Just wanted to share with you an incident that happened today whilst Reggie and I were out hacking. Coming along a country lane we could hear sirens in the distance and I remarked to Reggie that some poor soul must be in trouble. All of a sudden from around the next corner there was a blast of the same and a police car came flying round the corner with lights on and sirens blaring. The driver saw us, panicked and slammed on the brakes, skidding to a stop on the gravel and making the most horrendous noise! He turned off the sound and waited but Reggie merely pricked his ears, looked at it and sauntered on in his usual 'Reggie' way on a long rein. In the short time I've had him, we have passed some of the most dreadful looking farm vehicles, massive lorries (some of which have barely slowed down) scrambler bikes, pheasants taking off from between his legs etc. and he has barely raised an eyelid, but I have never been so grateful to you as I am today. I know horses twice his age that would've had a hairy fit! Thank you so much for training him to be the brave, unflappable, sensible boy he is today and for letting me take him home. If that's not testament to your training, I don't know what is!
I love him so much Avril, he can be cheeky but in a gentle Reggie way and overall, I just think he's amazing! I almost can't believe how much he has restored my confidence in such a short time.
Lots of love from us both
Today I travelled 8 hrs fromGlasgow today too visit my horse Robson. Avril and the team kindly took him onto their Foundation Training Programme summer 2013. I was so taken back when I arrived by how relaxed and happy he was. We hacked out in not so great weather bit on the windy side :) his ears pricked forward and for the first time ever it felt like he wanted to be there with me! I cried I have to confess.
When Robson travelled down to Avril he was very untrusting and fearful of people and life in general it was heartbreaking to see him the way he was. I found Avril through a recommendation and I am so glad I did , the wealth of knowledge she and her team possess has taken many years of hard work and many horses produced to acquire. The team have spent many months of hard work to help my boy in ways I just didn't know how . It crossed my mind he might never trust again. I cannot place a value on the work that has been involved it's truly outstanding. Buying a horse was a huge investment for me financially a emotionally. Please please do not underestimate the level of work it takes to produce a horse of a lifetime because that's what Robson will be for me when he finally graduates from MSC. What price can you put on a horse of a lifetime? I know I can't come up with a figure more a word PRICELESS .
Confidence givers, Novice rides, bombproof , all words we see in adverts , all highly prized attributes by many leisure riders- thing is this type of horse isn't born, it's produced. Time and care spent teaching the horse how to be these things isn't quick or easy. If you are thinking about buying a horse please go and see Avril , she will give you open and honest advice about everything . As much as I love Robson I wish I had paid Avril a visit before I had bought him. Once Robson retires if I'm lucky enough to still be riding I know where I will be going to purchase my next horse. MSC !!!!!!
With all my heart , thank you for giving my boy his life back and giving me the horse I always wanted.
My relationship with Reggie has just gone from strength to strength. He is just the sweetest boy and he really is cauterising all the wounds my previous horse left behind (through no fault of his) and they can finally heal. It might sound a bit dramatic but it really does feel like that. We are hacking out together when the weather allows, and in the last few weeks have even started jumping in the school by ourselves when it's too grim to venture out! He absolutely loves it but doesn't get all silly or fizzy. We both agree that schooling is not really for us and although we set out with good intentions, we usually give up half way through and do something more fun :)
But the best thing by far is just spending time with him as he genuinely likes to be with people and is always trying to make a connection. Jamie and Emily adore him and love to groom him and oil his hooves. Reggie reciprocates by blowing in their hair and snuffling at their necks as they work around him. All in all Avril, I could not be happier with Reggie. Even Mark loves him and, as you know, he is not horsey at all as they tend to scare him because of their size. If I'm honest, I think the family think of him more as a big dog than a horse although to be fair he does act like one the way he follows us around. That could be interesting when the day comes that we can have him at home, he's a bit too big to curl up on the end of the bed!
I'm so grateful for all the help and advice you have given us over the last few years, I'm not sure what would've happened if I hadn't stumbled across your website. I know I wouldn't be sitting here happy with my perfect horse, and he is perfect for me but I'm sure you already know that. I only wish I had come across MSC a few years earlier, I might have saved myself a lot of heartache but then I would've missed out on my beautiful Reggie.
P.S. Reggie sends his love and also a big wet kiss for Gabs too x
Having turned into a much more nervous rider, I began my search for a horse to match. It was such a depressing search and I began to feel that perhaps I had just lost my nerve irreversibly. But then I found Mysafecobs. I felt it would be worth a visit even though it was a long way from where I live. As soon as I met Avril, I knew that I wouldn’t be sold a horse that wasn’t suitable for me.
Avril spent time with me getting to understand what my requirements were and how nervous I actually was and she introduced me to Millie. What can I say? She is perfect! She is exactly as Avril described her down to the last detail and she has been ideal for me to go out and about and explore the countryside with. I was a little apprehensive on my new horse for the first few weeks, despite the fact that she didn’t put a foot wrong, but now we are hacking out and about in such a relaxed way. She is perfect with all traffic, open spaces, and just about anything that the great outdoors has thrown at us. We can meet up with other riders for a ride and leave them to come home. I am really enjoying riding again! It is so reassuring to know that Avril is still available for advice should I need it. Millie is fabulous in every way and has found a home for life. Thank you so much Avril for providing such a genuine and much needed service and such a brilliant horse.
George is a wonderful leisure horse and such a sweetie. He had an absolute ball and completely unfazed by the jumps which we hadn't seen before. We had one scary moment when we jumped a fence and after one stride ended up in very boggy conditions. George nearly went down on his knees but battled bravely on whilst I was clambering back into position. One stride and he was over the next jump without any assistance from me. Oh, I do love a long mane to hang onto!
He is much admired and people often ask about him. He has also been called a "very posh cob" which made me laugh.
Keep up the fantastic work; you bring such joy to people with your wonderful horses.
PS Due to my inexperience it has taken me 7 years to get to this stage. George has been with me all the way from the gentle hacks, the plod around the block because of bad back, knees and neck, to the gradually permitting George more than the most collected of canters. He has taught me so much and been patient enough to wait for my confidence to grow.
Erika & George
It has been a while since I have been in touch so I thought I would drop you a line to let you know how Leo is getting on. We have been having the best time together and coming on leaps and bounds. As well as lots of hacking, this year we joined a riding club and attended our first riding club camp. We camped for the weekend with the horses in a lovely Scottish estate. While we were there we had two lessons and went on a long guided hack around the estate which was brilliant. Leo took it all in his stride and lapped up all the attention from all the other camp goers, he always had a couple of admirers around his pen!
We also attended our first showing show, where Leo came 1st in his class and the judge absolutely loved him (she sneaked a cuddle at the end of the class!). I was an extremely proud Mum that day!
All the Best
Just to let you know Toby is settling in well and has been such a good boy. You should be very proud of him. He obviously has found everything strange and new but his training has got him through the first week. I just keep thinking forward and straight!! Not that he has put a hoof out of place.
I walked out with Clare on him yesterday and today I went with them on the bike, he loved that! but I have ridden all last week with a day off on Thursday, I thought he just needed to have a quiet day. He is just delightful to look after and this evening he helped me with the poo picking!!
I hope all is well with you and will keep in touch.
With our very best wishes
At last the weather conditions have allowed me to take some photos of Garth for you!
He is now very much a member of the family (as you can see) and he is much loved by all, two legged and four legged. We are exploring further afield gradually, we may have got further if weather had been more obliging and not turned some tracks and fields into lakes, but we are all in the same boat. But there is no rush and allowing plenty of time to get to know each other.
Garth is super with everything we meet, a cheeky lamb may bring a little snort, but a traction engine, no problem! He was also the star of the show when we had a family event at home and the children wanted 'pony rides'. From 1 year old to 11 years old he was delightful and made many friends that day proving what a gentleman he is.
Dougal and Melda
Hi Avril and Annie
Hope you are both well. I’ve been meaning to send you news of Dougal for some time and have finally got round to it! As we hoped, he has settled in nicely now and spends most of his time sleeping and rolling.
A couple of months ago we decided to take the plunge and put Dougal and Melda together in the same field. We have been incredibly anxious about this, knowing that Dougal is quite dominant and that Melda is without question an Alpha mare! Anyway there was no need, after a short spat, that Melda won hands down, they started grooming each other and have been a happy couple ever since.
Dougal loads like a dream onto our lorry and rarely puts a foot wrong. He has such extravagant paces that it has taken time for Stuart to get used to him but he is getting there and Hilary thinks he will soon be ready for his first dressage test. He has been such a good boy that even I rode him the other week which I never thought would happen!
Everywhere we go Dougal and Melda are admired – mostly for their impeccable manners and kind temperaments - so we do plenty of advertising for MSC! We hope all is going well with you – and just want to say thank you so much for producing two lovely horses who have brought such joy to a couple of ageing novices.
Libby & Stuart
Hope you are all well down at MSC. I thought I would drop you a line to let you know how William is getting on.
He is eating well! He seems to be settled in the herd of geldings, and has bonded with one of the oldies, Stanley. He's been a delight to catch, but Roo has had his nose pushed out, and I have to bring him in first, and then get William, otherwise he stands at the gate whinnying. It's worse than having children!
I have ridden him out every day, and he's been really good. He just tends to look at things, but listens to me and has gone past lots of scary things when asked to. He loves being brushed and even fell asleep when I was brushing him in a rare glimpse of sunshine. He's been out with Roo, and two other horses, and he was unfazed by the different company. He seems to completely ignore traffic. He's even started whickering when he sees me. I've done some groundwork in the arena, so he could get used to the arena, and he was very good, even when the horses in the field next to us were messing around... He just looked at them.
So it's been a really good start. I'm going to have a lesson next week, and he's having a day off in the field today.
Please would you thank Annie for doing such a great job with William for me.
We are all very well thank you and I think Garth is definitely enjoying the grass and sunshine! He has been an absolute superstar, a little anxious over a couple of things, i.e. hunt hounds and beagles meeting head to head just outside his paddock in the early days and also cattle, calves and bull being turned out on a different side of the paddock a day later and as you can imagine after being in all winter, they were rather excited! But Garth has still been a complete gent to handle.
We had our first 'full distance' solo hack today without anyone wandering along with us and as I am sure you would have expected he was brilliant. What I love is how he takes everything in his stride but he is still interested and not just 'switched off'.
He seems very settled with his three companions and two in the paddock next door. He seems to be accepting of the current leader, who is quietly dominant, and in fact, they seem to have become very fond of each other.
I am really looking forward to the course and many, many thanks for the privilege of Garth joining our family.
Best wishes to all
Anne and Garth
p.s. Danny loves him too and Garth may just be the horse to get him on board!
Thank you for sending me your newsletter.
I came upon your website by chance recently and I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed watching all your training films and how much I’ve learned by watching you and Annie at work.
I came to riding later in life in my mid 30s (I’m now 50) after being a pony mad youngster but never having the opportunity to ride. I’m still clinging to the dream that I may be able to have my own horse one day and if I ever do I know that having a super safe companion would be my primary requirement.
Ah well… I can only dream at present but if I ever am in a position to buy a horse one day I know I will have no hesitation in coming to My Safe Cobs… even though I’m in North Yorkshire. I hope I may be able to come to one of your Foundation courses at some point which I think would be invaluable whether I have my own horse or not.
Thanks for so generously sharing your knowledge.
I hope you are well. I wanted to get in touch to let you know how we are getting on. I am pleased to say things are beginning to go really well. It took a little while for Dougal to settle but progressively he has returned more to his old self. He is much happier and has settled into his routine. Our lorry finally arrived which has enabled us to get to our trainer and some indoor schools in the evening after work and he has been really good.Taking most things in his stride and really beginning to be the schoolmaster I hoped he would. My confidence is building and I hope soon to take him to his first dressage test!
Its still early days but I am really optimistic and am delighted at how well he moves and his attitude to his work. I cant wait for the lighter nights and less wind!
I am 41 years old and have been passionate about horses all my life. As a teenager I worked at my local riding stables but didn't do much actual riding. I only ever got to plod round on very tired ponies. Then at the age of 39 I decided I would learn to ride before 40 hit!! I started at a local school and quickly realised my passion was still very much there. I then was extremely fortunate and was offered a horse for my 40th birthday present.
After researching on line and finding MySafeCobs site I read every thing I could. I contacted Avril and then went down to meet her, Michael and Annie. We had spoken about a horse called Sula who Avril thought might be suitable for myself and my close friend Jo who would be sharing her with me. We spent a fantastic few hours chatting with Avril and meeting all the horses, especially Sula. We had a ride out and by the time we got back to the yard we had decided that even if Avril decided that Sula wasn't right for us we would wait until she found the right horse for us. We didn't want to go anywhere else, we just trusted her to do the right thing for us and the horse.
To cut the story slightly shorter, we bought Sula home to Worthing on the 29th may 2010. What a very exciting day that was. Well both myself and Jo were rather nervous as although we knew what Avril had told us about Sula, we didn't know her for ourselves. We had spent a day with April and the team on the Foundation course before we bought Sula home which helped enormously.
Avril just knew how to pitch the information she gave us so as not to overwhelm us. Our early rides were spent with one on top and one on the ground, walking miles round the woods, always with a head collar to hand in case one of us got a bit nervous. I'm sure there were plenty of people who passed us and had a giggle about how novice/nervous we were but we both felt it was better to slowly gain confidence than to rush things.
Slowly over the weeks as we got to know Sula we realised that she was exactly what Avril said she was, a very calm safe trustworthy mare who would really look after us. As we progressed I started to ride out with other people and horses and it was just the most amazing feeling. I began to do things I never thought I would have been able to, not only that but I felt completely calm and really didn't feel even the slightest bit nervous, I just felt sure of what Sula would do ( or rather not do ). By the end of our first winter I can honestly say the relationship that I had built with Sula was just amazing
I love her so very much for many reasons, not least the way she has made me feel. She's like my therapy. I work as a paediatric nurse and have 3 children and a home to run but when I'm with Sula my head clears and I feel soooo calm and happy. We now have rides out just me and her up onto the south downs, sometimes just walking sometimes having a gallop and sometimes even popping her over some logs on the way.
I have to say one of my favourite rides was down to the beach. A four hour ride that took in a busy dual carriageway a train crossing ( we queued with the rush hour traffic, a double decker bus right behind us!! ) and so much traffic I felt as though I was riding a police horse round London. Sula didn't put a hoof out of place, she was amazing. I can't believe how relaxed and calm I felt.
Also during the summer we enjoyed many rides to our local pub where Sula happily grazed whilst I enjoyed a coke and Sunday lunch with friends. On one of these trips there was a marquee in the garden for a christening along with a huge bouncy castle and Sula just glanced at it then settled down to grazing. What a girl.
Well I hope this has given you an insite into the sort of horse that Avril produces. There is hardly a day goes past that I don't silently thank her for Sula. It sounds a bit dramatic but my life really wouldn't be the same without her. There is no where I won't go on her, in company or on our own and she is the horse that everyone wants to ride out with. I've lost count of the number of people who have told me how lucky I am to have got a horse like her and whilst I do agree, it isn't all luck. Its also the fact that I would only buy my horse from MSC . Now both Jo and I can't imagine her being with anyone else, she is with us for good.
Thanks once again Avril,
We thought that it was about time that we gave you some news on Sage.
Well we couldn't be more pleased. We had a great journey home with no hitches at all. Sage spent Thursday in the field with the other horses the other side of the fence and they all got on well.
On Friday the saddle fitter came and then in the afternoon we went out for a hack with Chris and Jack which went really well. Yesterday I had my lesson on him in our menage and he was fine. Our instructor thought he was lovely, a real cracker! Chris took him out today on his own and trotted and cantered him and he was very well behaved. Chris really enjoyed riding him. He seems to be setting in very well.
We have never met but I bought a horse in 2006 and I know you had originally trained her before she came to me and I wondered if you'd like to hear what Minnie, now in her teens, is up to!
When I bought her 5 years ago, I was looking for a total sweetie to handle and ride, and something that was of small stature so my two disabled kids would not be overwhelmed and Minnie was perfect! She has served everyone well over the last few years, doing lead rein, teaching Chris the very basic bits of riding alone in a school and doing long hacks with and without company as well as sponsored rides and the odd show with me.
She has now moved jobs again, and she is at a yard where I volunteer, working with children and teenagers who are struggling socially and emotionally and who may have been excluded from school etc. It's run by a Christian charity called JAC (Just Around the Corner) in Berkshire.
I just wanted you to know that all these years on she is still a true safecob and is working in her own kind and gentle way at her new job. She is truly the best horse I have ever known, and whilst she is not ever going to win prizes for any discipline, she is worth a million pounds to me, my kids and all the kids who she is helping now.
We will never sell her, but I thought you'd like to know how she is getting on! I'm getting the newsletter as I'm dreaming about finding another Minnie for my son, who looks like he is going to be over 6', and so will be a wee bit on the big side for a 14 hand pony!!
Keep up the wonderful work,
Heather, Chris, Rachel and Minnie xx
Hi Avril, I hope you don’t mind....
I just had to drop you an email to say how incredible I think your videos with Sage have been. I had some idea of the depths to which you take your training, but watching your vids has been amazing. Listening to you explaining why you take the trouble to ride through undergrowth that is tall and brushes their sides so they learn not to panic, hearing you explain why it is so important for them to be properly balanced, in all paces even when “just” hacking, and probably for me the most common problem riders face, of horses finding a canter something to get excited and silly about, and how you overcome this by teaching it as “work” which you repeat in short bursts – so many people get to the same old spot, often up a hill, blast up it because they feel safe uphill, and then wonder why they have problems with their horse anticipating that canter place or just finding all canters over exciting.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings – I just had to tell you how informative your videos are, every aspect makes sense to me and is so applicable to the things we encounter out hacking – if only more people felt as passionate about preparing their horses as you do.
Best wishes as always,
I hope you and all the horses are well. He has settled in really well. I went on my first solo hack early this morning and came back with a HUGE grin on my face. I am thrilled to bits. I am indeed having lots of lovely rides on Bounty. I am so pleased with him. He really is part of the family, I love him to bits and am sure I will never part with him.
Bounty was brilliant. David was mowing the lawn with the tractor mower and Bounty was lying down asleep in his stable - totally chilled out. I was so pleased.
Speak to you soon.
Ann & Bounty
Hello Avril - thought you'd love these. We are now about to do our Parelli Level 3 Liberty and Elsie is so happy with life (and me with her) and she is becoming quite extrovert and expressive. We hack out daily and have play sessions several times a week mostly at liberty now - she loves jumping (at liberty!).
Shes home!! Travelled beautifully, at home tucking into grass in the field next to the others... couldn't care less! We walked up, tried a bridle and saddle on her, completly loose... she didn't move! Shes perfect!!!
Off for a early morning ride... Can't wait!! :)
She's been fab today! Rode this morning, perfect, washed her this afternoon, perfect and she even had a lay down in her stable... Flat out!! :)
It's like she's been here forever!
I just wanted to say a massive thank you
To everyone involved. I'm sure you know how amazing the work you do with horses is but I am just so glad I picked up the phone to contact you Avril, it was by far the best decision I ever made. I hope to become the very proud owner of one of your fantastically trained horses in the near future.
Thank you so much,
Just to say that Toya is a delight to all the family. She has settled in so well and is far better behaved than many of the other horses on the yard! We have ridden her everyday since Saturday, a couple of days with another horse and a couple of days on her own with one of us walking or on a bike. She is taking it all in and getting to know her surroundings bit by bit. I need to take her out on my own, but am waiting more for my confidence on that rather than hers. But will keep on taking her out with someone so she doesn't stop going out on her own.
Tom has ridden her and in fact he loves to catch her and bring her in from the field. She is very polite and puts her head down for him to do the headcollar - otherwise he couldn't reach! No need to keep her headcollar on in the field as she is a dream to catch.
Attached are a couple of photos of her. The one in the field was about an hour after she arrived - no running around, just head down to eat. We have in fact sectioned off the field now as we thought there was quite a lot of grass.
So many thanks and will keep in touch.
Just to say Toby is still ticking the boxes, attached are 2 photos of from last weekend, he came third with 65% and as you can see putting his best hoof forward. Ally his rider is the daughter from the stables and who rides Toby any time i am unable to make it. I can be seen behind the judge having a coffee and being a proud owner.
The whole thing was Can Domenech were going and Ally suggested trying out Toby (Reprise 1 60 x 20 mts) also to check loading and behaviour out of home. Good as gold on behaviour, re loading he tried it on, then gave in. I am finding this is his way of sounding out things, first protest then if you insist ok. Once there was as good as gold, and performed very precisely almost to the limit of his possibilities.
I often visit your page to see what is going on. I had a lovely ride this morning, in the school as i was short of time, and a good 40 minutes has me more than worn out, and Toby beginning to glow. He is so very willing.
Well enough for now.
Hope your weather is improving.
Clare B and Toby in Spain
Hope you are well, and all the horses are doing fine. Sorry it's taken me so long to email you an update but the last 6 weeks has flew by.
Leo has settled in very well to his new surroundings, and Is fast becoming a yard favourite.
I have been confidently riding him out by myself regularly and we have been haing a great time. He really is the most lovely kind horse I have ever met.
I just wanted to say thank you so much for letting me buy him, he really is my new four legged best friend! I have some photos of him will need to send you (once I have worked out how to use the new
Speak to you soon,
Sourced and trained by MSC especially for Jersey RDA
Just wanted to say thank you for Fudge.
She is a great credit to you and your training and hard work.
I know Rachel has been in touch with you and kept you up to date with her progress. Everyone is delighted with her and all have made a great fuss of her. She seems to be happy in her new surroundings.
She has a lovely temperament and always wants to do her best.
Anyway I dare say you knew all this and that was the reason you chose her.
As I write we are hoping to have her join in her first session on Monday.
I have been aware that I had not been in touch but wanted really to let Fudge settle herself first and she has done that very well.
Hope you are all well and busy as ever. I have said that I will return the saddle you loaned us so look forward to seeing you soon.
With best wishes
She is gorgeous - Lucy (the other adult instructor with Judy) was with me when Fudge arrived and we were both delighted - seeing the photos is not the same. She has such a lovely nature and Donna was surprised how calm she was. She was interested in everything walking through the yard but not spooked at all. Her groom Nicola and Fudge have been communing together and for the time being Nicola will exercise her with Lucy.
Fudge continues to be a delight - two of our volunteers have been riding her this week in the sand school - even popped her over some very low jumps and Fudge was a perfect saint. In fact she seemed to be really enjoying herself - and will be out on her first Jersey hack as we speak. She is so popular with us all - and even the gaggle of horsey schoolgirls that help out at the stables in the holidays absolutely love her.
Hope you have a good weekend and I will let you know how we get on with the tracing.
I just want to say.....
This was my first visit to the Mysafecobs site and was really impressed with its professionalism.... in short I was captivated! I read Toby's diary with fascination- Avril I was right there with you- could feel his changes in mood and sudden anticipations--it was all so familiar and absorbing
I think your newsletters are wonderful - full of info and business- busy lists of wonderful sounding “safecobs”, lovable, you ""must"" have me types....which actually put me into a slightly hypnotic state---
Keep up the good work, it has been a pleasure to deal with you, you do offer a very positive & professional service & website so I hope business continues to go well for you. I will keep an interested eye on the website...!
Many thanks again,
Phoebe continues to inspire and grow in our hearts. That really was one of your greatest gifts, I will never cease to be grateful, especially now I read more about the interaction with horses from the EFT viewpoint. I really believe that she has healed Paul in so many ways. The changes have been remarkable and it continues. I attach a pic, which is a bit big but I really wanted to share it with you. She's awesome.
Love and best wishes
As you know my darling girl has arrived, thanks to you and Annie walking her all that way to the Golf Club to get her to the box in this dreadful weather, and i am now the very proud new friend of Elda.
I would just like to take this opportunity to say what a wonderful experience it has been purchasing a horse from yourself, nothing is too much trouble and your horses are everything you say they are.
As you know it has taken me over 18 months of trouble and expense to finally get a horse as there are no longer many horses out there today that are totally and fully educated.
You and your team are wonderful people that actually love each and every one of your horses. Elda has only been with me 2 days and its like shes been here forever and that is because she has had a very sound training.
I will certainly keep in touch, and when i finally get round to it, will join the forum, as they seem should a lovely friendly lot.
Take care and best wishes to everyone at MSC
jane and Elda xx
Lola, formerly known as Lotus
We have become Fun Ride addicts! Lola absolutely loves them and so do I. I'm looking forward to many trips out next year, and maybe we could both attend one of your courses now that we are 'mobile'!!!
I continue to be very pleased with Lola, she really is a very special horse. I was very proud of her last week when she took first prize in the RC 'Handy Pony' competition which included a washing line, umbrella, bridge, flag, sack on the ground, concluding with a jump at the end. Lola completed the course without any hesitation or so much as a backward glance at the obstacles.
She received many admiring comments as well as rapturous applause which of course she took in her stride. I was very proud of her and she remains a testement to her MSC Foundation training.
Just a quick update to let you know what we've been up to in recent months. I can see from the website that you continue to be very busy! I absolutely loved the video of Crispin visiting the nursery children, and the gorgeous Elda in action - I'm sure I'd have been very drawn to her had I not been matched with Lotus.
Best wishes to you, Michael, Annie and everyone at MSC, from Louise and Lola xxx .
Maddie is very well. She has been doing lots of different schooling work, and has a new best friend called Bailey. If you are ever this way, please feel free to come and see how she is doing.
I already have two aims to work towards. The first is to show her in hand, and the second is to enter my first dressage competition. We have already found Maddie very responsive to leg aids, and she is very well mannered at all times already.
As for me and Pual, I spend on average 5 hours a day at the yard and Paul has already achieved lots of ground work with Maddie. Terry is invaluable and is teaching us different things 5 and even 6 days a week. We couldn't have managed without such an excellent instructor and an outstanding horse.
Thank you for selling us Maddie, and hope you are well there.
Thanks for the info. I was judging Saturday and Sunday at the Catalan championships so did not pick up emails until this morning. Luckily I had finished in time to meet the lorry at the stables.
It was already dark, but Toby walked calmly down the ramp, and was not at all sweaty or worried. I walked him a little way round the yard and then into his box, where he proceeded to pee and eat his hay as if travelling 860 miles was all in a day’s work.
The next morning I was up there first thing. I tacked him up, and had to remind him of his manners only twice, and then he saw that he was not going to get away with anything and gave in, which was wonderful and reassuring.
I walked him round the yard and then mounted up and first took him down to the sand school, complete with dressage arena in white all set up, he did not turn a hair and was very good. I failed again on the canter at first, and then only managed to keep him going for a few strides before trotting again, but I finished on a good note with a nice trot circle and transition to walk. Then I took him out for a 20 min ride, past a brick factory and into the woods, he was as good as gold. We came back through a narrow path with loads of branches which did not worry him at all and back to the yard.
I had another lovely ride today. He had a day off yesterday, and was just admired in the morning. He remains totally cured of his fear of rustling leaves as proved by our today’s ride through very narrow woodland paths. Had a lovely canter uphill, he was full of steam.
Avril, I am so enjoying myself, and thank you. I hope Toby is enjoying the bright sunshine and warmth here; it is around 21º, although he is probably missing the grass.
Bye for now,
We went out for our first hack on Saturday, a lengthy one at that 2hrs!! I must say whay a fantastic boy he was. These past 2 weeks have been the busiest ever due to harvest, what with Huge combines & many noisy very large tractors with bouncy trailers following behind any other horse would have bolted for sure. Purdy took it all in his stride, he was a little on his toes, which had it been any other horse I would have got off. But Purdy was mesmerized by all that was going on. Then the claxon bell went off in the grain store to tell the workers the grain was dry & it sounded like something from world war 1, Purdy just ignored it!! We had a little shuffle past the huge rolls of wheat in the fields, but after seeing them & then biting one, we werent scared of them either.
What a pleasure it was to ride him again on Sunday. Same confidence, growing in both of us that we quite happily ambled along like old friends. Him & Indie are getting like a house on fire (except meal times, where Purdy is a little Bully) so I just seperate them to avoid the conflict. However, I have started playing with him on the ground & what a quick learner he is. Super quick when the goodie bag makes a show! Look at my fancy trot mummy!!!
I feel my confidence flooding back in droves thanks to your hard work with him. It was commented on that I had a sparkle about myself this weekend & it was all down to having pure fun with my four legged friend.
YOUR APPROACH TO RIDING IS INSPIRATIONAL. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK- YOU ARE TURNING INTO A BIT OF A GURU!
I think that it is about time that riding schools woke up to the fact that there are a lot of us who have come to riding at a later age and who are only able to put aside our fears when we 'click' with a horse AND that we are not prepared to be brutal in our relationships with them.
(Whilst a whip is a useful aid I am not prepared to respond when an instructor tells me to 'keep booting' a horse!)
Chatty goes to the Quantocks
We had a brilliant lesson and Debbie was very impressed with how she is progressing which is great being as most of my schooling is done while hacking.
The Quantocks were beautiful but we've had a very eventful time. Poor Chatty. The traffic on Saturday was appalling, we literally sat on the M25 for four hours. My friend had a tyre blow out on her lorry and then it wouldn't start! I loaded Chatty at 9.45am and we arrived at the event at 8pm!
I was so worried about her but blow me, she walked down the ramp and into the corral as if nothing was wrong. Normally she doesn't eat while travelling but she had gone through two haynets between scheduled stops and traffic jams which was a good thing. I was exhausted. She ate her tea and I presented her to the vet (as the competition was a championship qualifier) and somehow her heart rate was 36 bpm and she was relaxed and supple.
Luckily we weren't starting the POR (orienteering section) until late morning the next day so we could relax a bit after the awful day before. The countryside and the scenery and the hills were awe inspiring. We met loads of sheep, wild ponies which Chatty thought were lovely, particularly as they had a few foals with them, which followed us for a while and had to ride through fields with very inquisitive cows but she was very steady and sensible. We paddled in rivers and at one time I thought she would roll as she was splashing so hard and even walked up river beds. It was a wonderful route.
Jane and I had gone just for fun but halfway round the route we realised that there were a lot of very lost and confused people and it dawned on us we were doing quite well. From then on we really concentrated and were delighted that evening to find we were in first place - by loads. Chatty loves it. She is already beginning to understand what is needed and for the majority of the ride I had my relaxed reins in one hand, my map in the other and was walking, trotting and cantering at will, depending on the ground underfoot, she didn't get strong and came back to me on voice command. Her ears are forward unless listening to me or if she hears someone riding up behind us.
Then, unfortunately, the next morning I was grooming Chatty ready for the next vetting and discovered a lump in her girth area which she was tender on. She was sound at the vetting and her bpm was still only 36 but the vet confirmed that although not a girth gall, she was tender and should not compete further. We had to withdraw and so we travelled home yesterday, although happily it took us the five hours it should take.
The vet advised bathing her girth area with salt water to toughen up her skin a bit and said it is very common with horses that go long distances. She said not to ride her for a week to let it settle and use a sheepskin girth or girth sleeve to protect her so it will be lunging and groundwork for a week.
Happily we have come home with our first red rosette for the orienteering section and have made our mark for future competitions.
Chatty was extremely relaxed this weekend, no calling out at all and no getting clingy to other horses. Everyone loves her and says how pretty she is. She gets lots of attention and cuddles from everyone.
A visit to Mysafecobs
My first visit to MSC, apart from being able to meet some of the horses, was a wonderful way of gaining an insight into the training that the horses undergo. Avril took me out for a hack with her on Connelly and me on Puzzle. Even just going down the drive, Avril took Connelly up and down a very steep bank which he undertook very calmly.
After going up a short bridleway we emerged onto a single-track road where both horses were very co-operative in moving into lay-bys to let cars go past. We came to a partly made-up road with ditches on both sides and Avril took the opportunity to further Connelly's education by gently encouraging him to go over them. I found it hard to believe that he had only seen them for the first time the day before as he calmly cantered over them. Meanwhile Puzzle, although interested, was more than happy to stand and wait patiently.
As we left the drive we had to go over some white plastic tape on the ground and past some cones with flapping, orange tape. Connelly was a little concerned because he thought he might get an electric shock, but Avril allowed him to look at it and then asked him to stand next to the cones, all in a relaxed way so that his slight worry was soon overcome. Puzzle didn't take any notice of either of these monsters!
Our ride continued; through gates, past a pony in a field who came running over to have a look, past sheep and through an open field. In all these situations the horses behaved impeccably. On the last track we went past some cows and Avril made the most of it by asking Connelly to go up to one of the cows standing next to the fence. I can guarantee that Connelly is in no way bothered by cows, at least if touching noses with one is a guarantee! As we turned up the drive back to the yard Avril asked Connelly to stand and wait. He was a little fidgety but Avril just kept gently asking until she got the stillness she wanted and then we walked quietly back to the yard.
I hope to be in touch again soon,
Best wishes, Lesley.
Chatty's first Le Trec
Well we've done it, our first competition that is. Took Chatty to Petersfield near Portsmouth this weekend. She coralled no problem and really enjoyed herself. We competed as a pair and she acted as nanny to the other horse which was a 4 year old. I didn't attempt the controlled canter and opted to trot but she did a very creditable fast walk.
On the x country/obstacle phase we went under the simulated low branches, jumped a log and a ditch and rode up and down steps. She is going to really love it and is definitely going to enjoy jumping across country. She was very enthusiastic in a very well behaved way. Everyone agreed she is going to make a fantastic trec horse.
Was most chuffed to find we had finished 9th out of 20 pairs competing. We actually came first in the orienteering which shows how obliging Chatty was with standing still when checking the map and going at whatever pace I asked for.
As I said before, we got zero for our slow canter as we trotted. I just wanted to give her the experience of going through the flags and down the narrow strip marked on the ground but we got 14 out of 30 for our fast walk on the way back which is brilliant for a first effort. Quite often riders get zero for this as it is difficult to get the horses to march on without breaking pace.
Lastly we got 48 out of 160 for the PTV/Obstacles. We need to do some work on the S Bend and reinback etc and I did walk, rather than trot or canter these sections, again, to give her confidence. We got 30 time penalties and I missed out a scarey jump as we have only jumped a couple of logs and the water crossing which I had walked through with my wellies on and decided as it was very sucky mud, I didn't want to risk her shoes coming off.
I am so pleased with her. She was such a good girl. By the next competition at the end of May I will have taken her on a sponsored ride with small jumps along the way so she will be more confident in herself.
The attached photos are Chatty in her coral. The last one is after the event, letting her chill. As you can see she looks no worse for wear and very relaxed.
See you have lots of horses in training. Must be great to be able to get on now that the weather is beginning to cheer up.
Ohhhhhhh Avril she is simply wonderful there are no words to express how wonderful she is.
Eds and i went on our first hack out on our own yesterday with her. I have had several hacks out but as lessons and it really is something taking your horse out for the first time. She was magnificent so calm and responsive I could not have wished for anything more.
She already has several experienced riders who have her weekly as they like her SO much they also say what a honest horse she just wants to please.
I have had a couple of lessons in lunging her which was really exciting and she appears to have become very responsive to my voice and I think she knows me which is a marvellous feeling Avril.
I will send some photo's soon she is getting more white spots on her bottom with the sunny weather coming.
Anyway I hope the weather has been good for you guys and that it is all dry up there now!!!!!!
I will keep in touch Avril Love to you both
Mary & Eds xx
Maddie is doing wonderfully, she is just great. We've been hacking out for the past week and she is giving me more and more confidence in her as she takes everything in her stride and is so responsive to voice and aids.
She has been beautifully trained and I'm very grateful to you. She was a little 'spooky' in the first days, when we were handicapped by high winds, but has got better and better as we've gone on.
very best wishes,
Honor had a baptism of fire on her first morning. An adventurous cow decided to join her and Kai. It ran at the horses, and hurled itself at the fence trying to get back out. I finally diverted it to the garden where it smashed a wooden fence and ploughted up the lawn before leaving. Honor merely gave the cow a withering look which clearly said she was less than impressed!
When we let the her out with Kai on the first morning, they walked round the field for an hour, then they turned to face each other head on. Slowly and deliberately they rubbed foreheads together. Maybe you see this everyday, but I've never seen anything quite like it.
The first time we took them round the village, we met a huge skip lorry, a bus, and many more similar things, none of which caused her any concern. I see Honor as a stoic little being who just cracks on, and keeps her innermost feelings to herself.
Unbelievably the Hunt turned up at the weekend, and Honor just gave them anotherr one of her withering looks. We went a bit further on Sunday, and her trot is a wonderful thing, and Kai had to pick up her feet or risk getting left behind.
I would like to say thank you for having such trust to send us Honor unseen. We will give her the best life we can, and I think if she could talk ( I suspect it's only a matter of time now), she would tell you she is happy. She grows more relaxed by the hour now she's getting into our routine, and in all honesty no one could afford her now.
Not a good riding winter is it ? Honor has blossomed...as her confidence has increased so her need to lead on the road has decreased. This is good ! Ray can't hear a word I say if I lead.
Just being curious, do you know anything about Honor's previous life? I'm convinced Honor & myself were destined to meet....we are totally compatible ! Here's to spring,
Update on Thomas
I haven’t given you an update for ages on Thomas, so here goes!
We absolutely adore him! I cannot wait to go and see him at all times of the day (and it has been known that we do go down sometimes at 10 in the eve to check!).
His character is coming out a lot, he helps with the poo picking by pushing over the wheelbarrow especially when full! He nicks anything he can, keys, mobile phones etc! He’s a bit of flirt with a mare called Luna and prances around the field looking like a stallion!!!!
We think he has grown, infact I must get him measured as he is the same height as the mare who is 15hh. He looks wonderful at the moment, a big fluffball, so will give him a clip soon, just down his underneck area.
The girls have lessons on him everyweek, they are loving riding him on the lunge doing exercises riding without reins and stirrups etc. He is such a good boy, you have trained him so well. Their teacher teaches at Merrist Wood and would love to buy Thomas as he would be perfect for teaching the pupils there, but over our dead bodies!!!! He’s staying put forever!!
He’s scuh a good boy on hacks, is very calm with the girls, but gees up a bit for me! I think I have a hot seat! He doesn’t like bangs and fireworks and shoots off like a rocket but is not silly about them, and calms down quickly! We love him so much and cannot thank you enough for the amount of work and training you put into him. He has been perfect for us, and will continue to be so for a very long time! (although my eldest daughter is nearly taller than me!!!!!)
How are things with you? Have you moved?
I wanted to write to you personally to thank you so much for all the time you spent away from your busy shedule to spend time with my daughter and I.. Unfortunately due to the postal strikes I thought it was safer to email! So apologies.
As you know, I was very worried about finding a pony for my eleven year daughter Lottie as we had had two very unfortunate experiences in buying from the usual route of adverts in magazines..
I have to express my grateful thanks to you in restoring my faith in process.. having met you, Annie and your beautiful horses I have no hesitation being patient and waiting for you to find the right pony for her.. I am no longer going to look elsewhere... What hits you first, straight away is the calm on your yard even though there are quite a few horses in your care.. Every horse was relaxed and content and I have never seen such healthy looking coats..
Your knowledge and commitment to these horses and your training methods is a credit to you and quite clearly works as I saw for myself your new arrivals as well as your horses that were in the middle and at the end of their training.. Bertie whom my daughter rode so you could assess her ability and style was a real gem.. What a horse to not take advantage of a very slight young girl.. as you know she fell in love with him and was quite sad when you very honestly expressed your opinion that although he was a gentleman in all respects he was too big for her to have as her own .. dare I suggest unlike many horse trainers I have come across your honesty in finding the right horse for the right person is quite clearly paramount in your mind and not the sale.. in fact actually it is clear you are only prepared to part with your horses to the right person which is how it should be after all the work and love you have put into them..
Thank you so much again and Lottie and I look forward to coming down again when you feel you have something more suitable for Lottie. It has inspired me to get fit and get my riding boots back on! It was well worth the five hour journey to come to you and I wont begrudge doing the drive many times to see you in future.
Kai formerly known as Imala
I suspect that the key to any successful partnership is mutual respect....it's certainly the cornerstone of my relationship with Kai( Imala). She hasn't put a hoof wrong since she joined our family and I wouldn't trade her for the world to coin a phrase. Kai is like a seaside donkey with my young grandchildren but can move effortlessly up the gears when required...she is a sheer joy to ride. To know that this beautiful creature trusts me is humbling and I am permanently grateful that we stumbled across your web site.
Truly you should feel very proud that you and your horses have had such a postive influence on so many lives,to know that by your efforts you have made a difference.
Thank you again
I am well aware of the demands on your time but just to say, however, that I think you are absolutely marvellous and I just wish that all those selling horses were as conscientious and caring as you are. I look at your website for the sheer pleasure of seeing a job well done and horses who, thanks to your scrupulous preparation, are unlikely to find themselves on the scrapheap or "sold from the field" in years to come.
Yours sincerely, Dawn Perkins
I am also very pleased that JJ and I found each other. He is very well and settled in like he had always been with me. I am having lots of fun with him, we are hacking out three or four times a week and I have a weekly lesson. Poor JJ I also ride him every weekday before work, so through the summer he has been working twice a day sometimes. I do always make sure he has a least one day a week where he is not working. We are getting out and about in the horse box and enjoying some lovely rides followed by a picnic. A perfect way to spend a day.
We are also doing some low level competing in walk trot dressage competitions. JJ is a bit worried about the white boards at the moment so we will just keeping going with no expectations until he settles down and excepts them.
Thank you for JJ he is my perfect horse and I can’t quite believe we are doing so much together.
Firstly, please let me thank you for allowing me to purchase Royce three weeks ago.
He is the most loving horse I have ever met, he is so calm and respectful around my children ( my toddler insists on walking under neath him), around our dogs and other ponies. He adores my husband whom was terrified of horses but now thinks he is the horse whisperer.
Riding him is the the most joyous experience, he is mellow and so well behaved. His manners and schooling are impeccable. I can on my voice alone command him through his paces and I trust him completely.
My husband says that had he know having a horse would make me this happy he would have bought me one years ago. Your self and your team do a wonderful job and I am reaping the benefits. Do you train children as well? if so can I sign my three up please.
Thanks again for Royce he is the most beautiful horse in nature I have ever met. I am so full of happiness when I ride him its great, I forgot horses like him existed. I have never met a horse that will just have a cuddle for as long as he does
Best wishes Joanna and Royce
We adore Thomas! He is absolutely wonderful! He looks so well and has a nice rounded bottom now, and shines so beautifully! He is so kind and gentle with the girls, out hacking he is so safe and can cope with my weight!!!!
We are out on him everyday, be it a 10 min bomb around the paddock or a 1.5 hour hack. The girls are now safely cantering around the fields with big smiles on their face. He has such a lovely light mouth so they ride him very quietly which is lovely to see, no arms or legs flapping!
He is quite a character and nicks my keys all the time and takes off with them! He is lovely in the field and plays follow-my-leader and knocks out of the contents of the wheelbarrow when poo –picking! He’s everything you said he was and more, and we love him.
I hope all your plans go well, and look forward to hearing that you have settled into your new centre, which we will definitely come and see! Hope it is not too stressful for you. Will send you some pictures! Miranda
Nancy is a star and a real sweetie. I have been hacking on my own and with company. I have also had lessons with Petros in the school. He has been riding her as well. He calls her a Rolls Royce of a horse!
Hope your plans are going well for the Centre,
You'll laugh, Shane my partner is very taken with Phoebe, and wanted to catch her for me. He came walking down the field looking very pleased with himself. I said well done but I'm sure she'd be much more comfortable if both her ears were the same side of the top of her headcollar!
I think we're both going to get along fine. I'll keep in touch and let you know how we are getting along. Just had to let you know, I've had a look at utube and I think I'm going to have the best horse in the world.
In addition, what a lovely lot of horses you have, I don't think anyone should look any further than you to get that special horse.
I see you and Annie are busy with a string of beautiful- looking and sounding horses - just marvellous and just what most people need of course. I hope you advertise up here - you really should - there's such a need for women like myself.
Just to let you know Kate and Suki are still doing very well, Suki is now jumping small jumps well and is trying a few larger jumps now. You have gone along way to restoring Kate's confidence. She said that she has never felt so happy on a horse. She is very relaxed and happy out on hacks, and is a pleasure to own. She is a favourite in the neighbourhood, and likes to watch the goings on around her paddock. She is living with Martha's pony Roxy but is absolutely fine leaving her, even with Roxy calling after her.
Really enjoying having Lilly here with us. She’s a very nice girl, very good manners, kind disposition and a very nice ride too. Lily is looking very well and has settled in beautifully. Everyone loves her and she is such a kind, gentle soul. We are going to start schooling lessons together next week – watch this space!!!
Lily sends her love and I must tell you that one of my greyhounds has fallen in love with her, to the point, that she has to come out with me when I do anything with her. I’ve now trained her to walk alongside when we go out for a hack and she is in heaven!!