Spotlight on Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Associate
Intelligent Horsemanship Magazine meets John Jones RA for Herefordshire, South Wales, and West Midlands
Being a Recommended Associate for the Intelligent Horsemanship Association doesn’t just mean they fix problems. The IH Ras also have expertise in other areas of the horse world, and IH positively encourages this breadth of knowledge. It’s not uncommon to find one of our RAs teaching Dressage, practising physiotherapy, working with children with learning difficulties, or in John’s case, a love and a passion for western riding techniques. RA spotlight recently caught up with John after a sucessful Monty Roberts’s tour and asked….
IH: How did you end up working with horses?
John: I got into horses a long time ago! Horses and animals have always been a big part of my life. I guess my first memories of horses and being interested in them are of the horses and carts that delivered the milk and coal to my grandmother’s house, a real glimpse of the old world. As a kid we were all hooked on westerns and used to act them out my horse being a broomstick. Then when I was older we lived on a hunt yard where my Dad worked and I used to help exercise the hunt horses with the grooms. There is a story about my first horse in Kelly Mark’s book Perfect Partners. I have always been drawn to horses, I think to be an RA you have to be passionate about horses.
IH: You mention getting hooked on Westerns, do you use this as inspiration in your horse work and does it take you down a certain type of horse work?
John: The work I do is so varied, I get great satisfaction helping horses and people succeed together. I do really enjoy handling untouched horses and ponies, it is so rewarding when you gain their trust. I teach on the IH Handling the Untouched Horse Course in Whitney with Ian Vandenberghe and Rosie Jones which is great fun especially helping the students really get in tune with the horses. I ride my own horses western and bitless. I really like looking at different approaches and a lot of my inspiration has come from the great western trainers like Tom Dorrance, Bill Dorrance and Ray Hunt.
IH: With such varied work, can you give the readers an idea of what a typical RA day looks like for you?
John: The first job is to check on the horses on my yard, the horses in training and my own herd. I meet Daisy on the yard who works with me (she has been working with me for about 10 years) and we talk through the plans for that day and what needs to be done. Then we either prepare to go on a visit or work with the horses in training. We also run courses at the farm with people staying with their horses so then the day is arranged around their lessons and making sure they have everything they need etc.
IH: You mentioned courses, and people staying at your yard what sorts of things do you offer?
John: Horse and owner learning together is really important so we now offer specialist courses where people bring their own horses or work with some of my horses. The work I do is all about gentle horsemanship and feeling of the horse, giving people the ability to listen to what the horse is saying and show how they can work together in harmony.
IH: So, when you meet an owner for the first time, what is it that you see as important on that critical first meeting and if they are seeking advise about buying a horse what would you say?
John: Firstly I listen and observe it is important to listen to both horse and owner. I am there to help; my aim is for happy horses and owners.
Really think about what type of horse/pony would suit you and what you plan to do together. I also think vetting is important to ensure you know as much as possible what you are buying and if any physical problems arise would you be prepared to manage them etc. Also try not to buy the horse in your head before you get there! As the saying goes admire a big horse and saddle a small one.
IH: If you could change one thing in the world of horses what would it be, and why?
John: I would like to see a change in the number of welfare/cruelty cases as an RA sadly you get to see and hear horrific stories of what horses and ponies have suffered at the hands of humans. More welfare legislation and education to help all the organisations that save these horses as well as helping to prevent such cases even being able to happen. I work a lot with traumatised/rescue horses that have either been rescued by caring owners from desperate situations or with the local sanctuaries and RSPCA. I would like to see horses treated with more respect and understanding.
IH: What is the most common issue you have to deal with when working with horses?
John: Usually the common issue that I work with is nerves and confidence in both horse and owner; this can show itself in a number of different ways.
IH: What was the most unusual issue you came across and how did you resolve it?
John: There have been so many nothing is ever usual about being an RA you get to meet so many different people and horses. I have been an RA for over 10 years now and every horse I meet is different. Resolving problems takes many different factors to help gain confidence in both horse and owner so they can continue on their journey together happily. A lot of my success with helping to rehabilitate and train horses is down to the owners who are so dedicated, continuing the work and really wanting the best for their horses. I admire the owners I work with for their determination and drive to develop that perfect partnership and friendship with their equine friends. As far as the most unusual cases go they have been so varied and I learnt from every one.