Back in the Saddle


I made a foray back into hacking during the 1st weekend in April. It was the first time since January I had been outside on horse back and I only cantered for the first time since January on the Wednesday beforehand. The viral infection I have had since December last year, which wasn’t picked up by me until my body began screaming at me to ‘JUST STOP’ during January has really knocked me out. Unfortunately my balance has been most affected and I have been so tired at the weekends that I cancelled many hacks booked with the thought ‘Oh I will be fine’, at times my lessons have been really tough and my instructor Claire has been brilliant throughout. One lesson I simply walked Wee Gem around the arena as two strides of trot had made me want to vomit, another lesson I cancelled two hours beforehand and all they want to know was if I was okay.

This meant the April hack was a real highlight for me, I cantered twice – both times just myself and the leader but the first time was really good and a decent length of canter. I felt really balanced as I was concentrating more than normal and looking straight ahead. The second canter #FlameTheWonderHorse felt I was off balance before I did and we slowed to trot pretty quickly. The gorgeous chestnut dude looks after me like no other horse can, with Twix gone my fondness for Flame grows each time I ride him. I felt full of joy for my hobby again until it struck me I have been riding again for 9 years! Yes, let me repeat that 9 years! Suddenly I started analyse everything – why wasn’t I better? Why were my nerves still around? Should I continue to do this if I can’t even trot in a group without being a little nervous? Why do I bother? You know the totally normal* things people say to themselves about a hobby.

I floated these ideas to Claire at my last lesson and as she stood rolling her eyes at me, explaining patiently to a 34 year old woman to stop being an idiot she suggested I set some goals for my hacking and my lessons. She also pointed out that I can walk, trot, canter and jump so really I can ride, I just still don’t believe it. To that end I have been thinking about what my new horse riding goals can be and have decided to set three and start to work towards them throughout the year.

  • Hacking wise I want to canter in a group, that’s all, nothing fancy just straightforward cantering in a group.
  • Lesson-wise goal 1: Learn 2 new dressage moves for flatwork, if Claire agrees I would like to perfect leg yield in trot and try it in canter
  • Lesson-wise goal 2: Jump a small course of jumps in canter. I don’t need big jumps I would just like a wee course. I haven’t done this for years! This one will wait until my balance is fully restored

So that’s it! I have written them down and will chat to Claire next week to see where we go from here. On a different note, I am planning on changing the blog slightly and will focus on reviews of riding establishments and quarterly updates of my riding – this applies to the horse-y part of my blog other posts will be written and published but I have realised that it might be helpful for other nervous riders if I write up where I ride and let them know my thoughts! Any comments on my goals or the horse-y plans for the blog I would love to hear them.


*sarcasm on the go here πŸ™‚

Rollercoasting on Horseback – the Nerves Go Through the Wringer

views through trees and accoss fields

For some reason June feels like April outside at the moment, but the light nights are lovely which is kind of making up for the fact that I think I have only been outside in short sleeves once so far this year. I am only sort of joking there although to be fair it has meant I have a longer lead in time to make the tshirt and vest top that are next on the sewing list.

Saturday on the other hand was a lovely warm day and there was even sunshine – in fact both days at the weekend were warm meaning the beach I ride on had more people and dogs than we have seen for a long time. The horses are not scared of dogs but lets be honest if you have a dog and you see horses please keep the dog under control – the horse I am on may not be scared of it but it will have no qualms about kicking it should they deem it necessary. Also it is worth noting there are horses that are scared of dogs and dogs that are running around horses legs have a severe chance of being injured and nobody wants that, Continue reading “Rollercoasting on Horseback – the Nerves Go Through the Wringer”

Lugs – A Legendary Horse

Lugs the Clydesdale

You may have seen Cumbrian Heavy Horses in the news recently due to a horrible, callous attack on one of their mares, Skye. I have never ridden Skye (yet) but she has been on some of the rides I have been on and she is a lovely, sweet mare. It looks like she will be fine and the team at CHH will look after her so well so she will make a speedy recovery and I hope it doesn’t affect her too much.

I also heard lately that Lugs had passed away. He was an absolute legend. He had retired out a few years ago but not before I had the pleasure of riding him. He was my steed for my first ever beach ride – he knew what his job was and he did it to perfection. I started off that ride trying to smile and joke but a fair bit nervous – by the end I was grinning from ear to ear and as well as Annie and her team credit must be go to Lugs. He gave me confidence in my riding and while I was in a good place with my nerves he helped to cement that fleeting glimpse I sometimes experience of ‘oh, I can ride’.
Continue reading “Lugs – A Legendary Horse”

Anna and the Scary Waves

Urgh head colds are horrible aren’t they? I have had one since Friday but I still managed to drag myself out my bed and to the train for my (nearly) weekly trip to Seacliff. For the first time I cycled to the stables from the station, it didn’t take too long but felt tough – that should have probably been a hint that I wasn’t well.

On Friday evening I had another lesson with Houston and while it was enjoyable I did get incredibly nervous at one point and we had to stop with the faster work we were doing. The instructor did suggest that the snorting of the horse and the fact she had tripped seemed to make me tense, that’s interesting and something I need to work with. We did manage one canter and the fact that their horses are much faster in the canter is proving good for me. Continue reading “Anna and the Scary Waves”

Confidence Nudges

Apologies for the delay in posting this week. Normally I try to post early in the week, reflecting on the weekend’s adventures but this week has already managed to run away with me. On Monday I did a presentation to a larger group of colleagues than I am used to presenting to, and I am happy to admit I was really nervous beforehand. I’m not sure I am cut out for public speaking, I find it nerve racking and while happy to chat and present to small groups of people – make me stand up and hand me a mic and I start to talk faster and faster, pretty sure I mumble and I forget some of the facts I wanted to say.

There was meant to be a colleague presenting with me on Monday but due to illness I stood up there alone and spoke. Now I have minor presentation amnesia meaning I rarely remember the full presentation I give but it seemed to go okay, I got across all the points I wanted to make and I didn’t sound like an idiot in front of my bosses and colleagues, success I feel. I even got a lovely mention on Twitter where someone said I was a delightful presenter – which is wonderful praise to receive. Continue reading “Confidence Nudges”

Sharing the fun!

Just a quick update today on the horse riding antics of the weekend. I badgered some work colleagues into joining me at Seacliff on Saturday and they seemed to really enjoy it. One had ridden there a few times before and was a very good rider while the other hadn’t ridden much but enjoyed her time in the saddle.

Horses on the beach in front of the bass rock
Somehow the background on this doesn’t look real does it?

Continue reading “Sharing the fun!”

Ready for Our Close Up

After weeks (months??) of promising photos of our Seacliff adventures here are a bumper crop taken on last Sunday’s hack with my best horse-y buddies. One of our motley crew was unfortunately unable to make it and it started to rain while we were on the beach but it was fantastic anyway.

It took me a while to gain my confidence in the canter again, Flame is not slow all the time! In fact the instructor took me for some one on one canters, explained various techniques to help me with my balance on Flame including pushing him on in the canter and to trust in myself that I am riding him and controlling him not simply being pulled along. She was absolutely lovely to ride with and my confidence grew so much that by the end I was doing group canters πŸ™‚

She also made sure to canter one-on-one with the other girls too and gave them tips and comments too. Here are a few pictures from our morning out and about. Apologies for the fact my fingers are in some of them, that’s what happens when I am riding and taking pictures!

The three of us on the horses in front of the view
The three amigos – L-R Me on Flame, Heather on BiBi and Gemma on Vicky

Continue reading “Ready for Our Close Up”