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Like most little girls I loved horses and dreamed of owning one. Unfortunately I had to wait until I could afford to buy my own which meant that my dream came true after I was well into my 50’s.

I was so excited to find the Parelli method of training and riding horses (found through a trusty Google search of ‘help with horses’) because as a complete novice it gave me hope, inspired me, and motivated me. It made me think that owning a horse for the first time at my age was possible and that I could study my way towards competence. As an academic my MO has always been to study hard and achieve my goals with set timelines and a linear mind set. I soon found out that horses don’t really fit into this process!

The horse purchasing process was a small nightmare for someone who knows nothing about horses. I followed all the traditional advice and went to look at dozens of horses, had friends look at horses and had vets look at horses. I saw owners struggling to catch their horses, struggling to tack their horses and then struggling to stay on their horses. I soon realised that people only wanted to sell their horses if there was ‘something wrong’ with their horse (i.e. something wrong with their relationship with their horse). I thought, let’s take what Pat says about watching what everyone else does and doing the opposite, and put it into practice. So I bought a horse on the internet, a bit like you’d buy a cardigan. I looked at some videos, some photos, read the descriptions, and bought what I liked the look of, against all traditional advice.

Abby turned up in the transport truck and I have to say it was not love at first sight and I thought I had made a horrible mistake. She was defensive and sceptical of people, understandably. Someone had seen fit to shave off her mane – something I didn’t even realise people did to horses! I took a deep breath and followed the Parelli method and started playing the 7 games with her. Of course my practical skills were laughable and I think I did catch Abby laughing a good few times, however I persisted.

2 years on I now love and respect Abby for all she’s taught me and all she’s put up with. She makes a lovely nickering noise when she sees me now and I think she actually likes me. I achieved my goal of attending a couple of beginner Parelli courses at Wilton with Neil Pye in June and July of 2017, which were fantastic. I think I make a passable attempt at level 1 (on a good day) and have even managed some level 2 stuff. There are still ups and downs (like discovering I had been sold a duffer of a saddle which made Abby’s back really sore) but on the whole the journey has well and truly started. I have appreciated every single tip I have faithfully watched on my training videos, like how to pick up Abby’s feet to clean them. You who have had horses since you were kids may not realise, but when you are starting from scratch these bits of information make life so good for Abby and me.

I aim to attend lots more courses at Wilton when I can fit them in around work. I was privileged to meet some great people at the courses and found it so encouraging that I wasn’t the only beginner struggling to make progress. Neil has such a sense of humour making me laugh long and loud, and is an excellent teacher. I could easily spend all my spare time and money at Wilton, and love every minute of it.

Thanks to Pat, Linda and Neil for all helping to make dreams come true.
Now I just need to learn to ride …….

Judy Stone, NSW, Australia.