I have spent my life time working with people and animals. This process began with walking neighbours dogs from age 7. I was born into a family without pets. I built up a dog walking round, often 2 or three at a time by the age of 9, I loved to teach them new tricks. My first main contact with horses was at age 12 working at the local trekking and livery stables.
By the age of 13, I organised the ride book, groomed, tacked up and walked out with the rides from 9am to 5pm. The reward, in addition to spending time with horses, was riding the horses bareback at the end of the day. The discovery of a local herd of horses (stallion, broodmares and youngsters) tucked away in the Mersey valley was a real find. I did not, at 12 years of age, really consider that they belonged to anybody and certainly did not consider any danger. I used to sit on the horses (no equipment at all) out in the seemingly unbounded fields and simply go where they went, or suggest to them the direction and speed. I wanted to go. I look back now and cannot believe I did that! Nobody ever found out.
I worked at the riding stable until age 17, bought my first horse at 18 with my birthday money. An Anglo-Arab X Quarter Horse chestnut yearling called Zephyr. He used to follow me round the Mersey valley. It was more like walking a dog, in that I used to unhook the lead-rope and allow him to graze in short bursts and then catch me up! This experience I now recognise as natural horsemanship and in particular Join-up. I kept up with my love for dogs and spent as much time as possible in the adjoining boarding and breeding and boarding kennels. Dogs have played a big role in my life, from the age of 21, always having a minimum of one dog sharing my life, ranging from mostly Labradors or German shepherd crosses to currently the first small dog: a Jack Russell.
I currently have 3 Jack Russells and a team of husky crosses. These run with a scooter or racing rig. A grammar school education from 11-16 (I much preferred spending my time with horses and dogs and skived school to do so on a all-to regular basis). Did not do so well with examinations and went to a college for secretarial qualifications. Loved the college and went on to complete A levels. I graduated from Manchester University with a B.SC (Hons) degree in Psychology with subsidiary subjects of Physiology (Manchester Medical School) and Social Anthropology. My study of psychology included the understanding and application of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
At the age of 22, I set up and operated Tattondale Stables and Tattondale Carriages. I ran this business for 22 years, which included a livery yard, Stud, bringing on young horses, rehabilitation and ‘problem horses,’ carriage driving (horse-drawn carriage trips, promotional work and weddings), being open for visitors with talks and demonstrations, agricultural work and riding stable. Throughout this progression I worked regularly using horses as therapy for people, including work with Riding for the Disabled and local colleges and schools. My interest in complementary therapies was sparked by a particularly spirited Lusitano X Arab bay mare called Lucy. I could not seem to get to the root of her very unpredictable and perhaps dangerous behaviour by the more traditional approach. This was the start of a long and inspiring journey, which is still unfolding.
I gained my PGCE, in addition to motivational interviewing techniques qualification together with a counselling skills diploma. I have taught BTEC courses at Level 2 and level 3 in both Animal Care & Management and Horse Care & Management. Over the past 4 years whilst teaching in the academic setting of college and school, I have been developing my complementary therapy practice. I also enjoy guiding horse and rider combinations around the spectacular Cumbrian trails.
My equestrian highs have included a grade B show jumping horse; completion of one-day events, a Grand Prix dressage horse; being a team member for north west endurance for the 50 mile class; producing several advanced level endurance horses and completion of 100 mile in a day over some very challenging terrain in West Cumbria. This last was on a home-produced horse an Arab X Lusitano grey gelding, Rapport. In 2010 the completion of 100 miles in a day took 14 hours riding time + 2 hours divided over 4 breaks, over the most challenging terrain of the western fells. My other horse is an Arab gelding, Tobie. Tobie came to me at Tatton, as a problem horse. Before very long, he became a ‘do anything, go any where (with anyone), school-master.’ He is now about 26 years old and still going strong.
Over the last few years I have been able to follow my twin passion and have spent my life working with dogs – mainly northern breeds. Whist still being employed part time at Millom school I re-homed my first pair of Siberian Huskies: Ice and Luna who were then 2 years old. I trained them to bikejoring first and then pulling a rig. My plan was already in place to have a team of sled-dogs and to work with them in a commercial way giving other folk the opportunity to experience the sport of dry-land mushing. With that idea in mind I went on to add 7 more huskies or husky crosses within a period of 6 months. This gave me a total of 9 sled-dogs (plus our 3 Jack russels Dfor, Poppy and Speckle).
Following lots of promotional work, learning to cope with social media having been (and still am really) a technophobe has resulted in feeling confident enough in demand to take on 5 more huskies from August 2014 to May 2015.
I am always being approached to take on more huskies and feel sad that I need to say no. I have enough working huskies and do not wish to grow the business to the extent that I will need to take on lots of staff and end up doing all the admin – been there and done that with Tattondale Stable and Carriages.
So, realising that I have the ideal opportunity to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home snow-dogs the charity Snowdog Shelter has been launched. This has been a fresh challenge, working through the legal and administrative documentation has been tough. Give me a team of huskies any day. I am ideally situated to help snowdogs find their ideal forever home. Given that I meet, and train hundreds of people to drive huskies and can train huskies it seems an ideal solution. Some of my clients sample the husky experiences to gain more information about huskies before adding one to their family. So rescue, rehabilitation and training to be a sled-dog together with educating and training the new owners –hopefully will result in a perfect match between dog and new forever home.