Thank you to Claire for sharing her story with us…
After a 7 year break from riding and completely losing my confidence, I was starting to get itchy feet and desperate to get back in the saddle. I booked a few lessons and realised how much I missed horses in my life. I started to ride a friends thoroughbred called Carlow who started to build my confidence but unfortunately he had to be retired. So I started looking for a horse of my own. Having always owned cobs previously, I was on the lookout for a cob around 16hh ……….
I was in no rush, but when the advert for a lovely ex-racehorse came up in my search , I couldn’t resist enquiring after all the fun Carlow had given me I thought I would give him a try . I am a really nervous rider and when I rode him in her school , he proved to be a little greener than I anticipated and a little unsure of his rather unschooled jockey so I began to wonder if he was right for me . Then Becky took us out on the hack of a lifetime, hacking is NOT a strong point for me so to canter a strange horse in an open field was a massive achievement. There was something about this boy that ignited a spark in me. I mulled it over with friends and my husband and decided to go ahead and buy him.
Once home I really did wonder if I’d taken on a bit more than I could chew. He had a heart of gold but needed lots of training and wasn’t getting as much work as he needed so was getting a bit fresh having not long finished his racing career. When we took him out to new places he was VERY excitable. And I started to find every excuse possible to not ride. It took blood sweat and tears , lots of help and support from friends we carried on together . And Becky helped us with regular lessons, coaching and support.
Jerry and attended Riding Club clinics at lots of different venues, some of which proved a little too exciting for him . We’ve had a bash at a dressage to music clinic. We were even asked to take part in a training demo with an audience of about 70 people . He had been placed at nearly every dressage show he’s been to but he gets fresh in scary new venues.
After a particularly spectacular tantrum from his lordship I decided enough was enough , I simply couldn’t cope with this anymore I was at rock bottom emotionally and confidence wise, I sent him back to Becky.
Cutting a long story short he came back to me and was to go on sales livery at the yard next to us owned by Claire Ward. He proved to be a big hit there and behaved impeccably, after a week I had a phone call to see if I wanted to go for a lesson there as a slot had come free that evening ….the lesson was to be on Jerry, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. It turned out to be a fantastic lesson and after a LOT of tears I realised I just couldn’t sell him. Claire helped me with him and she rode him a couple of times a week when my work load meant I couldn’t exercise him as much as I needed to.
All was going well until disaster struck and he went very lame. Lots of investigation work followed involving a trip to Newmarket where he had Gamma Scintigraphy to establish where the lameness was coming from. It seemed to be that the Sacroiliac Joint was causing the issues and Jerry was medicated.
This is where our journey with Sue Palmer (The Horse Physio) began………
Having chatted in depth with my friend Lisa Harrison about her journey with her horse Bluebell and how the changes they had made and how their relationship had improved. After much deliberating, I pressed send on the S.O.S. message to Sue.
Once I had poured my heart out to Sue (who very patiently listened and understood) she assessed Jerry from both a physio and behavioural point of view and very confidently declared she could help us (cue more tears). My lack of confidence was far more deep routed than I had realised.
We have taken things literally one step at a time from the very beginning of horsemanship to a point of learning to actually lead my horse correctly (having ridden for well over 20 years this came as a shock that I had just taken such a simple task for granted).
My demeanour around Jerry was all wrong , I cursed around him and at him a heck of a lot which led to a negative mindset straight away, I had to learn to leave my daily stresses at the car and only work with Jerry with a positive attitude. I am now able to change my views on training sessions, there is no longer a bad session, it’s always looked upon as a learning opportunity. I try very hard not to view myself have having done something wrong, more like could I have done that differently.
Having done a lot of dog training, I was able to transfer a lot of skills into training Jerry to stand still for a particular amount of time , I could also use this training tool kit for “heel work” with my 17hh Labrador .
We have built a huge amount of trust in each other with our work in-hand during his rehab, this is paying dividends with our ridden training.
We have a long way to go but we are definitely making progress.
Jerry is turning out to be my once in a lifetime horse I would never have expected to own a thoroughbred. He’s now settled into his forever home and we have an unbreakable bond.
Sometimes a little reassurance goes a long way. Thank you Sue for everything.
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