Sorry, this is a long story about both me and my horse’s lost and regained confidence…
Merlina is a some what troubled horse bred in Holland out of noble stock for show jumping, she started her career early and intensely at the age of 3. She was quickly imported to the UK and was jumped by professional riders up until the age of 6, this is when she came into my life.
I was at college at the time and intended to do affiliated dressage and possibly a bit of eventing with Merlina but she was difficult from the start. She would buck and rear but I persevered and manage a few unaffliated dressage competitions with varying success, but she was too timid for the eventing and soon discovered that she was best behaved when showjumping so I affiliated to the BSJA and jumped her for a few years taking her up to Newcomer level (1m15ish). However after a fall in a competition, her behavior suddenly became worse and we began to think something may be wrong, the vet came out but didn’t find anything. After another year of struggling, being thrown off and generally losing control, AND several different vets Merlina went into hospital for bone scans and it transpired that she had a sacroiliac joint strain bordering on kissing spine, so her behavior had been pain related, but by this time my confidence had been shattered. Vets prescribed rest but couldn’t say for how long or if she would ever be ridden again. I tried breeding from her but she didn’t take and eventually my mother and I came to the difficult decision to sell her as a companion only to what we thought would be a home forever in Kent and explained that she had always been difficult to ride and she was best suited to be a permanent companion.
6 years later we received a letter asking about her from new owners in Norfolk (as we were still the registered owners in the passport) who had bought her as a riding horse for a novice from a dealer. Merlina had done one of her leaping fly bucks and she wanted to know her history, so we filled her in. Merlina had to go back to the dealer, I was heart broken and was keen to get her back to save her from suffering and offered to buy her from the dealer for what she was worth as a companion, the dealer didn’t want anything to do with us.
My mum made a website asking if anyone had information on her whereabouts in the hope that we would eventually find her, it was a long shot and we didn’t actually expect it to work.
Another year on and we got an email from people who currently owned her in Coventry. They had bought her from a dealer believing her to be called Polly an Irish draft x TB and had a passport to prove it. They had had her for a year as a project horse and had got on well with her as they were very sympathetic riders, the problem was when the came to try and sell her they couldn’t find many suitable buyers who could cope with her quirky attitude and the fact that she wouldn’t hack out. They eventually found a buyer who had her vetted, but it was then that her microchip was discovered and her true identity came to light. They did a search and found my mums website and so contacted us.
So shortly after in November 2009 Merlina returned to me and I started my Parelli journey. She responded amazingly well to the online games but the memories of her behaviour before kept me from having the confidence to get back on her even though we had her back thoroughly checked and knew she was sound.
Eventually in March 2011, I sent her to James Roberts, a Parelli Professional, to be re-started. That was the best decision of my life and he has worked wonders with her (and me!), she can still be slightly cranky but is generally happy to be ridden now as long as its in the sympathetic way which James has taught me. James has also given me my confidence back and in August 2012 invited us back to a weekend Savvy Camp , by the end of the weekend we had more than 20 horses in the arena all being ridden without bridles, halters or natural hackamores, and we were all under control!! That is something I never thought I would be able to do! We have since been back to James’ numerous times for experience weeks, we have also been on the beach and I rode Merlina bareback in just a rope halter, our relationship is progressing extremely well and I hope to gain my Parelli Level 4 with Merlina soon.
Top photo taken by Gill Langridge http://www.gmlimages.co.uk/
Lower photo taken by Clare Spelling http://images.clairespelling.com/