My name is John Valentine from Aberdeen Scotland. I am one of your Online University students. I went down to Dorchester, in the UK, to see you at your demo in March this year. You are an inspiration to me and on hearing you say that you like to hear if your message is getting through I thought you might like to hear this story.
I was introduced to yourself and your ways by a friend Katrina Yule who grazes her rescued horses on neighbouring land to mine. They escaped one evening and I gave her a hand to get them in and helped repair the fence. She required some further assistance with the need for some shelter for a horse that required some medical attention. I had a small cattle shed which did the job nicely.
We got chatting and she introduced me to your ways via the internet. On seeing that I was interested to return the favour she kindly bought my girlfriend Anne and I tickets to see you at a Demo in Ingliston Country Club in Bishopton last October.
We thoroughly enjoyed the demo, purchased your book ‘The Man Who Listens to Horses’ which you signed for me. There was also a lady selling a round pen like the one used in the demo which I later purchased along with some very good invaluable advice and stories from her experiences.
Most of my experience has been with cattle and very little with horses, I was even slightly frightened of them when younger until a friend stuck me on ones back and taught me the very basics of riding. Once on Midges back I lost my fear as I felt he knew I was inexperienced and was kind of looking after me but that was over twenty years ago.
Anyway this is the story of Fifi a wee Shetland pony of about 12 years old to let you see that your message is getting through to a small place in the far northeast corner of Scotland.
Fifi had started out life in Ireland and Katrina landed with her when purchasing another horse, they were going to shoot her because no-one could handle her; when she got off the ferry Katrina told them if they got her in the horse box then she would take her. They did and when she arrived here Katrina could not get near her for three years no one got near enough to touch her. She could be moved along with some other horses but on one occasion she escaped into someone else’s field. The owner of these horses was going to keep Fifi but later changed her mind as she could not get near her. We got her separated and she landed in my wee cattle shed to give Katrina time to decide what to do with her. This was on a Saturday in February 2016.
I thought to myself this is no good it would be far better now we have her contained trying to get her gentled and used to being handled. Katrina said good luck but she had talked with a sanctuary who was willing to take her.
On the Monday morning I went in beside her in the enclosure. Using your principles along with an open mind and a bit of luck I managed to be able to place a hand on her neck and give her a stroke later that day. By the end of that week I was able to put a head collar on her and had her walking with me.
I had the suspicion that she may be pregnant Katrina confirmed this could be possible, all the more reason to get her used to being handled. You said that the horse tells you what has happened to them in the past. I suspect Fifi has not had a very good early life flinching each time a hand comes out of a pocket or when a rope is being waved about.
I have been introducing her to people who walk past and as many things as I can so she gets used to people and equipment.
We are at the stage where Anne or myself can catch her in open spaces, put a head collar on and lead her in. I can put the lead rope on her back look down her side cross her body and she will follow me in.
I have had no other training so have been totally going on your advice and methods using your basic principles. I have been working with some of Katrina’s other horses but Fifi was the first real challenge. My round pen is not set up properly yet but I am getting there.
I am learning how to remain calm and loads more and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.
The Online University is excellent.
Editor’s note: Visit Monty’s Online Uni with a free day pass, http://montyrobertsuniversity.com/promotions/daypass