Social media is so powerful and touched my life in so many ways, to include connecting with riders around the world. I have built a friendship with Kayla and her horse Wayward Blue Jeans who are living in Lubumbashi, Congo. I love seeing their bond so much so that I have decided to launch another highlight series called Bonding Highlight. I am so inspired by the passion that Kayla has to keep working with Blue Jeans and the gift of that bond. No matter what continent you are from or live on, a bond with a horse is extraordinary. Check out more of Kayla's journey below.
Where are you from and when did you start riding?
I am originally from Port Elizabeth, South Africa but now live in Lubumbashi, Congo for just over a year now. I have had a passion and love for horses since a very young age. I started riding properly (Lessons etc) in high school for my school. Had to stop for a little after high school as I started studying in Port Alfred but that didn't stop me completely LOL. My friend had a farm just outside Port Alfred so we used to go on trail rides along the beach. Anytime I could I would be there with a horse named Summer.
What horse opened your heart to the deep connection between a rider and a horse?
The horse that has completely and absolutely stolen my heart is Wayward Blue Jeans. I met him in Congo. I went for my first lesson on a horse called Rakaan and I battled with him so much so I asked my trainer which other horses I would be riding as I am quite tall so I would need the bigger horses at the stables and he mentioned Blue Jeans, so I walked around the stables to find his stable and as I came close to it he wanted to bite me and wouldn't let me near it. I was a bit worried at that stage as I couldn't even get close enough to pet and love him.
I rode him for the first time and I fell in love and I have been very patient and persistent (but as his own pace) with him to get him to where we are today. I trust him with everything when I am with him.
I started with just spending time with him at this stable, showing him that I am not going to hurt him and giving him treats when he allowed me to pet him and be around him. He carried on trying to bite me every now and then but he got much better as time went on. I realized that not many people like him or enjoy him at the stable because he really is a difficult horse, but to me - he is everything! I have started spending time with him outside the saddle and also taking him outside the stable because I don't think he gets out too much, and since I started doing that - I have felt our connection grow and grow.
Who is your favorite horse now and what is your favorite time together?
Wayward Blue Jeans. My best time with him is when we are in the arena together and we just work together so well. Another one of my favorite times with him is when I am finished my lesson and I go and wash him, this is really our one on one time together, there are moments we just look into each others eyes and I put my hands on his pink nose (yes he is a grey and yes those pink noses are the cutest in the world :)) and I just talk to him. This is something so special to me because I know he trusts me, from not being allowed to touch his face or nose to be being right there looking into his eyes and he just stares back at mine. This shows me that our time together is making a difference for him. I think he can feel the love I have for him which I don't think he has had much in his life. Before me I don't think he knew the love a human can give.
Who do you look up to in the riding world and why?
I am rather going to say who I look up to in the Instagram riding world :) one of my favorite people in riding is @evaursin, she has got such a special connection with her horses and I absolutely love how she looks after them. I also absolutely love @swingjynx as her horseman ship with Jynxy is unbelievable! I believe that horses is not only about riding the and competing in the greatest shows and always trying to place in a show, I believe that the connection you have on the ground is what is most important and once you have that, you have everything with a horse. @LifeEquestrian is also one on my favorites as she has such a special bond with Capri and they jump magnificently together. She also has that connection on the ground with Capri and of course he is also a grey <3
What about the bond with a horse is special to you?
I often say that if you not a horsey person or not someone who has been around horses or rides horses, you don't really know what we mean by saying that there is such a connection with this horse. I must be honest, I had never felt the trust and connection between a horse before until I met Blue Jeans. There was one time especially when I knew I had all my trust in him. We were jumping in the dressage arena as the jumping arena was busy getting ready for the big international show that we have in Lubumbashi every year. We were jumping 6 jumps with incredibly tight turns and as you know a very small space compared to a jumping arena. It was the first time I was jumping with Blue Jeans in this arena and this is where I felt it. I trusted him with my whole heart to get me over all those jumps and I was not afraid at all, I was not nervous, I just trusted him. It was honestly the most amazing feeling in the world.
The bond between a horse and rider is so special because once you have that trust with each other, I believe you can do anything with that horse and that horse will take you places you have never been or seen before.
Follow Kayla-Rae and her bond with Blue Jeans
@kaylzbradfield #BlueJeansAndKayla @jaykay_equestrian