Gary Witheford is an acknowledged ‘horse whisperer’ and has more than 30 years experience of working with horses behind him. He is also the first person to ‘break in’ zebras and has been termed ‘the magic man’ – but he prefers to call himself a simple ‘horseman’.
Gary lives in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where together with his son, Craig, he has a residential treatment yard working with horses – from happy hackers to competition horses - that present a wide array of problems. These range from refusing to load onto horseboxes, riding issues such as bolting, bucking, rearing and napping, to fear of traffic, farrier or vet phobias and numerous other individual challenges that can face horse owners. Gary specialises in working with racehorses and has had particular success with a very common issue - horses refusing to load into starting stalls. The most notable of his racing successes to date were Sea The Stars for Irish trainer John Oxx and the mighty Kingman for John Gosden.
Over the years Gary has also has dealt with many eventers and competition horses. As Gary explains, horses don’t really want to get into a fight and by working them using pressure and release, they quickly learn to look at you as a leader. "The less pressure there is, the more the horse will follow you. It’s the herd instinct. Horses are flight animals, whether they are thoroughbreds, ponies or shire horses, so you’ve got to understand how they think and go back to basics."
He and his team break in hundreds of horses each year, often in less than half an hour – although he prefers the term ‘start’ as opposed to ‘breaking-in’, which can be seen as negative. As the ‘magic man’ says "I like to think I let my horses do the talking and let the results speak for themselves. It’s all about trust and getting them to think ‘You’re my leader and I will follow you’. It just proves to me that the way I handle horses has to work. I have great respect for the owners, riders and trainers that I work with and totally appreciate the trust they place in me. With the increased focus on welfare for horses I hope that by working as a team we can all make things better for the horses, handlers and riders."
- Website: www.garywitheford.co.uk
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