Amanda & Malachi’s Journey
Amanda had never been on a horse until her teenage daughter insisted she had to have one. A horse was found and lessons began but it was Amanda who became hooked on riding, even after the daughter lost interest.
Buying a horse based on colour is breaking one of Pete’s golden rules. He also has some pretty strong viewpoints about novices riding green horses, so when Amanda decided Malachi was the horse for her; she was definitely headed into unknown territory!
It’s pretty easy to fall in love with a handsome Buckskin. Especially when he bonds with you and spontaneously gallops across the paddock to your side. But Malachi was already six years old and unbroken and Amanda was an inexperienced rider. Despite these initial hurdles, Amanda and Malachi have proved to be a resilient team.
In their early times together, a trainer pointed out that Amanda lacked balance and suggested barrel racing might be a good activity to improve her seat. Despite having never met Pete at this stage, intuition told Amanda the excitement of barrel racing was not good for either her or her horse. Pete would certainly have agreed! “I remember the tense apprehension I felt at the start of each race,” Amanda recalls. “That feeling quickly transferred to Malachi and by the end of the day he was a bundle of nervous energy and I felt I had lost any control I may have had to start with!”
“Intuition told Amanda the excitement of barrel racing was not good for either her or her horse.”
“A friend and I had heard of Pete’s clinic days at Just Equus and decided to go along to observe. We felt very welcome and I remember thinking this was the kind of coaching Malachi and I needed. I had just started up a new business, taking fellow horse lovers on guided trail rides, yet I lacked confidence in my own riding abilities.”
“Pete is very encouraging; he builds you up and gives you confidence. I have never been familiar with the riding terms most instructors use. I didn’t learn to ride until I was forty, so I am not accustomed to that kind of language.
“Pete was able to convey the message in simple terms in a way that made sense to me.” – Amanda
Communication between horse and rider always starts with groundwork. Once Amanda and Malachi were communicating well in the round yard, the lesson progressed to riding. If the message wasn’t getting through, Pete would take Amanda back to the groundwork to reinforce the lesson learned. “If you turn your shoulder and tilt your head in the direction you are walking, then that movement should be duplicated to direct your horse in the same way,” Pete explains. “When you are in the saddle, the turn, the lean, the shift of weight is the same and the same message gets through. Move your body on the horse as you do on the ground. Groundwork is an important extension of riding.”
“Move your body on the horse as you do on the ground. Groundwork is an important extension of riding.”- Pete
Working under Pete’s instructions, Amanda improving her riding skills; concentrating on the basics like seat position, utilising her reins, positioning her feet and staying in an upright posture when the horse turns under her. Amanda’s confidence in her own abilities grew as she became more competent in the saddle. “With Improved balance and timing, no matter what the horse is doing under me, I feel I am maintaining my position in the saddle,” Amanda says.
In the round yard the groundwork and the riding all reinforce a trusting bond between horse and rider. Malachi was responsive to Amanda’s body language; she led and he followed because a horse looks for and desires direction. “Pete taught me about feel, timing and balance in a way I could finally understand. With the tools and knowledge I now have I think Malachi is a way better horse, and I am a much better rider.”
“Everything I learn through Pete is focused on building a strong and respectful relationship with my horse.” – Amanda
Using body language and hand signals Amanda is able to control her horse without the aid of halter, lead rope or lunging reins. With no rope to guide him there is nothing but communication between them. “It’s not difficult to learn,” Amanda says. “The hard part is having the confidence that it will happen. It’s almost like telepathy.”
Amanda has also been working with Pete on some of her trail riding horses, to ensure they are quiet enough for even the most inexperienced riders. “Bundy is one of my most trusted trail horses, but even he was a bit resistant to some of the de-sensitising exercises Pete guided me through. When Pete suggested we should hobble him during these sessions I was at first hesitant. Hobbling a horse seemed like an unkind practise to me, even though I had little experience of it.”
“He even walks over the ‘tarp of death’ with complete trust and an inner calm that would rival the Dali Lama.” – Amanda
“Pete emphasised the importance of patience in this exercise; everything was introduced gradually, there can be no rushing. Bundy took to the hobbles very well. He could no longer run or jump away in fright; he just had to deal with things. When I bagged him down, waved a flag at him or ran a rope down his back and over his withers, he had no option but to stand there and think about it. Finally he realised there was nothing to fear and he felt reassured.
“Recently Bundy became loose on a trail ride and I know that before Pete, I would have absolutely panicked. I would have thought my horse was lost forever or sent a search party out to run him down and catch him. These days I am armed with horse sense. Pete always says horses are herd animals and they don’t want to leave their leader. So I knew Bundy would follow us home and he did.”
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