Back in the Saddle

FlameAndIJan16

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 🙂

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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”

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 🙂

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”

Frosty Cantering

Apologies for the lack of posts this past week. I had plans to write about the other options I chose for wrapping paper (managed to avoid buying any this year which is a little victory) and my pre-Christmas riding but time ran away with me.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (those who celebrate it). It has become nice and cold here with frosty mornings and snow falling in the hills and mountains to the North.

Channelling my inner cowboy! I couldn’t stop laughing at myself in these, evidenced by this picture clearly.

I spent a wonderful, almost magical hour out and about on horseback during Monday. The frost covered ground sparkled as though it was covered in Christmas glitter, it was blue skies and sunshine with the cold so sharp it took your breath away. I wore thermals for riding along with a hoodie, a waterproof and a body warmer, luckily both my mate and I were kindly given full length chaps by the stables which kept us nice and warm on the ride. It was icy underfoot, or should that be underhoof?, but the route was picked carefully and the horse all coped with no problems. We even found some nice canter spots that were lovely to ride upon. After a couple of moments I settled back to trust Flame with his job and to get us to where we needed to be.

I am annoyed with myself for not taking more pictures as it was a stunning day. I had my camera with me the whole time but I did have a couple of nervy moments and the owner pretty must gave a me a constant private lesson for the whole hack, good but exhausting! It felt like I was doing everything wrong. My legs were in the wrong position, my hands were in the wrong position, I was tense, I was paying too much attention to Flame, I was holding myself too still, there was too much air between my knees and the saddle and that I keep pointing my toes outward. Phew! That’s not all of the comments but that’s enough. I guess I have slipped back into some bad habits riding-wise so I know these are all things to work on. Plus she genuinely seems to want to get me over my nerves so I can’t be too upset. Oh and the fact that she admits to having nervous moments helps me realise that my nerves aren’t ridiculous 🙂

I had a lovely fast canter through the field next to the cliffs watching canoeists out in the freezing cold seas. Flame was nice and controlled then I lost it slightly as we started to turn up the speed dial and I passed my friend and was bearing down on the owner oops, so I shouted that I wanted to slow down as I had been warned not to pass the leader as her horse would not respond well! Flame instantly slowed to a trot which shows he was still listening to me and that he was reading cues from the other horses and riders. After a bit more meandering through the frosty air and crunching leaves in the woods we reached a frost covered beach where we had a lovely canter across the sands. I felt worried again immediately after the canter but was made to drop my reins to help me understand that I am not permanently two seconds from being madly out of control.

The pictures below are of Flame at the end of the ride, he was very cuddly, full of beans trying to locate carrots and chewing on my body warmer. He was cuteness personified, or should that be horseified?
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So that was my last ride of 2014, a fun, frosty ride with some canters thrown in and room for some improvements! I have been starting to think about how 2014 was as a year and new goals that I can set for 2015 but that’s for future posts. In the meantime have a lovely hogmany! See you all in 2015 🙂