Saturday 15th August 2009.
What a fabulous day. Adam Shereston exceeded my expectations in training with my horses.
I had seen Adam at an Equine Market Watch fund raising demonstration in Brecon, earlier this year.
I had worried that he might be yet someone else chasing a horse in a round pen.
Adamâ€™s methods are what I would like to achieve, working without pressure on the horse and encouraging a real partnership built on foundations of trust, fun and mutual respect.
Whilst Adam does work with horses in all spheres, his training will most probably hold most appeal to those who wish to work without force or spur, whip or bit, whilst still achieving a light, responsive and enthusiastic horse.
Adam shows forethought and ensures the safety of both horse and trainer or rider by building each small detail involved in a halt from any pace or situation with a simple raise of the non-tension rope for a rider or a look from a trainer.
Today I had chance to absorb more detail with plenty of â€œlight bulbâ€ moments.
During liberty and ropework, the conversation between Adam and horse was gentle, polite and friendly.
Adam has exceptional observational skills; he understands the biomechanics of the horseâ€™s movement and can pick up how best to help the human to continue in his absence.
I love that Adam respects the need for freedom of the horseâ€™s head and neck, and that he never puts weight or tightness into a rope or onto a halter.
Adamâ€™s style of training is conducive to setting up responses for riding in a cordeo or neck strap.
There is never a need to pull or to kick. Riding can be more considerate.
By laying the lead rope against the horseâ€™s neck and then holding it away, maintaining a looped rope with no pull, the horse easily understands the left foreleg connection and corresponding open door.
For example, with Ben, who is a very sensitive pony, Adam was accepted in record time and with polite, full attention.
Ben was a happy pony, looking for direction and finding Adam clear and easy to please.
One light bulb moment for me was while Adam was showing Ben how to walk forward from the signal of stirrup away from the saddle or turn his hindquarters by moving the stirrup back and away.
I had been taught to use my outside lower leg behind the girth to move the horse over, on the opposite side to the direction the quarters would move.
Adam simply used his hand to demonstrate, he was standing on Benâ€™s left side and put his hand close to Benâ€™s girth and removed it away on the right outside. Which way did Ben look? Well, if someone tapped me on my right shoulder I look to the right. To then shift over to the left would have involved several steps.
Whilst Adam made everything flow and appear simple, after more than 50 years around horses, I can say I have a lot of practice for homework.
It is more difficult for those of us who have been taught traditionally than it perhaps might be to educate a child with no habitual learning, to respond in a logical and opposite manner to many current teachings.
I have always known that my little piebald cob is an Alpha horse and a small volcano on simmer.
Daniel is easy in my company; I never ask any questions outside his comfort zone, I am his servant. We have love with not the greatest respect, if Dan chooses a different curriculum to the one I have in mind, we go with whatever he suggests, which may be nothing at all.
Dan has an intense dislike of strangers, especially men. Danâ€™s anxiety level was raised and he switched off to learning.
Adam was patient, calm, consistent and allowed Dan to have an opinion but also to make easily correct choices. However, Dan decided no stamina was required, hanging out in the barn with his friends was preferable and his usual get out clauses did not appear to be working.
Adam allowed movement towards Danâ€™s friends; time to chat in Danâ€™s safety zone and did not punish any of the childish tantrums.
Dan is not a great respecter of fences and if he wants his own way can bulldoze railings or run through wire fencing, he will sometimes jump, but through is more likely. Adrenalin over rides pain, and learning is more readily accomplished in a calm atmosphere.
Adam has boundless patience, Dan lowered his anxiety and it was wonderful to watch a dance and exchange of learning and progress in my cynical, sceptical pony.
Arthur, my 2 year old Shire Horse was asked very little, understood much and does not believe it is necessary to take direction from anyone weighing less than 2 tons.
Adam achieved a lot in a relatively short space of time.
Arthur has a clever and generous nature, he likes attention, thrives on fuss from humans and from engaging with the other horses.
Adam used the strong herd bonding to suggest joining the other horses was Adamâ€™s idea so that Arthur joined Adam when going towards Dan and Ben.
Arthur was invited rather than just using his size to choose.
Arthur was not allowed to barge, push, shove or show ill-mannered considerations.
Of course, it is what anyone who spends time around horses already knows, but I certainly do not optimise every situation to the most effective training outcome.
Reading and comprehending ethology or horse behaviour is very different to actually utilising the opportunities that present on a daily basis.
Adam speaks and I nod in agreement, the follow through when it is my turn, is somewhat more difficult than it looks.
To have Adamâ€™s eyes, encouragement and quiet, sensitive and compassionate consideration of my wonderful horses interaction with each other and with me has been expedient to our future.
I may take in and incorporate one to five percent of Adamâ€™s advice, but even this much will enable a greater rapport in keeping my horses safe in the dangerous road situations we will face to reach trails along bridleways.
I have great respect for Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli, Sylvia Loch, Sally Swift, Captain Horace Hayes, Lucy Rees, Henry Blake, Mrs. Sivewright and many other horse and rider trainers.
For myself, I was very disappointed at the amount of unnecessary pressure of the current Parelli programmes, John Lyons and many so called natural trainers.
Having watched a Richard Maxwell demonstration I knew that training which applied severe pressure with only a release of pain, no clue as to what the required answer might be, was not something I would be happy to have my horses subjected to.
I was surprised because Kelly Marks, who like Richard Maxwell, also originally came from a background of Monty Roberts training, but excelled in her understanding and research of ethology.
For anyone interested in lowering the volume, learning to help, support, encourage and motivate the horse as a friend and partner, I can wholeheartedly recommend a clinic with Adam Shereston.
The idea that application of the leg against the horse to move off, turn or halt, is not necessary, thay taking the leg away, no pressure, no kick or squeeze, will be alien to most riders, yet logical when watched in horse interaction.
YouTube hosts a few videos but does not give a real sense of what Adam teaches.
Adam brings fresh ideas; he is a joy to watch and if there is a chance to go to a demonstration or clinic, then in my opinion, for the horseâ€™s sake, it is a worthwhile experience, not to be missed.
It was also wonderful for a gifted teacher to offer his services for a full day at reasonable and affordable cost, without greed, for the benefit of horses.
I have heard of many other trainers charging more than double the cost of today, so I am very grateful.http://www.adamshereston.com/