1st June 2015 – So here is where the project begins – on an uninhabited Irish island off the coast of Connemara National Park I will spend one month with four Connemara ponies from my Liberty team and two new unhandled Connemaras.
I will live a solitary existence – with just my ponies for company. My challenge – and it’s huge – is to be able to work with, and ultimately start, (back) two unhandled Connemaras completely at liberty (without the use of any tack / enclosures or help).
This project will test and challenge every part of my determination, courage, patience and tenacity. There will be highs and – without doubt – many lows too.
Imagine – a 70 acre island – no inhabitants – no places to catch the ponies – no help – no home comforts, just me, the ponies and our relationship. It’s not going to be plain sailing – it will test me to the limit, it will test my ponies’ trust, it will test my ability to live totally alone – on a wild exposed island.
The concept of starting a horse completely at Liberty (free from any head collars / bridles / saddles etc) isn’t something to be taken lightly. Horses rely purely on caution, flight and agility to keep themselves safe. This will be a huge undertaking to understand how horses feel and think and in turn create a relationship in just four weeks to ultimately be able to ride these horses completely free. The whole project to be filmed by a combination of cameras, aerial drones, island Cameras, myself with GoPros and a handheld diary camera.
Working with horses is my passion and my love. What inspires me the most is pushing the limits. Not just my own limits buts pushing ‘the’ limits so that we can redefine horsemanship in the 21st Century.
This project is not just about the horses though. It’s about resolve, about digging deep, about determination, about survival, about trust and passion. It will be lonely and it will be tough.
Horses give you an incredible perspective on life. Starting a horse at Liberty is the perfect challenge, there is nowhere to hide, you can either do it or you can’t, there is no cheating, no shortcuts, no easy wins.
You can challenge yourself every day and at every level. When you take the knocks it’s simply a case of picking yourself up, going out and having another go. The way I see it is, life is a pretty short, one time offer. When I’m old and looking back, I want to have great stories, I want to have inspired others to do incredible things using their own passion and imagination – always for the love of horses.
I am going to be living in a tent and have a camping stove to cook meals. No luxuries, just the bare essentials, the ponies and me!
This is their home…
“Normally we bring horses to survive in our world, now it’s my turn to survive in theirs”
Connemara National Park is a beautiful place. White sandy beaches, mountain ranges and beautiful lakes blend seamlessly together to make it truly breathtaking….it’s also wildly inhospitable in the worst of the weather, as the wind and rain roll in off the Atlantic.
The small town of Clifden is the centre of Connemara, where the passion, heritage and love of the Connemara pony is the very fabric of community. The biggest event of the year is the annual breed show right in the centre of town. This attracts people from all across the globe. People who – like me have fallen for this magical breed.
The Connemara is an incredibly versatile pony with a huge global following and Societies in Ireland, Britain, Europe, North America, Australasia and South Africa.