I stand here, or sit rather, I don’t have a desk high enough to stand… with my hands up and my opinions striped away from me.
How a few weeks can change things – how my life can be turned upside down, swallowed, and coughed out like a cat with a hairball. How hard work, determination and perseverance is totally worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have never doubted that it is the right idea to have determination and perseverance, but I am definitely one, who if not totally interested, will fall at the first hurdle and move on when necessary – I can be diplomatic when I am not keen or particularly interested or passionate about something.
The last few weeks, six I was told today, have been rather crazy, emotionally, mentally, physically, and relationshiply (that’s a word now…) taxing.
So, if you remember, I had a rather emotional blog post about how I couldn’t work out why I couldn’t jump, things were all getting weird and that I had a bizarre complex about the jumping part of my equestrian career – well this is where we have had the change, this is where we are now confident, comfortable and coming back with vengeance.
There was, as we all know, a monumental freak out – I couldn’t believe that I had stopped being able to do what I loved – what I thought was the best thing about riding and horses. It turns out however, that like all things with horses, repetition goes a long way.
So, I started out on a mission, I was going to conquer this fear – and tell whatever was making me panic to p**s off. It took its time to do so – believe you me, I struggled on – still getting hot under the collar and worrying that in fact maybe I should change career paths, and that my dream was in fact not a true one – a misinterpretation of what was really going on. I was worried – everyone was worried.
I had a few people give me their pennies worth, a few people give me some advice – but I discovered that actually – just jumping everyday, even it if was just a cross pole or mini jump in the arena, mid canter work – or whilst trying to maintain a light seat and practising – practice makes perfect… and permanent.
The concept of a light seat (where you are up in your stirrups – not sitting on the horse’s back, and just letting everything happen basically) – was daunting, I was vulnerable and to be honest, it terrified me. If the horse stopped, I was going over its neck, and that was that.
I had a lot of backwards, rather negative, thoughts going on in my mind – like ‘it wont jump today’ ‘I’m going to fall because he did a weird canter stride 15 strides back over there, in the corner, where there is a scary sign that says ‘please pick up your poop’. As you can see, it was getting ridiculous. It was getting to the stage where I would over think everything – I can’t actually tell you why or what was making this all happen. Part of me thinks it’s a spiritual thing – but that’s for another blog.
When you add a jump into something that is just a normal routine – a normal work out regime for the horse with a small cross pole added, you stop thinking about the jump, you just get used to it being there and actually it ends up disappearing – dare I say it.
One day, on Thunder, I was warming up and it was all going swimmingly, he was doing good leg yielding and he was being responsive to my aids (this has also only just become a thing!), I decided to play with the jumps and put it up to SVQ level III height – 90cm. We’d not been able to get over 65/70cm before then and I was getting a tiny bit worried and pressured from myself that we were starting to be ridiculous and it needed to all end and the term ‘one needs to get over it’ was suddenly rather apparent – and literal…!
So mid canter, I set him to the jump, and effortlessly, Thunder just bounded over it – no running, no need for me to freak out and pull at whatever I kept thinking I needed to pull at – he just cleanly jumped it – I tried again (I don’t like to think that it was just the benefit of the doubt and a one off!!!) and it was the same again.
Next lesson with my instructor, I was warming up – for a jumping lesson this time – and we just popped a few jumps and my instructor just kept putting them up and altering the width of certain jumps… and it, rather wonderfully, became apparent that we had cracked the fear. We had, in fact, nailed it. The jumps were effortless, and the lesson was a positive and encouraging one – to say the least.
1 week on from that day and we are on top form – I have managed to calmfully jump Millie, Thunder and Jabrea (one of the horses on the yard and my instructor’s horse) – without making my instructor want to knock me off and let me never ride again for fear of hurting or putting the horse under strain/pain or general suffering.
We have overcome this fear, I repeat, it is gone.
I would like to say that I have some wicked tips for managing to do it yourself – but the honest truth is that you just need to practice, and to find your happy place.
Mine is prayer, a quick prayer before the course or jump and off we go!
Kick on (as my father would say!)