Gilbert is an expert rider and has trained difficult horses to perform successfully, as well as helped experienced riders discover better ways to handle their horses. However, he has a soft spot for beginners and the patience to help a beginner (young or old) learn “horses” from the ground up. In the summer of 2011, one of his clients was Linda Jakubec, who had owned horses for several years but still felt uncomfortable around them, especially a spooky little thoroughbred mare with “issues” from her past. Sierra wouldn’t let herself be caught, and would start to panic on the lead rope. Even experienced horse handlers had difficulty with her, so it’s no wonder that Linda was frightened by her behavior.
When Sierra first arrived at our farm, she was so jumpy and hard to handle on the lead rope that I (Ruth) didn’t think that Gilbert would be able to turn that little mare into a safe riding horse for Linda. I wasn’t even sure that Gilbert would be able to ride her! And he didn’t – not for several weeks – because she wasn’t ready. First, he had to spend time working on some pain issues. Possibly due to some pasture horse play, the little mare had severe pain in her neck and poll area, as well as down her back. That’s why she acted up on the lead rope in reaction to any pressure from her halter.
Gilbert spent weeks working towards taking away Sierra’s pain and making her more comfortable. He adjusted her spine through manipulation and massage, helped her learn to trust the human touch, started at square one with ground manners and basic training. He made sure that her feet were balanced and comfortably shod. When Sierra was happy to be touched and there was no more sign of discomfort in her neck and back, she was finally ready for saddle work. Gilbert started her gently and gradually, giving her time to get used to having someone on her back again.
I am 61 yrs old with little riding experience, didn’t know how to put on a halter or saddle, and knew nothing about the background of my horse “Sierra”, who shyed and spooked at almost everything. As green as we both were, off we went to Gilbert Roy. Sierra went first, and stayed with Gilbert so he could work with her every day, until Gilbert felt it was time to re-introduce her to me.
What really stood out about Gilbert in training sessions with Sierra, was his high regard for safety, both for horse and rider, and his thoroughness with every little detail from the ground up, so to speak. Whether it was a session on grooming, putting on tack, or riding technique, he was extremely patient, and allowed us to get comfortable with what we had learned, before moving on to something new.
Because of Gilbert, Sierra and I can now enjoy each other’s company the way horse and rider should.