Puma's Story

I would like to share with you the journey of how my horse ‘Puma’ has changed my life.

“Life Begins at 40”. Now on reflection at the age of 54 I would agree, but in my 40th year I certainly didn’t think so! It was more a case of what else could go wrong!

In the February my long term relationship with my partner ended, on my Birthday in May I had to have my dog put down, in June my horse died of colic, in July I was made redundant from my highly paid job and in the October I bought Puma who after owning her for 2 days appeared to be a horse from hell!

I bought Puma from my friend Rosie and on the second day of owning her and before I had moved her to the livery yard where I was going to keep her, Rosie was bringing Puma in from the field when something startled her and she leapt up in the air and kicked out breaking Rosie’s arm, two ribs and puncturing a lung.

What had I bought?

The pattern started to unfold, Puma was very nervous, difficult to catch, spooky, took 4 hours to load, hated traffic, had an incredible buck that was like a gun going off and gave me whip lash in my neck, but despite all that I could take her to a competition and we always came home with ribbons. Great, so I have a horse that I can compete on, so long as I can catch her, load her, don’t meet any traffic and stay on when she bucked. Not what I would call a good relationship, but having spent my life with horses, BHS qualified and worked professionally in this country in every horse discipline I thought I was pretty good and nothing I couldn’t sort out. What I came to realize was that Puma had different ideas and my tough conventional methods where not going to work, the stronger I got with her, the worse she was and a whole catalogue of incidents pursued.

I kept Puma at Rosie’s farm as she was now incapacitated, due to my horse, so I could look after her other horses while she recovered. Very sadly I was not aware of how seriously depressed Rosie was, although her behavior was a little strange at times she never confided in any of her friends and 6 months after I had moved Puma from the farm, Rosie committed suicide. (Not because of Puma!)

Puma and I were not having much fun, she was very frightened of me and I of her, she was the most difficult horse I had ever had to cope with and something had to change before we killed each other.

The picture started to change

Fortunately at this time Kelly Marks was starting to run her courses so I signed myself up for all of them and with a huge change in my thinking and understanding of horse behavior the picture started to change. I understood the power of a look, a predator’s look at a prey animal and I could stop Puma biting me, I realized the importance of who moves whose feet and she stopped trying to kick me. This was a great relief!

My education took a bigger step when I followed Pat Parelli’s programme until I found my present trainer and mentor Ken Faulkner, with Ken’s continued teaching, including a visit to Australia where Ken is based in Esk, near Brisbane. I now have the most fantastic relationship with Puma, I can ride her bareback and bridleless, have hunted and show jumped her in a halter.

The trust, respect and partnership, Puma and I now have goes beyond all words

As my journey has evolved, and it has certainly not been without its ups and downs and getting it wrong, friends started to see the change in Puma and I, and they asked me to help them with their relationships with their horses. The riding club asked me to do a demonstration. My employers Mr lan and Sheila Watson gave me the opportunity to work with all four of their horses and have supported me on every step of this journey,

I no longer work for Ian and Sheila and this is where I am today,now working full time teaching others, travelling all over Devon, and into Cornwall and Somerset. Puma certainly has changed my life, I love what I do, my work and all the people who I teach, thanks to Puma.

This shows what can be achieved with a horse through understanding the horses psychology and what is important to them. Whilst I firmly believe horses are here to do a job, be it as a friend or to perform, by seeking first to understand, we can then be understood.