Emma McLean

PicsArt_02-10-04.01.42Emma is our trainer based in Essex, UK

I grew up watching my mum do pleasure riding until she retired from it aged 36 due to an accident that left her with permenant physical problems.

I always wanted to ride as a child and my mum would make reins from dressing gown ropes and help me practice on the arm of the sofa.

On Sundays when I was around 8 years old she and I would cycle several miles (me with my hat and boots already on) to the local stables for me to have a lesson. Even then I was competitive and wanted to progress all the time.

I rode until I was about 13 years old then had a long break till I was 25 years old. I then started helping other people and part loaning until I got my first loan horse Ace a couple years later.

His owner lived quite some distance away so to all intents and purposes he was mine for 3 years. He was an amazing and beautiful animal and we had success at local level shows together.

When he was very sadly and suddenly put to sleep I searched to find another horse that might help fill the hole he had left.

 I took advice from vets, trainers and knowledgeable people. My objective at that time was to buy a young horse I could bring on for dressage competition. I found a local woman who was retraining ex racers for riding and tried a couple of her horses for sale.

I immediately was drawn to Flynn as he seemed laid back but very friendly and gentle. I had a 5 stage vetting and my vet commented that I could not possibly find a more relaxed nice natured horse.

Flynn passed the vetting with flying colours so after about 6 different viewings and taking him out in a trailer I decided to go ahead. I did not embark on his purchase lightly as he was to be my first legally owned horse.

Very quickly, in truth before I even had him vetted,  I felt there was something wrong with him but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked lots of people why he felt so strange to ride and I was told “that’s just ex racers” So when he passed the vetting I thought they must be right.Within a few short weeks of getting him home I knew there was definately something wrong. Flynn was starting to emerge from a shut down state, his behaviour was dramatically different and physically he felt terrible to ride.

He had also bolted on a hack and could have killed us both as we were flat out on a road towards a busy junction. My first lesson in trigger stacking!

The next 6 months involved trips to Newmarket, full diagnostics for lameness and treatment for grade 4 ulcers. Oh and a kick to the chest and crack to the sternum for me.

I changed everything I needed to change to get him physically well and he came sound and his ulcers went and haven’t returned (to the best of my knowledge).

However I was still left with a very emotionally traumatised horse that I had grown quite frightened of.

I searched for answers online and found clicker training and positive reinforcement. Back then I couldn’t tell the difference between good +R training and not so good.

 I kept seeing the name Max Easey and she seemed to know her stuff. Her and one of her team kept drip feeding me information via the training groups and I eventually contacted Max and filled in the pre-visit questionaire.
Max told me in no uncertain terms that I had many more changes to make in order to transition to +R training.
At that time I wasn’t quite ready to let go of all my old ideas and training methods. Max has a saying “sometimes we need to let the horse do the training” and this is what Flynn did.

He showed me over the next few weeks that my old ideas were going to get me nowhere with him, apart from a trip to A&E.

By this time I was expecting my daughter and I decided that getting injured was the last thing I needed so I contacted Max back to say that I was ready to do whatever it took and follow all her advice.

My first 6 months of +R I really struggled to let go of my competitive streak. I always wanted to rush ahead and get behaviour trained without really having the right emotions luckily my coach did not let me get away with this.

 I often felt like giving up. The turning point came for us when I started using consent training with Flynn and I was given a way to speak to him and began to understand how to really read his emotions.

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I had also started using +R with my old rescue horse Maggie and was making great progress with her on hoof handling and could see how much she enjoyed it.

I couldn’t tell you the exact moment everything fell into place for me but it did and now I know I could never go back to traditional training. I have spent alot of time reading the science and understanding how different methods affect the psychology of the animal.
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I’m working to reduce aversives in my horses lives where ever possible and I am commited to enriching their lives and helping them to feel safer in the world.

It was something of a distant dream for me to work for Max as a Horse Charming Professional. However I was very fortunate to be invited to join the team this year and I am already enjoying helping clients and their horses both locally and around the world via online coaching.

Mobile number:  07580054177

Email:  e.bloomfield1985@gmail.com