2020 A Year In Review

2020 A Year In Review


We don’t need to tell you that 2020 has been a difficult year. We have missed our guests and hosting Courses but were totally heartened by the wonderful support you all demonstrated in our COVID-19 Hay Appeal. We are truly grateful to each and every one of you. We want to let you know how things are now and review the changes and developments in her herd during the last year.

Let's start with Selena and Maverick!

FINALLY, we have weaned Maverick!!!!! He was 3 in July, and our previous attempts to wean him had failed, because he is one determined mule! Maverick was already used to spending time away from Selena during the day where he could still see her and chat over the fence if they wanted. Being the clever soul he is, he had worked out that during dry spells the fence wouldn’t give much of a zap and therefore he’d go through it to his Mum and other herd members. He learns very quickly and, in the past, has worked out where the weak spots are in the fencing system. We needed to ensure for successful weaning that that wouldn’t happen. But weaning Mav had become important for physical well-being. We were finding it difficult keeping condition on her as Mav was still suckling and eating the food out of her bucket.
Finally, by the end of October, we had a period of wet weather so the fence was working properly and he wouldn’t go through it. We put Selena with Manuela in two paddocks and turned Mav out into the Wilderness, just over the fence, with young Libby. It took a while for him to settle and to start to bond with Libby but we gave them lots of hay and training sessions and eventually he stopped hanging around as close to his mum as he could get.
However, Selena never looked back! Since separating them she has put on condition and is a more relaxed mare. She loves her training time and we are able to work with her on a more consistent basis. We are focusing on walking out and gymnastic groundwork, to bring her body’s strength and straightness back, ready for working towards having tack on once more and riding preparation.
Maverick is also enjoying his training. He loves to learn new things and is always quite sad when the game has to end. But he also gets bored quickly, so we have to have a few different games to play in his sessions. He loves choosing his colours and is learning to fetch, while also learning the more formal good leading manners.

After Mav was more settled, we turned Manuela out into the Wilderness Paddock with Manuela and Libby too. They are forming a funny group as, Manuela being the oldest at 6 years old, is like an Auntie to them both, whilst Mav (3) and Libby (2) bicker like siblings. It is a fun dynamic to watch the relationships grow and develop.

At the end of June Tiny made the long journey to his forever home in Sweden with CT Coach Angelica Hesselius. It has been a long time coming, due to various circumstances and we wanted to make sure that Tiny was equipped with the skills he would need for the journey. We worked with him on loading, eating out of hay nets, being led by different people, stable training, and responding to a feel on the rope, all without treats. He travelled well and has settled in with Angelica’s other horses really well. We miss his cheeky face and character, but are so happy that he has such a wonderful home for the rest of his life.
During October we had an unexpected and incredibly sad change in the herd. Our superstar pony Valiente died after having colic. It was a big shock to the herd as he was always an instigator of play and had been here the longest, so he showed newcomers what to do and how they could relax and feel safe in their new environment. He also had strong bonds with Manuela and Maverick in particular.
When he died we made sure that the herd had plenty of time to say goodbye to him. Then we buried him out in the Wilderness Paddock alongside Segura. Afterwards, the whole place seemed noticeably quiet and empty without the little guy. However, after a few days, the herd adapted and are settled and content again.
It has been an absolute privilege to have been able to work with Valiente. He has shown the world what is possible with Connection Training and he has inspired many people to try working in Protected Contact with their horses. His legacy will live on as there are so many videos he features in which are used to teach people about rehabilitation, hoof trimming and protected contact.

We have started the Valiente Memorial Scholarship Fund in his memory. We wish to raise funds to support equine charity staff and adopters of rescued horses to train in positive reinforcement with us. At first, this will all be online, due to COVID-19, but we will also provide residential courses and internships when we can.

Triana and Pegaso
At the beginning of this year, we asked our vet to come out and give these two a check-up. We’d noticed lumps in between ribs towards the end of the rib cage on both horses. Triana’s was quite a cluster, whilst Pegaso had a couple of singular lumps in a similar place.
The vet concluded that Pegaso and Triana have melanomas that have metastasized, which means they are spreading internally. Triana now has more, in bigger clusters in between her ribs, suggesting that they are actively growing. She also has ovarian issues, which create very hormonal behaviour, which has been worsening too. Although Pegaso has less melanoma, he has other long-term issues involving his digestive tract, which caused him to periodically colic or have diarrhea.
They are complicated cases due to their physical issues having a direct impact on their behavioural and emotional wellbeing. The vet came back later in the year to see them as Triana’s melanoma had grown and spread to different places too and Pegaso wasn’t keeping weight on. Sadly, his prognosis was not optimistic.
We will get the vet back in the new Year and run more tests and physical examinations. We are busy training them both to help them through the process. We know from what the vet has already said that they are both life limited. We hope that the tests in January will provide information as to the course of the problems and we can, with the help of the vet, work out the best way to keep them pain-free and happy as long as we can.
It has been a bit of a shock emotionally and financially to have two horses at once with ongoing issues as serious as Pegaso and Triana when we have a small herd in the first place. We will continue to monitor them and provide the best of everything for them, including lots of fun enrichment and games.


During Lock Down this year, we weren’t allowed to ride the horses which was frustrating as Manuela was at the right stage for micro rides in the arena. We made the best of it though and did some riding from the ground instead and playing at the mounting block. This built Manuela’s confidence and calmness so that when we were able to ride, 11-year-old Eva (Claire’s daughter) could start getting her confidence around the mounting block, getting on board and doing some micro rides. Manuela was a rock for her so Eva could take her time and feel confident calm and happy about the exercises. It has been a delight to watch their relationship blossom and so the New Year will be a really exciting time.

In October, Leo traveled to the UK to be with her owner Sue who has moved there permanently. We were sad to see Leo go, but happy that she was going to be with Sue once more. Leo has been a key horse when we have been running courses and has helped so many people with gymnastic groundwork. Her sensitivity brought out the best in people. Leo connected with guests at a deep level within short sessions, guided by Claire. Guests said that they had never experienced such a connection before and were able to learn to be at their best for horses as Leo gave such rewarding responses. It was deeply emotional and wonderful for so many.

Day 1.....
At the beginning of the summer 2-year-old Libby arrived with us from A.R.C.H rescue centre in Malaga. She was at the centre of a court case after being found in disgusting conditions and had been confiscated by the police.
Libby was extremely thin and weak from lack of food and movement for a horse of her age. She was also unable to “speak horse” as she had never been socialised with other horses after early weaning. Although we tried to put her with a companion, she just didn’t know the appropriate language signs and we had to remove them. So she spent the first few months in her own paddock where she felt safe didn’t feel the need to resource guard any food. The rest of the herd were just over the fence so they could chat and touch easily as and when she wanted.
As Libby gained weight her confidence grew, but she was unsure about humans around her hay sometimes. Given time and calmness Libby has relaxed with us around her hay in the field. After the hot summer when the rains arrived, we weaned Maverick which gave us the perfect opportunity to put Libby out with him in the 15-acre Wilderness Paddock. The transition went really well and now Manuela is out with them too. She seems to have acquired all the “horse language” she needs now and is relaxed and playful with them.
We have started doing some basic stationary targeting and headcollar work with Libby recently. We had tried earlier on in the year, but felt that Libby hadn’t had enough time to decompress after moving here and was too stressed to learn easily. She is really keen now and quick to learn. If you pout a target in the paddock, she is straight there and ready to go.  She is physically strong, moves beautifully and keeps Maverick in check, for which we are grateful!
and 3 Months later.....
And what does 2021 hold for us?

Like you, we are bitterly disappointed that Covid-19 is still reigning our lives. We had started to set Courses up for this Spring but will now have to cancel them because of increased travel restrictions again. We are both doing more online teaching and are loving getting to know our students and helping with their progress. This brings in a little personal income but it does not give us the amount we need to keep the horses, especially with some serious vet bills looming.

So we need to ask you again if you will help us. We really thought that we would be able to be back on track by now, with deposits for Courses enabling us to buy the hay and straw we need for the rest of the winter. Then the income from the Courses would have carried us through the summer and we’d be in a much more secure financial position.

We already have about 100 Euros/month coming in from our regular donors and we are very grateful for that. We are asking if you would like to join this wonderful support team? We need to get to an income of 500 Euros/month to be financially secure for simply keeping the horses. Please help us by donating a regular monthly amount for 2021, or until we can self-finance again. You can donate 
HERE and we are grateful for all amounts, however small. With your help, we can carry on supporting the horses we have and develop our teaching programme to bring positive horse training to many more charities.

Thank you for supporting us this year and all the best to you for 2021,
Rachel and Claire and all the hairy ones.

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