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Putting theory into practise...

rehabilitation ex racehorse grazing at Pippsway Classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

I’ve been working with Bronson for about 8 months now, under Pip’s watchful eye, and over that time have come to get on so well with him. So when Pip said she thought we made a great pair and that if I wanted to buy him she would be happy to sell him to me, I was beside myself with joy. I know that none of Pips horses are for sale unless she believes she has found them a good match. All my plans to wait 5 years before taking guardianship of my own horse went out the window as I knew that I might never find another horse that makes me feel the way Bronson does. So I seized the opportunity with both hands! There’s no way I would take on a horse on my own at the moment but knowing that I would be keeping him at Pips yard and have her wealth of expertise to hand I felt confident and happy that I could do right by him.

I will continue with my weekly lessons but, as Pip said, it was time to practise what I had already learned. Coming up to the yard and working with him on my own was quite a different experience to coming for lessons and over the first couple of sessions he started behaving in ways I hadn’t seen before. I can see why so many people, who enjoy riding lessons and then decide to take the step of getting their own horse, can soon run into trouble. The wonderful thing about Pippsway is that Pip teaches you to be able to think for yourself so I went home and had a good long think about why things were going the way they were.

I realised, after some consideration, that there were a few ways in which I was going wrong. Firstly my energy was all wrong. I was so focused on ‘being in charge’ that I had forgotten the fundamental rules. Instead of being calm, assertive I had slipped into being ‘bossy, irritated’ which is of course an unbalanced state so he wasn’t listening to me. Another mistake I was making was not being quick enough to notice when he was doing as he was asked. Instead of stopping asking as soon as he responded I was continuing to ask, which has to be massively annoying and confusing for any horse! Finally I was forgetting to pitch my ask at the lowest energy possible. Pip has a ‘three ask rule’. You ask the horse as subtly as possible to do something, if he doesn’t respond you up the energy and on the third time of asking you have to make sure you get a response. I was going straight for the highest level of ask.

So the next time I went to the yard I made sure my energy was calm assertive, I pitched my asks at the lowest level and as soon as he responded I stopped asking. What a difference! He did everything I asked first time with only a couple of exceptions and in those instances he complied on the second ask. He was much calmer and happier and so was I. It has been real testimony to Pip’s way of teaching that I was able to figure out where I was going wrong myself and turn things around.

Working with Bronson has been the perfect opportunity to practise everything that Pip has taught me this last year. I still make mistakes and trying to remember everything I’ve been taught at the right moment is an ongoing challenge but I’m absolutely loving it! I’m having the time of my life and we are only at the very beginning!

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