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Half -Life

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ChristmasSooooo, a break to my blogs with a reason. All this time I have been telling half a story, and it has been difficult, not least because a lot of my equine experience and learning has been from my "other" life. Not least a lot of my time!

For the last 20 years I have been riding and training Police Officers and Police horses, but because of my conditions of service I have not been allowed to comment on a commercial web site. For many years the only evidence on my site has been to quote some articles that were in the public domain, but I never did comment on them.

On September 1st I became a free agent, no longer employed by The Police, but after so long working with many conditions on my life this has taken some getting used to. I have started to go through my web site and right the omissions, and to start with I will quote sections from my newly updated  "About Ruth" page....

...When I took up riding again it was as part of a large organisation, training Police Horses and riders. It was a totally new experience, the targets for the horse could be harsh and dangerous, and the training had little margin for error. 

A couple of years after I started working with the Police horses I became Head Trainer, a position I held for 15 years. I was in charge of training for the harshest conditions, with riders selected for their Policing ability, with some never having ridden before. I had 16 weeks to take a rider from never having ridden to being able to do a dressage test, ride a course of Show Jumps, Cross Country including water, ditches and banks, road riding on the busiest roads, and Public Order riding, where riders had to physically move people, whilst being pelted with fireworks, fire, smoke, bricks.....

 The riders I trained were successful, and my safety record exemplary. I even wrote a series of magazine articles for "Equi Ads" magazine, bi-monthly articles for a year, on training both riders and the horses. See the "Articles" page for the articles themselves.

 With the Police Horses I was responsible for selection, purchase and training of Police Horses, including then handing them on to less experienced riders. The horses were not some "Special Breed" as people often thought, but horses purchased from dealers, or from the internet. Often they were 4 years old, just imported from Ireland and very green. Often they could not canter on the school, and had little or no road riding experience.

I would have a 4 week trial period, at the end of which the horse would need to visit a Football Match, to test its reactions to crowds. It was not expected to "Work the Match" at this stage, but to attend and keep its head. One of the horses, Thorne, is particularly featured on the Article page of this site. It follows him from his arrival to being fully operational.

In this melting pot of tough and fast training targets and harsh working conditions I learned about confidence building, NLP and developed my own methods. I learned that often less is more, to trust instinct, and to trust my own methods, as often we were taking a path not documented by others. I learned to defy convention, to reach for targets, with feet on the floor.

I realised that the "traditional" ways were not always gaining optimal results and started to seek out new ways of working with horses.

The different approaches transformed my horses and also the Police Horses, with them having a leader to trust rather than an adversary on their backs when the chips were down.

A few years down the line, with my track record for training I had visitors from other Forces to see how I arranged training. I also trained many Police Trainers, both for my own force area and also others who came for residential courses. As part of the National Training Committee I was able to shape national policy to keep up with changing times whilst respecting the horses who work with us. I also became one of only 12 National Mounted Assessors, travelling the country to assess new recruits, and more advanced riders as to their suitability to train horses and riders for this challenging role. I diversified my role to train college students, PCSOs and arranged training for Fire Officers in general horse handling for rescue purposes.

As a finale for my time in Mounted I selected, trained and then rode a young horse at the 2012 Olympic games in London. Harry was less than a year in service at the time, and was excellent to travel the country and work in such a huge event, with flags and crowds.

To my pleasure when he returned and it was time to hand him on he was confident to take the least experienced and confident riders to the busiest and most violent events. Harry had had his own confidence trained in, he gained from my experience and is solid in his work.

More recently, after 20 years training for the Police, I have left to pursue other avenues. The Mounted job has become less funded, and it worried me that we seemed to be trying to do more with less. After so long riding up to 7 hours a day, in all weather conditions, usually young horses or those with issues that needed addressing, in harsh conditions of traffic and violence, my hips and back needed a lighter load.

After such a long time in such an involved job there has been a period of adjustment, this summer I had some fun acting (- been on Emmerdale and "No Offence"), and at the moment am working part time as a teaching assistant at a school, helping children with special educational needs. I hope to learn still more about learning as a process, people, and confidence in this role.

As the school is part time only, in 2015 I have more time to do private training, and am considering taking clinics for private clients on how we train Police Horses. Either that or a new and equally exciting path may reveal itself. It feels strange and yet exciting to have some time, blank page time, where all things are possible. 

I will also set up a page with some photos etc from my time with the Police. Happy days, hard days, stressful days and successful days. One thing for sure, not many people will have had the experiences, challenges, back up and finance, huge goals and dependence on their horse for the privilege of beating all odds and returning home safe. Or sometimes not. 

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  1. Anita

    Your job sounded just amazing to me, and so interesting too. I have just so enjoyed looking all over your site, and to know we are neighbours, is really nice to know too. I will be in contact soon, as I am determined to get on a horse again, but have several issues to sort too. Very well done

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  2. Gail Fazio

    Ruth, you are just full of surprises! I've long loved reading your blogs, and been so happy for your successes and glad you shared your journey with us. But there's so much that was left unsaid, because of the rules. My hope is that the training you did while on the job has good roots to continue an excellent program for the safety and well-being of all!

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