Horse Riding Nerves

Obviously you all know I am a nervous rider and that I have been having particular problems over the past six or seven months. I never stop trying to help myself overcome them or stop looking for different ways to help me understand them and stop them taking control. The ever lovely Annie of Cumbrian Heavy Horses fame has recommended NLP to me for the past year and I found a lass in the UK who specialises in working with riders and horses to overcome their fears. Unfortunately for me she lives in the South of England and works more with horses AND their owners, being without a horse I looked for information she might have that could help me and lo and behold I found the Become a Confident Rider self study course that she has created.

I am just starting out and am working on part one at the moment but even to have taken a step towards working out my nerves is a good first step. I will share all my thoughts and opinions on the blog as I work through the guides and let you know how I get on. I don’t expect a change to happen overnight but this time I need the change to happen within me and for me not to put my confidence and belief in others rather than myself.

Happy horse riding this weekend folks! I am off to a wedding so no riding for me but at least I will have gin! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sustainable Fashion Challenge

Over the past nine days I have been taking part in theย 20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challengeโ€ created by Summer Edwards of the lovely blog Tortoise & Lady Grey. It has been great fun and I thought I would share some of my thoughts from some of the challenges so far.

So far the challenges have been quite simple. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I more mean simple as the challenges are all ones that you take as little or as much time over. The individual challenges really got you thinking about your relationship with fashion and how you want that relationship to be moving forward.

So here come some reflections from the first eight days of the challenge. On day 1 I rated myself as a 4 on knowledge of sustainable fashion although I always want to learn more.

Reflections on my Relationship to Fashion

I am starting to want to change my vocabularly around fashion, and start to use the word style in place of “fashion”. I think that this is because fashion is something I personally equate with buying, seasons, must-haves and “investment” pieces. With fashion I feel I keep trying to buy one more thing while I feel style is more personal with elements that come from magazines, TV and other media our personality is so much more on show with style than with fashion.

I like to try to plan ahead but I am more of an impulse buyer and I think this can be seen in the amount of patterns that exist in my wardrobe, the majority of which I love, but there is a distinct lack of plain basics.

While I don’t go shopping really at all anymore (I’d rather been on horseback ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I still enjoy window shopping online and love blogs that show off the style of others.

If I am being totally honest I think I spend too much on clothing, even though it is now 2nd hand or ethical/sustainable items I think I simply still buy too much and too often. I also often have misplaced ideas as to what is a reasonable thing to spend money on, for example I did find it tough to spend the money on my new riding boots even though they will last for years and be worn at least once a week (hopefully more).

Reflections on the relationship with my current wardrobe

When I open my wardrobe in the morning (this is metaphorically opening as the wardrobe is never closed) I usually have no idea what I am going to wear. Unless I am off to the horse riding but even then working out what to wear on the top half is sometimes a little time consuming.

I often have trouble deciding what to wear and how it will work in practice e.g. if I am cycling to work, running in my lunch break, meeting colleagues or externals or what I am doing after work. I am the type of person who is carrying three different tops and a pair of shoes with them (my bags are like the tardis).

When I look at my wardrobe I still think I am missing items. That if I could just find X or Y then my whole wardrobe would work together and I could stop shopping for a while.

I also like to be able to wear different outfits depending on my mood. I am not someone who has a ‘uniform’ but there probably is an underlying theme to what I like to wear. I particularly like wearing relaxed tops or jumpers with smarter or tighter fitting trousers or skirts and I like prints so I will always have an element of it somewhere in my outfit even if it is just a scarf.

Finally, a particularly apt thought as I try to find an outfit for a wedding this weekend. I sometimes feel I am not very good at having nicer going out clothes or a wedding outfit. I am quite a casual woman at heart and I think that comes through in my clothing choices. I am beginning to worry about what I will wear on Saturday. It might be jeans at this rate ๐Ÿ™‚

Some other elements of the challenge

Next up after all the reflecting was a pruning of your existing wardrobe, I do this regularly so there wasn’t actually too much to be given away and there was also only one item with outstanding mending required. I have decided to attempt to alter a top too, I like the colour and stripes on the t-shirt but the sleeves have gone a little baggy at the wrist. I have cut these off and Wunderwebbed it to make the sleeves 3/4 length and due to my love of peter pan collars I plan to add a collar to the top. It might not work but in which case it will be turned into rags. I also sat and mended the small hole in a pair of exercise tights last night, not very well but you have to start somewhere with this stuff and more importantly now these tights can be put back in the exercise wear rotation.

One of the days challenges was to style an item in your wardrobe differently. I chose one of my shirts for work and style it for the weekend. I am definitely going to try this look out.

Outfit using shirt, waistcoat and boots
Couldn’t resist a picture of the new riding boots.

I am now off to try today’s challenge which is all about thinking a little more about budgets eek not sure I want to know how much I spend on clothing! I will post about the challenge again but in the meantime why not come and join me?

20 Day Sustainable Fashion Challenge

Oh and in case you didn’t see it earlier this week I did a wee interview with the Moral Fibres blog (ace blog, click through and have a look around), apologies for the cheesiest photo in world but that’s the only pose I know ๐Ÿ™‚

Your Ethical Style – Stephannie Hay

Saturday = Beachtime

On Saturday I woke up with a splitting headache and feeling sick, it was still dark outside and as I sat with my cup of tea I toyed with the idea of phoning the stables and cancelling. The wind that was whipping the water in the river outside also made me want to reach for the phone BUT how often do you cancel something only to feel better and wish you were outside??

So on with the jodhpurs ย and my old riding boots (the zip held together, it must have been a sign), cosied up in my Finisterre hoodie and off I headed to the train station. The rain tried to start while I was on the train but it was just spitting as the train headed out of the city to the nearby countryside. I had enough time at the wee country station to go grab a coffee and sipping it in my mate’s car on the way to the hacking stables I started to feel a bit better, the wind was blowing harder though. I did wonder whether our hack might be cancelled – after all we head to the beach, we would end up sandblasted!! I suppose there is no need to pay for a facial if you get exfoliated the “natural” way ๐Ÿ™‚

Horse-y people are hardy people and once we arrived it was clear that there was no question of the hack being cancelled. I usually ride Flame, a 2003 World Champion driving horse, and I have developed a bit of an attachment to him as he is a steady, older gent. But I was swapped off Flame!! I was a bit worried, even with the lovely stable owner and the helpers saying that Ned was nice and calm I still felt a little nervous. However, Flame is in competition mode and they wanted to put my smaller, lighter mate on him – who is also a lot more confident and competent rider so if he did have a turn of waheyness she would cope.

I stood looking around the stables tying to work out who Ned was, I asked the leader who was taking us out and she laughed. Then pointed over to him and said ‘Oh Ned, he is the one with Ned written on him’. I laughed at that, I have never expected to have my horse labelled!

Ned the horse
Sunshine and Ned

So off we went. We didn’t go into the fields as normal instead we took a more sheltered route. We had a nice long trot around one of the fields, then the leader took us for a trot through the field to meet up with the other leader and the wee kid who were out with us. On a side note it is something that I like about that place that they take very different levels out together and it works. The kid was doing great with her wee pony too, I was impressed.

I was a bit nervous heading for the trot through the field, I kept thinking he would just canter off as we were in a stubble field but he did a nice, fast trot and seemed more than content to listen to me.

We winded our way down to the beach, discussing the purchasing of new boots (our leader handily works at one of the horse shops out that way so she was giving us tips). The view on the road down to the beach is always lovely and yesterday the sun was out and the sea was relatively calm looking. It was really sheltered on the beach and the horses all pricked up their ears slightly as we headed onto the beach, they do enjoy it. I was too nervous to canter Ned to start with so my friends headed off with Bibi and Flame to do a wee canter along the beach.

Jules  Heather heading off to canter

HeatherAndJulesCantering
How’s that for a view!

My envy levels climbed too high so after a brief photo opportunity. I decided to canter Ned, oh my god I was terrible. Honestly, the leader warned me I needed to sit and kick on as he has a tendency to just extend his trot – big fail on my front. I held onto his mouth too much and didn’t really sit and ask. How on earth did I think we would canter?? I got around 3 strides but it did at least make me realise that he wasn’t about to hare off down the beach with me (well he might but I reckon we could stop).

After a bit more uhmming and ahhing I chose to canter again and this time we did it! Proper canter on the beach, just me and the leader – my mates went off and did a longer couple of canters together. I am so chuffed – he was a dream in canter. Next time I will go with my friends and canter in a group, that’s the goal – 2 weeks time ๐Ÿ™‚

Ned is a sweet heart, I adore him now. He reminds me a lot of Diablo, the first horse I really felt I had a partnership with, not only looks wise but also a horse that really waits for you to ask properly and push him through into a faster gait. I felt I had to really ride him. Flame is still a favourite though and he always will be, it was nice to feel that the stables have kind of got the measure of me and can pair me with other horses. In fact after the ride, when I was saying how much I enjoyed myself the owner did say I should trust her in the choice of horse.

I also just want to mention how great the leader was yesterday, she was really understanding of my nerves – telling me about her own experiences and encouraging me to canter but without making me feel like I had to. So pleased I braved the weather and how I was feeling, unfortunately the rest of Saturday was spent sleeping and curled up with a terrible headache and feeling sick ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But at least I had some sunshine and fun in the morning.

Me & my mates on the horses on the beach
Beach time!
A close up of Ned
Isn’t he cute?

Meet Quasar

On Tuesday night I had a lovely night out with a friend. She very kindly invited me up to her stables to have a shot with her new horse. Quasar is a beautiful beast, he is dapple grey and pretty tall – I would say around 15h. She has him on loan until May and is working to get him a little fitter, especially for the Spring – she loves hacking. I used him in the indoor school last night, it is a small-ish school (which secretly I am always pleased about as I didn’t have to canter him) but a good size for me to get to know Quasar.

It is always interesting riding a privately owned horse as opposed to the riding school ponies. He was really spritely to me, even though my mate kept referring to him as a donkey ๐Ÿ™‚ I did find it slightly difficult to think of what to do with him when left to my own devices. I did some circles, transitions, a bit of leg yielding and tried to focus a little on keeping my position correct to help him. I had so much fun it was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe how sensitive he was in some ways, the moment I applied my inside leg he willingly moved to the outside track – my main difficulty was in keeping him in trot!

Quasar and me at the stables
Quasar – what a cutie!

I am hoping that I will be able to pop up after work on a more regular basis to get to know him a little better. I also now have plans and have been digging out my dressage tests from last year, I think a warm up then a dressage test and then some exercises like serpentines and figures of eight would be really good. Of course this all depends on my mate letting me ride him again!

Quasar and me
A little bit of a poser?

Another positive was that while my nerves sometimes appeared I could settle them quite happily, part of that was definitely to do with being inside. I probably have to work up to a hack or working in their outdoor school. This weekend I will be riding twice and I can’t wait, it felt like an age since I rode when I got on Quasar and that was only just over a week!

 

Oh so that’s where my style was, it is always in the last place you look

For the past year (almost) I have been feeling particularly patchy about my style. In fact I am pretty confident I don’t have any at the moment. I have tried many challenges, tried to work through activities to help me define my style and talked about it so much I may have lost friends due to it (only kidding, or at least I think I am only kidding).

The last challenge and exercise I have been trying out have been some of the most fun ones I have come across. Both I have found via the great blog I recently discovered Sustainability in Style, a really inspiring blog and I would recommend having a read if you are interested in ethical and sustainable style.

The first I have tried has been the 30 day Who What Wear challenge. I have been enjoying it, I haven’t been doing it religiously as some of the challenges I haven’t been able to do. Also not owning a full length mirror or really being able to take a decent photo of my outfit has let me down slightly for taking pictures (see my interesting outfit photos below) but it has been fun and interesting trying to put different outfits together. I will keep going with this one.

Me in a mirror
Rapanui tshirt & clothes swap cardi, with my beloved Howies jeans
Me in a mirror
Showing off some of my shoes, just wait the shoe collection will get an airing on the blog shortly
Selfie of me in a bowler hat
This challenge was to wear the hat you don’t think you can pull off – I actually really like this hat and will wear it more

The other thing I have been trying is to do the Into Mind website exercises to try and understand what my style is. I will hold my hands up here and say that I have found it difficult to actually sit down and do these exercises but I can see how this would be of benefit. I *will* do this though.

Although at the end of all of these challenges and activities it was my lovely friend Roz who I met on Saturday who made me realise that I actually might not be in such a style funk as I thought. She laughed when I said I didn’t think I had any style at the moment and said that she felt I always had a particular style and over recent years I have toned down my clashing prints but that she felt I tend to be casual but with bright colours and prints, that I wear items in different ways to how it might be expected. That was really nice to hear, the more I think about it the more I start to think I do know what my style is! I like prints and while I adore my heels I like to be active so love flat shoes to run around in or shoes I can use on my bike. I really like the 50s style of turnups, never really realised I have turned up the hems on nearly all the trousers I have ๐Ÿ™‚

Still reckon I have a wee bit to go to work out style for things such as future purchases and what to keep and what might make its way onwards to friends, family and charity. I think I might have been inspired to do a new and more full-on challenge but more on that shortly.

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A Challenge for Every Month – Mending and Fixing

Back in August I managed to rescue two items that would have previously been destined for a lift on the shelf before falling into the landfill. I would use the term ‘upcycle’ here but it is more renewing.

I am pretty lucky as while I do not have a sewing machine or the associated skills (planning to learn these but this is an addition to a looonngg list of things I plan to learn) I do have a mother who made many of my clothes when I was wee and who used to make her own clothes. Thanks to her I have a lovely grey jumper with additional sparkle and a sleeveless top perfect for layering.

Grey Jumper with blue sequins and a eye patternThis jumper had been attacked by the moths that have taken up residence in my home last year (we have tried to get rid of them and hopefully it has worked). Lots of small holes meant that the jumper was unwearable – I had thought of wearing it with a bright top underneath but I worried all which would happen would be that the holes would increase in size. After a bit of deal brokering my mum offered to help me. She was little concerned that we wouldn’t be able to match the wool exactly which allowed us to try a technique that I have been fancying called ‘visible remend’ where you make the mend part of the design. Well my mum ended up running with this and chose some bright blue sequins to match the existing ones and after darning the holes covered them with the sequins. I think it looks great and I am really pleased, cheers mum!

The other item she helped me convert was a top I had that while lovely had a huge rip under the arm, so I cut the arms off and she helped me to tidy it up and then added the bias binding. The top had such a lovely drape on it that I am pleased I can still wear it and while it is starting to get a little cold to wear it (even with a cardigan in the office it was still a bit parky) when the weather gets warmer it will be great!

I am really enjoying trying to make my clothes last longer and learn some new skills. It is all starting to build up to a new challenge.

The Return of Tx

A Sunday lesson and a different horse?? When I turned up to the stables yesterday I had Td and while I love riding him I have felt ready to be paired with other horses again so when a classmate turned up unexpectedly (she thought they had booked her in turned out they had booked her in for next week instead) there was a bit of horse swapping and I ended up with Tx. Yup my little super Highland. I was quietly chuffed, or not quietly with everyone remarking on how happy I must be – turns out the instructor had no idea how much I love Tx else I might have gotten to ride him sooner.

Anyway we didn’t do brilliantly, I didn’t manage to get him fired up enough and we plodded a fair amount. I was told in no uncertain terms that I am too polite and I need to chase the horse sooner in order to get a good level of activity. We did get one nice canter on the right rein but he simply did not respond on the left rein (his weaker rein and my strongest) to my canter aids and rushed in the trot. It frustrated me slightly as I felt my position move as well when he did that but it reminded me of what it is like riding a different horse. I think I grew so comfortable with Td, I knew when everything was going well and I could ask for canter and my position was okay most of the time with him as I had learnt his tricks. Now it is time to get tested again and remember how Tx and I used to work best.

We did a fun exercise to help with bend, our instructor placed two poles against a jump strat – almost like a tripod, so the poles were at an angle with the point next to the pole being highest and we were to keep the horses on a circle in walk and circle around the strat with our horses having to step over the pole. To begin with Tx struggled, he was bending okay but kept slowing to a near halt. It improved on the left rein and I even got some nice leg yielding out of him but on the right rein he was a dream, we curved beautifully around the poles and we got praise for it! Unfortunately we did the hokey cokey on the leg yielding (I told you the left rein is my strongest ๐Ÿ™‚ ) but managed to straighten up and at least get towards the wall.

I found it a positive lesson yesterday, I still love Tx – I would be willing to jump him again – but I wish I had gotten more activity out of him. Sometimes I look back to a year ago and think of me and this little dude flying around the school and I get a little sad as I feel we should instantly work well together. But then I think to yesterday and remember the moment I realised his attention was on me, with his ears relaxed and flicking back to me every so often and realise I haven’t lost it entirely. Okay I didn’t have that all the time but he was listening, next up activity.

I have been trying to reflect more and more each week on how I am progressing and I think I am doing okay, each week my confidence grows and I feel like I am part of the class again not simply a spectator. I feel that each week I start to become happier to tackle each exercise and I think I am ready to consider a hack at that stables, preferably with Tx and a small group. Oh and I have realised that if the possibility of buying Tx arose, I think I would do it.