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
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!
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:
Fear of being hurt – I can relate to this, being older now I certainly don’t bounce like I use to.
Not being as good – Again it’s that pressure to be perfect and not fail or be seen to fail.
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.
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!
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.
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.