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Janine Wilbraham: Can You Hear Me?

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I was able to complete my training at a nearby stables, where I found work. Here there were riding horses for the school, and liveries, horses that were stabled and in part looked after for their owners. Also, rescue horses were taken in.

          It quickly became chaos as the horses realized I could hear them, and they tried to speak to me. Whenever I went into the field, they all followed me. I found it draining to try and make promises which I might not be able to keep. And the horses showed me things which were so upsetting I found it hard to cope at times. A lot of the horses were rescues or were purchased from sales; the owner had a soft spot for any ill looking or depressed animals, and she was involved in horse welfare so we had all sorts. These poor animals would tell me about the things that had happened to them. One horse had been a show jumper and his legs were tender and covered with bumps. He told me that to make him jump higher the pole had been fixed (this is called rapping their legs). When he could no longer win any prizes he had been left in a field, with little food, and was often cold.  Others told me of riders that had mistreated them and people so heavy on their backs that they were still in pain from back problems. 

Once the horses were OK they were used in the riding school but never overworked and they seemed to enjoy their new life. The ones that were not keen on different riders would, if the right person wanted them, be sold to vetted new owners.

         All of us working at the stables had our own yards to look after as well as the riding school horses. One day on arriving at my yard I experienced this feeling of doom and total panic. I couldn’t shake it off. When we went to fetch the horses in from the field the feeling intensified and the noise in my head grew louder; it felt like I was drowning. I had to tell the other girl who was there working with me, and she seemed to believe me. We got the horses in and then went to fetch the others – but one was missing, a horse called Ureock. We searched everywhere. I asked him where he was and he showed me water. We couldn’t think where it was, but then we remembered the canal.

         We ran there so fast I could hardly breathe, and there poor Ureock was; he had fallen in. The gates were closed and the section he was in had filled up with water. I remember jumping in and trying my best to hold up his head, to save him from drowning. People appeared and the gates were opened to let the water out.

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