Bev & Makeeta’s Journey
Bev is loving her life right now and relishing the fact that once again she has a horse and they are embarked on a learning experience together. After a childhood spent on the back of a horse the mechanics of riding are second nature to Bev. However, through her coaching with Pete she is beginning to realise there is far more to learn about horses than she ever thought possible.
Makeeta came to Bev by a happy coincidence when friend and neighbour Amanda, also a horse and Just Equus enthusiast heard about him being available. It didn’t take much encouragement from Amanda but Bev is appreciative of her support. Amanda provides agistment for Makeeta and he is happily sharing a paddock with six other horses. This is quite a change of pace for a horse that lived in the same paddock for eight years with only his brother, Shilo for company.
I was so eager to have my own horse again,” Bev says. “Over the years I have ridden other people’s horses but nothing beats having a horse that is just for me. This excitement when I’m with Makeeta is actually one of things I have to learn to curtail. Having no contact with people and no education over those years resulted in Makeeta being a little ‘flighty’. Pete let me see that my initial burst of energy and my impatience to make contact with him caused my horse to feel anxious and apprehensive. In establishing my relationship with Makeeta I have learnt to recognise how my energy levels affect him.”
With Pete’s guidance, Bev is focusing on establishing a relationship with Makeeta. In learning how to bring down her energy levels, she recognises how much of what she does affects her horse. “Horses are a herd animal and they look to you for guidance,” Pete explains.
‘By approaching Makeeta in a calm and confident manner Bev gives him confidence in her abilities.’ – Pete.
“Of course, confidence comes from skill and to be a good leader for your horse, you need to understand his behaviour. It’s important to recognise adverse changes in behaviour before they escalate.” Pete adds, “It is imperative that the horse learns to take his clues from you, that he is submissive to you and that you feel comfortable around your horse. A horse needs to learn manners and that means not standing over their rider but standing quietly and keeping a respectful distance away and allowing their owner to handle them safely.”
Putting these new found skills into practise has been a revelation to Bev. With these improved lines of communication between us, Makeeta is better able to understand what is expected of him.”
‘I never realised my behaviour had so much influence over my horse.’ – Bev.
“Pete has impressed on me how important it is to closely observe my horse,” Bev says. “He is constantly giving me clues about how he is feeling now I understand how to recognise them. I watch his ears, his eyes, the way he turns to look at me. When I work him in the round yard and he turns to face up, I can use body language to signal when he is close enough. Just holding up my hand is enough to indicate this. I have learnt to be ‘soft’ with him, now I realise how closely he watches and how quickly he responds.”
‘I am confident but calm in the way I approach him and handle him, I can see that quietness reflected in him.’ – Bev
Although it is still early in their journey Bev feels a renewed confidence and a much stronger bond of connection between her and Makeeta. There are still many more things she wants to achieve, but can understand that the learning phrase will be ongoing and there is no rush. “I work on positive re-enforcement, letting the horse take in his messages in his own time,” Pete says. “With horses, nothing is rushed and nothing is forced.”
For Bev one of the pleasures of owning a horse is just spending time around them. “I love to see Makeeta respond to me when I call to him from across the paddock. It’s quite thrilling to see him turn his head at the sound of my voice and come to me. I have learnt how little things can make a huge difference, just the way I put the halter on him as Pete showed me, gives me self-assurance. This helps in every other task I perform for him, the feeding, rugging and grooming all give me pleasure and I feel in control now.
‘I carry out all these tasks quietly; consciously bringing my energy levels down and keeping Makeeta calm in the process. I never cease to be amazed at the transformation.’ – Bev.
“I used to get so excited every time I saw my beautiful boy in the paddock, and I would rush over to pat him. I have changed my ways since those days. Pete has shown me how to communicate through my body language and I am delighted with the changes I’ve been able to make. He has a softness in his eyes that wasn’t there before. There are more things to work on, I just need to be patient,” she says with a happy smile.
Journalist: Janette Jenyns
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