I wasn’t brought up around horses and I didn’t live on a farm.
“I lived in a terraced house in York with my mum. When I was about 4/5 my mum went for some riding lessons and I went with her.”
To keep me amused whilst my mum was having a lesson the staff popped me on a pony and walked me round the village. At first I would walk and then the lady leading me got on her bike and lead me round at a trot.
At about 8 I really wanted to learn to ride so my mum took me to a riding school, Kemp Welshes in Wiggington. From there I went to Major Coles, As the title suggest he was a retired Major and he terrified us all, obviously in a good way, it made all of us under his teachings want to be the best. This is when I knew that I wanted to make horses my life.
A pony of my own
Eventually I wanted my own pony, so my mum said that if I earned half of the money to buy a pony she would find the other half. I would do anything to earn money… eventually I had £150, it took me two years to save this money, my mum added her bit and went and found a pony, he was called Flicka.
That pony taught me everything, because for the first 6 months I was on the floor at least twice a day everyday. I just wish I knew then what I know now.
I did pony club with the York Ainsty South and did well with Flicka. But the time came when I was too big for him, I was 17 and he was 13.2. He had become such a huge part of my mum’s life that I wasn’t able to sell him to buy a horse.
Swapping horses for tanks
So what do you do when you want to ride horses but don’t have any money… yup, I joined the army. It did take a few years before I saw a horse as I was sent to a tank regiment, but lets be honest, what boy doesn’t want to drive and fire a tank.
I joined The Life Guard regiment of the Household cavalry based in London, it was hard transferring in to another regiment, but I worked hard and eventually became a military riding instructor and part of the team that backed the Cav Blacks that were sent over from Ireland.
I ultimately met Monty Roberts when I was in the Household Cavalry and that changed my path forever. It took a few years for me to mix what I had learnt going down the traditional route and what I learnt from Monty. I now feel I have a really good process that helps horses and their riders achieve their hopes and dreams.
Helping other riders
I have always been a competitive rider and my son now also competes so this for me in a way was about how to improve performance without compromising the relationship. I am not the first person to want to achieve this by any means. I am now thrilled that William, my son is based with Top rider Denis Lynch, Denis believes that a horse will give you the best of themselves if they trust and respect you as a rider. I have spent a lot of time on Denis’s yard, this is not something he just says, but something that is so obvious when you see how the horses react to everyone around them. It was something that was very important to me as a father and a horseman.
I have spent that last 16 years on the road travelling to peoples yard to help them with their horses, everything from loading problems, to pre-backing or simply a client wanting to learn.
I am in my 50’s now and I don’t really want to spend as much time away from home and my own horses.
I have now reached a stage where I am ready to put an online video library together for anyone to have access to. Some might say I shouldn’t put it out there, what if someone uses the videos and gets it wrong… well you know we have all done that, and learning has to start somewhere and its unrealistic to think people can start off great, as long as the person learns from the mistakes then they may become great.
I am not setting up a program where you will have a qualification at the end of it… I am saying that if you are good enough and you want it, then go do it and your results will speak for you.
If I look at me 20 years ago and the me now there is not a huge difference in what I do but there is a huge difference in my delivery. I used to be quite brash, the horse taught me that wasn’t necessary. The starting point for anyone using the videos is where I am now not what I was 20yrs ago, just think where we could all be in another 20 years.
Listen to what the horse is telling you.
Never think you are too good to go and watch another professional.
Always be willing to learn and add to your box of tools.
Always respect other trainers and their methods.