The horses lie at the heart of everything we do at HorseBack UK. They are trained using a variation on techniques and although calm and quiet are extremely responsive when being worked on the ground or ridden.
Learning to work with a horse is one of the most intricate and challenging things anyone can do. Gaining its trust, teaching it to follow you and respond to your signals, requires a combination of confidence, calm, patience, and thought.
Once the relationship is built, the sense of achievement it brings to our participants is profound. Many of them find it hard to put the precise effect into words. “Fantastic”, “Brilliant”, “Emotional” is the most heard reactions, but it is their smiles that tell the full story.
Red is a beautiful bright bay mare who is extremely sensitive and clever. She is always eager to come and greet people at the gate and is genuinely pleased to see new faces. As one of the older mares she is well respected amongst the other horses, is never moody or grumpy, and is a very reliable character. She’s extremely popular on the courses.
Rooster or Loriner
Deano or Master
Brooke or Peopleton Brooke as he was once known is a retired racehorse. He competed in over 90 sprint races, winning 15 and being placed in more. At the end of his career he suffered a tendon injury and was turned out. In 2014 Brooke came to HorseBack UK via Retraining of Racehorses.
The idea was to give a horse who had been at the peak of his career a chance at another career. For the first few months Brooke was just turned out into the herd where he had to learn to interact with the horses. Once he had discovered that they were not interested in how fast he could run he calmed down and following several years working with Jock is now a regular course horse. He was recently awarded the ROR (Retraining of Racehorses) Special Recognition Award.
Niño was imported from Argentina by our vet Jim Dukes, to work as a polo pony. Having done that for a number of years he developed a condition on his back legs which meant he was not up to the rigours of polo, so he came to HorseBack to enrol in a very different line of work. Somewhere in his past, someone was rough with him. Occasionally the memory of this surfaces, and he can get a little head-shy and difficult to catch. Because of this, he responds well to firm but extremely gentle handling. Interestingly, the veterans who work with him, especially those with PTSD, respond to him on a very emotional level.
They can tell that he once went through some trauma just as they have, and it creates a profound bond of shared experience. It’s always touching to see a horse who has suffered in the past still retaining all their trust in humans. The team joke about him is that he is particularly happy if you address him in Spanish. When he first arrived he was hogged, but now he has the strength of Samson in his flowing mane.