I have had horses all my life, my godmother gave me my first pony at 6 months old, an 11.2hh welsh mountain pony called Minnie. Like many young girls I started riding before I could walk, I joined the local pony club, but quickly realised that the horse that I had at the time didn’t “conform” to the conventional training system, as a result I spent many times hitting the deck. I was told (Quite sensibly really) that I should sell him and get a different horse. I couldn’t bare it, I loved him, he was big, black and so beautiful…even when watching him galloping off to the next county after one of the many falls! I decided then that I would just have to get better and that I would, no matter what learn how to ride and train this horse.
This lead me across the other side of the world where the strict structure of traditional horsemanship in the UK went quickly out of the window and I was now rounding up cattle, working with wild horses (which made mine look like a pussy cat!) for the following few years I worked for some of the worlds top horsemen in many different disciplines of horsemanship, as well as competing in affiliated Dressage, Showjumping and Eventing.
In 2001 I set up my training centre in Devon gaining a good reputation for starting young horses and working with “difficult” horses. This became “what I did”. My work is covered regularly by the British and international Press.
I am really happy working with troubled horses and their owners, each issue being different to the next. Gaining a horses trust, respect and watching the relationship between horse and owner grow in confidence, seems almost magical at times.
In 2007 I received a call asking if I would I like to ride a 17hh Primitive Rising Stallion, get him going and maybe compete him. I have worked with and owned a few stallions before and thought they were lovely but quite frankly a bit of a pain in the backside!
Marcus came out of the Lorry squawking like a stallion and, nothing he did changed my initial view that stallions were hard work to have around. He is plain bay (not particularly flashy looking) but moved well and had a bold outlook on life. Over the next couple of days I got Marcus ready for my first ride in the round pen, I sat on the fence – with my body protector and hat on, I climbed on from the fence as he was huge! I put my feet in the stirrups and trotted one lap of the pen I then stopped got off and sat back on the fence stroking his head…I had never felt something like that before in my life the power and gentleness was incredible. I’m not really sure what I believe in terms of connections but there was instantly something between this horse and I.
We just adored each other and every day I felt it was a privilege to ride him. He seemed to look after me when I needed him. I felt I could teach him anything. I then set about doing just that we could canter around reinless, standing up while cantering along, riding with all his mares following us around the field, I still had an issue of size he was so big I couldn’t get on from the ground bareback. I had seen lots of times horses being taught to lay down but felt that there was no way I was going to do it using force of any kind, so I was riding one day and I just new that this was the right moment to ask, I was amazed this powerful enormous stallion just lay at my feet, I snuggled up to his neck and we just lay there.
This incredible relationship with Marcus was developing, enabling me to focus on not only turning negative situations with problem horses into positive ones, but also be able to create something really special. Horses are fundamentally who they are but with Marcus there were no previous issues it was simply a case of discovering the possibilities.
I enjoy the traditional disciplines with Marcus and have competed regularly. He has started really well winning his first competition and his first BE Event but we both love nothing more than coming home and removing the reins!
Working in this way with Marcus continues to inspire me to develop my other young horses and quickly the FreeRiding Team has evolved. My personal ethos being No Reins…No Rules…No limits!! Simply for the love of horses!