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The reluctant horse trainer...

Horse and rider, two wolf dogs and grazing horse at sunrise, Pippsway of Classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

What I’ve reluctantly come to accept, since I took on Bronson, is that I am now a horse trainer. This may sound ludicrous, I’ve only been riding for 7 months! But the truth is that anyone who comes into contact with a horse, in that moment, is a horse trainer. Obviously I would prefer that wasn’t the case, especially at this point in time. If Bronson could just stay perfectly trained, regardless of my behaviour, that would be marvellous! But it just doesn’t work like that. Whether I like it or not, every single moment I am with Bronson I am training him. Pip taught me this truth very early on but, as with so many things, knowing something in principle is very different to embracing a true understanding of it.

Thankfully Pip has taught me exactly how to do every single thing from catching him in his field, leading him, grooming him, tacking him up and mounting him, right through to riding him with collection and extension in the menage in such a way that I can always be teaching him the right things. Of course that would be reliant on me getting it absolutely right all of the time which unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I don’t.

The good news is we are in the perfect place! Pip mentors me but she also trains Bronson. Several times a month she works with him to ensure that she is both correcting my mistakes and bringing him further along in his training. It makes a tremendous difference to how he goes and I can always spot the change in him a mile off! He is lighter on the line, listens more easily and is generally just far more responsive and easier to be with when Pip has been working with him.

In between times I have my checklist of important points that I read each day before I work with him and it is a constant path of self improvement working on my awareness and mindfulness. The thing is Bronson doesn’t take a day off from noticing what I do and how I do it. I can’t just let things slide and think “oh, I’ll do it right tomorrow.” I’ve learned the hard way that it is so much harder to correct mistakes I have allowed than to be mindful on a daily basis.

The wonderful thing about all of this of course is that the more we focus on, the more responsive our horses are and everything becomes easier. Pip always taught me that if it’s difficult I’m not doing it right! Each element of good horsemanship is usually relatively simple and common sense. What is extraordinarily hard is having the mindfulness, focus and mental discipline to remember everything you’re meant to do and then doing it! Sure enough as time goes on and being mindful and aware becomes easier everything I want to do with Bronson does get easier and I’m absolutely loving it!

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