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Catherine wrote this account to share her experience of working with me to help to improve key aspects of her riding:


I have ridden since I was four (back in the ‘60s!) and would classify myself as an amateur with a lot of competition mileage on the clock. I met Jo at a Mary Wanless Dismounted Workshop, which I had decided to attend as I wanted to overcome some specific issues that I had become more conscious of since changing my style to the “Ride with Your Mind” approach.

I needed to address problems with my “exotic” asymmetry – I have had four orthopaedic operations on my left knee as a result of a car accident when I was seven and have also had keyhole surgery on my cruciate ligament on the same knee for good measure. My spine also curves in bends in the wrong direction (twice) and the base of my spine is damaged as a result of a fall when I was a teenager. Still a lot less than many people contend with but keeping my body aligned to help my long suffering horses has historically been something of an issue.

My second issue was to do with riding my homebred 7/8ths TB Chestnut mare – always something of a challenge but one that I was savouring less after a series of unpleasant falls (one resulting in the ligament damage and another in whiplash) as my mare became less and less confident about the outside world. I needed to have enough self belief for both of us if we were to start to enjoy life again and - just as important - stay safe.

TFT in action

Jo and I started to talk through my aims during one of the breaks and I was thrilled at the chance of trying TFT as one of the Intelligent Horsemanship’s Recommended Associates had identified TFT as a possible tool to help with building a framework for my riding.

Jo and I settled down at the end of the workshop and started the process. The first thing we did was to think about the accident that resulted in my recurring knee problems. Jo asked me to allocate a number to the accident (where 0 is no real register of the event and 10 is a very vivid memory). We started, perhaps predictably, at 10: Jo identified which meridians we needed to concentrate upon and we sat and tapped until I arrived a 0. This in itself was an amazing sensation as the accident had been part of my personality for 35 years (albeit an unwelcome part). What was more extraordinary were the physical sensations that I experienced in the next 3 – 4 hours. My immediate feeling was quite literally of a weight being taken from my shoulders, followed rapidly by feeling my left side stretching and opening up. When I had a bath later that evening I could see that the circulation on my left side was working overtime.

Jo and I worked on my self belief issues during the same session and followed the same pattern. The same emotions – shame and anger – were very prevalent and I felt this to be an accurate reflection. I was embarrassed that I could not help my amazing little horse and angry at some of the external factors that I felt had contributed to our situation. Again we worked from a 10 down to a 0 and, whilst the physical symptoms were not as extreme, the feeling of release was just as pronounced.

I had to wait until the following weekend to ride. I set off as usual with two people on the ground (I had not been out on my own for over a year apart from a five minute experiment!). It sounds trite to say that it all came together but I was actually able to apply some of the key messages for my riding from the dismounted workshop instead of using all my mental faculties to cope with our immediate surroundings. The result? My lovely mare bowled along listening to me and responding to my rediscovered belief and was obviously relieved that I was back in the conversation. We have since had to go back to working from the ground for a while as she has been treated for kidney problems but the same sweetness and two way conversation has stayed with us.

My new found belief has enabled me to pull in some NLP type techniques to reinforce the positive experience and I feel as if I have been presented with a new horse to play with plus I am able to stand straight for the first time in years!

I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Jo as TFT has had a tremendous immediate impact on my quality of life and has set me up to continue to work on my riding for the good of my lovely horses.

Catherine MacLeod-Smith
June 2005




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