Celebrating the Non Ridden Equine
There's a few things in life I'm passionate about but two of the biggest are communicating with horses in the most softest way possible and the Non Ridden Equine.
For this article I'm raising the flag to salute all the non ridden equines out there.
Why? Because quite simply I don't think they get the credit they deserve.
There are many reasons why our equines may fall into this category, injury, old age or past traumas. I can relate to two of those.
At the grand age of 34 years I retired my previous Exmoor pony from ridden life but we didn't stop there. We enjoyed walks together a few times a week, something I believe was a big contributor to his happiness and wellbeing.
Then along came Exmoor pony Cloudy (I also have a passion for the Exmoor pony) Sold as a ridden pony it became apparent early on that this wasn't quite true.
After over coming huge saddling issues among other things I did eventually ride my dear Cloudy. Until one cold November morning I had an unplanned dismount. Mentally this was a big setback for Cloudy. I had two options.
Go back and regain her confidence which would take some time or continue life with her as a non ridden. Bearing in mind the only ridden goal I had was to go hacking I decided some past traumas run too deep to remedy and alas our non ridden journey begun.
Taking the ridden element away has given us a sense of freedom to explore other things, things I might not have done. I've had fun teaching Cloudy to go sideways over various objects, back up using the slightest cue. We play at liberty in the training paddock and open grass meadows.
We enjoy woodland walks and walks across fields jumping ditches. And this is just the beginning.
I also think owners of non ridden equines deserve more recognition. It's not easy to own a non ridden when so much of the equine world undervalue them and us so much.
I've ridden for over thirty years of my life and I'm whole heartedly embracing this new chapter of my life. But sometimes it's hard to fit in when one of your puzzle pieces is missing and you feel undervalued because you own a horse and don't ride.
I can recall various people who have crossed my path since I begun my non ridden journey with Cloudy and I can remember feeling quite inadequate when I see that confused expression upon their faces when I say I don't ride. I almost felt like I had to justify why I own a pony I don't ride.
Thankfully those days are behind me and I feel proud of our journey and how we've grown together.
So if you are the owner of a non ridden equine, stand proud.
Proud that you stood by them when injury or old age took over and proud you put their needs first if past trauma has played a part in your journey.
And for those who ride, I challenge you to take time out, walk on the ground beside your horse and feel the relationship blossom in the most magical way.