I moved to Cornwall in February 2014 and found my way to Bridle-Ways in the May of that year in response to their advertisement for staff after almost going stir-crazy whilst job searching. I had spent most of my career to date working within equestrian industries, incorporating everything from riding schools to racing yards. I liked the sound of Bridle-Ways and it’s social enterprise aspect. I believe in rehabilitating equines and giving them a second chance and was interested in the possibility of helping people at the same time. It has been very interesting to see how the troubled horses and humans related to one another and enabled each other to move forward and make the most of life again.
Whilst I was at Bridle-Ways we saw many horses come through, from various settings and presenting different issues. It was both educational and rewarding to work with them and help them to become well-adjusted animals suitable for rehoming. They have all been success stories and I am in contact with most of the new owners, it is lovely to hear about their progress and adventures.
There are lots of horses whose stories have stood out and stuck with me, one of those is Bracken, a young mare who was rescued along with three other horses from appalling conditions in October 2014. Their owner had very limited equine knowledge and ultimately could not cope with the responsibility of owning and caring for them. When we removed the horses from his care they were in a very poor state. They had all been confined to stables for nine months- never venturing outdoors and were standing a bed of filth. Two of the four horses were reasonably well fed but the other two were emaciated and definitely would not have survived for much longer in that situation.
Bracken was a three year old Dartmoor type, she had obviously ad very little handling and was extremely withdrawn and nervous when she arrived at Treglossick Farm. After the routine health check was undertaken she was found to be blind in one eye, which explained some of her behaviour. Progress was initially slow with Bracken, she needed time to gain confidence and begin to trust us but she gradually became more open and relaxed and we were able to begin her education and set her on the path to becoming a useful riding pony.
As of the beginning of 2016, Bracken has been successfully rehomed and lives at a riding school/trekking centre/livery yard establishment where she is very popular and takes everything in her stride. Several other previous Bridle-Ways horses have found their way to the same establishment, it is nice that these old friends are able to reunite in the ’real’ world and have a genuine purpose in life.
Often, the horses coming into Bridle-Ways are underweight and neglected for one reason or another, but that was not the case for Folly and Willow, who we agreed to take on in summer 2015. Folly is a handsome black 14.1hh Fell type gelding and Willow is a striking coloured pony mare. Both of them were over ten years old and unbroken when we took them on. Folly’s and Willow’s life changed when their owner sadly died, leaving them in the care of her mother who was herself struggling with health issues and had more horses than she was able to care for. Folly and Willow had been turned out onto exceptionally lush grazing and had spent years happily eating and doing very little else. When they came to Treglossick Farm they needed to lose over 300kg between them!
Folly and Willow had had minimal handling since their owner’s death. We slowly worked to gain their trust, at the same time trying to reduce their bulging waistlines so that they were able to commence a training regime. They both came to live on my land at home for a while so that I could spend more valuable time with them. Once they had slimmed down and done lots of groundwork/desensitizing and were happy to accept a saddle and bridle, they went to Tregurtha Downs to complete the backing process. Upon their return,we continued to further their education and Folly and Willow both found loving homes in early 2016. Folly (now renamed Poldark!) has become a firm favourite at a riding school/trekking centre and Willow is participating in lead rein gymkhana events with her delighted young owner.
Several different young people passed through the yard during my time there, again, all at different stages in their lives and struggling to find a way forward. Bridle-Ways is a place where they can just ‘be’, with no labels or preconceptions. All of the people responded positively to the unique atmosphere at Treglossick Farm and became valuable members of the team. They have all now gone on to become happier, productive members of society and are enjoying success in their chosen fields. I believe that Bridle-Ways has been instrumental in this and I think that all of us involved have learned from the experience and come away with fond memories.
I worked closely with a young lady named Emma, who was in a deep depression and struggling to see the point of life when she first arrived at Bridle-Ways. By the time I joined the team Emma had already come on in leaps and bounds, she was much more out-going and confident. She then had to learn how to better relate to people and after one or two false starts is now thriving in her chosen environment and career,well on the way to becoming a BHS qualified riding instructor and I hear that she is held in great affection by her young pupils.
My time at Bridle-Ways and in particular having some of their horses at my place made me realize that I would like to get involved in horse ownership again. I am now the proud owner of a lovely chestnut Arab gelding, Dayzeal (Dezy to his friends). He lives in my field at home and we enjoy hacking around the countryside. His companion is the last pony to be taken on by Bridle-Ways, a 21year old Shetland mare called Minnie. Minnie is a typical feisty but stoic Shetland and despite her diminutive size, she certainly rules the roost. It is great that she is good company for Dezy and nice that I was able to provide lodgings for one of the two remaining Bridle-Ways horses, the other being the elder stateswoman, Duchess, a Clydesdale mare who is enjoying retirement at Polcoverack Farm.
Bridle-Ways, in this incarnation, closed it’s doors at the beginning of 2016 but that is in no way the end of the story. Myni and Bob are still passionate about helping people of all ages and walks of life to help themselves to make the most out of their lives and in turn hopes that they may then go on to help others. Although horses are not currently a part of the plan, I continue to be involved and am excited at the prospect of helping people and improving my own life and those of others around me as we enter the next chapter.