By Sue Palmer
Recently I worked with a horse who I’ve only seen a couple of times. I was there as a Chartered Physiotherapist, but of course I always have my ‘BHSAI’ hat and my ‘Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Trainer’ hat in my toolkit. The owner had contacted me because she was really struggling to get him to go forwards. Physio findings, simplified right down, were that he was overweight (anyone who has been overweight and has lost weight for the right reasons will tell you how their energy levels increased when they lost the weight), and that he was weak behind (which of course would be exacerbated by being overweight). By the second visit the owner had massively improved his weight, and she thought there was some improvement, but she was still struggling to get him to go forwards, especially in the school.
Chatting through things with her, I offered to get on him myself to be able to add to my assessment, and potentially to demonstrate some techniques to get him going forwards that she could discuss with her instructor. Although he is never going to be a particularly forward going horse, she was hugely surprised to see how changing a few things could change his way of going. In particular, her instructor had explained to her how she needed to become a ‘lazy rider’ (i.e. to stop ‘nagging’ with her leg), and it was great to be able to demonstrate to her that ‘pushing’ with my legs and heels as she was so tempted to do made no difference at all to his way of going.
Later that day she sent me an email, which was so appreciated. It’s always difficult to get to know owners well enough to know how best to offer them advice, and we all have our own preferred ways of communicating, and of listening. Thankfully in this case it seems I got it right, on this day at least.
“Thanks for today Sue. I feel quietly excited now I have seen you ride him. I have no time limit on how long it will take me to get a little more out of him as long as I do get a bit more. It was lovely hearing about all your experience riding horses. I am really glad that you have put me in the right track without putting pressure on me that I will get the same results as you straight away. When you told me about all the different types of horses you had ridden, it gave me a real sense I could really trust that you knew such a lot about horses and that is a big thing. He is a very special horse and I am so glad you have given me an insight on where we are going. Just thought I would give you some feed back on our session and I also wanted to thank you.”
What makes you stick with your instructor / farrier / physio / vet / saddler, and what has caused you to leave others?
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