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What is normal?

Close up of Spartaca at Pippsway Classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

Bronson and I had a great time at one of Pips Horse Connection Clinics this weekend. We’ve made tremendous progress together and Pip was helping us to build upon that and reach the next level in our training. The sun was shining, we were up in the grass arena, which has panoramic views of the rolling Somerset hills and it was just perfect! As always, the ladies in attendance were so supportive and even gave me a round of applause after our first lesson! I had never experienced such a supportive environment before I came to Pippsway and it is always so wonderful to share my delight with such a lovely bunch and to feel so happy for them when they do well too.

What really struck me this weekend is how so much of what Bronson and I do together, and now consider ‘normal’, is actually quite extraordinary.. For example, we never shut stable doors behind us when we go into a stable at Pippsway, when I go to put feed in his bucket he knows to stand at the side of his stable, and wait for me to leave before turning around to eat. I can groom him in his stable with the door open, no headcollar on and he stands beautifully still for me. He lifts his feet to have his hooves picked out just by me looking at his foot. When I take his headcollar off he stands still and waits whilst I hang it up and go to get his bridle. Once he is tacked up if I need to do something, even at the opposite end of the yard, he happily stands still and waits for me to be ready to begin without needing to be tied to anything. When I lead him to the mounting block he stands in just the right position and if he’s a step off where he needs to be I can just ask him to take one step, and he does! He stands still whilst I mount and when I’m riding him I can direct him with such accuracy that I can ask him to go either side of tuft of grass! When we finish I can remove all his tack, hang it all up and go to get his head collar and he stands perfectly and waits for me to pop his head collar on and lead him to be hosed off.

We didn’t start out like this of course! It’s taken a great deal of practise. I had to learn how to ask him to do each of these things and also how to be in the right frame of mind so that he would listen to my requests and happily comply! To have reached this stage just fills me with wonder. We also turned a new corner this weekend. In the past Bronson has made a right hoo ha and jumped around like a lunatic whenever I have sprayed him with fly spray but this weekend he stood still whilst I put his spray on. This tells me that his trust in me has grown and I am thrilled.

It’s a real privilege to be around horses in this way. It’s so calm and peaceful. Respecting that I am always in conversation with my horse, learning how to ‘talk’ to him in ways he naturally understands and how to interpret what he is saying has been one of the greatest gifts in my life. When I was at boarding school I used to immerse myself in books about girls and their ponies and would dream of the amazing relationship I would share with my pony one day….here I am with this horse, that was so damaged he was a wreck, and I am now getting to enjoy this wonderful relationship with him. And it has all been made possible by Pip. She has worked with Bronson to repair his faith in humans, to gain his trust and to rebuild his self confidence. She has taught me how to be the person I need to be, for Bronson to trust me and listen to me.

I am loving this journey. It has taken a great deal of effort but the payoffs have been huge! The sense of lightheartedness that being with Bronson in this way has brought into my life has been priceless. I feel younger and happier and very much in touch with that little girl that dreamed of having a ‘once in a lifetime’ relationship with her pony. I’m living my dream!

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