3 Aug

When I meet someone new, it takes a while for me to get to know them and be able to trust them. The same can be said for me and horses. I love horses (and humans sometimes!) to bits but it doesn’t necessarily mean I can instantly trust every one I meet.

Since purchasing Skip back in October much of the journey has been about developing trust in one another. Of course over time you get to know more about each other, develop a routine and your confidence grows. But there are a few occasions when you just have to take a leap of faith and trust that they won’t let you down and the past few months have shown me how true this really is.

As we enter the final few weeks of Skip’s rest after his tendon injury there have been a few occasions where I have had little choice but to put faith in Skip to do the right thing…and putting my trust in him has been hugely rewarding.

After weeks of rest, I had to trust in Skip to behave sensibly as we moved towards the next stage of recovery with daily in hand walking. Now leaving a 16.2hh 5yr old in a ten metre paddock for 6 weeks could result in a few explosions, and I do think that the extreme heat had something to do with keeping him calm, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that he behaved impeccably throughout this walking period.

A month on I had to return him to hacking walk work without any lunging or turnout to let off steam. In the end I just went for it and got straight on, and again he was absolutely fine and seemed happy to be back in work. We are now back out hacking, and I’ll admit there have been a few “keen” moments and spooky times (due to pigs chasing us along the field!!) but we are doing it and our bond seems better than ever. I have never really realised the value of in hand work in building trust and confidence in one another. As hot and slow and sometimes boring as it was, it has been really beneficial.

Of course I am under no illusion that all this hasn’t been without its hairy moments – a few handstands in the tiny paddock and a couple of flying bucks to be exact, but overall I am happy with how things have gone and of course happy to see these signs that Skip’s realised his legs are working well again. We have another 3 weeks of rest before turnout can hopefully be resumed and we can get back to normal in every sense.

So to anyone who is struggling to bond with their horse, or wants to develop their partnership with their equine friend I would truly recommend concentrating on groundwork. A lot of activities were out of reach for me due to Skip’s injury, but there are many great books to help develop activities and keep it less boring than the constant miles I had to walk. A good instructor will also value the significance of groundwork, so make sure you find someone supportive who may be able to introduce you to some fun confidence building tasks.

I would love to hear your stories of when you have had to just go for it and put trust in your horse, or any top ideas for groundwork exercises. So today I wish you not only happy riding but happy bonding with your equine, however it may be! Xx


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