Today I rode my 2 horses, it was such a thrill. So what, you may ask? Well, it was the first time in almost 2 weeks and it had been the best part of another 2 weeks before that.
So what had stopped me riding?
I work with horses and it's not as if I have to make a special journey to get to them. It was a combination of having the time, energy/fitness and desire all at the right moment. Yes, I had been away, but I had been home between trips. Some may question my confidence, in fact I asked myself if this was a confidence issue. After all I did have a heavy fall back in April. My conclusion is yes and no. The truth is that I am listening to my body.
I have ridden most my life. Riding has been / is my lifelong passion. One of the earliest photos I have is of me on a rocking horse. I didn't grow up in a horsey family, but did have the good fortune to live next door to a farm where someone kept a lovely pony called Prince. I loved to be around him. There was also a very small riding school that started up nearby, Rectory Farm, where I started having lessons. By the age of 10 I was not only riding there, but also 'teaching', taking new riders, mostly older than me, out on a lead rein. I was there as often as possible. I was never in any doubt about my competence.
At the age of 14 my parents bought me my own horse. I adored her. She was 16.2 and 3 years old. We joined the Pony Club and learnt together. I continued to help at the riding school though not as much. I was already 'challenged' by pain and discomfort in my body. It didn't stop me riding then. At 18 I started work - office based jobs - not with horses. At 19 I qualified as a BHSAI. I taught at PC rallies and freelanced in my spare time. I was also out eventing with my mare, quite successfully. I continued to own, ride and train horses, but taught and competed less as my 'spare time' was limited. In my mid 40's I was made redundant from the marketing job I had. I decided to go back to my passion and teach riding. At last I was, at least theoretically, able to ride daily again.
I know there are people out there busting a gut to get on their horses at every possible opportunity, with all sorts of issues and I admire them. But what I have learnt over the years is that for me it is a mistake. Nearly every serious fall I have had has been at a time when I've made myself ride, or I got on knowing I was tired, in discomfort, or feeling unbalanced in some way. I would say, that when I talk about getting on to ride, I do not mean a quiet hack around the block on a gentle plod, I can do that almost anytime, but mostly that doesn't appeal to me. I mean I get on a horse that in some way puts me or them in the stretch zone, for part of the time, be it in the riding arena, out hacking or jumping.
Confidence is such a balance of skill/competence, experience and ability. In riding these must be matched or balanced between the horse and rider. If you are lacking in one or more of these areas your body will know and your confidence may appear compromised. Your job is to establish the area of weakness and to address that. A fall is not generally a cause, but a symptom. It indicates there was a problem somewhere. Often this is because of something lacking in either the rider or horse; muscular strength, fitness, a physical balance, skill or mental focus. These are present due to lack of attention, awareness, training or time.
I work with riders (and horses) of all ages and abilities, identifying and improving what start out as their areas of weakness. It is my own experience of understanding my own issues, with my body and mind, that enable me to empathise and help others find a way through what may appear at the start to be unsurmountable issues. I love to help and support others on their journey, working with them off horse and in the saddle.
Want to know more? Visit http://www.movetoimprove-equestrian.co.uk