About Rita Virtama

Rita Virtama

This book is quite accidental.

It started from a series of articles Jane Bellerby and I had written over the years for the Golden Valleys Riding Club newsletter. It seemed a shame to lose all the information we had gathered, so at some stage Jane said she would compile it all into a booklet. I offered to help.

In the end, it became a real book. I did the bulk of the writing, and Jane helped, a lot!

To give a full credit to everyone who contributed to this project, let me introduce them. They are all experienced, mindful horse people:

  • Jane Bellerby,  writer / journalist, based in Golden Bay.
  • Janice Schofield Eaton, writer / herbalist, based in the Motueka Valley

Jane and Janice both proofread and edited, and contributed information and knowledge, and wrote many sections for the book.

  • Jenny Bright and farrier Kris Russell gave some great ideas and feedback
  • Rose Stocker, a Massey University vet student and a horsewoman in progress was a mine of information.
  • Tony Aitken from Rangiora, barefoot trimmer and equine lifestyle adviser; and also Megan Quinn Equine Herbalist from Rangiora
  • Kat Greager from Welligton shared her journey looking after a laminitic horse.

Many other friends have shared their experiences as well. The book is full of little stories and anecdotes.

  • and many thanks to everyone who shared their photographs: mostly Jonni Causer and Jane Bellerby.

As for me, horses are now an everyday part of my life. Like many, I have always loved them, and ridden when I had a chance, but I only had an opportunity to get a horse of my own about 12 years ago. That was Gypsy, and she features in the book quite a bit. Lulu came to my life as a 2 year old, she will soon be 7.

I can still clearly remember the steep learning curve when Gypsy came to live with me. I thought I knew quite a bit, but when it came down to it I had everything to learn. I like to figure out how things work, and horses are such a mystery. They are immensely strong and powerful, and so delicate in may ways. Figuring out the best way to keep them physically and emotionally healthy in a world that is not ideal for keeping horses is an ongoing challenge.

I, like many adult riders, have my horses for pure pleasure. The only competition I have ever done are a few low key western classes. My passion is natural horsemanship and I have followed the Parelli programme for many years. I get a buzz from advancing my skills, and getting positive responses from my horses. For me it’s not about ‘how high, how fast, how many ribbons’. I aim for quality in everything I attempt to do.

So, why the book? I would love to make life easier for those just starting out, or returning to riding after a break. Some of this book might benefit more experienced horse owners, too. Nuts and bolts practical advice is a big part of the book. Horses aren’t just about fun. One day you are ankle deep in mud, wondering how you will pay for the latest vet bill and the next lot of hay. And then your horse makes you laugh. You go for a ride and find the harmony and lightness that is possible between a human and a horse, a few moments of ‘true unity’.  I always feel happier when I have had my daily horse dose.

What really fascinates me is how success with horses has a lot to do with something less tangible: my way of being. We have to learn to be in the moment, understand some of the language of the horse, and slow down. Horses need us to be good leaders, but not in an aggressive way. This is what my horses can teach me, every day.

Horses can change our lives in a profound way. All the best for your journey!