in other words, improving their balance and rhythm in the slower paces first. The idea is that when I do ask for short moments of canter, I stick to the same patterns that they understand, and I keep pushing the back end forward to prevent them from disuniting.
In an effort to look forward and plan ahead a little better, I have joined Horse & Hounds’ Equo Events and have entered my dates for 2017. I’m checking out the site to find out what else is on offer in my area as I really need to get my young horses out and about. I’m now also being pestered by my daughter to go to shows and events. She has just started to become stronger and more confident in her riding, so it looks like I’ll be hanging around lots of equestrian centres this winter!