Mardi Part 2: Jay Johnson works his magic

So my scruffy-looking project mare turned out to have all sorts of tricks up her sleeve (read part one here). Turns out she arrived with a spare eject button. After a fence, she had a neat way of dropping her shoulder bucking and spinning all at the same time making her pretty tricky to sit on. So who was I going to call? In the end, it turned out not to be Ghostbusters but Jay Johnson of Pro-horse breaking.

The reason I chose Jay over sending my mare away was that I loved the idea that he came to me. He explained that he works with your horse and you for four days and pretty much guaranteed me over the phone that I would be riding and jumping my mare at the end of the four days. What was not like about that! I knew that he specialised in sorting out end-of-the-line horses, ie those that were getting too dangerous to ride and he was their last hope but I also found out that he is happy to sort out those less dangerous but still with a serious problem. I hoped that Mardi would not chuck him off for four days, that he would ride her out and get me on board.

Jay arrived with his lovely partner Julie, on the first day he rode Mardi. He explained that he would let her do what she does then he would ‘reset’ her head. Intrigued we headed for the school after he had first leapt on her on the driveway. He rode for a bit and you could tell Mardi was sussing him out – she is a smart cookie that way. Jay wears full protective gear on these horses and if you check out his insta page you will soon see why!

Mardi meets her match in Jay Johnson

Then he pointed her at a small cross pole. Well, she nearly had him. She tried to unseat him but Jay is an ace jockey and was able to sit it out, in fact I think he was a little disappointed she did not have more to throw at him! He then carried on working her – all the time using his ‘distraction’ technique and I could see the mare coming around.

I confess that having flown courtesy of Air Mardi a few times without so much as a free bag of peanuts thrown in, I was a little wary of jumping her

Jay uses no force, he doesn’t carry a stick and he certainly does not lose patience with them. Good job, as Mardi’s next trick was to try and down tools completely. But he just kept working away with her and popping her over fences. She started off overjumping everything or trying to evade but he just made her go to the fence no matter what – trot, canter or sideways. I could see her start to settle and she ended up popping around a treat and that was day one done.

Jay on board.

Day two dawned and a sizable audience had pitched up at my place to see Jay at work. Mardi started in a slightly more accommodating mood, and soon Jay jumped off and I was on board following all his instructions. He had explained why he thought she was doing what she was doing. Basically she looked like a scrubby cob but tucked away in her rear end was a Bentley engine. He showed me how to keep her attention, to ignore her carry on and do endless patient small circles if she napped. Then came the moment to jump.

I confess that having flown courtesy of Air Mardi a few times without so much as a free bag of peanuts thrown in, I was a little wary of jumping her. Jay rolled three poles together on the ground between wings and told me to pop that a few times making sure all the way to, over and on landing that Mardi was listening to me and not just making her own mind up about in the air antics.

It worked, you could tell she was dying to punt me off but was made to concentrate instead. Jay then set me off jumping some small fences and we were away. He explained that I must never fully trust a mare with tricks like this up her sleeve and to use the three pole trick always, to start off with, as that would allow me to get her attention and keep it. Neither was I to allow anyone else to ride her as she might try her old tricks and we would be back at square one!

Read Part three to see how days three and four went.

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