Hi there, my name is Maria but I also go by “the human one” and “Small Human”.
I run an Instagram account called The Emotional Pony – @theemotionalpony. My account is a light-hearted take on horse ownership and more or less a diary reporting on the day-to-day challenges and conversations between my horse Manu and myself.
We are located in sunny ‘ol Perth in Western Australia, which means we have some of the best (horse) beaches in the world and some of the yuckiest creepy-crawlies around the barn. – Yes, it’s true, don’t leave your boots uncovered and outside overnight! I am originally from the Netherlands but have been able to call Perth my home for over 10 years now.
In my day to day life, I divide my time between university, where I study a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), the barn with Manu and my study where I have created a bit of a habit of burying myself in books. I believe it is super important to maintain some type of balance between studying and “me” time and luckily Manu fits in perfectly there.
Introduce Manu (Breed, age, personality!)
Manu is an 11-year-old Paint x Thoroughbred gelding and my absolute pride and joy. As it turned out, he is everything I swore I never wanted but turned out to be everything I needed. – Funny how that works, isn’t it! My plan involved finding myself a schoolmaster Warmblood but instead, I found myself a 6-year-old unbroken paint stallion. – OOPS, not quite what I had planned…
Getting him started and gelded at 6 has left him with a lot of opinions and earned him the title of resident NOTAGOODBOY. Mind you, although that has kind of become his title, I do say that light-heartedly as he has a heart of gold.
Manu has a very inquisitive nature and will 100% give back what you give him, which turned out to be a big learning curve for me and made me grow massively as a rider. Mind you, we still have a long way to go as my studies often keep me from maintaining a consistent training schedule, but I just love that we are constantly learning from each other.
Nowadays Manu and I spend the majority of our time “prancing about”, which is really just slang for dressage and working on improving ourselves. We don’t compete (yet), but I do intend to start him once I have graduated!
Other than that, I do have to admit that we also spend a fair amount of time arguing over snacks and whether he should be allowed to bust the gate and visit his long (resenting) crush Gidge.
What inspired you to create your social media account?
I have always been quite a “creative” type of person and studying science made me feel like I wasn’t often able to show that side of me. I love writing and telling stories and so I decided to make an account for Manu. I mean, why not right?! As it turned out people enjoyed hearing about our little victories and meltdowns and it just went from there! I still can’t quite believe we’ve grown so much, it’s absolutely amazing.
Instagram has offered me the opportunity to make friends from all over the world and I am so grateful for that!
Which Neue Schule bit do you use?
I work Manu in a Hunter Dee Turtle Top as it is such a lovely low-profile bit. The D rings help provide stability which I find offers Manu more confidence and in turn allows him to relax more, which honestly makes a world of difference for us both.
Could you describe Manu’s way of going before his Neue Schule Bit?
Before using the Hunter Dee Turtle Top Manu used to have a very active mouth and could be inattentive to my aids. He would get himself in such a rut and it was very challenging to disengage his mind from that as he couldn’t relax easily. Naturally, I explored dental issues and other underlying causes, but I couldn’t come up with anything. I tried several different bits initially but couldn’t find “the one”. Eventually, I bit the bullet and invested in Neue Schule and we haven’t looked back ever since!
How did your Neue Schule bit change his way of going?
The Hunter Dee Turtle Top made a massive difference for us. The turtle top initially got a few testy chomps and chews, but he very quickly worked out that he didn’t have to worry about chomping the bit in half. Instead, he (finally) started to redirect his attention to me. I started working him in this bit “bit by bit” (sorry I couldn’t help myself!) and every ride he became softer in the mouth and eventually he started to actually carry and hold the bit. Over time his tension disappeared, and we have been able to make massive progress since. I believe that the Hunter Dee Turtle Top really boosted his confidence.
What do you like about Neue Schule bits?
I love how soft and warm the bits are. Manu is never fussy to take the bit when I tack him up and that says a lot, especially in winter!
Being a bit of a science nerd myself I love reading up on all the research and hard work that goes into them!
Would you recommend Neue Schule bits to others?
Absolutely, I don’t use anything but Neue Schule nowadays!