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Debbie Reilly

Debbie has always loved horses. As a child she was a keen member of the Pony Club and in her teens was a promising eventer trained by ex-Olympic coach Pat Burgess.

A skiing accident, however, very nearly ended her riding career when she plunged 40ft down a mountain while on a school trip in Switzerland.

"There were times when I wondered if I would be ever be able to ride again. But, luckily, although I'd got a compressed fracture - as well as whiplash and a broken wrist - there was not lasting damage to my spine," recalls Debbie.

The accident which happened just two weeks before Debbie's 18th birthday then served to steer her career on a different route and away from the horses that had always been her passion.

She left for London where she trained as a Registered Staff Nurse working in orthopaedics, then later qualified as a massage therapist

Although Debbie enjoyed her career, she still felt restless, so decided to travel to French Polynesia and then hitch-hike round New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Peru, Bolivia and Australia

It was at a huge cattle ranch in Australia's Northern Territories that Debbie took the first steps towards her new career as a horsewhisperer.

"They'd break the horses in the old fashioned way, they'd be tied down, branded. . . it was terrible. I was bitten by the bug again, and seeing these horses and the hard life they had made me wish that I could do more for these wonderful animals that have done and continue to do so much for us.

"So. . .when I got back to England and saw Monty Roberts on TV, I was bowled over," she remembers.

After taking a ten week Monty Roberts course in the UK she later left for America where she trained and worked with Monty himself and his right-hand man, Crawford.

On her return to Hampshire, Debbie formed Understanding Equus and runs clinics and courses with her counterpart Maya Horsey, operating from Rawlsbury Farm in Higher Ansty, near Dorchester.

Understanding Equus offers the opportunity to gain the Monty Roberts Introductory Course in Horsemanship, clinics, individual training, lessons, livery service as well as lecturing at colleges and universities.

"I love people and I love horses, and I have seen the power of this work and how it can change people's lives and their outlook on life," says Debbie.

Debbie Reilly can be contacted at Understanding Equus by phoning: 01425 473151 or emailing:

Visit the Monty Roberts Learning Centre on Stand No. 53 at the British Equine Event, 2nd & 3rd November 2002


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