Rider confidence: What a difference a year makes

Rachel has an announcement in her blog this month, plus she explains why Your Horse Live left her feeling inspired...

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So winter is upon us. Well a British winter anyway. I think I’ve changed Ruby’s rugs about six times already this week as it’s lurched dramatically from ‘get out the ear warmers’ to ‘wooo hoo Summer’s here’ and back again!

Wind the clock back a couple of weeks and of course, the start of winter can only mean one thing… Your Horse Live.

I’m based about an hour away from Stoneleigh Park and have visited the event many times, each time taking away something new, and I don’t just mean a new multi-coloured rug for Ruby to look at in disgust!

This year I left feeling inspired. Not by the big names (although obviously very inspirational people), but by an eight year old boy.

Learning from others

After a hard morning of shopping, my husband and I were looking for somewhere to take a break and headed for the smaller arena where we knew there would be seats. 

(As an aside, don’t ever take your other half to a major horsey event as though they’re very good at carrying bags. They’re less good at helping you to convince yourself you absolutely need that £200 jacket and act as the voice of reason that you don’t want to hear!)

Anyway, we’d stumbled into a bitless demonstration. It took me a while to even realise the horses were bitless as I was watching in amazement at the very narrow jumps that the pairings were negotiating.

My attention however, was soon drawn to a small pony at the other end of the arena who was determined to be the star of the show, broncing, dancing about and generally making a nuisance of itself.

Despite the concerned looks of the spectators, the jockey, eight-year-old Freddie, just sat there and ignored the little monkey!

Watching him, I thought to myself “Why can’t I do that?”.

The answer? Because I get scared about what might happen instead of focussing on what's actually happening.

By dealing with the present, you're more able to effectively solve a situation that helps you to be more in control of it.

Freddie knew that he was in control and from what I saw, absolutely loved riding especially leaping bitless over cross-country fences! Definitely one to watch for the future.

Back to reality

So I returned to the yard with the view that whatever Ruby was going to do, I wasn’t going to react to it and would instead stay in control. So far, so good.

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In the past couple of weeks since Your Horse Live, Ruby and I have ridden while what sounded like the entire contents of a metal factory was being thrown in a skip next to the school, dealt with screeching power tools starting and stopping and more surprisingly, qualified twice for Rodbaston Equestrian Centre’s Winter Championships (at Intro level, obviously) with one qualification accompanied by a second place rosette!

Ruby and I have come on a lot in the last year. As my riding has improved, my confidence has improved and vice versa.

We’re now becoming more of a partnership and are currently aiming to get the elusive 70% at Intro level before moving on to Prelim.

The thought of working on our rather bumpy canter transitions is a little daunting and I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t make me feel a little nervous, but I know that I am now a much more confident rider than I was at the start of the year.

I hope that this new found confidence will help us to continue to progress in the future.

A fond farewell

Writing this blog has made a massive contribution to improving my confidence. Knowing that I needed something to write about each month meant that even if I was scared, I had to get into that saddle and put different ideas to the test.

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The positive feedback I've received from readers has helped no end, and it’s been especially useful to know that I’m not the only rider who battles nerves. So thank you for all of your support and encouragement!

So, with that in mind, it is that I say farewell to my blog as this will be my last post. Thank you all for reading my blog each month and your kind comments on social media. 

Ruby also says thank you, hopes that you all understand what she has to put up with in her very hard life and prefers her encouragement to come in the form of carrots, apples or preferably polos.

Rachel