Testimonial – Tracy Whelan and Missy

Since first casting my eyes on Missy four years ago, I have been on an emotional roller coaster of high and low points. As soon as I saw her I was taken aback by her big character and spirit. This is a little lady with a lot of presence!

Over the last four years we have developed an incredible bond which has seen us through some very dark times, underpinned by injury, and many false starts into her becoming a ‘riding’ horse because of behavioural ‘problems’.

Throughout this time I have also had many positives and always knew she would be with me forever. I made it my mission to piece together the jigsaw that would lead to my equine partner being happy and content with herself and the world in general.

Here I had a sensitive horse who I would jokingly describe as being misunderstood when the labels were predictably attached to her (and me) and well-meaning advice was aplenty. That included things like:

‘She’s too much horse’

’She will give you a bad reputation’

’She’s sharp…green…naughty”

’It needs a foal and get rid’

’Get her shot’

I’ve heard them all.

Still I persevered, albeit despondently, as I found myself down more and more training dead ends. That is until I met Max and discovered the power of positive reinforcement training.

On a wet and cold winter’s day in January 2014 I drove across the country to participate in Max’s two day ‘How Animals Learn’ workshop.

At this point I was at my lowest ebb after unsuccessfully trying to ride her again after a break of over a year. She just couldn’t cope and I was desperate to find an answer as to why.

I certainly found it and much more besides!

I couldn’t wait to return home to start my journey into positive reinforcement training. I very quickly booked a one to one session with Max which consisted of a tailored programme to suit Missy and my needs. Within a very short space of time it became very apparent to me that this approach was going to work. Max was so astute in establishing where things had gone wrong and more importantly why. I had the answers to what was making my horse tick.

I have learnt so much about not only Missy, but myself too this year. I have been able to step back and evaluate my management and training methods and this has dramatically impacted on what I do and how I do it. My horse has been transformed, so much so that I now struggle to remember how she was and how we struggled. She is keen and eager to learn. She has inquisitive and bright outlook and her life has been enriched to such a level that she is calm, relaxed and settled in all manner of situations.

I have progressed from not even being able to take Missy’s saddle out of the tack room for fear of what might happen, to confidently riding her as a willing partner almost daily.

So to cut a very long story short, this year I found the missing piece of the jigsaw. The picture just keeps getting bigger and brighter with more pieces going in day by day. I am so excited about what is to come and the prospect of learning more.

From a very happy student of horse charming and her charmed horse!

Tracy & Missy.