Nothing ‘Daft’ about Karen’s equine journey
Trip results in book and talks on training methods
In 2017, east Perthshire’s Karen Inkster went on a 300km journey in a final desperate bid to save her horse, Connie.
Little did she know that, four years later, that trip would see her recognised at a worldwide awards ceremony.
Karen’s ‘The Deaf, the Daft and the Ditsy’ journey round the Outer Hebrides captured the imagination of animal lovers across Perthshire and beyond.
And it continues to inspire today. A diary she compiled was made into a book, and has helped her raise thousands of pounds for animal charities.
And late last year it was named the winner of the ‘international equine travel award’ at the Equus Film Festival.
“It was a nice surprise,” Karen (45), from Caputh, said.
“When I was on the trip with the horse and dog, I kept a diary, just for my own sanity, to write down how Connie had been behaving.
“When I came back, I did a couple of talks and raised some money so I decided to type up the diary and see if I could sell it for charity.
“It’s gone a bit global - I’ve sold books all over the world.
“Someone from America got in touch from the awards asking if I wanted to submit it.
“They had a Zoom thing and when I looked at the entries, they had some serious contenders.
“I thought it had been nice to be asked to submit something but I didn’t even watch it.
“The next morning I got an email. I didn’t quite believe it and so watched the ceremony again.
“It was a huge shock.” Despite the honour, the real prize from the trip has been the change in Connie’s behaviour.
Before they set off on their journey, Connie, now 15-years-old, was prone to biting and rearing, something that
left Karen, who works for the Scottish Right of Way and Access Society, with broken ribs and various other injuries.
“The trip was to try and sort Connie’s behaviour,” she explained.
“She had major behavioural issues and was at risk of being put down.
“But the trip changed her and she’s never looked back.”
Karen was the ‘Daft’ of the journey while Connie was the ‘Ditsy’.
The ‘Deaf’ member of the trio was Karen’s rescue dog Pip, who despite getting on a bit, is still doing fine.
“Pip’s now 14,” Karen said. “But she’s still fit as a fiddle for an older dog.”
Karen is not happy to sit back and rest on her laurels though.
She is already planning another trip with a new horse - Monty.
Like Connie, seven-year-old Monty has behavioural issues and has left Karen needing hospital treatment on more than one occasion.
“He makes Connie look like a lamb. I seem to be a glutton for punishment,” Karen laughs.
“His name is Monty and he’s a mustang. I reckon he thinks he’s still living on the open plains of Montana.
“He’s given me a few good visits to hospital.
“I looked at it last year but Covid-19 had other ideas. It’s still the plan. I love journeying with them, sleeping under the stars.”
Karen hopes her own way of dealing with horses will eventually squeeze out the more traditional methods.
“They say never work with animals or children, but I like taking on the ones that are a bit hard to reach,” she explained.
“The traditional horse world is very much spurs and whips and it’s about dominating the horse - you become its leader.
“My approach is completely different, it’s more about positive reinforcement.
“It takes longer but you do not dominate them. It is more down on the ground and they are not tied up.
“You get a horse like Monty, if you tie him up, he will attack you. It would be dangerous for both of us.
“But if you work with him, the bond is a lot stronger because it’s about respect.
“You are the horse’s last chance and the results you get are amazing.
“If you saw someone hitting a dog with a whip, you would report them.
“The world is slowly starting to look at how we treat our horses.”
Copies of ‘The Deaf, The Daft and The Ditsy’ are available direct from Karen through the Deaf, The Daft and The Ditsy Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen also does talks about her journey and methods.
Her next Zoom talk is on February 26 and tickets are available from https:// www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-deaf-thedaft-and-the-ditsy-fundraising-zoomtalk-tickets-139407612923
They say never work with animals or children but I like taking on the ones that are a bit hard to reach