Okay, maybe i’m exaggerating slightly. Nerves are a HUGE pain in the posterior, but they aren’t the bane of my existence. I used to actually use them to my advantage when competing as an eager 10 year old. They’d give you the extra adrenaline to be quickest over the line in the jump off. Rubber mats in need of a wash and horseflies are far, far worse than nerves. They’re the creations of the devil himself. Anyway, i’ll get to that part later. First, we’ve got some catching up to do.
The Amature of the Year show went well, he behaved very well aside from getting a bit hot and bothered (to be fair, it was the hottest day of the year so far) and we did a well controlled show. Until the end when I was supposed to gallop up the long side to show extension, I did a more extended canter knowing what was coming and ended up doing an extra circle as I couldn’t stop him. Lol. Aside from that he was ace, though took an hour to get back on the damn lorry as he’s a stubborn little git. An hour of feet planted on the bottom of the ramp and he just waltzes up for a bucket of feed. Major threats to be sent to the glue factory in that hour. The header image on today’s post is a photograph taken at AOTY by Lauren Wilkinson, my cousin and dedicated photographer for the day.
Here’s one of my favourite pictures of myself and Freddie looking almost like we know what we’re doing at Wilmslow Show in June. I can’t remember if I told you about it, but I’m going to guess that I didn’t since my last post was over 2 months ago. Oops.
It was our first local show together this year, having only done one last year, and oh LORD he was good. Strong as usual in the canter go round, but we came home with a very respectable 3rd / in the open showing and a 1st in the ridden M&M. He behaved perfectly all day, was patient and didn’t throw himself off the horsebox. I was so proud of him! Excuse my face, I was in the zone.
Change is in the air!
Apple went to her new home a few days ago, where she is to be a lovely little girls first pony, and will no doubt be spoiled rotten. I’ve been getting some wonderful updates from the little girls mother, Apple sounds like she’s settling in really well. I’m so proud of her, she came so far so quickly and will make her new owners very happy, I’m sure of it.
Freddie has been moved to Somerford Park Farm in the hopes that I can do more with him, as our little yard (even though it has really nice hacking and I love it) hasn’t got enough to keep him busy and for me to push forwards. He is so laid back that he wasn’t fussed about moving, he’s the same old Freddie, spooking at his shadow and getting fat off thin air. Fingers crossed this will make a difference to both of us. I feel like it’s a kind of make or break time for us, but we’ll see. He’s so soft I don’t think I could bare to part with him even if he was a nutter forever.
One of the biggest problems I suffer, being a native horse owner, is the fact that dear Freddie holds his weight. He seems to put it on overnight and lose it a pound a year. I think other people who have the cold blooded horses and ponies can relate to my woes. He just won’t lose it! Anybody have any exercises that are good for weight loss? He’s currently on full livery, and roughly half day turnout in a slightly smaller paddock that isn’t mad full of grass, gets fed a handful of chaff to keep him quiet at feeding time for the others and has a hay net (never ever haylage or I genuinely would die) when he comes in. I don’t know how he even managed to become fat in the first place, given that our little yard in Wilmslow’s grazing isn’t rich at all, in fact we have other natives on it that are fine! It’s just Fred, the greedy piglet. I’m just going to have to be cruel to be kind and really push him under saddle, we’ll get there. Least for now there’s more of him to love.
Nerves are something that all riders suffer with at some point or another, but we all deal with it differently. For some of us, like me, it completely takes over and ruins your equestrian life. I used to be so afraid, that if Freddie so much as looked sideways at something I would jump off and burst into tears. I wasn’t a child when this was happening either, I was about 14 when we first bought him. It was the most frustrating thing I have ever been through. I so badly wanted to do it and knew I easily had the capabilities to do it, but the fear of god knows what would creep in, and then it was too late I’d be in full blown panic mode. This state took a long while to get over, almost the entire two years I’ve had Freddie actually, and even now when it comes to jumping I can feel my mouth start to get dry and my stomach writhe, only now I am able to push it away and get on with it. Over time, it gets better. The only way to get over nerves is to do what makes you nervous, and for me that is jumping and going at speed through open fields on Fred, as his hunting history has made him quite highly strung when it comes to jumping. HOWEVER we have absolutely smashed our goal of control through fields, and can now go through wide open fields on the buckle end of the lead, as well as have a gallop, pop a fence and come back down calmly to walk the rest of the way. Determination will get you a long way people!
There’s no way around it, horses are incredibly dangerous animals. They’re unpredictable and flighty, and think everything is out to get them but that isn’t their fault. The more you fear them and the more you think ‘What if?…’ the more likely something is to happen as no matter how docile the horse is they can and they will pick up on your tension, making the situation into a vicious circle.
Now, when I begin to get nervous I just tell myself that I am a capable rider, I can handle the situations Freddie puts me in with his quirks and I can ride him through them. Rather than getting off and giving up, letting him learn bad behaviour = no riding. I don’t try to overface myself, I would rather only be riding for 10 minutes and accomplish something small like jumping a filler, then end of a good note, than be riding for hours on end throwing myself at things that I’m not quite ready to do and fraying mine (and my horses) nerves even more.
There is no shame in holding your hands up and saying ‘I’m afraid of doing that because…’ and those who sneer at the nervous should remember that arrogance gets you nowhere except injured.
We’ll get there one day, from this time two years ago there’s already been a massive improvement, and I am starting to be comfortable jumping again. It’s a long hard slog and I sympathise entirely with those who understand fully what I have been wittering on about, don’t give up!
I now have to go and see what kind of a state Freddie is in, as well as being due for the farrier (one day his feet will look fine and the next he’s got half a shoe on and two missing hooves) is in need of a bath with some fairy liquid platinum. Bit chilly today, I’ll save it for another time!
Tatty Bye x