This month we’re shining a light on our Director of Fundraising & Communications, Jess. Jess…
This month, we’re shining a light on our Director of Training, Charlotte, who is central to The Horse Trust’s diversity of training programs. A big part of her job involves working with horses to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, whilst training equine professionals to understand the hidden messages in horses’ behaviour. Charlotte has been with us since 2012, starting as our Welfare Development Assistant and is now in her 4th role with us!
We usually see Charlotte buzzing around the yard, whether that’s training our beloved rescue horses Balmoral, Clifford and cheeky George; educating our fabulous equine care team, or teaching equine professionals how to understand horses’ behaviour.
At the moment, Charlotte is very busy, as she’s also prepping new starters in our training team before she heads off for maternity leave.
It’s safe to say she’s working to a tight schedule… so thank you, Charlotte, for letting us steal you away for a quick chat!
Firstly, we just have to know… what sparked your love for horses?
“Horses have been a part of my life from as early as I can remember. I first sat on a horse when I was 6 weeks old, and my whole family are horsey. My dad was a farrier, my mum has always had horses and my brother is involved with the racing sector. It was something I was destined to fall into, in a way. I feel very lucky to have had that opportunity growing up.”
When she was younger, Charlotte explains, she competed at championship level! So we were curious…
What motivated your move from eventing to educator and Equine Behaviourist?
“For one thing, I went off to university so didn’t have as much time to put in to the preparation and fitness of the horses” says Charlotte.
“But mostly because I wanted to give back to horses for all they’ve done for me. I didn’t set out to be in this position, or even go to university. I did a National Diploma in Horse Management, then my passion lead the rest of the way. A Levels are not the only way and I think it’s important to stress that to anyone who’s still in school… you can find other ways to fall into a career you love.”
“Once I started at The Horse Trust, seeing the horses from different backgrounds and how they all behaved differently depending on their experiences sparked my passion for behaviour… I then started reading into ‘Learning Theory’ – that completely changed my life and I have never looked back.”
Is there a golden rule in education – for both humans and horses?
“To make sure horses, and people, feel as relaxed as possible. Once that’s achieved, you can then foster an environment for learning” Charlotte explains.
“But an absolute must for horses is timing. It’s about judging when a horse is ready. Many of the horses we train have suffered from neglect or abuse and don’t feel safe around people to begin with, so it’s vital we take it at their pace.”
How long does it take until you can finish training a horse? Does it ever end?
Charlotte tells us that, as with humans, every horse is different and every horses’ past is different.
“Because of that, we have to take a very individualistic approach – one horse might take a few months to recover, whilst others can take years.”
What is the biggest challenge in training?
“Although physical signs of poor health such as malnutrition and sores look the worst, psychological problems can often be the most complex… That being said, signs of physical neglect can come back years after being treated, like poor Galahad.”
Charlotte says, for her, that is the hardest part of the job.
“Saying goodbye to horses too early and knowing the reason for that was at the hands of people who have mistreated them. But I’m also happy that we get to give horses what they need at the right time for them, to minimise their suffering as much as possible.”
And the best part?
On the other hand, the best part for Charlotte is seeing the horses’ turnaround and being able to lead a normal life, like in Guinevere’s case.
“That’s such a rewarding feeling and makes me really happy. Also seeing the grooms grow in confidence, knowing that our team is helping people.”
Who stole your heart?
Now, we know we shouldn’t have favourites… but everyone has at least one, don’t they?! Unsurprisingly to us, Charlotte’s is Merlin.
“We worked very close together. He was one of the most nervous horses we’ve ever had at the trust and so he needed a lot of one-to-one work. He eventually learned to get used to routine husbandry procedures and feel safe around me, associating me with good things. We work really well together and I just love him.”
We think Merlin has a soft spot for you, too, Charlotte!
Do you have a particularly memorable day at The Horse Trust?
Charlotte had a few! Perhaps most hilarious, being the time she split her trousers when backing one of the horses…
“I didn’t mind too much, but showing your pants to the grooms in your first few weeks isn’t ideal.”
And finally for the questions we really want to ask… do you want to know the gender of your baby?
“I do, in fact I found out this weekend that he’s a boy!”
Congratulations! And we suppose he’ll be riding horses soon… who’s going to be the first recruit – one of the Shetlands?
“Oh god, no! If I had to pick, it would probably be Gabe.”
Thank you, Charlotte
We’re very lucky that Charlotte lives on site and is always on-hand when needed. Being with The Horse Trust since 2012, the charity has had the fortune of existing alongside her for many years. We’re so happy that this can continue through a very exciting time in her life, and we wish her all the very best with her new adventure.
We just want to say the biggest Thank You for everything Charlotte has done to help countless horses and equine professionals since starting at The Horse Trust, and we look forward to the many more to come.
Interested in learning more about our training courses?
Our Knowledge and Skills team provide high quality, practical and experiential equine welfare education, aimed at professionals involved in the well-being of horses in the UK. Check out more in the link below…