All livery yards are the same, aren't they?
Last year I decided to move my horse from Pippsway to a yard close to my home. I loved being at Pippsway, but I was struggling to give her the exercise she needed and I figured if she was closer I'd have more time for her.
My horse is a gentle soul. I'd never seen any malice or aggression in her in the 3 years I'd owned her. I trusted her implicitly.
So when she threw me off in the school (100% intentionally) 6 weeks after moving yards I was pretty shocked. Luckily I'd had the benefit of Pip's instruction and knew immediately that it wasn't my horse's fault. I called Pip that afternoon. She clarified: "Well she's trying to tell you something isn't she!?". Pip went on to say that there must have been other more subtle signs that I'd missed. She knew her, and knew she wouldn't have done that if she'd felt there was another way. I didn't have a 'dangerous problem horse'. I had a horse that was extremely unhappy. Within a couple of weeks we were back at Pippsway and we’re here to stay.
Given this you'd think the other yard must have been truly awful. But not at all. Not for humans anyway. It was a really friendly and sociable yard. In fact, it was pretty typical of the livery yards I've been in, and if I'd not experienced Pippsway, I might have never realised how stressful most yards are for horses.
Here's why – I've generalised here. This is not directed at one yard in particular, just rather what I've seen outside of Pippsway:
Pippsway gives the horses the most natural environment bar being out in the wild. Horses are able to be horses, without being overly-humanised. They’re well balanced and happy. This means they’re more enjoyable for the rider! The support and instruction from Pip is simply the best. Whatever our riding goals Pip helps us to achieve them.
Back at Pippsway, my horse and I have some work to do to get back to where we were. I regret putting her in that situation, and I regret she was forced to show me how stressed she was in such a big way (for her and for me!). But with reflection, we learn through our mistakes. I’m now excited for the year ahead.