I started riding when I was five and fortunately (or unfortunately) received very little tutoring to ride. No one in my family was horsey at all except that, as a child, my dad used to steal the neighbour's donkeys during the day and the neighbour would steal them back at night; so, because I was so little, I learnt to do impossible things with my pony through persuasion, which taught me a lot for exactly that reason. Despite my parents' thinking I'd grow out of it, my pony had a foal (an Arab cross) when I was 11. This filly showed me the meaning of a true partnership based on trust and respect that continued throughout our time together. Looking back now, I can see that we did so much of the stuff I'm training towards now without knowing any different - which at least gives me hope that it can be done!
About eight years later my first pony had to be put down due to old age and I was fortunate enough to be able to say goodbye as she lay peacefully in my lap while they administered the Euthanase. Unfortunately, four months later my other pony was killed in a car accident when thieves let all the horses out of their field and they ran across a road.
My search began for another horse at which time I realized that this is what I wanted to do for a living. I couldn't find that bond with another horse that I had with my first two and it became a passionate quest to obtain it. Not just with one horse but to find it with all horses I came across. I bought an abused American Saddler mare that has a 'frozen with fear' emotional state and started trying to get more knowledge on how to 'save' her.
Due to the financial difficulty of trying to study in South Africa (the exchange rate makes it almost impossible to afford any study material as most of it comes from here), I decided to come abroad and do it here. My partner at the time (the human one) also came with me and gives me great support in my quest. Although Dieter is not horsey himself, he can often be seen watching me at a clinic and giving me an encouraging lecture on what I've learnt, when I fall apart.
Funnily enough I ended up as PA to Denise's husband and subsequently met Denise who opened the doors for me. She has been such an inspiration, always encouraging and knowing just how to boost me in the right direction whether I liked it or not! She has had an astounding effect on my life (not just equine related) and I'm forever thankful to her for her help and friendship.
Through Denise, I met the natural horsemanship group and have found an endless source of support that is an added tool for me to achieve my goals. They are always friendly and helpful which helps me see things in a different light, just when you think you can't go on anymore. And the laughs are great.
In the way of my equine companions, I am loaning Stef from Denise. Stef is a 9 year old (about, I think) Connemara mare. She is 14.2hh and grey - I won't delve too much as most of you have met her. She is truly amazing and is such a highlight in my life. Although on first impression we really disliked each other, we have pulled each other through the lows and are daily achieving a better relationship - even when I'm so frustrated I could die! I have the advantage (and disadvantage) that she has not been 'schooled', so sometimes it's like the blind leading the blind. But we're learning slowly. She has only ever been ridden and handled naturally so we ride out in a halter.
My other baby is the Saddler I mentioned, her name is Brandy, she is apparently between 16 and 25 years old. She is quite highly bred - her sire was imported from America, bay of colour and approximately just under 15hh. I am eagerly looking forward to going home to show her all I've learnt so that one day I can see her look at me with peaceful eyes. And that she can be truly happy. Before I left to come here, I had managed to get her to the level of being ridden in a halter and her usual vices of rearing, fly jumping and bolting had tamed down a bit, to the point that they only happened when in a bridle and I didn't give a quick enough release.
I am currently working on getting my Certificate 1 in ANH and achieved my Level 1 in Parelli in August, 2003. My long term plan is to become an ANH instructor in South Africa. So as long as that takes, I'll be here! I also started off with the Parelli system but found that the ANH system works better for us but I'm not 'set in stone' on using only this method as I believe it can only enrich us on the better or worse ways of doing things to be exposed to all methods. I would like to get my Parelli levels alongside my ANH training for exactly this reason.
I returned to South Africa in February 2005 with a job offer I could not refuse. I had to sell Stef on and miss her terribly. (See pictures of Nicky's Farewell - the January, 2005 Social at Kate and Will's)
Since back in South Africa we purchased a few horses. One of which is a black Thoroughbred gelding, Charming, who is the apple of my eye. He is an unusual thoroughbred in that he is calm, sensible and quite sure footed. He was even gentleman enough to escort me on our wedding day.
We also have a TB mare that is in foal to an Arab stallion, my old saddler mare and an appaloosa x anglo arab gelding (he's just turned a year) which we rescued.
I work full time as a PA and Marketing Coordinator for a company in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal and have joined a horse training group called Horse Gentlers International. It is a call centre that will dispatch someone to you should you have a 'natural' equine training requirement. We hope that this will take off soon and we can all do what we so love doing … work with horses all day.
I miss the UK and my friends terribly as things are so different here in the horse world. My goal is still to work with horses full time but it takes forever to get there.
Back to People and Horses