NEIL’S HORSE TRAINING HISTORY
By Christine Davies
I’ve known Neil since he was twenty and shared his love of horses for all those years.
While I rode my nicely trained (by Neil) horse five or six days each week, Neil rode at least eight or nine ‘outside’ horses that came to our stables for training and then he rode four or five of his own campdraft horses.
Day after day, month after month, year in year out.
Horse-wise, what he hasn’t seen and dealt with isn’t worth talking about.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen Neil bitten, kicked, struck, trodden on, knocked down and run over by this horse or that horse.
And don’t start me on some of the terrified, badly-handled horses that he’s had to ride while they leaped, bounded, kicked-up, bucked, reared and bolted.
I’ve watched him start hundreds of over-fed, agitated, beautifully bred thoroughbred yearlings under saddle.
Sometimes there’d be a grass-stained shirt in the laundry, where a young horse had fallen with him.
If I asked Neil what happened, he always said it wasn’t worth mentioning. He’s certainly learned what he knows by years and years of hands-on experience.
During his lifetime of working with horses, I believe the biggest thing that Neil has learned is to blame himself and to keep his temper, in every training situation.
He doesn’t blame any horse when things go wrong. He doesn’t shout or punish any horse or say that they’re mad or bad.
He deals with every horse training situation in the same way –he teaches every horse to be relaxed and confident with humans.
And the weird thing is, after a few lessons, all the horses start to look the same.
The littlest foal through to the oldest, most terrified, beaten-up horse all learn to enjoy having their head rubbed and learn to keep their head with Neil.
It’s always wonderful to watch when each horse comes to understand that they have something consistent and comforting to rely on in every situation.
Cute little foals look even cuter with their head cuddled confidently on Neil but it’s really, really brilliant to watch an older, frightened horse discover the same safe place where he can finally relax and know some kindness.