After finding my dream horse, I was faced with the task of bringing on a four year old, hot blooded bullfighter of a Lusitano. I had always managed ok with other horses and had no reason not to be optimistic. She had some time off to settle in, I taped off a corner of the field, for her to get to know the 3 boys over a fence. She jumped straight over it!
Well they were in together, they quickly let her know she was the bottom of the herd. After a week or so she seemed settled and I took her up to the arena, my plan was to lunge her, she had other ideas, she was wild! rearing and charging at me, I was shocked, I had lunged strong horses before but not one going off like a firecracker in all directions, including a lot more airs above the ground than I had ever seen.
I had met a very nice man who was friends with the saddler I used, he had offered his help if needed, it was needed! he came round and advised that I forget the arena and get on with riding her out, I told him about the stunning display she had put on, “well I’ll ride her” you take one of your others. Noo noo had never been on roads and with my fingers crossed off we went, she was very good. A bit surprised when a car passed us but she soon got used to things, we swapped horses after a few rides and things were going well.
Gradually I was able to ride her in the arena, lunging was never a favorite, I knew nothing of liberty unfortunately. Noo noo began to grow and put on condition over the next year, we even went to a dressage competition. Below at 5 years old.
As she had grown I had always kept an eye on her saddle fit, I had changed saddlers and purchased a dressage saddle for her, it was one you could adjust as I knew she would grow and muscle up. A new saddler came and advised that he take the saddle and make it more narrow as it was a little low on her withers. When he returned to fit it, I expressed concern that it looked odd, he assured me I had just got used to seeing it too wide. I got on and rode her over the next week, she began to misbehave ( how I saw things back then) when mounting. The third attempt one day to get her to stand still and let me on, taught me the lesson of a lifetime. As my foot came down on the stirrup before I could swing my leg over, we were up in the air, I was soon flying through the air!!!
I knew I should have listened, the vet was called and said she had a very sore back, another saddler confirmed the saddle didn’t fit. The vet sent a physio she thought I needed bone scans and suspected kissing spines. A trip to the equine hospital, revealed nothing wrong, all down to lack of training and bad behavior. The advice was send her to a professional.
My vet approved a trainer and off she went, I did feel relieved that I would have help. Unfortunately this was not what followed. The professional couldn’t ride her either, He managed to lunge her by tying her down,unknown to me, he also went against my wishes and used draw reins when he rode her, I went to visit without warning and found the tack he had used next to her stable, she had a cut mouth in the corners and when asked about it he said she had been ‘a bit naughty’. I called my husband and asked him to drive over with the trailer to pick her up.
Returning home, I felt completely lost, I felt so bad for her, but didn’t know how to put things right. I decided to do nothing with her, I knew I needed help, I had to find a different way. I had no confidence and felt like a failure. I knew I had to be the one to put things right. I don’t remember where I read it but this quote struck a chord. ” If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got”So…. I turned to Google. I looked at anything I could find, I remembered a trainer I had been to said Noons was crooked, I googled this, I found Straightness Training. Maybe this was it? I had a look, start on the ground for 6 weeks, cool I didn’t feel I had to get back on!
We got on well, Noons loved slow work in hand, I learnt how to help her body and learnt a lot about building things up from the ground, we started lateral work, after some months I plucked up courage to ask my husband to hold her while I got on, I had a very different saddle and felt fairly confident, I had learnt about the horses muscles and skeletal system, been on a horses inside out course, learnt more about saddle fit, how muscles should look and feel. I had a lesson on a simulator and on another horse. It took time to regain some form of trust between us, and my confidence, I thought things were on the up.
I decided to take Noo noo to a clinic, she was a very different horse away from home, I also felt very uncomfortable and it felt like pressure to perform, which wasn’t the case at home. The last day she was in her stable, there was no turnout like she was used to, she was covered in sweat and performing something like a piaffe. I took her home and realised I hadn’t found all of what we needed, I had met a very nice lady, at the clinic, who told me she did a lot of liberty, she also had a lusitano! I rang her up and she came over, she told me about a clinic introducing Carolyn Resnicks Waterhole Rituals. There wouldn’t be the pressure to perform and I could take Noons over to her place beforehand to see how she was. We did this and all was good. However……
At the clinic before I could work at liberty.
We went to the clinic and also had a private lesson at home, I felt so much happier with her being allowed her freedom. I knew I had to find out more about The Waterhole Rituals.
I decided to go to the source! I looked at Carolyns online course, I asked my husband, it wasn’t cheap!, before I knew it I had pressed the sign up now button, this was in January, I couldn’t wait for spring.
It was literally life changing, I wasn’t sure what it was all about but I read in the pre- course material ” surrender to the process” I decided I would dive in and follow it to the letter! . I bought Carolyns book Naked Liberty, I read it sat in the freezing winter weather, with my horse, It was worth every penny and more! Four course’s online and 3 clinics in person, trips to America I never would have thought of doing. On going coaching with Carolyn. 4 clinics and personal lessons with my horses and Linda and here I am. Still learning. With the relationship with a horse I used to dream of, but never knew could be true. I value the friendships that have developed and the guidance I know is always there. The adventure this has been so far, I could not have imagined, it will continue, I know that. I love to continue this with all the horses and humans it has lead me to meet. Another blog will follow on my journey further down the rabbit hole with Noo noo. and a guest blog from someone who has started her own adventure down her own Rabbit Hole.