The Mama Equestrian

Support for mothers who also love horses

Tag: Equestrian

January ride report!

This weeks blog post is live and I am SO excited about it… because it’s my January ride reports! 🙌🏻 Firstly can I say hallelujah that January has finally come to an end, this month goes on forever, I’m sure all the calendars are wrong and there are really 131 days in this never ending sodding month! However, we have made it to February and the days are gradually getting lighter, so I no longer have to go to and from work in the dark!

Despite the cold, wet weather and an illness I have managed a number of rides this month and completed 12.7 miles! Now I know to some this will seem like an insignificant amount but to me it is amazing, seeing as this time last year me and Fred could barely get out the yard alone. Most of the rides this month have been alone, due to work commitments and a poorly field companion who we ride with, as she has had some box rest this month!

Early on in the month I pulled on my big girl pants and made the decision to take my saddle out for the first time when riding alone, as normally I have been taking my bareback pad. However, we also have some new hi-viz items and I wanted to try these out too and needed my saddle. This ride was amazing and we managed a few canters all by ourselves, again something that we have done little of alone. We passed a cyclist, dog walkers and cars with no problems, we had one small spook mid canter but he looked after me and I stays securely in my seat. One thing that bareback riding has helped with, is my core muscles and I have found a big improvement in my normal riding since using this.

Alongside hacking, we have also completed two schooling sessions this month, which were the best we have ever had, not to mention this longest! We concentrated on some flat work with poles and the second time we did some jumping too. Fred is rising 6 this year, so I have made the decision to increase his schooling this year and to do a lesson every 2 weeks, so far so good and he has taken to it well! He used to nap terribly to the gate and this has improved so much, he certainly knows what to do and keeps a nice outline, he really does seem easy to train and is a quick learner!

In other news for January, the blog was listed as one of the top 25 UK equestrian bloggers to follow, Feedspot emailed me to let me know and I thrilled to be included. Feedspot has a team of over 25 experts whose goal is to discover and rank popular blogs, podcasts and youtube channels in several niche categories. Do take a look and see if you can find your next equestrian blogger to follow!
I hope you have enjoyed our ride report, I may not complete these every month but will update more regularly on our progress throughout the year. If you like what you have read please give us a like or even better feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what you have been up in January, the month that lasts forever!!

Equestrian Bloggers list for 2020.

Here is my 2020 list of Equestrian bloggers who I follow and enjoy reading, some I have followed for a while, whilst others are fairly new. I hope you enjoy reading through my list and possibly find some new and interesting bloggers to follow. If you follow someone who you think I would like to know about, then please leave me a comment below!

No 1. In due horse Written by Louise Dando, Louise lives in France and blogs about all types of equestrian life, from riding, to events, fashion and travel. She also has an In due horse bookclub group on Facebook and is one of 3 bloggers who co-host a podcast called Equestrian pulse.

No 2. Timid Rider is also a co-host of Equestrian Pulse podcast and the blog is written by the lovely Heather Wallace. Heather has written a few books: Confessions of a Timid Rider, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses and most recently Girl Forward. Heather is a returning adult rider and mother and blogs about confidence issues in the saddle.

No 3. The Sand Arena Ballerina is our 3rd blogger and another co-host of the Equestrian Pulse podcast. Andrea Parker loves horses and is a dressage rider working towards Grand Prix, she was a finalist in the 2019 Equestrian Blogger/Vlogger of the year award.

No 4. Coco – The Big Irish Grey This blogger has a Facebook page, where she shares her adventures of riding through a visual blog, with lots of photos. Written by Caroline a disabled rider, who says her horse is her wings to freedom!

No 5. Galloping Dinnerplates This next blogger I know on a more personal level and I have recently started to follow her adventures, as a para rider, who competes in endurance rides in the UK.

No 6. Diary of A Wimpy Eventer has many followers in her adventures, as an eventer struggling with confidence. Victoria has written a trilogy of books about her Wimpy adventures along with producing Brave clothing. Victoria has recently had a huge life event by having a baby and becoming a fellow mama equestrian!

No 7. Blog of a bargain cob This next blog is written through the eyes of Pepper a 20yr old cob, who refers to his owner as the human. Pepper is not always impressed with his humans ideas and tells us all about it in his amusing blog posts!

No 8. Life between grey ears This final blogger also writes about confidence and dressage. She owns 3 horses and 2 dogs and her newist addition is a 6yr old Irish draught who she hopes to do a bit of everything with whilst rebuilding her confidence.

So, there you have 8 of the Equestrian Blogs I follow, there are many more but I simply couldn’t include them all. I hope you find your next favourite blog to follow and remember to let me know about your favourite blogs to follow!

2019 reflections and looking forward to 2020

Anyone who knows me will know I don’t really like New Year, I just don’t get it! However, I couldn’t not reflect on the past year and how much progress me and Fred have made. Now don’t get me wrong it has not been without its ups and downs and the beginning of 2019 started out badly with a bit of a confidence knock after a hard fall in the school. We went back to groundwork and continued to hack as this was still fine, most of the time and only in company. If I tried to hack alone he would try to return to the yard which was frustrating and put me off trying.

Then in April we moved yards and everything fell into place, he settled well and once again was the horse I knew before moving to the previous yard, it is strange how they react at some places. We started to hack out alone and he has grown in confidence doing so and we are now also schooling alone, both of these things seemed impossible this time last year and it is amazing to see the difference. We have been doing bits of jumping also both out hacking and in the school, he loves to jump and will now go well once pointed at the jump, in fact, it is hard to get him away from it and wants to repeat it again and again!

First proper jump in a year

Schooling all by ourselves

Hacking alone

We have been doing lots of bareback work this summer (can definitely recommend the comfort plus bareback pad) and this has helped to improve my balance and core and I do now prefer it where possible. We even had a few canters bareback which was funny, to begin with as Fred really wasn’t sure about this new concept so would attempt a really fast trot, to begin with until he decided it was ok and that he could canter without a saddle. We have been increasing our hacking miles both alone and with others as I often ride with my daughter and her horse also. I am still working on my #Hack1000miles, we might finish it in 3 yrs time haha.

We also made it onto the equestrian bloggers list written by the talented Team Tunnah Eventing, this was a lovely surprise and spurred me on to keep blogging.

Looking forward to 2020 I have invested in a dressage saddle and plan to do more schooling as Fred is rising 6 this year, I would like to take him to some pleasure rides, as much as I like the idea of hunting I am not sure he is quite level headed enough for this yet! I would like to do some more jumping and try a small course rather than just the one and of course, we will continue to hack as this is our favourite thing to do. Most of all I hope that we are both happy and healthy and continue to love what we do as this is the most important thing. I am sure the year will start slow as so far we have been lucky with the weather but I am sure we have more winter to experience just yet. I am looking forward to the days drawing out now Christmas has gone as by the end of January it should still be light in the evenings for a little longer.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy 2020 and happy riding to all!

Burghley Horse Trials

Saturday I attended one of the UK’s largest and well-known horse trials at Burghley house. The event is open from Wednesday to Sunday with plenty of shopping, young horse events and 3 days of 5-star eventing with dressage, cross country and show jumping having designated days. Saturday was cross-country day which is why we chose to attend on this day. This was my first time ever to Burghley, it was very busy and I observed a variety of people attending from young to old, some found a spot by the sidelines and spent the day enjoying the action from one particular place. Others like us moved around and walked the course, we tried to see at least one horse jump each of the 27 fences.

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Burghley House

Before walking around the cross-country course we began the day by exploring the shopping village, which hosted a variety of equestrian and craft stalls, with some well-known brands such as Joules, Noble outfitters and Ariat, along with various food outlets. However, the organisation of the stands I feel could have been improved compared to other shows I have attended. It took us all day to find a particular stall as it was not listed on the directory and the information desk knew nothing of them. Good old Facebook came to the rescue though and we located it before heading home.

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The cross-country course however nicely presented made for hard viewing, there were several breaks in riders due to the number of eliminations, refusals, falls and withdrawals. Standing at one point in amongst the crowds as one of the horse and riders had a rotational fall that sent shivers down my spine, as a number of people gasp in horror. It made me question if this course was just a little too much even for 5 star! I watched numerous horses who barely got over several fences and I admire all those who attempted this course, completed or not!

 

It was lovely though to see some of our best GB riders competing and to see Piggy French, Oliver Townsend and of course, the winner Pippa Funnell complete this tough 4 mile plus course. Overall the day was enjoyable and I am thankful that all horses and riders who fell were able to get up and walk away. Zara Tindall was amongst those who took a fall during the event after having a break from Burghley since 2017, her husband, mother and children were all at the event to offer her support.

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What did sadden me was to read that a young French rider Thaïs Meheust (22yrs) died in a cross-country fall at le Pin au Haras, Normandy, after her horse fell at the second fence on the same day as Burghley cross-country. Please click the photo below which links to her Facebook page. This is a huge loss to the eventing world and highlights concerns around the dangers of these complex courses and the sport, yet we continue to get on board time and time again because we love it and the feeling we get from these magnificent animals who allow us to ride upon them.

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 Thais Meheust

Despite this sad news and the falls during the day, it was an amazing experience, although very exhausting and my feet were glad when I finally sat down. Would I attend again? More than likes yes, as I do love these events and the sport and acknowledge that even getting on a horse can be dangerous without jumping several large fences. Would I ever attempt such a course? Not at all, thankfully my little horse is much suited to smaller jumps but I do admire those who can and applaud their ability to do so!

Confidence after babies

During June I ran a couple of polls on social media to find out about the confidence of riding after having children and becoming a mother. As parents, we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do our best and try to be a model parent and this also extends to activities outside of parenting. This can lead us to doubt ourselves and our ability to be as good as we once were and this can affect one’s confidence.

So let’s review the top reasons given, as to why we struggle with confidence after having children:

  1. Fear of being hurt – I can relate to this, being older now I certainly don’t bounce like I use to.

  2. Not being as good – Again it’s that pressure to be perfect and not fail or be seen to fail.

  3. Guilt – This I think is a big one for most and we get this from all angles, from feeding choices to going back to work. However, it’s important that mums have some time for our emotional health.

One reason though that I expected to get more votes, was pain following childbirth, this got minimal votes but goes to show how great women are and how resilient we are after such a painful ordeal. However, becoming a mother can change us in other ways and we lose the carefree attitude we once had. Having read lots of posts on social media regarding lack of confidence when returning to the saddle I decided to dedicate July to confidence and how we can share our experiences with each other.

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For me, my confidence decreased as I continued to have more children and I became older. This caused my anxiety to raise its head and I would worry about every ride and the what if’s. I was at a loss to why I felt like I did, I mean my horse wasn’t even big compared to the 16hh giant I learnt to ride on all those years ago. So why I asked myself, did I have this sinking feeling in my stomach at the thought of riding, especially when I love it so much! I could only think that having children has turned me into a wuss, this wasn’t the person I knew, I was strong and loved a challenge. What I did know was that I wasn’t going to give up on the one thing I have ever truly enjoyed and I was not going to give up horse riding to do something placid like Yoga! 

I am pleased to say that things have progressed since then and yes I won’t ride without all my safety equipment but I don’t have quite the same anxiety as I once did and my horse isn’t quite as green. Yes, that’s right after about 6 years off from riding, the first horse I owned was also a green, unbacked 3-year-old. Nearly 2 years on though and we have developed a special bond and we continue to educate each other together. He really is a special boy and I love spending time with him and not just riding but hanging out in the field together, something that I think has helped our connection.

When running my polls I spoke to a lady who also wanted to share her thoughts on her own confidence after having a baby. She has given me permission to share her thoughts with you all.

I never thought for one minute that getting on a horse would fill me with such fear but following the birth of my beautiful daughter, Matilda did just that. Even though I had had a C Section I still didn’t ride after Matilda was born for months.  Riding was a massive part of my life but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. When you have a child your outlook on life changes, you suddenly have this little person who relies on you to look after them and keep them safe.

I remember I kept thinking what if I fell off and hurt myself badly, who was going to look after Matilda? My husband of course but you just don’t think like that. I just thought I would continue to carry on as normal, I knew my life would change to a certain extent as I was never one of these mothers that feels your child should rule your life, I was determined that I would continue to walk the dogs, feed and muck out and I did do that, I strapped Matilda to my back and carried on as normal, I walked in the rain, she had a canopy on her carrier, I fed my horses, I mucked out, I bought them in for the farrier but I just couldn’t bring myself to ride.

When I did eventually get in the saddle on my trusty 100% safe Cob I was absolutely terrified.  I would make excuses that I couldn’t ride for long or I was going out so the ride was only a quick one. Riding after childbirth is very scary, I feel it all comes down having another little person relying on you to keep them safe, you have this intense love for them, you want to protect them and we all want the best for our children and you would feel you had failed them if you were in a position where you couldn’t care for them.

Thankfully I persevered and did get over this terrible feeling of being scared but then another fear would become apparent when Matilda started riding, how the hell was I going to keep her safe in the saddle. This was where my ingenious Equihandee Harness came in and gave me peace of mind and kept my precious daughter safe.

You can find out more about Lucy and her Equihandee product here, on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Through the month of July, I will continue to build on our progress and for the first time we managed to complete a schooling session by ourselves in the wind and he didn’t put a foot hoof wrong! It was a great feeling and made all the hard work worthwhile. Until recently the thought of riding in the arena filled me with dread, why, I have no explanation for this. I had always enjoyed my riding lessons when I first began them but now having my own I did not enjoy the environment and I knew I was transferring this anxiety to my horse. Therefore, we did some basic schooling and did a lot of hacking out with others. Recently though we moved yards and our new schooling area has relaxed me and I have had a few enjoyable sessions leading up to our recent session alone. I am now looking forward to doing more. It’s a great feeling now to decide to ride without having to rely on someone coming with us to ride.

What are your confidence goals for riding? Let me know in the comments below!

Chatsworth horse trials

During May, me and my daughters went to the Dodson & Horrell horse trials in the beautiful grounds of Chatsworth house. This is my second year of attending and this time we went for the final day which included the event rider masters CIC 4*-S4 Cross Country.

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We began in the village browsing the variety of shopping on offer with names such as Joules, Noble Outfitters and House of Tweed along with many more. Obviously one cannot attend such an event without buying a few items which at the time are definitely much-needed purchases! There were also two centre showjumping rings in the village to view whilst in between shopping.

The afternoon was spent walking around the Cross Country course before watching the event rider masters ride the course and have the final presentation to round of the day. Unfortunately Piggy French decided to withdraw for the cross country. See below for the final three riders:

1 Laura Collett London 52. GBR

2 Tom McEwen Figaro Van het broekxhof. GBR

3 Lucy Jackson Superstition. AUS

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Looking forward to visiting Burghley horse trials and Your Horse Live later on in the year.

Time Management for Equestrian Mamas

Does anyone remember life before kids? My little one is only 16 months old so it’s not quite yet a distant memory for me. One thing in particular that sticks out about life before motherhood though, is how I always used to complain how busy I was. If I had a time machine I would go back and karate chop myself in the face because that woman absolutely DID NOT know busy. And if I thought making time for horses was hard BC (before child) then I was in no way prepared for how I would manage it post child.

Truth is, even after kids we are really good at making ourselves seem busier than we actually are. I know you’ve just instinctively got your hackles up and are ready to say, “excuse me I AM busy” and it’s true, you are. We all are. We’re raising babies and that isn’t easy. But, for most of us, we’re not as busy as we think. We’re just inefficient.

When you think of time management techniques your mind probably automatically goes to those in business, but absolutely anyone can employ these tactics in their every day life and watch their efficiency and effectiveness soar. Today I wanted to share with you my favourite time management techniques and how I think equestrian mamas can use them in their life to reclaim some time for horse related activities.

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12 Ways to be a Good Horse Riding Student

Every one of us goes to our riding lessons in order to get better at the sport we love. We go to our riding lessons because we enjoy them. They’re time away from being a mama. They’re time just for us. But, even though we know they’re fun, and we have fun while we’re participating in them, we also know they’re serious. We are there to learn, ro become more skilled riders and our coaches want that for us too. But sometimes these things are easier said that done. So I’ve put together a list of 12 ways that you can ensure you are a good horse riding student … one who’ll learn, grow and achieve their goals.

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Horse Riding After Babies: What No-one Tells You

After my daughter was born I felt like a huge part of me was missing. I really struggled with letting go of who I used to be and embracing my new role as my tiny humans live in slave. I was simultaneously celebrating my new role as a mum, and grieving the loss of who I used to be. Melodramatic? Maybe. But, as a mum I am sure that you understand how the arrival of a baby can also bring on the arrival of a MAJOR identity crisis. Fast forward 16 months, and I’m now back doing the sport I love. But let me tell y’all now that it is not without it’s challenges. Learning to ride the first time was a difficult enough, learning to re-ride after having a baby, well that takes the cake. That’s why today I wanted to get a little bit personal and talk about the things that no one tells you about returning to horse riding after babies…

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