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Lukas (with a K) ridden by Susan Swann
Susan and Lukas

 

Hi, I am Susan Swann and I live in Dunstable.  As I write this, in December 2012, I am very lucky to keep my latest equine, Lukas (with a K) with Lucy in Lilley, Hertfordshire.

My journey into natural horsemanship was always a bit there, I think. I never thought it right to shout and hit horses.  I may well have worked in the traditional box but with more softness then I often saw around me.

I got into internet discussion groups via one rather scary uk.rec group many years ago and, at that time, I loaned Jack. Now if anyone can recall this group they will understand when I say scary; it was un-moderated!  I started to sway more away from tradition when my friend went into Cytek shoes and I saw such an improvement.  Jack was showing lameness when ground got hard but the shoeing system worked for him and I really got involved, so much so that I became moderator of the Cytek discussion.  Through this forum, I made friends   with June, Jo and Lucy.

One day, Jack's owner dropped the bombshell saying she wanted to sell him and my world fell apart (or so I felt at the time).  He was supposed to be for life; how did I get that so wrong?  Jack was the 11th horse we had on loan as the previous ones were for my daughter who had competed and had either out grown physically or competition-wise, or their time was up. 

Jack was offered to me but I was not to be blackmailed, although his owner did try it emotionally; I even had it said that, if I cared enough about him, I would find the money to pay for him.  I won’t go through all the horrid times but I used the opportunity to buy my youngster. No one would be able to take him away and, instead of sorting out the mistakes and mending those as we got our various loan horses, this horse would be my mistakes.

Briars Finniagan - Registered Irish Draft - ridden by Susan Swann
Susan and Flynn

Enter Flynn, or  to use his posh name Briars Finnigan, one very nice three year old RID. I knew all his history, I knew his breeder and my daughter had ridden his father, his mother and his sister; she even took her PC B test on his sister.  I didn’t want a grey but as Mark Rashid once wrote "No horse is ever a bad colour".

Flynn was everything the book said about the breed, and I consider myself very privileged to have been his keeper and the person who guided him through his life on earth.  I thought I knew so much when I bought him but, like any journey, I discovered that I still had lots to learn and skills to gain.  He gave me so much confidence and sadly, on reflection, I did bow down to the peer pressure and back him sooner then I really wanted to do.  Like everything else, Flynn took it all in his stride.

There were few shows and classes that we entered but we didn’t come back with ribbons!  I “thought” I was doing the right thing when we (that is the Cytec farrier and me) decided he needed shoes as he was not coping with the surfaces. Oh, if I had only known then what I later learnt about feet and the unshod horse.  They say things happen for reasons and I can only think in hindsight, if I had known it all, what would I have gone onto learn and would I have the fabulous friends who I have made along the way.  To cut a long story short, we did go down the barefoot route eventually and Flynn did gain those rock crunching feet after many years of conditioning.  The most major issue that changed us, I believe, was weight!  Flynn was fat not fit! Losing 12.5 stone off Flynn was amazing; he became a real celebrity as he was featured in many magazines telling his tale!

 

Flynn has been a clinic horse for so many, even June spending 4 days in the saddle of Flynn at Mark Rashids clinic at Patchetts. Many trainers have had the experience of Flynn, as well as many riders borrowing him to attend clinics.  He even became a Polo umpire horse during the summer 2011; not many ID’s do that, I think!

Sadly our world was to change again as cancer struck Flynn in the form of an eye tumour.  My vet battled for over 18 months and there was no stone unturned in trying to find a cure.  Flynn and I were this pair bond.  I had done so much on him, with him and for him, and to lose him was a blow I found extremely hard to deal with, as did many of his Flynny fan club.  He had entered into so many others lives and for the better.  It is the one most important thing you can do for your best friend to take away his pain and to allow him quality in another place.  I still cry often when I think about him and still it is hard to not be seeing him for real any more.  These words again make tears flow.  I learnt so much because of Flynn in my life that I knew I could not give it all up.

 

Enter Lukas with a K!  Oh my god was the journey of pony shopping “interesting”, “educational”, “stressful”, “upsetting” and “expensive” three failed 5-stage vettings later Lukas found me, via my vet and my trusted June and Lucy!  Both had conspired to help me while I was on holiday in Turkey.  Daily messages came over that I think I had more of less paid for him already!  And I hadn’t set eyes on him in the flesh.  Lucy was desperate for me to like him or she would have to buy him.  June was desperate for me to see him and say "Yes!".  She said "I can see you cantering along the beach in Norfolk on him".

Lukas was everything they said he was - and more.  There was little they hadn’t tested him on.  I don't think I have met so many friends who knew and had ridden my new horse before me; it was how I was greeted when I got back to Junes from our holiday: "I’ve ridden Lukas, he is loooooooovely!"

So the vetting was booked and, as I got the all clear, I think I was nearly speechless.

Lukas with a K is a German WB x. He is eight years old and he is coloured.  He was in a riding school from age of four, when he arrived in the UK.  He was so bored he shut down; he had no turnout so it’s a wonder he didn’t flip!  He then went out on loan to a very novice lady.  He has been ridden regularly through busy streets as riding school horse traffic is nothing to him.  He will go in front at the back in the middle and cantering him is so amazing.  He just does whatever you ask: fast, slow, stop!  He makes you want to smile.  He has super paces and a walk to die for. We are so lucky as we are now under the tutorship of Becky Holden who has been training as a Philipe Karl instructor.  I have jumped him and again he just does whatever I ask.

It is still very early days as he arrived with me approximately six weeks ago. Turn out has had its “interesting!” moments, as he had little herd understanding and stabling isn't his favourite place, understandably so, but he is improving.   So he is very much work in progress.

Oh, and yes, he is unshod; his shoes were removed on day one.


Lukas
 

Becky Holden riding Lukas

Susan and Lukas at Becky Holden clinic
1st October, 2012

Riding Lucas the day before he became mine


15th November, 2012