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Graphic of Hay There Esther, including an image of Esther cuddling rescue pony Seren

Hay There, Esther!

It may be a new year, but our traditions remain the same. For this month’s Hay There, we had the delight of catching up with the lovely Esther, who has been with us for five years. We can’t actually pinpoint one role Esther has here at The Horse Trust. Instead, we’d describe her job description as anything and everything!

Esther seems to have her hands in pretty much every pocket of our charity. And our charity is like those handy grooming bags we use… it has a lot of pockets!

With an original plan to study translation at University, a series of events led her down a different path. More of a Dr Doolittle of translations now, part of Esther’s job is listening to the subtle behaviour of horses to help them.

Along with this, Esther provides support across all of our departments. She has wonderful stories to share about our horses, current and former. Some joyful, some sad, and all inspiring. We hope you enjoy this read.

How long have you been at The Horse Trust?

“It was on the 12th august 2019… I remember it well. After completing my Equine Science and Business degree, I had work experience with other animal charities before settling at The Horse Trust in Buckinghamshire. Thanks to the Learning Theory training I received previously, I slotted with relative ease into the role of Training Officer here.

After two years I became a Senior Training Coordinator, which involved assisting our sister organisation, British Animal Rescue Training Association (BARTA) and coordinating our online training resources, such as those delivered via our Talk Equine platform. I recently relocated back home to Leicestershire which meant a brief stint away from The Horse Trust, but they couldn’t keep me away for long! I recently returned with a new (hybrid) role.”

What are you doing now?

“Similar to my previous role, I work alongside Liane, our Equine Quality of Life and Research Director to assist with the new equine training and behaviour support initiative that we are launching this year for our loanees. As part of this project, I’m currently developing a bi-annual newsletter, which will be all about equine behaviour and training.

At other times I work with the Knowledge and Skills team to conduct BARTA training, where I teach equine handling and behaviour theory. I also quality assure courses, help on the yard, film training sessions, and keep the rehoming and research section of the website up to date.”

Esther also helps the Fundraising department to convey messages about horse behaviour and health. She works especially closely with the sponsor horses, fact checking, and writing our dearly departed horse dedications.

As Esther continues to list her priorities, we wonder; How does she have time to do it all?!

“It can be a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, and people are often bidding for my time on certain tasks. There’s no secret to managing time. I split different days for different departments but sometimes they blend as some things are urgent. Working on a yard with 145+ retired horses, often unexpected things crop up!”

What sparked your love of horses?

“Oh that’s an easy one!” Esther says. “I was always an animal-mad kid, continuously asking mum for a pet. My family moved to a place near a riding stables and my parents couldn’t stop me anymore. I had riding lessons from the age of six until I was an adult, but I never planned for it to be a career. I planned to study Business Translation as I pick up languages really quickly.

When it came to UCAS I realised my heart wasn’t in languages. Despite much dissuasion surrounding horses not being a good career choice, it was the only option to me.

It can be tricky if you’re not from a horsey or farming background to get into that world, which is why when I speak to younger people in a similar position, I always tell them to go for it. Your parents don’t always know best!”

Do you have any favourite horses at The Horse Trust?

“I have a few favourites at The Horse Trust… Gemma, a little palomino pony, who retired to us from Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and Bronwen who was Seren’s mum, but the big love of my life was Morgana who arrived with Merlin from the horrors of a welfare case we were involved in back in 2019.

We were unsure how long Morgana had on arrival as she was so sick. We estimated no longer than 6 months, but she just kept going. She had chronic liver and gut damage, arthritis, and a severe conformation issue that required surgery.

Through careful monitoring and managing any pain or discomfort she felt, we managed to ensure had a good quality of life at the sanctuary, despite the medical concerns. She really was nothing short of a medical marvel and it was almost like she had a will to carry on because she’d been rescued, and she was very excited about the amount of grass she found herself amongst here at the sanctuary.

I did a lot of one on one work with her and I used to teach her fun little tricks (which I often got told off for!). I taught her to hug… or tried to. She wasn’t great at it because she was more interested in trying to eat my fingers!”

What do you wish more people knew about The Horse Trust?

“For a relatively small charity, our output is huge… from our Home of Rest for retired and rescued horses or those who require respite, to the research we do and the influence we have on equine policy. As I work in all of these pockets now, it really hits home how much we manage to achieve.”

Thanks for sitting down with us Esther. We’ll leave you to it as we’re sure you’ll have a list as long as your arm to get through and a couple of horses to train before the day ends!

Your kind support enables us to provide the veterinary treatment our beloved residents need, ensuring their healthy and happy retirement, respite and recovery. To find out how you can support us, head to the link below.

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