About Lucinda McAlpine

Lucinda McAlpineLucinda McAlpine’s involvement with horses dates back to her earliest years whilst living on her grandfather’s thoroughbred stud, Brackenhill. The foundation for her love of horses was built there during many long hours spent talking to the mares and foals in the paddocks and watching their development.

After many years pursuing a competitive equestrian career in the show world, riding champion show ponies, hacks and riding horses and training and competing in dressage both in England and in Germany, she has moved from Brackenhill Stud. At Bowhayes Farm, her new base in Devon, she has the opportunity to develop her unique style of producing competition horses.

Lucinda’s involvement in competitive equestrian sports stems from her love and respect for the nobility and generosity of the horse. It is with this in mind that she has for the last fifteen years been developing a system of stress-reduced horse management. Whilst working alongside some of the top competition horses in Germany and in England she became aware of the fact that an alarmingly high percentage of highly talented youngsters never fulfill their full potential and that far too many competition horses suffer stress-related injuries and disorders. In the worst cases this lead to premature deaths. It seemed outrageous to her that dressage horses should often suffer terminal lameness when the aim of dressage training is to produce the ultimate athlete! The incidence of colic as the cause of death amongst even the best-kept competition horses is a frightening statistic. Respiratory disorders, temperament problems and spinal misalignment are a common occurrence.

Lucinda’s passion for her own horses made her determined that they should not join the statistics and as a result of increasing contact with holistic and alternative veterinary practitioners she combined the experiences of dealing with her own horses problems with research into the detrimental effects of the conventional domestication of horses. This led her, by slow degrees, to her present system of keeping horses in as natural a state as possible. The horses at Bowhayes all live outside, in herds, without shoes. The paddocks have been reseeded with a herb mixture and have field shelters (which the horses seldom use) or natural shelter from woodland. Whilst ample feedstuffs are provided the emphasis is on observation of the horses actual behaviour patterns and their needs dictate the course of the management.

Having kept horses in the conventional way Lucinda has gained vast experience throughout the gradual process of returning many different breeds and types of horse to a more natural state, and as a result is more than aware of the pros and cons of both systems of management. She is also continually building a list of contacts in the fields of alternative veterinary medicine, which includes chiropractors, aromatherapists, acupuncturists, distant healers, Reiki masters, sports massage therapists and teachers of awareness techniques. The field of equine science is also expressing an interest in her work and she hopes to be able to link these varied experts through study and discussion days at Bowhayes Farm.

The management programme for the horses, however, is only part of the story. Whilst almost any problem horse will improve after a period of time at grass some are desensitised to the point where they have lost the awareness that is vital for them to heal themselves. Many emotional problems may be genetically inherited or so deeply entrenched that a ‘new way’ and a reason to change has to make sense and be considerably more comfortable. Lucinda uses various techniques to work with both the physical and the mental/emotional problems with an aim to finding the best that the horse can be. The work is both from the ground and also ridden, as necessary, and she works from an intuitive standpoint using her bond with that horse to dictate the course of the session. The ridden work aims to build the athletic ability of the horse to carry the rider in the most efficient and comfortable way possible, the work free enables the horse to find his full movement potential for himself and to recognise and loosen any tightness that is limiting that ability.

She may sometimes have a little help from her friends – the other horses all have a part to play as they, unlike humans, speak the same language. Lucinda believes that EVERY horse can achieve world class performance – they are just limited by the amount of dedication that the owner is prepared to put into the project. At Bowhayes Farm life is not dictated by the rulebook and things that ‘should not happen’ are a reality. The proverb goes that you can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make it drink – not so at Bowhayes Farm!