Hi, my name is Gina, born in Wales, UK. From the age of 5 my parents moved to the north east coast of England. After finishing college I moved to the Netherlands, due to dutch family ties and work, and have been here since.
Horses have always been a big part of my life since the age of 5. It all started after seeing for the first time horse racing on tv and having said to my parents, "that's what I want to do". With all my years experience with horses, it wasn't actually about the racing, it was about the horses themselves, 'the thoroughbred'.
I have had the good fortune of owning 2 amazing thoroughbreds, one from the age of 4 and the other from when he was a young colt (going on 2), and have worked with / taken care of other thoroughbreds of other owners. I have also owned two other horses, one dutch bred (kwpn) and a smaller horse, part arabian/part new forest, and have worked with / taken care of horses of various breeding of other owners (I was regularly asked to exercise and take care of other people's horses).
My preference of a breed, always falls on 'the thoroughbred', due to their high degree of intelligence, sensitivity and spirit - not for racing, but for dressage and jumping.
The horses that I have owned, when I bought them, none of them were 100% (physically, etc.), but over a short period of time they transformed physically, mentally and spiritually. To put it in a nutshell, I bring horses back to life, back to who they are - I wasn't conscious of this, but realized later on in life, that I had a knack for this.
Now, if I am looking for a horse for myself, then I look for a horse, preferably with as little handling as possible - I prefer to school / train totally from scratch.
Horses are now, not only my 'hobby'/sport, they are also my work. In the past I worked full-time, but all the while preferring to be at the stables with the horses. Even with working full-time, I managed twice daily to take care of the horses, once a day was to let the horses loose and the other was to exercise them (always a varied routine).
For as long as I can remember, I could always read horses for some strange reason and they could read me, which is something I can't explain. Many a time people say, "wow, how do you do that" or "how do you know that" and all I can say is, I just do. For years, I couldn't understand why others don't see or understand horses the way I do. It wasn't until 'something' happened to me, that everything fell into place.
After saying this, it also led onto something else and is what I call, 'natural healing'. This is not something I wanted to know about, but it was something I was made aware of. On the amusing side to this, when I was at school, I always wanted to be a vet and for years owning horses, I always wished I had studied further to be a vet, specializing in horses - so now, I can treat horses as I always wanted to, but on a different level. If you wish to know more in detail about this, please review this website naturalhealingforhorses.com
A little about my methods
To begin with, it is most important to get to know, understand and connect with each horse, with each horse being totally individual, with their own character and past experiences - generally, I pick up a lot after seeing a horse for the first time, so I have a good idea who they are and what I am dealing with. With this, there is no time-frame, sometimes it happens quickly (like straight away) and other times it takes longer, depending on the state of the horse.
Then there is the other important factor, that is the two-way 'trust' and 'respect' issue - again here, there is no time-frame - but without this, there is no foundation to be going on.
So, without these important factors, you can't really work 'with' a horse - of course, one can 'force' or 'bully' horses, but for me, that is not the way.
To be clear, I DO NOT use 'forceful' or 'bullying' techniques, for example, with use of:
- any of the various items to force the head down - auxiliary reins / help reins etc.;
- any form of harsh/brutal bits;
- any form of harsh/brutal nosebands and chinstraps/chains.
- etc., etc.
To me, all these forms of various 'gadgets/equipment', are one big NO NO - not necessary. A horse can be trained / schooled to top-level dressage, without the use of any of the previously stated 'gadgets / equipment'.
A daily routine - every day, the horses are turned out/let loose, either in a paddock or arena and for as long as possible. To me, I find it is most important, that a horse is allowed to be a horse, together with one or more horses. In the spring till the autumn months they are out all day, and I either exercise them early in the morning or evening.
When it comes to exercising / training horses, I always apply a varied routine, and of course, all depending on the individual horse.
A basic routine comes down to: -
2-3 times a week in the arena/school, whether it be dressage or jumping;
1-2 times a week lunge work - this I do mostly without a lunge line - I prefer to use the whole arena/school for this - I do not exercise horses on a small circle;
2-3 times a week riding / hacking to the beach etc., preferably for a good few hours;
also, just walk a horse for an hour or two outside.
If a horse needs rest for whatever reason, then of course there is no exercising, only turned out/let loose in a paddock and maybe if a horse is up to it, I'll take it for a walk. Like I say, it all depends on the state and level of an individual horse.
Another very important factor is, that the horses are spoiled - for example, always a clean, dry and comfortable stable - plenty of quality hay and feed - and of course plenty of extra's, like carrots.
Here are a few examples of the 'trust & respect' / 'knowing & understanding' factors:
- I don't tie a horse up for grooming, etc., even for a visit from a vet or blacksmith/farrier, they always just stand loose - this is something I teach right from the beginning;
- I leave stable doors open, knowing, that for example, when I walk away to get something, the horse will be there when I return;
- after riding, horses walk loose next to me;
- sometimes i leave horses standing, then I either walk or run off - they trot or canter on after me when I call them;
- other 'unconventional' ways, can be found written here & there on this website.
Of course there are people who do get freaked out/in a panic with my ways - what can I say this is my way - the horses trust me and I trust them.
With regard to these examples, I only do, when I 'know' it can - I don't take unnecessary risks. So, if the connection, etc. with your horse(s) is not there, please don't try these things - otherwise a serious incident could occur.
"a lively, healthy and content horse is priority no. 1"