Although my love for horses begun at a young age, I was not born into a 'horsey' family.
I lived on a council estate in East London and the nearest I got to any equine interaction was when the Rag and Bone man came around once a week with his old horse and cart collecting scrap.
As soon as I heard him ring his hand bell I would rush out to stand with the horse while the man had his breakfast in the cafe opposite our house.
The horse would be given his breakfast in a nose bag that was hung from his head, I will never forget the aroma of sweaty horse and oats mixed with the smell of pungent manure being deposited on the road behind him.
I remember receiving a small book as a child printed by Ladybird; I think it was entitled’ Mad about ponies’ which contained illustrations and instructions on how to groom and ride.
I learned to ride from this book without ever sitting on a horse.
During a holiday with my Aunt I spotted a riding school and begged her to take me for a ride. In those days before Health & Safety went mad no-one even questioned my riding ability and I was chucked up onto a particularly opinionated pony. My sister and I rode off following a big group of about 10 riders and ponies.
That was quite an experience as the pony was only interested in diving into any edible foliage along the lane, planting himself and ripping the reins out of my hands as he grabbed the grass from the verges and leaves from trees; he even carted me into gardens tearing up their shrubs and flowers.
The lead girl broke a long twig from a tree and told me to give him a good whack and a kick next time he tried it.
Unfortunately my Ladybird book of ‘equitation’ did not cover this, and as I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about I tried the instructions that I had so avidly read in my Ladybird book and said ‘trooooot on’ whilst digging my heels into the ponies side......... after a very kind and understanding man recovered me and the pony from his trampled vegetable patch I was attached to the lead girl by a borrowed rope and we finally made it back to the yard.
Did it put me off? Not on your life I was an expert now!!
I yearned so much to ride, any opportunity I got to be with horses I eagerly sought, the police horses in the town, the horses being ridden in the carnival once a year and the old Rag and Bone horse all became
‘mine’ in my imagination. The highlight of my life was when the films about horses were shown on the television; Black Beauty and National Velvet were my all time favourite's.
At the age of 18 I was involved in a project that cleared marshland next to the River Thames to enable a City Farm to be constructed.
After the farm construction was completed I was elected to be a member of the Fund Raising and Management Committee.
"I feel honoured and blessed to have horses in my life and to have achieved my dreams.
My passion for horses has never waned and although it has been a difficult journey I am sure it has made me appreciate deeply how precious and totally awesome they are.
Only other horse lovers will understand that once a horse has stolen your heart there is nothing that can change how you feel and how all consuming the passion and the need to be with them is.
Some people are lucky to have been raised with horses, others like me, have had to strive harder to make their dreams come true........"
Horsemanship & Herd Dynamics
The City Farm was a great success and allowed children from the area to visit and interact with animals that most of them had never had the opportunity to meet in real life before.
The biggest attractions were the ponies and horses in the small riding school.
For the first time children from disadvantaged backgrounds were able to enjoy affordable riding lessons; for a couple of pound they could have a lesson. During the school holidays 'Pony Days' were organised where these children could ‘own’ their very own pony to care for and love for the day.
In addition to volunteering my services at the farm, my spare time from my work was spent schooling and training other people’s horses and taking private riding lessons in a British Horse Society training establishment.
My riding instructor suggested I work towards passing the BHS Instructors Qualification
Although I was able to teach at the City Farm riding school at weekends but it was impossible with working a full time job to make a dent in the 500 teaching hours the BHS course required me to undertake as part of the coursework.
After a number of years I decided to give up on the BHS route. My interest in the psychology of the horse had started to present me with questions that were not being addressed in the formal training I was receiving. Very little time was spent on horse psychology and no time at all on the behaviour and the complex relationships between horses and the herd hierarchy.
I have over 30 years experience working with horses as an owner, trainer and also as a proprietor of a livery yard and for the past 25 years I have studied and researched Equine Herd Dynamics, Psychology and Behaviour.
My unique method of horse training has been developed by observing and studying horses demonstrating their natural behaviours within a herd environment.
I incorporate the practices and education they understand and use with each other into my training and coaching.
I believe that appreciating and learning how they use body language to communicate is essential to developing relationships with horses that is based on mutual trust and respect; absolutely fundamental to establish before applying and practicing any method of horse training.
In 2006 I relocated from the UK to South West France where I have continued to help people with their horses both in person and on-line.
My presentations to groups on the subject of Herd Dynamics & Horse Psychology have proved very popular and I have been asked to run numerous training clinics throughout France.
My most recent project has been to set up the Susan Rainbird Academy of Horsemanship & Herd Dynamics.
You can browse all the Training and Coaching services I provide HERE
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