Childhood and Youth
I grew up in a fairly rural area in Northern Germany. There was a riding stable a short 15-20 minute bike ride from home... and that's where I hung out most of my time. Summer holidays were spent at a riding camp by the sea. Pure bliss..
Back then, I was a half decent rider, fearless and athletic, as children tend to be. I learned to jump bare back, resulting in either the horse or myself clearing the obstacle for the first 150 times. In time, I managed to take off and land while mounted :)
Eventually, job demands and geographical changes, and then marriage and parenthood had me take a leave of absence from horses and riding.
A 20 year leave of absence.
Woe Moron is Me
At age 39, I decided to make the last of my dreams a reality: Get my very own horse. (Mis) Guided by ignorance and serious delusions regarding my abilities, I bought the first horse that crossed my path: A 6 year old OTTB (Off the Track Thoroughbred).
A month into the joys of horse ownership, I found myself in the hospital, requiring 2 surgeries and a long 6 months of rehab. Over the course of a year and a half, I would end up injured and out of commission twice more. I hired a trainer to work with both the horse and myself, and there was definitely some improvement. But, in the end, I had to concede defeat.
Aside from the obvious physical damage, whatever confidence I may have had in relation to horses, was gone. In fact, I was terrified of mounting a horse.
Any horse. Or, almost any horse. I was alright with Sophie, our lovely old mare. That's because she would plod along when that was all I could handle, and make me work when the time was right.
It took the better part of 10 years to lose the sickening feeling, that knot in my stomach until I was settled in the saddle.
Into the Light
After giving the horse back to where I bought him from, I had two options: Give up and consider the notion that I wasn't a horse person after all or, forget everything I thought I knew and start learning from scratch. To be honest, the first option seemed almost more attractive at the time. However, we still had my daughter's lovely old mare (in her early 30s by then) and there was no way I would have ever sold or re-homed her. I had promised her a forever home when we got her. So much for options. Thus began my journey into natural horsemanship.
Throughout my life, I have been incredibly lucky. Somehow, the right people showed up at the right time in the right place and offered me a helping hand. It happened again, once I arrived on the island. I became good friends with a phenomenal rider and trainer, who in turn, set me up to work with Chris Irwin. His tag line at that time was 'Shift happens'. And, it did.
This shift didn't come overnight. But, one 20-minute session/demonstration with Tika changed our lives. I hope to get deeper into horsemanship as this site develops. I believe that many people think of 'training' for the horse, when it is the handler/rider/owner who needs the awareness, tools and confidence to deal with whatever behavior the horse displays.