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How I tamed the horse no-one could ride

Jane with Renaissance and Jack

Jane with Renaissance and Jack

Local animal behaviourist Janis Paton tells, in her own words,  the story of how she tamed a horse no-one could ride. Janis lives in London Road.
After a decade of poor health and poor decisions, life was finally on the up and I was ready to own a horse again. My dilemma was that I knew I could never afford the horse I would want until I saw a piece in Horse and Hound about a beautiful chestnut mare that no-one could ride. A long conversation with her owners led me to Surrey and the horse of my dreams. As I pulled open the huge barn doors and the sun flooded in on her gleaming coat I gasped! She looked up and neighed at me. I walked towards her offering my hand and a smile. She cautiously sniffed my hand. I tickled her cheek – contact was established.
At the end of the day I was told the decision was made; she was coming home. The next day she was delivered. The first thing I did was turn her out into a large field with a few other horses. I watched in awe as this huge and powerful horse did circuits of the field.
For two whole weeks I stayed in that field, allowing her to get used to me. Other riders would say, “What on earth are you doing?” “Falling in love,” I would reply.
Others wondered whether I was too scared to get on her, but I was longing to. Eventually the day came. I put a saddle on her and took her into the sand school – softer landings! More whispers and tickles, and I gently put my foot in the stirrup and, swinging my leg over her rump, sat softly in the saddle.
I was up there and she hadn’t thrown me off; hadn’t done a thing. I was ecstatic. We wandered together around the school happily trusting each other. She progressed quickly and we were soon ready for the outside world, so I rode her across the farm and down to the marshes, trotting through the long grass and cantering on and on through huge pools of bright water and between tall pines. We ambled back at a cooling walk with me singing to her all the way.   
Friends drew my attention to a “Ridden Young Stock” class in a local show. Surely we weren’t ready to compete already? However, the day of the show found me up with the sparrows and in the yard plaiting her mane and making her gleam. She went beautifully for me in the show-ring. When the judges presented us with the big red rosette and trophy there was a huge lump in my throat.
Two weeks later we competed in a larger show. This time she won both her classes and the supreme championship. I was in heaven – I still am after many more shows and championships. We’ve stopped competing now. We spend sunny days full of blue skies and birdsong riding through the forest and lanes, and yes, I still sing to her, my wonderful, beautiful horse of a lifetime- Renaissance.   

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