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From there to here...

horse and rider cantering in the grass menage at Pippsway Classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

If you’ve been following my blog thus far you will know that Bronson is my perfect horse! He is a joy to ride, has the patience of ten saints and has given me the gift of self confidence since the day we met 9 months ago. It doesn’t hurt that he is utterly beautiful too. When I ride him I feel about 8 years old and full of joie de vivre, so it was a huge shock when things between us suddenly took a nosedive. One day we had been going around the canter fields with the wind in our hair full of joy and only a short time later I couldn’t even get him to do a circle in the menage and at one point nearly fell off!

I had some stressful things going on in my life and the effect on my mood, my state and my self confidence was apparent. This then had a knock on effect on Bronson and we went from being a confident, happy pair to us both feeling insecure. After all, he was feeding off my energy! I didn’t realise that when we are emotionally unbalanced it affects our physical balance and I was perplexed as to why what had come with ease only days before was suddenly so difficult. We had one particularly poor session where in the end Bronson got so frustrated he did a buck. I’d heard from Bronson’s previous owner that he bucked and Pip had told me that if he gets really frustrated then he will. In fairness, it wasn’t a big buck, I didn’t feel as though he was trying to get me off, he was just making it known that whatever shape I was in that day, he didn’t want me sitting on his back. I had to accept that I couldn’t turn it around, had to dismount and call it a day. I had a complete crisis of confidence.

I rode a few more times and things were improved but Bronson and I had lost our mutual trust. Riding him just didn't feel the same and I was even afraid to correct him in case he bucked again. Horses thrive on our confidence. Riding a horse like Bronson feeling anything less than confident was asking for disaster. I realised that the only person who could help me was Pip and the only way she could help me was if I was honest and told her what was going on. My biggest fear was that I had taken on a horse I couldn’t manage. That I wasn’t experienced enough to ride Bronson and that he would be better off with someone else. This was irrational as I know Pip would never have put Bronson in that situation or me either! But is reflective of my state of mind at the time.

I gave Pip a call and she was brilliant. She explained that the problem was that Bronson was being unsettled by my negative energy and loss of self confidence. She explained that any horse would react to how I had been feeling and that Bronson was very sensitive. She reassured me that I was perfectly capable of working with him and reminded me of how well we work together when I am in a good mindset. We agreed that for now I would go back to riding with Bronson’s bitted bridle, as he is more balanced in it and therefore so am I, that I would only ride when Pip was about and that I would have some more lessons. I felt so relieved having spoken to Pip and her belief in me was bolstering.

In the meantime I made sure that I was doing everything I could to get myself in a better place, meditating, eating well and getting plenty of exercise and the next time I came to work with Bronson things already felt better. Everything Pip has taught me about how to be with him on the ground before my sessions helped to feed my confidence that Bronson was listening to me and that I was in charge.

I had a couple of lessons that went really well and Pip asked if I’d like to go out with her for a hack, I jumped at the chance and off we went. It was such a different experience to the first hack I went out on. Everything that had seemed so difficult that first day came with ease, even maintaining the pace! We had brought my dog out with us for the first time ever and he got a bit tired so we did some work on collected trot on the home stretch. Bronson was fantastic!

The hack had gone so well that the following day I rode out with Rhiannon and Imogen. Imogen is a riding instructor, so I was still in safe hands, but it was a big step for me to feel ready to ride out without Pip. Bronson was brilliant, at one point doing such an extended trot it was like we were flying and the hack was great fun.

To have come from feeling like Bronson and I were just an accident waiting to happen to feeling so confident in our partnership that we went out on a long hack is reflective of how Pip can turn things around when you are honest and put your trust in her. When a horse and rider have an issue with each other Pip is fantastic at getting to the root of the problem and resolving it. I am back to loving riding Bronson and we have taken some big steps forward together this past week. I’m just so glad we had Pip’s support and guidance to get us from there to here!

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