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First Rides

Well! I have had my first rides back in the saddle at last.

Essie went on a jaunt with Hayley from Outback Equines for almost 4 weeks. While she was there she did some showjumping (walking over the jump was her preferred method of attack), helped Hayley teach at a 4 day camp amidst the hustle and bustle of horses galore, went on trails rides and saw some cows, and demanded treats while Hayley was teaching another horse to float load.

The report was that Essie is awesome. She didn’t put a foot wrong and she coped with all of the new experiences well. In short I don’t have to worry, I can trust her.

Essie came home last Sunday, 9 weeks since Jack was born. Hayley stayed while I had my first ride.

Heading down to the paddock I had the jitters of nerves swirling in my tummy, but I reframed them as excitement at getting back into riding after 6 months!

I asked Hayley if she would get on first. As I watched her walking around those jitters started to settle and my confidence started increasing. We talked about the best way to approach riding Essie and Hayley praised the training she has received so far.

It was my turn and can I say it was the best feeling ever. Sliding into the saddle felt like sliding on an old glove that has been worn over and over until it fits perfectly and is soft and malleable in your hand. My body instantly recognised Essie’s and my muscles remembered the feel of riding her. I had had the irrational worry that I’d forgotten how to ride, but it was all there.

Walk, trot and canter with a smile. My innards felt very wobbly, my core is gone, and I had a stitch after about 10 minutes but I couldn’t be happier.

After getting off I was filled with so much joy, I was excited, ecstatic even. I couldn’t stop smiling. My new mantra beating around my head – I can trust my horse 100%.

Two days later, with my mum visiting, I had a chance to ride again. This time without the supportive presence of a trainer. It was a bit of a different ride. We started off fine however she was running in the trot and I lost my nerve and stopped trusting her. This resulted in very short reins which caused some head shaking. Afterwards I was stuck on that 30 seconds of headshaking and kicking myself for my nerves and the lost trust.

How easy is it to focus on what went wrong? Out of 20 minutes of riding all I could think about was the bad 30 seconds. The rest of the 19 minutes and 30 seconds was great.

After hashing it out a bit with mum and my husband, I tried to remember the positives from the ride and to make a plan for my next ride.

Do you do this too? Hone in on the small bit of negative when there is a plethora of positive floating about also? I know I am a sucker for this in my horsing life and I’ve also noticed it in the short time I’ve been parenting too. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Here’s to choosing to focus our attention on what went well, and to using what went not so well as a learning tool to make us better next time.

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