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 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 🙂
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!
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.
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 🙂
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 😦 But at least I had some sunshine and fun in the morning.