I hadn’t ridden a different horse for probably over a year until recently…

Dudley

My riding was getting a bit stale and I was having weekly lessons, but still not being able to overcome a few problems, mainly tipping forwards too much in canter, resulting my lazy horse breaking back in to trot before I wanted him to. He was lacking impulsion in a big way, and trying to hold together a big horse, who works very much on the forehand was tough. I’m pretty small myself and sometimes it felt like my arms were being ripped from their sockets.This coupled with the fact that spurs and whips make him buck and me panic, was resulting in me losing not patience, but more faith in my riding ability. I was honestly questioning whether I was actually a good rider or not. It seemed ridiculous to me that I was having problems cantering (like a beginner) when I’ve been riding for 15+ years!

My friend offered me a ride on her 17hh Cleveland Bay x Thoroughbred and it changed the way I viewed things massively. At first I was timid. Not nervous, but apprehensive that after so long of riding just one horse, I’d never get the hang of a new one. But after just a moment, he was walking round on the bit and feeling relaxed.

It is super nice being able to ride a horse with spurs again! And even nicer having a horse that will do what you ask him to, when you ask him.  The extra leg aid helped incredibly as I didn’t have to keep nagging and could concentrate on myself and my position. With Cee, I was getting to the point where I was becoming scared to tell him what to do, because of the reaction he’d have; something my instructor and I have been working on recently. With Dudley, I asked for canter and he did, which meant I could then focus on my position and sitting up straight (in her beautiful dressage saddle) without using 100% of my attention on the hose, thus sacrificing my position. And guess what? My position was so much better as a result!

What I’ve learnt from this is not that Cee isn’t very good, because he’s great. No, I’ve learnt that I need to have more faith in my riding ability because I was starting to believe that I wasn’t a good rider and that I couldn’t do it. Dudley has shown me that I can do it and I hope this will be transferable back to Cee. I’ve also learnt not to beat myself up about it, because sometimes when you assess something for too long, you lose sight of reality.

When I take a step back I can see that I can ride well. And I can ride Cee well – I have the rosettes to prove it! He just takes a little more work. Sometimes the best remedy is to take a break from what you know in order to restore your faith in yourself. I’m planning on having some flat lessons with Dudley, so I will post adventures with him soon…

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