Testimonials & Case Studies
Here is the full text of genuine recent testimonials and case studies from my clients.
Paul – Cheltenham
I had been walking my dog in the park one day about four years ago, when my dog had met up with an old friend that he often liked to play with. When the dog’s owner started to tell me of a wonderful riding experience he had enjoyed locally, riding western. I was surprised as I had never imagined that anyone rode western in England. I had at this time perhaps sat on a horse once as a child and had been on a one hours trail ride in Arizona when on holiday. I was told that this man was a local farmer who taught a very different sort of western riding, which he called passive horsemanship.
As a considerable animal lover myself the idea sounded interesting, so I had soon booked myself in for a lesson and I had started out on a continuing journey of discovery, which awakened a skill in me, which I had no idea I really had any natural ability for. Brian started me on a kind mare who was an excellent teacher; she was certainly not without her quiet resistances however and I learned a great deal from her. Brian had explained that you never learn how to ride properly on a horse that never resists you and he believed if you were unlucky enough to ever find such an animal, it would be a hell of shock when you got on a horse that did. After I had learned the basic communication skills of Passive horsemanship, he started me on a project that he believed would become a very useful learning experience. Scooter had come to England all the way from Texas at a considerable cost in a fully broken state. She had sadly proved to be too elevated in her paces for her new owner, who had developed a bad back as a result of her attitude in the round pen, which she had only ever been ridden in for the last two years. Brian had first met her two years before, when he had been asked to give her owner some western riding lessons. Sadly the owners back problem had become quickly worse and the mare had remained unridden for a year, when Brian had been asked if he would like to buy her.
As my equestrian abilities progressed, I had ridden the mare out with Brian on trail rides where she seemed to be excellently behaved but she has in truth, never got over her loathing for round pens or sand schools. We had taken the mare to a local western horse show, just to see how she felt about them, as I had imagined that I might like to compete one day myself. Sadly she seemed to relax well until she felt that she was being asked to do something that felt like a competition. Brian explained that although he admired those who were able to compete successfully and he at one time had enjoyed doing so himself, he had however never been able to equate the skills of passive horsemanship easily with those of western competition. This mare obviously didn’t enjoy the idea of it and that was the plain truth of it. Brian’s explanation had been that he had never felt like continuing a search for horses which had been selectively bred for generations just to absorb the rigors of intensive competition training. Brian came to this realisation after he had met a particularly famous natural horseman called Ray Hunt, and competition training was never ever going to seem worthwhile again. There was however, as he had explained a greater competition and that was to prove yourself a winner in the eyes of very ordinary horses.
Brian soon came across an opportunity that was to give us both something to really test our skills as passive horsemen. He had been asked to do something that was pretty well a unique opportunity in England, and it was to start an all singing and dancing wild Mustang horse. The horse was to be shipped into England direct from the Black Hills of South Dakota, in as much of a near wild state that her long plain and road journey, would allow. The mare turned out to be a delightfully intelligent animal, which had cost her owner surprisingly the same sort of money, as the Quarter Horse mare I had been riding, when she was originally shipped to England as a fully broken competition prospect. The Mustang mare was quick to learn, but was still wild enough at first, not to be easily caught even in her stable, if her halter was removed. Brian had been called in soon after she had arrived in England late one evening, to replace her halter, as its removal seemed to turn her straight back to totally wild state. Her ability to fend you off with her front legs and teeth were as Brian commented afterwards, “had kept him on his toes”.
It was mid winter when she was delivered to a dairy farm, about fifty miles from Brian’s farm. We had gone there every month to see her after my lesson. It had been decided that we would not be starting her officially, until she had recovered from her long journey and the weather had improved. Why we had visited her, was to advise her new owner how to handle her from the ground. But by the time she came to Brian’s farm (and we had already visited her for an hour, about once a month for six visits), we had by default actually successfully backed her. Because she was small and I being somewhat lighter than Brian, I had been given the job of jockey and under Brian’s close supervision, we eventually managed to increasingly allow her to relax in our presence. When we eventually brought her back to Brian’s farm, we were soon able to accelerate her training and we soon had her riding out well in all three gaits. The whole effort had been a great pleasure to us both and although Brian said she had been surprisingly similar to other Spanish horses he had started in the past - she however always gave you the impression that her wild state was still a very precious memory to her. If she was startled, she had one of the fastest role backs we had ever seen in any horse and this is where Brian’s explanation of that particular manoeuvre, began to make a great deal of practical sense. Although she was at first convinced that she was not going to give in easily, once we had her confidence, she never reared or bucked even in her rollbacks. Because of Brain’ constant reminding of where my weight should be she never unseated me. We left her with high hopes that her owner would be able to learn to stay with her in the same way, as riding in the English forward seat, with too much weight on her forehand while still sitting in the seat, would certainly be a very perilous activity.
I was soon encouraged to take a riding holiday in Southern Spain and the skills I had learned with Brian made me understand how important a basic grounding in equitation is. The memory of one fellow holidaymaker, who had been full of confidence at the time, but after a nasty fall which we all thought was much more serious than it was, certainly convinced me how important it is to maintain a correct position, even when you are relaxed. The Spanish horses were however full of all the engaged abilities that Brian had taught me to accommodate and so the enjoyment of this holiday, will stay with me for a very long time. I however still have to get my weekly adrenalin top up every week, riding the range passively, with Brian in the Cotswold Hills.