Many of these blogs I wrote some time ago and appeared on my old website. Please ignore the date is says it was published. Enjoy. 

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  1. There is far more to play and horse agility than first meets the eye. It provides us with an excellent opportunity to fully engage with our horses on many levels: cognitively, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. It teaches horses and humans about sharing a learning experience. In horsemanship play is a wonderful tool in development of a shared language as it opens up two way communication. It builds self-esteem and self-confidence in both equine and human participants which enriches a shared supportive relationship. Agility and play are wonderful for building mutual respect, trust and bonding. 

    drum ribbons

    If you want to have a go at horse agility I can come out to you and teach you with your own horse. I have a good selection of horse agility equipment that I am happy to bring out for you to use. I can do this on a one to one basis, or I am happy to run for you and a small group of friends a horse agility fun day at your yard. This can include tutoring in horse agility, so you get to practice each element of an agility course followed by a fun and informal competition with rosettes. 

    If you enjoy horse agility you should look up and and join the Horse Agility Club and compete in the sport.  

    For more information on how I can help you and your horse have fun with horse agility please use the on-line Get in Touch page. Or text or call on 07930605544.

    Here are just a few of the many benefits of horse agility: 

    If you want to ignite cognitive development in your horse agility and play are a great way to encourage your horse to think. Horses are very able to cognitively process, problem solve and think things through. Agility allows horses to explore the world and is fabulous for conquering their fears. Using play you can help your horse think, to look to you for guidance rather than react. It’s great for spook busting and bomb proofing your horse. Horse and human together through play around facing fears, develop new competencies, enhanced confidence and a resiliency in facing future challenges. From practicing spook busting games as a partnership, you and your horse will have tools and strategies in dealing with scary situations. Once practiced and skilled you will view tricky situations as golden training opportunities not to be feared. 

    Agility teaches humans about patience and understanding. As for true horsemanship it should be 50 / 50 with the horse. So here it is essential we listen to the horse, as how best to help our horse with each new task. We want to ignite fun and for the horse to see agility as one type of play it enjoys. When we observe natural play in our horses we are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their view point. Horsemanship is looking into their world so we can learn to communicate more effectively. There is a place for human led structured activities, but be mindful to incorporate time for horses to select and decide their own play.

    Agility builds active and healthy bodies. Physically play enables participants to practise certain physical movements so it is great for developing better reflexes, balance, core strength, coordination, increased joint mobility, flexibility and muscle tone. Physical exercise makes you feel good as it raises the levels of the natural mood-enhancing hormones. Plus it can be one useful tool in burning calories keeping waistlines in check. 

    Despite the many benefits of play and agility, many don’t place a high value on it. Many people lead stressful, hurried lifestyles and opportunities to interact with their horse are often about training for an equestrian discipline, or human led agendas. For us, play is a wonderful way to get off the wheel and practice emotional well-being. Many horses are managed to meet their physical needs, and have abundant resources and live in relative peace, however due to management practices they may not be receiving the full benefits of play. Some people are unaware of how agility can be a wonderful part of enhancement of training their horse. Play is so important to optimal equine development. It helps horses to adjust to schooling as it enhances learning readiness and learning behaviours. Through play horses develop emotional maturity and the ability to concentrate. Exploration is the heart of play and it is the ignition to curiosity and problem-solving skills.    

    Too many of us get hung up on being serious with our horses. Letting your hair down, laughter and joy in play is a wonderful way to spend time with your horse. Play should be a cherished part of horsemanship. It sets you up for a meaningful close bond and friendship with your horse. It is sociable, rewarding, motivating and sets us up for success mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. Most of all play is fun.    

  2. Winston Churchill once said “There is something good about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”  He is not wrong. 

    Horses are very good for us in so many ways, mind, body, spirit and soul. Horses can be our Soul Companions, Earth Angels, Healers and Warriors. I have been blessed owning several amazing horses and work daily with lots of wonderful equines.  I know first-hand from my own experiences with horses the massive positive difference they make in our lives. I want to share with you in this interactive article just a few nuggets from my time with one horse that gave me so much – Merlot. 

    merlot and vj bridleless

    I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my wonderful horse Merlot. He is now in spirit but always with me. I rescued him from a terrible abusive home and the life lessons and horsemanship he taught me had a profound effect. They say when the student is ready the teacher will arrive. My horses are my teachers. The day I met Merlot is one I will never forget. I often think back to 1998 to that day in May when I went to view Merlot and ponder who chose who. Was it fate or destiny? I think it was mine and Merlot’s destiny to meet. If you look up the meaning of destiny it is a predetermined course of events or fixed order of the universe.  In reflection I truly believe horses are gifts to teach us life lessons. I felt this little bay horse reach out to me and grab hold of my heart. I now know he attached an ethral cord. Little did I know that day how much I needed him or what lay ahead in the education this special little horse would give me in horsemanship and life. I may have rescued him, as with all things in life they go full circle and it was my wonderful Merlot who in return rescued me. He was instrumental in my recovery when I was so ill and when I was struggling to keep going.  And it was my brave little horse when he passed from this world he gave the courage to free myself from a damaging relationship that had caused me pain, heartache and fear. 

    Merlot arrived at a point when I already knew there was a better way to work with horses. Just as well, as Merlot had already been labelled as a dangerous horse that they wanted to sell cheap and fast. My little bay horse soon revealed he was a very anxious and easily stressed. He was understandably fearful of humans with his trust and respect in tatters. This made him at best reserved in connecting to make a bond at worst aggressive as attack is the best form of defence. Understandably he had a very negative outlook in regard to humans. He had a range of behaviours to make people keep their distance or go away. These ranged from the pinning of ears flat back so he looked like the horse with no ears. The threat of biting and often people who were not savvy enough got bitten. Rearing and striking out with his front hooves. Leaping around on the end of the lead line, the list goes on….  

    I was like us all, I was seeking my personal equine dream, a close magical relationship with Merlot.  What a challenge to try to seek a close magical connection with a horse that disliked humans. I knew the road to success was paved with interspecies communication. I had to listen to understand and help Merlot unpack his emotional baggage. Merlot taught me to look beyond his aggression to his emotional state of mind that fuelled the behaviour and I saw a distrustful, frightened, anxious, and very worried horse. By working on his emotional state of mind helped to reduce his need to act in an aggressive way.  He taught me so much about the very subtle communication and the layers within horsemanship. I learnt to listen carefully to his emotional state and his thinking as this was the seed for his intent. This would shape his energy state and breathing patterns. This is way before any shift in rhythm or body language. He taught me a huge amount about the finesse in communication.  

    Horsemanship is a shared language with dialogue. Our relationship with the horse requires us to have mutual respect and trust. Imagine the journey with a horse that has understandably huge trust issues and has been disrespected by his previous owner? Merlot taught me so much about how to mend shattered trust, to build his confidence and self-esteem. Mutual respect had to be high on the agenda to be able to move forward. I had to provide Merlot with stability, safety, security and a relationship built on mutual respect and trust. Horses thrive with training that uses intention, energy, focus, direction, patience and correct timing. Therefore an essential skill to develop when working with horses is the ability to read, project and absorb intent and energy. You can read for FREE my article on Intent and Energy that appeared in Western UK Magazine in the Horsemanship Journal section. Just a thought to ponder - Without two way open honest communication there is no relationship; without mutual respect there is no love; without trust there is no path towards unlocking potential.    

    Merlot taught me horsemanship is as much about personal development. I learnt no matter how much I loved Merlot that love was not going to be returned until I had proven without doubt I was worthy. Love knows no boundaries between species. I knew the love was in Merlot but buried deep. That first day we met the emotional balance, harmony and wellbeing every living thing needs to thrive was missing for Merlot. The emotional place he was in was terrible. He had not shut down completely, many horses do. Merlot still communicated mostly expressing negative emotions: memories of pain, distrust, fear, anxiety, stress, anticipation of force and abuse, sadness, anger, frustration, etc… To move forward was about these being a high priority. The tangle of his emotions was the bricks in his wall he built to defend himself that love and emotional harmony was locked behind.  Each well cemented in place. With this tangle of emotion you have to slowly chip away those bricks. The chipping away chisel is the language of the herd, horsemanship. The hammer you hit the chisel with is love. Love is the power. Love and language of the herd is the force that breaks down the barriers. You need both without either you are lost.  I listened and heard a horse wanting help. I felt and understood his emotional pain. I learnt I had to freely give unconditionally with no expectation of it being returned. It taught me to wait. When I had proven myself to him to be trustworthy, respectful and through enjoyable quality time together the bond grew from strength to strength and little glimmers of love from Merlot shone through like precious diamonds. Giving him unconditional love helped him learn to love, open his heart and let me in. Over time this love and bond deepened. One of the lessons Merlot taught me was to put love into everything I did with him, to make love my goal. Using their language of love you can connect with your horse from the heart.

    You can read for FREE my published article the Power of Love that appeared in Horsemanship Magazine.  

    In this interactive article I have just touched on a tiny aspect of the journey I shared with Merlot. I hope these insights help you in some way. If you enjoyed the article please share it with your friends. If you wish to leave a comment or feedback or share your insights and experiences there is an on-line form below.   

    For those of you passionate about connecting to another level with your horse here is how I can help you.

    • MY GIFT TO YOU - FREE to read Published and Blogs   
    • Come along to one of my workshops. Places are always very limited as I only teach small groups.
    • Or have one to one support from myself. I am happy to travel out to you and your horse.