Horse behaviourist Richard Maxwell will give his only demonstration in Scotland this year in the Borders.
The visit is a coup for the renowned Borders Festival of the Horse and will see the successful natural horseman demonstrate and pass on skills and solutions to horse-related problems near Kelso later this month.
On his website, the expert says: “I will hopefully be working with a loading problem, a schooling problem and also groundwork with an unbacked youngster, so something for everyone.”
The ex-military riding instructor was introduced to natural horsemanship whilst in the Household Cavalry and the former competitive eventer and showjumper spent many years exploring it.
“After nearly 20 years I have developed a process that is a mix of the best of natural horsemanship and traditional horsemanship, “ he says on his website.
Horsewoman Polly Fraser, who has seen Max before, is organising the visit for the festival.
She said you watch some experts who are amazing, but you go away feeling inadequate.
But she told us:“When you see Richard Maxwell, you go away thinking ‘I could do this’.
His demonstration will be at Nenthorn Equestrian Centre, near Kelso, on Monday, May 27, in the evening.
“He wanted it to be small and to be able to talk to his audience. He’s a fantastic communicator, both with the horse, and with people. His methods are so hands-on and user-friendly,” she said.
“There will be plenty of opportunity for people to ask questions. He loves talking about what he does.”
The tickets, sold on a first-come first-served basis, are available from Polly on 01835 862501 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Another first this year will be tilting demonstrations from Danish riders and a tilting-at-the-ring competition in the art, dating back to the Middle Ages, of galloping with a lance to spear a ring in a gallows, with the ring starting with a diameter of 22 mm and gradually reducing to just 6mm to leave the ‘King’ (winner) remaining.
Another highlight will be the Duke of Buccleuch opening Bowhill to give festival-goers a rare opportunity to see the family’s sporting paintings on Sunday, May 19, in the afternoon.
Popular perennials are back: the well-subscribed guided rides; a car boot sale; an evening with heavy horses at Gilmanscleuch, Ettrick; horse logging; and the grand competition day at Newtown St Boswells.
And, once again, the festival dates cover the Floors Castle Horse Trials, Kelso Races, Oxnam Gymkhana and the Duke of Buccleuch’s lurcher and terrier show.
The Horse Drawn, Drawn Horse mixed exhibition at The Pottery, Smailholm opens next Friday, and other events include Eildon endurance rides, shows and practices by the Jedburgh-based horse stunt troupe Les Amis D’Onno, cross-country schooling, an equine reiki demonstration, talks by vets including an update on sarcoids, a vaulting demonstration, an introduction to radionics, a visit to the Scottish Borders Donkey Sanctuary and local performers giving readings, music and songs from the Horse Tales and Saddle Songs anthology compiled by Judy Steel in Hawick. For more information and to book, visit www.bordersfestivalhorse.org