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Spirit


This post is all about my beautiful mare Esprit (meaning spirit in French) – or Essie as I call her.

She is a very sassy, gorgeous (and she knows it) chestnut Quarab mare that I adopted in 2016 from Save A Horse Australia as an unbroken 3-year-old. I hadn’t meant to get a 14hh unbroken rescue horse. In fact when I went to see her I thought she was broken in.

I had been searching for a Gypsy Cob or similar heavy horse breed that I could just get on and ride given my job kept me quite busy and I had to agist 20 minutes from my place. However, I can remember meeting Essie. The visit didn’t take very long as you can’t really “try out” an unbroken horse, but I left with an overwhelming feeling that she was the right one, despite being the very wrong one on paper.

I am so glad I listened to that intuition. She is honestly one in a million and has taught me so much more, and made me grow so much more, than I could have ever dreamed.

We did a lot of groundwork for about 6 months, and then I sent her away to be started.

Once she was back I was riding regularly, however I noticed that she was progressively becoming more and more spooky. This in turn increased my anxiety about riding, and things started to go downhill.

About 8 months later I started looking for some help and came across the Confident Rider program on facebook. I did a 5 day free starter program and found just what I learnt in that to be valuable so I signed up. My anxiety had really started to impact my riding.

About 8 months later I started looking for some help and came across the Confident Rider program on facebook. I did a 5 day free starter program and found just what I learnt in that to be valuable so I signed up. My anxiety had really started to impact my riding and I wasn’t enjoying it like I used to.

Around a similar time I also started following Warwick Schiller’s ‘Stick to the Damn Plan’. What I learnt there had me making some improvements with Essie, starting with getting our ground work solid, something I had been neglecting since she was broken in.


Essie and I also faced a challenge with the float. She decided that the float was not a safe place and refused to go in. It took me probably 18 months total, but 6 months of really persistent, regular work with her to get her to confidently self load. It was on this journey that we started using clicker training and I have never looked back.

Combining all of these things together we both made steady progress and started having regular dressage lessons with a wonderful coach. The improvement we made from our first lesson – where I was nothing but a massive bundle of anxiety and nerves – to the last at 20 weeks pregnant is phenomenal.

My dreams with Essie are to compete in dressage and to confidently go out on the trail any time, any where.

About 8 months later I started looking for some help and came across the Confident Rider program on facebook. I did a 5 day free starter program and found just what I learnt in that to be valuable so I signed up. My anxiety had really started to impact my riding.

Around a similar time I also started following Warwick Schiller’s ‘Stick to the Damn Plan’, and what I learnt there had me making some improvements with Essie, starting with getting our ground work solid. Something I had been neglecting since she was broken in.

Essie and I also faced a challenge with the float. She decided that the float was not a safe place and refused to go in. It took me probably 18 months total, but 6 months of really persistent, regular work with her to get her to confidently self load. It was on this journey that we started using Clicker training and I have never looked back.

Combining all of these things together we both made steady progress and started having regular dressage lessons with a wonderful coach. The improvement we made from our first lesson – where I was nothing but a massive bundle of anxiety and nerves – to the last at 20 weeks pregnant is phenomenal.

My dreams with Essie are to compete in dressage and to confidently trail ride any time, any where. When I fell pregnant we were at the stage where we could start going out and competing in our first prep classes. I had also progressively been working on trail riding.

These things stopped with the pregnancy, and so, part of my getting back into riding with Essie is to send her off to a brilliant local trainer to come back into work and practice going out and about.

Hayley, from Outback Equines, is an experienced horsewoman who uses positive reinforcement and has the horse’s wellbeing first in her mind. She trains 100% in alignment with how I want my horse treated. I can’t wait to work with her. Essie is heading off next week.

And so the journey begins once again to navigate my way back to being a confident rider. As Warwick Schiller says, Journey On.

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