I’ve told this story before over the years but it is still
one of my favourites. It was very early on in my teaching career and I was called to a yard to give someone a lesson. The client told me that someone else also wanted help and could
I see them too? I agreed and after we had finished with the first horse, the
owner of the second horse came out, half-leading, half-dragging a big bay horse
with this weird look on his face. As she stood and told me how this horse
wouldn’t do anything she wanted him to do, I looked at this horse and could see
that he was completely shut down. His eye looked dull and he was ‘in his shell’.
After a lengthy explanation of all this horse’s problems, the owner stopped and
looked at me. I was slightly dumb-founded as to me, it was fairly obvious that
these two were driving each other nuts. The only diplomatic thing I could think
to say was ‘It sounds like you are quite frustrated by your horse?’ The owner
laughed and agreed.
Without really knowing where to start, I asked her to just
rub him all over to see if there were any places he didn’t like being touched.
It didn’t take her very long to find a no-go area on him, which was his chest, but
there were places all over his body where he would just pin his ears and
threaten to bite. I set about helping this lady slow everything down and read
the feedback the horse was giving. After 40 minutes, the horse started yawning
and blowing out, although he didn’t move his feet once. After an hour, all this
lady had done was stroke her horse and responded to its feedback. I left the
yard thinking that I would probably never get called back and they must have
thought I was completely crazy.
Well, I did get called back, a month later. The next time
the owner led the horse up to me, his ears were pricked, he had a twinkle in
his eyes and he had apparently been causing all sorts of cheeky chaos. His owner
was over the moon. I still go and see the horse to this day and he is a right
clown. It was a huge lesson to me that sometimes the smallest, seemingly
insignificant things to us can mean a huge amount to a horse.