Deborah Biscomb – Case Study

“I’ve taken Sky out to a couple of competitions in the last month or so.  The first one was an unaffiliated one to see how she behaved and she didn’t put a foot wrong.  Then last Sunday I took her to her first affiliated competition in almost 18 months (actually 2 years since I last competed!) and again she was a really good girl!
I can’t pretend its been all plain sailing, we’ve had a few problems getting our canter transitions and she’s not always keen on going forwards, however, we haven’t had any repeat of the bad behaviour we used to get and the hopping hardly ever appears now.  She’s much more relaxed and I’m much more able to deal with her…. and when I start to feel her backing off, I simply remember to lift my hands up and forward and forget about a contact and let her go – both in trot and canter! 

We seem to have worked out a warm up that works for both of us and on Sunday she was just lovely, I could say almost back to how she used to be but actually, in reality I would say she was better than she’s ever been.  We may not have got the marks we used to, but to my mind, as the rider, she was softer and much more relaxed than she’s ever been before and although she did try to back off a couple of times, we didn’t panic, simply went back to basics and carried on and it worked!  Even though we could probably have done better, our objectives were achieved – I didn’t put pressure on either of us – didn’t override and consequently had a really good time.  We came 4th in our section (5th out of 15 overall)  and I can’t tell you how happy I am.  I’m getting very good at ignoring what most dressage riders tell you to do and just concentrating on what is working for us and remembering all the things you told me Michael!!!
You’ll also be pleased to know she’s an expert at doing gates – to the point that she thinks she know better than me what is required!!  And we are hacking out again – which although can be an interesting experience (to say the least) – we are getting braver and learning how to deal with scary monsters that want to leap out and eat horses!!
I have to say, I’ve come to realise that Sky (for all of her laziness), is an incredibly sensitive horse both physically and mentally and now I understand that, we are communicating much better.  I feel like I have learnt more in the last 4 months riding Sky than I’ve learnt in the whole of my previous riding experience and hopefully it will go on to make me a much better and more sensitive rider. 
So Michael, just wanted to say a big, big thank you for getting us back on track and although you probably don’t realise it, for teaching me so so much about how a horse really thinks and reacts to certain stimuli and the behaviour that can lead to!
I’ll let you know how we progress, I’m starting to get very excited about the future again and in a way trying not to, as I want to make sure I don’t expect too much, too quickly and forget just how far we’ve come.
Thanks so much for everything!”

Deborah Biscomb

Sky and Deborah’s story has also featured in Horse and Rider magazine, you can see other articles about Michael that have appeared in the press here.

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