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 πŸ™‚

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Riding Update – Lessons and A Wee Bit of Stubble Fields

Flame and I on the beachThis blog is called The Inelegant Horse Rider for a reason and that’s because I do horse ride! By the time you read this I will be on holiday in Ireland practising jumping and hopefully doing a jump or two in a row (my own small goal for the return visit to AnnaHarvey Farm). Over the last few weeks I have had some difficulties in my lessons twice being in tears and feeling incredibly frustrated with myself. Now I can safely say that an element of these episodes has been influenced by my stress levels being through the roof at my work. My lessons are after work during the week and while they definitely help me destress I also think my emotions are sometimes close to breaking when I get there. More on stress and how I am trying to manage it in a later post. Anyway, in one lesson I jumped off the horse in tears and refused to do anymore. It stemmed from the fact that once again I had failed to get the horse to canter when I wanted. It feels as though this has become a trigger for me beating myself as a rider, I have considered quitting the whole hobby after a previous lesson due to this.

In the lesson where I had jumped off my instructor Claire did manage to talk me round and got me back on (incidentally I managed to mount a moving horse from the ground – I was pretty chuffed with that, felt like someone from a cowboy film πŸ™‚ ). I was determined I would only trot, maybe removing the expectation that I would fail to get canter would help. Well of course it did. 5 minutes later I was cantering and then…I did some jumps. Admittedly two times my horse simply trotted over the jump while I sat in jump position determinedly not looking down. Honestly I had strange staring contest going on with the wall at the far end of the school, I was looking very serious. Then on the last go at the jump Gem (the lovely horse I was riding) seemed to back off approaching the jump, without thinking the age-old jumping mentality kicked in and I pushed her on meaning we jumped and landed in canter! Wow – what a horse! I was grinning about that one. I also had my mate Gemma in that lesson and I think watching someone enjoy jumping, laughing as they do it, really does help inspire me. The following
week I jumped again (and again and again) which was great fun although I am still finding it tough and we are keeping in trot just now. I fancy trying in canter as if my memory serves it is much smoother. Actually famous last words there but hopefully in Ireland I can try cantering into jumps.

As for hacking that has been fun and pretty daft. I have been riding with the girls again, now on a more regular basis, and I am loving it. The wonderful idiot that is Bibi has been helping me grow my confidence and I am asking for other horses again.Β This weekend just past I rode Flame again and although I was nervous I cantered in the stubble fields and absolutely loved it. I took it steady as my previous experiences in stubble fields have always been very, very fast and I wanted to build my confidence in a new place. I let my friends canter separately while I opted to go just with the leader – she was brilliant with my nerves. After watching my mates I decided I wanted to go in the fields so we did a lovely canter up to them, Flame seemed to constantly check I was okay but next time I will let the old dude fly. On the second canter stretch I got a little nervous again thinking it looked like a racing strip but I needn’t have worried, myself and the leader walked and trotted down it then I asked if we could have a little canter? The leader agreed so I kicked on then as she shouted I realised she hadn’t been ready to go! I felt a bit bad on that front, she was fine and we laughed about it as my friends cantered up the field to join us. Mates, sunshine, laughter and horses – a perfect Sunday afternoon. We were only missing our 4th musketeer but we are all riding together on the 30th πŸ™‚

horse in stable eating
Flame does pose pretty well doesn’t he?
horse and rider holding his head
Gemma and Ned

I won’t lie I am a little worried about Ireland this time around, my nerves are worse than last time and you all know how much I love beating myself up if I feel I didn’t meet my weird own standards. But I am trying to go with an open head and heart. I have set myself my two wee goals and the other bigger goal is simple to enjoy myself. I bought a GoPro camera so you are going to get some video action hopefully and the weather forecast isn’t looking too shabby. Maybe I will even believe I can ride following this holiday – here’s hoping huh?

horse and rider on the ground
Heather and the lovely Bibi
horse and rider on beach
“Oh I can’t possibly trot yet, my leg is sooo itchy”
horse and rider in yard
Our 4th musketeer πŸ™‚

The One where I Actually Go Over a Jump

So last night was my last private lesson with my current instructor and it was fun! I left on a total high, it might have been the sunshine, it might have been the jumping, it might have been the beautiful sunset or the great canter I got but it was a really nice way to end part of my journey with my instructor – I still have Sunday’s lesson but that will be different I am sure. Continue reading “The One where I Actually Go Over a Jump”

Now where did I place my confidence?

Okay I have a confession. I don’t enjoy jumping…there I said it! Maybe I lack the right mindset but there is simply more relief than anything else when I cross a jump. Perhaps it is just that I can’t seem to have a lesson where something ridiculous doesn’t happen …oh and of course the fact that I have cried in 2 of my last 5 lessons doesn’t help. Honestly for a 32 year old woman to be crying at horse riding seems totally daft/pathetic. Continue reading “Now where did I place my confidence?”

All Change!

So on Wednesday I had my usual lesson in the late afternoon/early evening except this time it was light throughout. When I arrived I was given the choice of B, Ct or Au – I chose B! Why? Well I also received another bit of news, my instructor is leaving the yard. Continue reading “All Change!”

I’m spinning around! (Definitely) Move Out of My Way!

I arrived at the stables for me Sunday lesson in a brief shower of hail – I should have taken it as a warning sign, that I should have stayed in the dry and just watched. I was originally given P but was swapped to Jm at the last minute. I am still a bit nervous of Jm as I haven’t ridden him much but he is such a character. That said I was feeling pretty positive as we moseyed our way over towards the school. Continue reading “I’m spinning around! (Definitely) Move Out of My Way!”

Just Keep Trotting

Happy Monday folks! I had a bit of a bleurgh horse riding lesson at the weekend. I had Td and I was a little disappointed I didn’t ride him better especially as I felt he was listening to me most of the time. It was a tough lesson space wise as we had the 3 largest horses in with us and I felt constantly worried Td and I were in the way so kept bailing out of exercises when in open order. Continue reading “Just Keep Trotting”