Meet Jessica Flaherty and Robyn. This pair is participating in A Home For Every Horse's Equine Comeback Challenge at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on October 14th. Teaming 10 local trainers with 10 rescue horses, this 90-day challenge promotes adoption, local horse rescues and awareness to the untapped potential of these talented horses.
Here, Jessica provided EquiSearch with an inside look to her rescue training background and plans with Robyn:
Q. Tell us about yourself.
A. I've spent most of my life in the Annapolis, Maryland area. I started riding as a child through a Park and Planning program, and was hooked. I've been involved with horses ever since. I worked with horses professionally for many years. When the economy tanked, I gave that up for a "real job" (though kept and trained horses personally), but am hoping to re-open my rescue and training operation in the near future.
Q. What influenced you to become a trainer?
A. I never put any thought into doing anything else. My childhood instructors were professional horsepeople, so I saw no reason I could not do the same thing. I don't think there was any specific person who influenced me, it was more of an internal driving force.
Q. Where do you foresee your training career going?
A. I would like to work more with rescue horses. Space has always limited me to the amount of horses I could take on at any given time (and finances, of course). However, I feel there are so many horses that could find great homes if they had just a bit of training. I also prefer to train the horse to their abilities and enjoyment, rather than "I want this one to jump" or "I want this horse to be kid-safe". Not every horse fits in a cookie-cutter mold, and I prefer to find out what the horse is good at, and what it likes to do, and help it excel in those areas.
Q. What encouraged you to get involved with training rescue horses?
A. All of my personal horses are rescues, of one sort or another. Its another thing I didn't put much thought into, it just makes sense for me. A well trained, well cared for horse will have no problem finding a nice show home. An underweight, older, untrained, or otherwise less-than-perfect horse will have a much harder time, and usually their circumstances are due to no fault of their own. There are so many unwanted horses out there. Putting a bit of training in one will give it a much better chance of a happy life.
Q. How did you find out about the Equine Comeback Challenge?
A. I saw an article about it on Facebook, actually. I think it was posted on the Penn National's page, though I'm not sure. I looked into it, and it seemed like a great program, so I applied.
Q. What do you hope to gain from this experience?
A. Robyn is the first unbroke horse I've worked with with severe trust issues. I've already learned more about bonding with a horse who is naturally wary, rather than naturally curious. I am continuously learning to adapt my training program and daily plans, as what I have in mind for the day may not be in line with Robyn's current emotional abilities that day. I also hope to pick up tips and strategies from watching my fellow competitors' progress.