It’s really hard to know where to start but I guess all the nitty gritty from the beginning is detailed in the books so I’ll briefly recap.
A whistlestop tour
I was a bold and fearless child rider, I would ride ANYTHING and often had to as we had no money for horses or for that many lessons at the riding school. I was so desperate to ride that I really didn’t care about rearing, or being on a horse that was WAY too big for me or one that didn’t really want me on it’s back! I actually loved the naughty ones, that feeling of accomplishment gave me a huge buzz even then.
I regularly jumped solid fences, I hunted a lot and never felt an ounce of fear.
When I hit my mid twenties and a shady spot in my life thanks to an unhappy ending to my first marriage, I was left totally broken. My confidence in all areas of life was at an all time low. The thought of taking my dustbin out terrified me. I was scared of leading my horse to the field let alone riding it and, worst of all, I couldn’t bring myself to admit it.
Turning the tables
Having worked my arse off over the last 4 years, I have managed to get a handle on the fear most of the time. I have had the odd blip but so many huge steps forward saw me back out eventing and hunting, galloping and jumping just like I used to.
And I’ll tell you something else, I loved it more than ever. I felt 12 years old again and this feeling, along with an amazing new man in my life, unlocked a happiness in me that I didn’t know I could feel.
Daddy Carrot and I travelled all over the country eventing with my beloved horse Pat, and we have so many fond memories to cherish and look back on. I can’t think about these days without my eyes leaking. It was everything I could have ever dreamed of.
The Pregnancy Break
Pat being quite a sharp and spooky horse, the day I found out I was pregnant was the last ride for us until the baby arrived. We didn’t have the most speedy of conceptions and our baby was so longed for that I had deemed riding him a risk too far.
I had my other horse Pea (a MUCH more sane mount) to keep my active and in the saddle, and that she did with me riding up until 7 months pregnant.
Pat came back into lunge work in December having been off since the end of May. I had, unbeknownst to us, actually done three events in April and May 2019 and fallen off him jumping at home all whilst pregnant! All the more reason to give him a break.
Back to it
Now, this is not a big raspberry blow to anyone that has a hard delivery, nor is it advised, but I know my own body and its limitations. Rather oddly, as soon as I gave birth (and I’m talking hours afterwards) I didn’t feel as though I had even been pregnant let alone pushed a baby out my minky for the first time!
I got straight up the morning I had him, without any stitches or damage, I had a bath and washed my hair and felt right back to my old self… albeit a little podgier and swollen!
After a short hospital stay of 4 days for checks on George as he was 4 weeks early, we came home and settled into our new lives.
I got back on Pea 3 days after that. I felt totally normal, not unbalanced or sore, I felt like me again and I was so happy.
The maiden Pat voyage
After 7 months off you’d think I’d have had the sense to do a bit more groundwork before climbing on board but something in me felt different. As I tacked him up and mounted I felt totally fearless and at ease with whatever may or may not happen.
Our first 3 months of riding after his break were incredible, he felt confident, less spooky, just simply AWESOME and I couldn’t WAIT to get back out eventing with them both.
Only this week have I had a MASSIVE relapse in self confidence. Lockdown in light of Corona virus has made me feel anxious and isolated in our little family unit. I have become so comfortable in the little bubble of our house and the farm that I was actually too anxious to go into the post office today. It’s so hard to explain to people that haven’t felt it before but it’s the feeling I get whenever I make plans, that one that wishes you hadn’t and that eats you up inside.
I felt it with Pat in particular.
I gave him a few days off due to my lacking motivation with no events to go to, and when I came to get back on him, I felt exactly how I did four years ago. I felt lost, scared, nervous, upset, down right bloody awful. I cried on the way home. I had those awful thoughts of how feasible it would be to just sell him.
Why now, when I felt more invincible than I’ve ever felt, do I feel like this again? It’s so hard admitting it but it’s also not going to get any better unless I do and face up to it.
Well, this feeling happened 4 days ago and I haven’t ridden him since. I composing myself I guess. I’m regrouping, picking myself up and probably, ever so slightly, avoiding the inevitable!
Here’s the plan though…
I’ve taken him off every scrap of hard feed. He’s already on 24/7 turnout so I’m continuing that. I’m going to lunge and long rein him this week EVERY day and then chose a day to get on when I feel ready. He needs a job to do to stay sane and I need a sane Pat to not feel a failure. When he gets bored, he starts jumping out the field and becoming quite hard to catch/change his rugs/put his fly mask on which also makes things quite hard and actually quite upsetting.
That being said, when I get on I find I’m much happier doing it alone. I know if I’m alone I don’t put pressure on myself to hurry or feel a fool if I chicken out. So I’ll text Daddy Carrot and let him know and then again when I’ve got off safely. I’ll lunge him a bit and make sure I’ve got a pocket full of treats at the ready.
I promise to check in next week with a little progress report, but for now, just know that if you’re going through this too that you are definitely not alone and that I know exactly what it feels like to think you’re a rotting sack of goat testicles. You won’t always feel this way though and nor will I… and that IS a fact!
Love as always