Out of the Box Training

An experience by an Endurance Rider with the use of one arm when she decided to buy an unbroken horse and send to Ben for training…..

“It was in February 2012 that I was told that my “pocket rocket’ Arab cross mare could no longer compete in endurance. Our years of endurance competitions were over.

After the shock I became reconciled to buying a new horse. I looked back at my previous horses (still had my 20 year old Appy mare) and realized I had slowly progressed from safe to somewhat demanding to quite challenging and could now possibly handle an Arab.

However, not just any Arab, this horse had to be stunningly beautiful. I admit superficial, but at 61 I really wanted gorgeous. With my trusty horse mentor and friend in tow we began the great horse hunt. My list was level-headed gelding (tired of the squeals and moods of mares) brown (bay or chestnut) and DEFINITELY started (broken in).

After months of searching and travelling the North Island, I could not find what I was looking for in a horse (and did not trust that some horses advertised were not quite telling the whole truth).

I had talked to a trusty friend and mentor who mentioned that it was preferable to buy an unbroken horse and have someone good start it, than buy a green broke which would still require further training including neck reining (important when you have the use of one arm).

So I bought a 6 year old chestnut gelding (tick first two)….who was unbroken…but this boy from the Gerzanne stud was very lovely.

I had seen the very person I needed for training at the first Equidays 2011 working with an appaloosa which was going berserk. Ben Longwell’s quiet unflappable manner was impressive as we watched him over the three long sessions.

I took my new boy to Ben with a list of “special” requirements. Not only did he need a solid foundation in his starting, but additional training like haltering or bridling with one arm, mounting unassisted, neck reining etc, which I am sure was a little challenging to start, but over the following weeks Ben performed magic. I visited several times to watch the training and saw him take a very green young reactive horse and turn him into a responsive relaxed horse that was more than willing to please.

I knew the challenge of taking on an unbroken horse was a huge adventure. I read manuals, watched endless training DVDs and spoke to many trusted horse friends. I well remember the first day of his arrival on a transporter and gingerly leading him to his new paddock, handling him over the following weeks, walking him through every gate on the property before taking him to Ben.

After his time with Ben we are now out and about, riding one handed and enjoying rides in company. He has proved thus far to be unflappable and very responsive.

I would recommend to anyone thinking of starting a young horse to do careful research and focus on a limited number of experts to read or listen to (thus avoiding overload or confusion). Have someone who has knowledge and experience and time to help you. Take time, hours and hours of time repeating the simplest of instructions. Lastly and certainly not least, budget for both the price of the horse and good training. The latter is without doubt a sound investment.”