T'pau is a sorrel and white 'paint' Quarterhorse/Welsh mare. She is a typical 'chestnut mare' type, very dominant and spooky but with a very sweet nature, despite her 'prima dona' attitude.

I've always wanted a 'paint'. We call them 'skewbalds' in the UK, but I think 'paint' is a much nicer name. I fell for her as soon as I saw her. I love Appaloosas too, and the splash of white on her bum looks a bit like an appaloosa 'blanket'. She actually looks as if someone's thrown a bucket of white paint over her rump, and if you look closely, you'll see three white spots where the 'paint' dripped! She came from Carmarthen in West Wales. Her owner had a Western riding centre and she has never been ridden any other way than 'Western.' (For those of you who don't know the difference between Western and English riding, I'll be discussing this at a later date. It's not just different 'tack' the Western way is more relaxed and 'natural' than the more formal English way of riding and most horses take very kindly to it.)

As I said, she's a sweetheart but very spooky. She's a lovely ride, and very obedient, but if so much as a butterfly flies too close to her ears she immediately reacts like a bucking bronco, and my five foot nothing and little legs can't stay on board. As I sit in an undignified heap on the ground she looks down at me with that 'what you doing down there mum' puzzled expression on her face.

In an effort to calm her down, I've been doing Monty Roberts exercises with her. She loves them. She enjoys walking over a wooden 'bridge' on the ground, and will take four steps back, four forward, three back, three forward, etc. and 'joins up' willingly. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it's a way of getting the horse to follow you without a halter or lead. He uses the method to train wild horses, and it involves sending the horse in a circle around a 'round pen' and then gradually as it accepts you it will come into the centre and begin to follow you 'join up'. That's a very simple explanation for what is actually an amazing process. With T'pau, I begin by lunging her in a circle with a halter on, then, when I know she's listening to me, I ask her to come to me, then slip the halter off, and we do the exercises. She will follow me around the field, just as if I were leading her in these exercises. However, she still has her moments, and if she decides she doesn't want to do any work today, she'll lead me a merry dance around the field before eventually standing still to let me catch her. I do sometimes wonder who's training who!