I am so excited to share all the events of the past few months with you!
My last update ended on the high of my riding Jasper for the first time. Three months on and I’m so happy to say since then Raven and I have completed our first clear round event and two one day events together. We even made 2nd place in our prelim level dressage test! I’ve also been introduced to riding a real stud of a thoroughbred “Higgy”. He is all muscle, quick thinking and very forgiving of my riding.
The adventures with Raven have gone from strength to strength and honestly fresh carrots and banana flavoured horse treats just don’t seem enough of a thank you to him.
Our first clear round event was hilarious and amazing all at the same time. I’d walked the course the evening before and headed home with a “to do” list for the morning so I could work out what time I needed to start on the Imodium’s. I barely slept and when I did it was constant dreaming of my dressage test next week and walking the course going through all the things that could go wrong. Plaiting seemed to take forever in the morning mainly due to my shaking hands and wasn’t helped by the bottle of baby oil leaking over all my brushes, choking myself by pointing the hair spray at my face rather than his mane and tripping over an invisible obstacle. Haa haa you couldn’t make it up!!!
I was in the saddle and suddenly realised I was in the warm up arena. This is new to me, I’ve never done this before … urrrmmmm what do you do in the warm up! The horses weren’t all stretching like people do in the gym, there were no 80s leg warmers in site, nor quite frankly was there anyone in the corner with the sneaky hip flask of gin!
We walked around for a bit, then threw in some circles as that’s how lessons start … had a trot … nearly crashed into another horse. Deep breath and was wishing I’d thought this bit out in a little more detail! Decided on a canter as that will wake him up and now maybe a warm up jump as that’s what everyone else seemed to be doing. Oops we knocked that one down … And the next one … and the next one … we over jumped the next one but at least it stayed up. “Breathe Amie it’s all for fun” I chant in my head … as Raven ambles over to a post to wind suck!
We then went in to the arena. Lots of smiling faces and suddenly the jumps are looking a lot higher than I remember. The cross poles from the first class had become straights and whilst 2’6 might be smaller than three “foot long” Subway sandwiches they were looking more the size of the humungous baguettes Scooby Doo would eat!
We started with a canter and a circle. In fact we did about 6 circles before we started but then we were going. We went clear on jump 1 and the double at fence 2. I remembered to sit up for the triple at fence 3 and suddenly with a huge smile on my face we were at the final combination at fence 10 …and we were clear!
I cannot explain that feeling. The relief that I hadn’t died, that I had enjoyed it, that I’d achieved a goal I thought I would struggle to achieve in a year. I’d gone clear and quite honestly was so happy that I cried and I just wanted to go again! I am forever in love with this horse for all he has allowed me to achieve.
The being “pushed” by my yard has moved to another level and I’ve been trusted to ride Higgy. Higgy is a gorgeous ex racer and only the “experienced” riders get to ride him. This threw me completely as I still think of myself as a beginner. The lead up to the lesson was a mix of fear and excitement as I trust Sam (my instructor) wouldn’t let me ride a horse beyond my ability. He has a gorgeous long stride and very sensitive to the leg so my “flappy, naggy” leg wasn’t an option. Riding him was terrifying and fear seemed to win. He was so kind to me and didn’t put a foot wrong but I’ve never ridden a horse like this and felt like it was my first lesson all over again. He seemed to read my mind for the transitions rather than me physically asking for them. It felt bizarre at the end of the ride as I didn’t feel like I’d actually ridden and I realised how much I missed jumping. The thought of jumping him was so beyond my ability that I just wanted to get back to riding Raven as he has become my
“comfort blanket” of a horse.
Despite a plea to have my next lesson with Raven (and the offer of lots of tea making in return) I found myself back on Higgy. I was singing to myself to remember to breathe and who knew that your head could overthink how to halt. However, thanks to friends believing in me and coaching me so confidently … we jumped! There was no finesse (in fact I knocked the poles down), no perfect position and plenty of fear … but I smiled and achieved something I genuinely never thought I could with Higgy. Suddenly the moto of “You’ve got this” is more powerful than ever.
So on this positive note I’m heading home to my delivery of a new water bucket, chippings fork and broom … they’re all purple and I’m genuinely excited that at the age of 33 I have “matchy matchy” stable tools … sorry Mum and Dad but it looks like I won’t be growing out of this “horse phase” any time soon!
Love Amie & Raven x x