Recommended by: Stringer Equine Veterinary Practice
Gemma and Richard Stringer's young horse
We asked Anna for help bringing on a young horse that we needed to find a new home for. Wicca is by nature not very confident especially in new environments and inclined to stop if uncertain about anything, everything took a long time for her. We were concerned about finding her a new home as we felt that only a very sensitive and experienced rider would get the best out of her. After a few sessions with Anna she was a different horse! More outgoing even in the field, she seemed to have found her self confidence and in a very practical way this showed as standing still for the farrier for the first time ever! With lots of little troubles ironed out with Anna’s patience and skill we were a lot happier about finding a new home for our young horse and felt that most riders would be able to enjoy her. Anna also helped us find a good home for her and I have had great reports back that they are finding Wicca to be a fun and forward ride, something I thought she would never be.
I would not hesitate to recommend Anna for anyone needing help with a young or tricky horse or for anyone wishing to improve their horsemanship. Anna has a great wealth of experience with all sorts of horses and a real talent for identifying what a particular horse needs help with.
Gemma Stringer (January 2013)
Anna working with Wicca
Recommended by:Marie Derome & Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Anna has been working with our two children (13 and 9) for the last 2 years. It has been a real success. She is patient and able to work at their level and happy to try to accommodate their strange requests - like how to round up the sheep with the ponies!
Anna has also helped us sell a pony that was no longer suitable for the children and helped us to find a new one. For my part I have really enjoyed the work on the ground with her. I find it fascinating to watch her communicating so successfully with the ponies. They really listen to her, and respond so well. I would not hesitate to recommend Anna. She is always on time and always tries to accommodate the wishes of a busy family.
Marie Derome & Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (November 2012)
Deborah and her horses Spirit and Digby
I just want to thank you for opening my eyes to what can be with the horses. I've just had the calmest, most pleasant, non rushy ride on my horse Spirit ever. I am practicing all that I have learnt from you in the last five weeks of intensive training and although I know that I will have challenges again with Spirit, I feel that he and I are on the right route. You are patient, kind and thoughtful - taking the time to explain in a way that idiots can understand - I really can't thank you enough - I am looking forward to continuing to learn from you in the coming months and for my horses to be learning to relax and enjoy themselves with me.
Deborah Archer (November 2012)
Deborah supporting and directing her four year old youngster Digby through the ford, as Apollo and Anna wait as Digby builds his confidence in the deep water. This photo was taken on Dartmoor, where Digby was in for training with Anna for five weeks to be re-started.
Jenny's daughter's pony Snowdrop
Snowdrop is a 4 year old 12.2hh Dartmoor pony that we came home with (unplanned!) on a visit to an open day at Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust. We fell in love with her and felt she would be a great first pony for our 2 year old daughter Bryher.
We decided that we wanted the best start for Snowdrop so asked Anna if she would take her in for training.
Anna was so thorough and made sure Snowdrop was a safe and reliable child's pony while still being forward going and soft. Snowdrop is a dream to handle for both me and Bryher, and I can trust that if Bryher fell over whilst leading her or fell off when riding, Snowdrop would stand perfectly still, wouldn't panic and would wait for Bryher to get back up, that is so valuable in a first pony.
We are just at the Beginning of Snowdrop and Bryher's adventures but I feel happy that they will have great fun together and look after each other along the way, all thanks to Anna.
Jenny and her horse Finn
Finn, his story, (the short version!) I brought Finn as a yearling and started him at 4 yrs old. He was slowly becoming a great riding horse and we were getting along well together when at the age of 5 he poisoned himself and was close to death for about a year. 2 years after his illness he was finally well enough to start work. I tried a couple of different training techniques but found that our relationship was going from bad to worse. Finn was very anxious and worried and I was very tentative about asking anything from him because of his illness and worry.
I asked Anna to help and in Jan 2012 she took Finn on for training. I cannot fault the dedication, time, effort and energy that Anna put into Finn. After every session I could see him growing with confidence and enjoyment for his work as finally somebody was explaining to him in simple horse terms what was being asked of him (something I realised I had not been doing!) After an amazing, fascinating, tiring (for me!) and emotional (thank you Anna for counselling me when I tried to give up!) 6 weeks, Finn and I finally had that lovely relationship back.
I cannot thank Anna enough. Now I can't wait to spend time with my horse. He forgives me when I get it wrong but we are now, thanks to Anna on that journey together.
Jenny Rogers (February 2013)
Bryher and her pony Snowdrop.
Anna working with Snowdrop to build her confidence for future unexpected situations, like a child who has fallen off by her hooves or a child who has fallen forwards around her neck while jumping.
Anna working with Finn to build his confidence and help him to look and bend correctly around corners.
Jonquil and her four Dartmoor ponies
I have four young Dartmoor ponies and wanted to improve my communication and interaction with them on the ground, so that we all felt safe and confident with each other. Anna helped me to understand the concept of ‘feel’and enabled me to learn how to use this so that my ponies and I could start to ‘feel of each other’. I began to see how I could give my ponies direction and reassurance and keep their minds with me.
I felt inspired to ride again and it seemed the logical thing to do, to extend my improved skills on the ground to the ridden. Anna was able to take my ponies in for training ‘to be backed’ during the winter months. Winnie and Gem went to Anna’s for 7 weeks in January 2011 and Poppy and Fern went for the same amount of time in Dec 2011. I went to watch and work with Anna as often as I possibly could. It was an incredible and fascinating learning experience for me. Anna was always very patient and listened, at all times, to me and my ponies. Explanations and demonstrations were given with clarity and confidence and Anna found different ways of helping me if I did not understand.
Right from the beginning I felt reassured by Anna’s emphasis on safety and ability to interpret what my ponies and I needed to help us understand and trust each other. All four ponies made brilliant progress with Anna and are very alert and responsive, both on the ground and when ridden.
Thank you Anna, for setting us all off on the right track and for enabling us to have such fun! (January 2012)
Jonquil and her four Dartmoor ponies
Anna riding Winnie, helping him to understand to follow the left rein with his mind and body.
Jonquil riding Gem on the beach
Jayne and her youngster Aspi.
For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to ride and own my own horse. However due to family circumstances and travelling with my husband’s job I was not able to fulfil this dream until I was 38 years old. It was then that I started taking riding lessons at a local riding school. Shortly after this I first met Aspiration (Aspi). He was a beautiful 6 month old Colt and it was love at first sight for me and I bought him as soon as he was for sale.
This year I decided it was time for Aspi to start his training. I knew I didn’t want him traditionally broken, the thought of breaking a horses spirit has always horrified me. Having been to see Monty Roberts demonstrations and observing the teaching of Pat Parelli I knew I wanted to follow a natural horsemanship path with Aspi. It was then that I discovered Anna through her website and arranged for an initial assessment meeting.
One hour with Anna was all I needed to know that this was the way I wanted Aspi trained and we arranged for him to “go to school” with Anna during the summer of 2010. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend each training session with Anna and Aspi so was able to see the methods that Anna used and how Aspi responded.
For me to learn how to communicate through feel was a revelation. Aspi responded so quickly and positively it was amazing. Anna has a brilliant style of teaching, she is patient, calm and kind with both horse and owner.
For someone as green as me to buy a green youngster probably wasn’t the smartest move to make, however with Anna’s involvement both Aspi and I are doing brilliantly and I couldn’t have done it without Anna. Now that Aspi is home we are continuing our tuition with Anna and can only get better under her expert tuition and guidance.
Thank you Anna, from Jayne. (August 2010)
Anna helping Aspi to follow the feel of the rope and change eyes on seeing someone up high behind him.
Anna helping Aspi to feel confident if a rider slipped down by his shoulder or fell off.
On the left is Aspi's second ever rider with Anna. On the right is Jayne on Aspi after 4 weeks of being ridden solely by Anna.
Anna and Neil's youngster Willow
Back in Feb ’09 I sent my much-loved Morab (Morgan X Arab) mare off to an extensively vetted and reputable yard to be backed and ridden on.
To cut a very long story short we collected her after only 1 ½ wk having been told that she was too dangerous to carry on working with and that they were not prepared to put their staff at risk by backing her.
At the time I felt utterly devastated believing that my beautiful horse was broken beyond repair. She was bruised, large swellings over her withers and down her neck, she had several small cuts from when she crashed through the fencing, she was very thin having been worked up to 5hrs a day and she also seemed to have a facial drooping on one side, though this cleared after a week on anti-inflammatories. On top of all this I struggled to lead her from A to B without her flying backwards to get away as soon as there was a bit of distance between us.
A good friend of mine had mentioned Anna only a couple of days previously to us collecting Willow and not knowing where to turn I rang her for some advice. Well I can honestly say that Anna is an amazing horsewoman that possibly saved Willow from an uncertain future.
Having her trip to America booked for the whole of April it was decided that she would initially come out and work with Willow at our farm getting her happy with being handled, less worried about her sides, back-end and head. Seven times she managed to come out and at the end she felt quite hopeful that she should be able to back her on her return in May.
Anna kept Willow for 3 weeks when she got back from America, and worked with her 6 days a week with me trying to visit as often as I could. The most difficult part was the work from the ground as Willow had become flighty and nervous about certain areas especially the head, mouth and sides, which clearly would prove a problem when being ridden. Once she was happy with these ‘problem areas’ the backing and riding on seemed less of a problem.
We have now had Willow at home with us for 3 weeks riding out on the moors 4-6 times a week. She is happy in company and on her own, great in traffic, with dogs, doing gates etc. and checking livestock.
I feel very privileged to have had Anna working with Willow and to have had the opportunity to observe and learn from her. Willow is always going to be a sharp and sensitive horse but as Anna said many times "It was about trying to help the horse to think through the things that worried her".
Anna Cole (June 2009)
Anna helping Aspi to follow the feel of the rope and change eyes on seeing someone up high behind him.
Willow's first ever ride.
Emma and 3 year old youngster Barney.
"Where to send my beloved but bolshie and strong willed 3 year old for backing was a very difficult decision. Barney was bottle feed having lost his dam to colic when he was 3 weeks old. He had also been gelded late and had run with my mares for a summer, successfully covering one of them and breeding a lovely filly foal. Although full of potential Barney was regularly difficult to handle and would throw his weight around to achieve whatever goal he had. I was conscious that I needed to find someone that could confidently handle and train Barney without resorting to violence or aggression. Thankfully I met Anna.
Anna was more than happy for me to attend as many or as few training sessions as I liked (something that is rare in itself). She was always calm and patient with Barney and never once even raised her voice to him. She trained him in a progressive manner and was always happy to explain why she was doing something in a certain way or simply to discuss his progress with me. I attended just about all of her training sessions and learnt probably more than Barney. It was also great fun.
Barney is now not only backed but the easiest horse to handle at my yard. He is relaxed and much happier in himself, and in turn he is now lovely to be around. I honestly couldn’t recommend Anna more. Thank you."
Emma Morris (September 2009)
Here Anna is helping Barney to feel good about the flag touching him, in areas where the ridder will be.
Barney's first ride. In this photo Anna is also dirrecting Apollo around the arena.
Emma riding Barney, while Anna stands near by to help if needed.
Heather and Flynn
Note- Heather started having lessons with me because Flynn couldn't leave the yard willingly and would rear when he became worried.
"I just rode Flynn out on our first hack with someone else, since I started having lessons with Anna. It was very busy and allot for him to deal with so I had to put into practice what Anna had taught me. It was fantastic, I felt in control at all times and all issues were dealt with without any escalation. So, successful first trip! For the first time ever, I could tell that Flynn felt that he could rely on me to help him. Thank you Anna”
Heather (Winter 2008)
Heather and Flynn.
Helping Kestrol learn how to lead.
"When I started having problems with an Exmoor pony that I had rescued off the moor, Anna was the person that I called out to help. The pony was very frightened of other people and was very difficult to lead, he would take flight easily and was too strong to hold onto. Anna showed me how to lead him in a Richard Maxwell training halter. Anna was clear about the importance of using clarity and timing when pressure was applied and released to the halter rope. We gradually took him away from his comfort zone, so that after a while I could take him for walks, go over raised planks of wood and tarpaulin sheets without him taking off. Without Anna's knowledge and quiet manner to help, I would still be struggling."
Christine Joyce (Summer 2008)
Christine and Ketsrol
Leo - Bridget and Evangeline's pony
Leo is a four year old Dartmoor pony who we gave a home to in 2010, he came to live with us and our other Dartmoor pony Blacky in mid Devon. In 2013 I decided that it was time to have him ‘backed’ in order that our 9 year old daughter Evangeline could ride him. Although I am a fully qualified British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor,and and have ridden all my life I decided to find someone else to Back and train him.Anna was recommended to me.
After Anna came to meet us all at home and we visited Anna's yard to see Anna at work, she agreed to take Leo for a 6-8 week period with the aim to getting him fully ‘backed’ by Christmas 2014.
I have nothing but praise for Anna in the way she went about this task , producing some outstanding results in a very short period of time. Her patience and very measured and careful approach to his schooling has resulted in me having Leo back ahead of schedule and completely transformed. I am particularly happy with the way he works, as I have done some dressage judging in the past and I feel his basics are well established, so that he can go onto the next level with confidence. Myself and Evangeline ride him, he is a delight. I have been totally sold on the approach and methodology used by Anna and the results have been far better than I had dared hoped for.
I would thoroughly recommend Anna, and will be asking Anna to come back to keep moving forward.
Bridget Davies (January 2014)