Maisie, How it all began...
I wasn't looking to take on a horse, I had Caleb, my 4 year old who I'd had for over a year, I'd backed him, started jumping him and loved him for being so safe, a nice easy ride.
But then I ended up in hospital with a stress related illness, once out I was signed off work for 2 weeks, this meant no horses and no seeing Caleb as he was stabled on the yard I worked on. So I went to a different yard to see a friend and her horse. Whilst working with her horse I overheard a conversation between other liveries, about a horse who was in "boot camp", after throwing a rider whilst having a saddle fitted and rearing and bucking whilst being lead to and from the field.
A couple of days I saw the owner who was distraught, the yard owners had dubbed her horse as wild and dangerous, thrown it out of boot camp and told the owner that she should either be sent to Ireland to be hunted so they could "make or break" her or put to sleep. Her owner couldn't believe that was the answer but being a first time owner didn't know what else to do. I was asked if I would look at her and see what I thought. There didn't seem to be any harm in giving her a quick once over, it sounded like this horse and owner were in trouble.
First I just looked at her in the stable, she seemed relaxed, she allowed me into the box though she was wary, keeping her eyes on me. Certainly didn't seem dangerous though. I asked if the owner would let me take her horse, Maisie, to the arena on a halter and lunge line, just to see what she did. I didn't want to put a bit in her mouth in case I had to let go of her. With the owners consent we headed off. she lead nicely, although she did pull for grass a few times, when corrected she pulled faces and gave mini rears. She obviously didn't like being told no. In the arena, I put her on to a circle, she seemed happy enough so I asked for a trot. 4 strides later I brought her back to walk and took her in. She was lame through her left shoulder. (how had the people doing "boot camp" not noticed?). Back in the stable I ran my hands over her, applying gentle pressure, her back was so tender that she almost went to her knees. No wonder she didn't want anyone on her back.
After talking to her owners it was agreed that We would have someone look at her back and then decide the way forward. We managed to get an appointment for the very next day. Good news, although she was very sore, she would improve, with work.
I offered to take over with all of the groundwork exercises, after all I had nothing else to do all day and I realised that her rearing had upset and scared her owners. The next couple of weeks were spent at the yard. I led her over poles, taught her to lead nicely, tried to show her that I wasn't going to hurt her. That I wanted to help her. Through helping her I channeled my own problems, we helped each other.
Unfortunately the time came to return to work, I still saw Maisie after work and continued to work with her. Shortly after returning to work it was decided that it wasn't going to work out. I moved Caleb to the same yard as Maisie and continued to work them both. Maisie's back began to heal and her confidence grew. I started putting a lunge roller on her whilst I worked her. We still had the occasional discussion coming in from the field, she thought she was being brought in to be ridden, that hurt so she objected before it had chance to hurt. They were becoming less and less though.
I gradually built up to having someone give me a leg up so that I could lay across Maisie's back. the first few times she was very unsure.
Not long after that I got a temporary job on a different yard, whilst making arrangements to move Caleb, I was asked if I could and would want Maisie on loan, to take her with me and keep working with her. Of course I wanted to, the arrangements were made for both horses to move with me. I kept up with Maisie's ground work and even progressed to putting Caleb's treeless saddle on her. She took it all in her stride.
The new yard had an indoor arena which in late October was fantastic, it meant the horses could be worked regardless of the weather. Only a few weeks after arriving at the new yard I sat on Maisie for the first time. By the end of the week we'd progressed to walking a lap of the arena on each rein. I couldn't believe her progress. by the end of the next week we were trotting. Whilst her owner was visiting a week later we had our first canter. So far I'd found no problems riding her. We worked up to doing low jumps and hacking.
But the job was coming to an end, I couldn't afford to keep two horses on livery, especially when I didn't know what I was going to do for work. A decision had to be made. There didn't seem to be a great deal of choice, I loved Maisie and the challenge she posed, Caleb was almost too good. I advertised Caleb for sale to give me more time for Maisie.
With Caleb gone to a loving home, Maisie and I moved again, and acquired a small friend for Maisie. I knew by now that working with horses like Maisie was what I wanted to do, I wanted to help other horses and I wanted to be my own boss, so whilst working with Maisie, who was still having regular check ups to ensure that her back was indeed healing, I started to look for self employed work. turning out, mucking out, schooling, hacking anything I could get at the start.
That was over a year ago now, early 2014, in that time Maisie has progressed massively though we do still have days and moments when things don't go well and I wish I still had my nice safe horse that I could just get on and go. Those thoughts never last long though. Maisie's friend Mindy has moved on to pastures new now as well, so it's just Maisie and me and my current clients. As well as lots of exciting things to come hopefully.