I spent most of my childhood outside riding horses, playing with dogs and generally daydreaming about a life working with animals.
When I reached 21 I found a horse that I fell in love with but my funds at the time wouldn't stretch to his sale price so I sold my sensible respectable car and instantly went to the stables and bought him.
He was a 3 year old 17.2hh Irish Sport Horse and to say he was a challenge is a considerable understatement. I moved him to a well known highly respected livery yard and tried to enjoy him the best I could despite daily struggles with catching, leading, mounting, riding, loading and well just about everything.
I became interested in Eventing when he was old enough and started competing with success. He wore every gadget possible to 'fix' him and this worked for a while but like any gimmick it's not going to work forever.
It was after one day riding at the beach that he just decided to not get in my horsebox. I have never been comfortable with any type of physical violence so I had no option but to just wait it out. So I sat there on a February afternoon in the bitter cold for over 6 hours until he decided the time was right and he was happy to go on. I did this because at the time I had no other skills, I knew nothing about horse behaviour or why they did what they did so my only option was patience.
This was my light bulb moment and it was timed perfectly with a demonstration of Natural Horsemanship at my local agricultural college.
So the following week I watched a demo by Pat Parelli and was blown away by how happy, relaxed and willing the horses seemed. There was no force or gadgets used and for the first time in a long time it gave me hope that one day owning a horse would be fun again. I was blown away.
Shortly after I wrote a letter to the UK Centre and this followed with an offer of a scholarship. So the next period of my life was spent not only with the Parelli team but then onto Australia and the US where I spent time living and working with some incredibly talented horsemen using various styles of horsemanship. Two men in particular made a powerful impact on my horsemanship journey, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman. Every day I think about their words and their approach to life as well as their horsemanship. I still have my horse H and a few years ago the BBC ran a short documentary about my work with him and other horses.
As well as dog hiking and horsemanship I have also over the past few years worked in large London secondary schools with disaffected children most likely at risk of exclusion. Buck and Rays words ring in my ears every day and because of their wisdom I have helped hundreds of children find their path to success.
Working with dogs is incredibly similar as that with horses. The concepts and theories are exactly the same just the physical techniques are different. Hiking Hounds was born out of my desire to share with dog & horse owners what I have learnt from around the globe and to give everyone a chance to experience the wisdom and skill of Ray and Buck.