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The gateway to success!

June and Gerty enjoying a fun ride on a loose rein at Pippsway Classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

I was at the yard today when one of Pip’s newer clients came over to ask if Pip could please give her some advice. It turned out that things were going awry for her and her horse in the space (of about 15 feet) between the electric fence and the field gate. Pip immediately sussed that the issue would likely be how they were passing through the gates. Now, I have history with gates! For some reason I found the procedure of going through gateways, whilst at all times being in a position of leadership and at no time being maneuvered by my horse, rather the challenge! No sooner would I have mastered it at one gate, then I would need to go through a gate that required a different approach, for whatever reason, and once again I was back to square one! In the end I asked Pip if I could video her coming through a gate both ways and spent time watching it at home. This turned out to be super helpful. I now know, from all that I am learning on my hypnotherapy course, that watching someone do something activates the same part of our brain as we use when we actually do the thing! So not surprising then, that repeatedly watching my video clip of Pip helped me to reach the point where I can effortlessly pass through gateways with my horse hurrah!

You may wonder what the fuss is. After all, what should it matter how you and your horse pass through a gateway? The answer is, that from the moment we are in our horses presence we are having a conversation and if we are not in a position of leadership then our horse is; and that won’t work out well for us, or our horse! Since coming to Pippsway, I’ve learned the importance of everything that we do on the ground, and how we do it, and the impact of whether we have been successful or not, on our ridden work. So, the three of us popped up to the field and Pip asked the lady to show her how she was going through the gate. The problem was immediately clear. The horse was in charge and this was, of course, setting the tone for the rest of their time together. Pip took over and showed the lady how to correctly pass through both the electric fence and the field gate at all times being in the correct position and at no time allowing the horse to take control. Remembering the value of my little video I took some clips. Then Pip’s client practised going through both gateways under Pip’s watchful eye. All of this served to remind me of my earlier gate issues!

Later on Pip said she was going to freeschool Bronson and Jazz. Bronson is my one eyed ex-racehorse and when he first came to Pippsway he couldn’t be freeschooled, as he just wouldn’t listen. Pip has been working with him on every aspect of his training and this was going to be the first time I had seen her freeschool him, what a treat! She asked me if I would like to get Jazz and Bronson ready and bring them up to the menage. There was a time when this would have been impossible for me to do. After all, I couldn’t manage one horse, never mind two! As it was, I popped Bronson’s head collar on and lead him out into the yard, ground tied him (which means I left his lead rope hanging on the floor and asked him to stand and wait) and then went into Jazz’s stable to put his head collar on. Bronson waited perfectly and once I was ready I brought both horses up to the menage. I opened the gate, we all walked through, and then I closed the gate behind us. It dawned on me then just how far I have come. In the past I struggled to pass through gateways correctly with one horse and here I was doing it effortlessly with two!

Being able to communicate with horses in this way makes things so much easier for both horse and human and is such a lovely, relaxed and calm way to be. To be able to get two horses ready at the same time, and know that they will wait patiently for you, makes life so much easier. I look back on the time where I had no awareness, when I didn’t know how to ask horses to do things in such a way as they would listen and when the effort of trying made my brain ache. Now I do these things naturally and with ease. I see new clients starting out and struggling to find the requisite level of awareness and focus and I know that they will get there, as I have, and just how rewarding that is going to be!

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