This is quite possibly one of the most heartfelt, honest articles I've ever written but at this stage of my Horsemanship journey one I feel prevalent to share.
As a child growing up, I always felt the need to try and fit in, and over time had that huge sense that I didn't quite belong. Much of this was carried aver to my adult life until a little brown pony came a king and changed everything.
I've been extremely fortunate to have had horses for most of my life, learning to ride a rather portly skewbald pony when I was seven. Two years later I got my first pony. I trained very traditionally, showed at top level and worked on several professional show yards and Studs. I broke several ponies to ride and was always the person to sort out the naughty ones.
In the summer of 2021 Mum and I happened upon an ad selling an Exmoor pony. We have a huge passion for the breed, already owning two. There was just something about this pony that stood out to us and we later found out she shares the same father in her bloodlines to one of my ponies of a lifetime Mogs.
So on the 23rd July Cloudy joined us. Cloudy definitely wasn't the pony I thought I was getting, I've touched on this in previous articles so to cut a long story short she had a lot of past traumas to overcome. My ego was big, so I thought there was nothing I couldn't fix. This was one of the biggest horsemanship mistakes I've ever made and I was bought down to earth with a bump as everything I tried didn't work and my confidence in myself was rapidly declining. There were days I drove to the stables with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach thinking about having to make something out of this pony. There were days I nearly gave up. There were days I cried, a lot. There were days of anger and frustration.
Then just five months after Cloudy arrived I lost Mogs after thirty incredible years together, my world crumbled. My special pony who'd been with me throughout my childhood, helped me reach my dreams, carried me safely through two pregnancies and been a constant by my side for nearly my whole life was gone.
Now left with a pony I couldn't do anything with I came extremely close to walking away from ponies forever. But there was something about Cloudy I just couldn't walk away from. I also knew the mainstream ways of training horses wasn't for her.
After seeking the help of a few professionals I was given the advice to send her away to be re-trained. This wasn't an option as I knew this journey was one we needed to take together. My first priority was to make her safe, at the time my Mum was too scared to go into the stable with her, but I also wanted to create something incredible, a partnership built on equal terms.
I decided to delve into the world of horse psychology and in doing so realised after aver thirty years with horses how little I knew and alas my passion of how the horses brain worked begun.
Researching and watching how horses interacted with each other lead me to where I am in my horsemanship journey today. I used to dread the prospect of learning something new as it would take me out of my comfort zone but this dread is now replaced with a love of learning, really delving deep into the mind of the horse and being able to communicate on a more meaningful level.
Continuing on my learning journey I took and successfully passed several Horse Psychology courses and thoroughly enjoyed getting my first level in Horsemanship with Cloudy by my side.
Cloudy will always be my greatest teacher. One of the most important things she's taught me is the horse never lies. I think we've all heard the quote "The horse is our mirror' never a truer word spoken. The second most important thing she's taught me is dignity. The third thing she's taught me is never ever approach any level of training without a good sense of humour and always be prepared to adapt to any situation, we never quite know what the horse might present us with and just like people they are entitled to good days and bad days.
I've learnt to communicate in such a way I make sure I honour her dignity at all times. In the early days she'd use dominance to protect herself, so I became softer in my communication. I learnt to be patient and in doing so I've become more mindful of being present and leaving outside distractions, mentally and physically at the door so to speak. I found an inner peace I can't quite explain and I've learnt the value of true horsemanship is event free and sometimes to the outside world boring.
I've also become emotionally fit, I never get angry or frustrated and I believe everything takes the time it takes. Cloudy sets the timeline. The way I communicate has changed Cloudy from dangerous to the most gentle pony I've ever owned. I always put her needs before my own and I always make sure that no matter what we're doing there is something in it for her to.
By looking after and nurturing our relationship I have the most magical partnership, the stuff of dreams. A pony I couldn't catch now waits for me when I arrive. A pony who wouldn't acknowledge me now follows me and I can communicate in the most softest, gentle way. We have fun at liberty and Cloudy's trust in me has been proven over and over as she's been presented with many obstacles and situations that before might have taken her out of her comfort zone. And along the way I've learnt to put my trust in her to. For a partnership to work it needs to be equal on both sides.
Cloudy hasn't just taught me how to be a better horsewoman but how to be a better person. I have more compassion, patience and understanding. I try to see things from a different objective and I've developed an overwhelming desire to help others in their horse journey.Sadly my journey has come with a huge sense of scepticism from the outside world, friends lost and criticism from onlookers.
This brings me to my opening paragraph about not fitting in.Cloudy has given me a newfound sense of freedom, that it's okay to go against the grain, to be different. She's given me the courage to step out of my comfort zone, embrace the unknown. Have confidence in myself, be proud because fundamentally the only opinion that matters is hers.
If you take anything from article, let it be this, it's okay to be different, it's okay to not follow the mainstream, it's okay to set yourself free and follow a path that's just for you.
I shall be forever thankful for my incredible little brown pony, my Cloudy.