Polly was our first horse:
When we moved to Spain in the December of 1999, we knew that we would like a couple of horses one day – little did we know what lay ahead! Just two months after moving into our old farmhouse, we heard of an English woman desperately needing a home for her horse as she could no longer cope, so before we knew what had hit us we had agreed to take her on. Polly, a beautiful flea bitten grey moved in to one of our old outbuildings, though getting her home was not an easy task. We had hired a Spanish man with a horse box, but unfortunately when he began to lead her into it, and before we could do anything to stop him, he started to whip her and got her into such a state that there was no way she was going in!
We decided that the only way to get her home was to ride her, over 50 miles, through villages and over mountains – what an adventure! Our eldest son John, then nearly thirteen, and I took turns to ride and lead her while Clive and our other two children followed in the car with food and water. It took us ten hours but it was an unforgettable experience. Polly was none the worst for her long walk and settled into her new home very happily.
It soon became obvious however, that apart from the fact that we did not want to keep a horse on it’s own, Polly was desperately in need of a riding companion to give her confidence whilst being ridden out in the countryside. She was a very nervous and highly strung horse and even when we did get another horse to keep her company, she was never an easy ride. The whole ride was spent trying to stop her from taking off and running back home. In the early days we used bits as we did not know any better, and Polly certainly proved that no bit is going to stop a horse that doesn’t want to be stopped. Luckily for Polly, we eventually made the transition to riding bitless and it was as if she gave a huge sigh of relief the first time we took her out in just a rope halter. Incredibly, she was so much more relaxed and we were able to keep her in walk for the first time ever!