My Arab mare was lame (a stone had worked its way into her foot and caused an infection), so, she was confined to her stable for several days to rest it. I have, nevertheless, taken her out for short walks around the gardens with the dogs. I always lead her with the rope head collar and long rope to which our wonderful local “horse whisperer” Gary Witheford has converted us.
I have learnt so much from watching Gary work with horses and ponies, from breaking them in to ride, or affirming different behaviour patterns in tricky horses. I quite often explain negotiations or difficulties in the office through the lessons I have learnt from watching Gary.
Gary sends a young horse around a sand-ring until eventually the horse wants to stop and make friends. It is about clear leadership and respect. You need that with horses as they are somewhat larger than us and are in fact far stronger. Gary doesn’t use treats (as I do with my dogs) but body language and understanding the horse’s desire to part of the group. He gains their trust and respect.
We have a mixed collection of rescue and young horses here at Highclere Castle, all of whom are learning and the main thing is go more forwards than backwards. When it is going wrong, we stop and go back to Gary’s basic lessons and start again. The grey Arab mare will without doubt be pleased soon to return to her field as she is bored, missing her friends and probably tired of listening to the classical music which I prefer to play in the stable.