It is so easy to get wrapped up in life. We can become so focused on the little things, forgetting about the bigger picture. Many of us have goals. Whether it is competing at BE100, or gaining >70% in a dressage test, these aims can cloud us; overcoming the joy of owning a horse.
I have been that person who has sobbed next to their horse at a competition when the test sheet came back with a low score. I have been that person who sits in the stable, moping, wondering why things didn’t go better in the show-ring. I have been there. I think we all have? At the time, you can’t understand why your horse refused the jump; why the perfectly good dressage test resulted in a low score; or why, no matter how hard you try, you just don’t seem to be winning. These feelings can overcome you. They can jeopardise the relationship which you have spent so long to build with your horse; removing the reason why we get up at such unholy hours every day to see them!
1. Just pause when you feel like this. Think to yourself… “Am I actually going to remember losing this class in 10 years’ time?” Try and remember what it felt like BEFORE you got that score sheet, or it all went ‘wrong’.
I don’t think I am breaking news when I say that horses cannot read test sheets, or jumping penalty scores. All they know is that they tried their hardest for you and had a wonderful day out. They can’t understand why you are upset with them for, let’s say, getting a tad expressive in the canter transition, when all they were just doing their best Valegro impression, to wow the other horses (!). Sometimes it’s rider error, too! I can openly admit that there have been days which I have not given 100%; days which stress and fear of other things in my life have overcome me. I cannot expect my horses to be perfect all of the time, if I am not?
Horses also have bad days, too. They have their own stresses and fears in everyday life, just like us. These, we may not even recognise, because they can’t tell us! Phoebe can’t tell me if she had a really stressful night because the wind was rustling leaves on the stable roof. She can’t tell me that this has made her on-edge for our competition, so I won’t judge her for it. So, when you come first or last in that show class, make them KNOW that they have won, to you. They have won your heart, at the end of the day. Remind them of this. Regardless if you and your horse won the class, or not. Think of small victories. Remind yourself of the positives.
2. Don't compare yourself to others (easier said than done, eh?)
- because, everyone is different. Just because someone else has the same age horse, is the same age rider, and trains at the same level, doesn't make you the same. Everyone copes differently at competitions, everyone has different strategies of training. It certainly doesn't mean that one way is better, or right, over another, it just means that you just have to find the strategy which works for you and your horse. If all horses and riders were the same, everyone would be at 'top' level!
3. Remember you are only human, and your horse is a only a horse!
I think it is quite easy to forget that horses aren’t humans. They are so emotional and intelligent, it makes us forget that they have only been domesticated for ~6,000 years. But, it is vital to remember that they ARE horses. They are herd animals, prey animals. They rely on numbers for safety. Naturally, horses are routine animals, and as we know, stay in the same herd for most of their life. Our domestic routine totally disrupts their natural behaviour. Just remember this when you ask your horse to go for a hack, or around the cross country course at an event. Even just bringing them in from their field for a groom, you are asking them to leave their ‘safe-place’ and their herd, making themselves vulnerable. For you. Horses get nothing from going out competing. The only thing they have, is that they are with you, so, make this the best experience for them. You deserve to be happy as a rider – after all, you are already among the privileged few to own a horse. Likewise, they deserve to be happy as a horse – they don’t owe you anything. They do what they do because they know it makes you happy (and a few treats certainly won’t go amiss!).
Equally, you are only a mere human. So what? You forgot the test movement? You almost flew off when your horse took a stride out? So what? Your horse doesn't care! Your horse is just happy that you are in their life, to feed and look after them. They don't mind if you only want to hack, or if you just want to bring them in for a cuddle tonight. Don't beat yourself up, you are doing great!
4. Remember this...
A TEENAGER who was born with dwarfism is fulfilling her dream of becoming a professional horse rider and says it has helped her accept her disability. Megan Gregory, from Croydon, was born with Achondroplasia – a type of dwarfism that affects the growth of arms and other long bones. In addition to this, Megan has a frontal bossing on the top of her head and ‘trident' hands, meaning they all measure to the same size.The 19-year-old spent her school years being bullied but after taking up horse riding and started to compete two years ago, she has new-found confidence. Megan lives a normal life despite her disability, admitting she has “always liked a challenge”.
A woman ended up in hospital with horrific facial injuries after her horse fell into a pothole on a country road.
Sherrie Hopwood was left with nasty cuts to her lips, nose and forehead after the fall near Daisy Nook Country Park in Oldham, Greater Manchester.
The 57-year-old had taken her horse Jay for a ride around the Daisy Nook bridal path when it stepped into the pothole on Crime Lane, which was full of water.
Businesswoman Sherrie said the horse's knees gave way and it fell, sending her crashing face first into the ground.
'I managed to force myself up to get up. I was very lucky because Jay didn't panic. If she had, she could have killed me.'
There are plenty of things that we say and do which I’m sure our horses think are totally ridiculous. I sometimes imagine I can hear Archie sighing “Ohh Mother” in a similar tone to how a bored teenager would express their exasperation to an embarrassing parent. For example…
• We insist on an excessive amount kisses and hugs. A hello one, a goodbye one, one when you’ve had to tell them off and now feel guilty…
• We fight the eternal battle against mud and stable stains when quite frankly a roll appears to be the preferred activity at all times.
• We get hyped up about a competition for which we spend month preparing and then approximately 10 minutes actually showing what we can do.
• We turn up with fancy colour coordinated kit and exclaim at how much they must love it when in fact their eyesight has pretty limited colour vision.
• We put words in their mouths (a prime example being the title of this blog!) when in reality all they probably care about is who is delivering the next meal.
At Trot On HQ recently, someone used the term 'get off your high horse!' Along with terms such as 'needs reining in' or 'had a leg up' it's a term used in everyday conversation that comes from mans long association with horses. Anyway, it started a discussion on why the idea of being 'on a high horse' still has relevance for equestrians today and whether it comes saddled with negative consequences.
When you accuse someone of being on their high horse, it means you're accusing them of acting in a superior manner, usually a moral one. And being actually mounted on a high horse not only puts you physically above others but also can make other people feel that 'you' think you are above them in status. Let's face it, because of the horse's historic association with the rich and powerful, lots of people still hold the opinion that anyone who owns a horse is rich, stuck up, and thinks 'they are better than the rest of us!' When of course we all know that the majority of us certainly aren't wealthy and scrimp and scrape to plough all of our hard-earned cash into our beloved horse.
Is it for instance, one of the reasons why other road users can be so aggressive towards horse and riders on the road? And whilst there are anti-hunt protesters who genuinely don't want to see any animal harmed, there are those who are more people haters rather than animal lovers because they regard riders as part of the upper classes who think they are 'above the rest.'
What do you think?
Dragged across a road by her horse after he was spooked by mindless dirt bikers, teenager Megan Hill feels lucky to be alive.
What should have been a pleasant daily ride turned into a nightmare for the 17-year-old who ended up being dragged semi conscious behind horse Sox.
The teenager told how idiot bikers frightened the seven year old gelding which bolted, leaving Megan with a shattered ankle, bruised pelvis and other injuries.
“They don’t have any common sense. Before when I’ve been on that track, riders have been coming towards us.
“Some have no respect and come flying up from behind us.”
Mum, Kelly added: “We could understand if these riders didn’t see them, but they’ve come back at them again - it’s unbelievable.
“They need to think of the consequences of what could have happened.” READ MORE
When your dreams come true, sometimes they don’t look quite like you imagined. Years of yearning can mean that reality can be a little harsh, and the inevitable complications that come all too often with horses can be challenging. I spent twenty years learning to ride on riding school horses and having other people’s horses on loan, but during that time I dreamed of a horse to call my own. It wasn’t until two years ago that I was finally able to buy Archie, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing…
A grey who is scared of water sounds like a terrible idea right? Indeed it was! He was petrified of the stuff, and being the worst colour of all a bath could easily take up to two hours with a sponge and endless reassurance. He was also scared of the hose and spray (spray bottles being an issue we still haven’t quite cracked!) so washing off legs and summer rinse downs were challenging.
Being young and fairly inexperienced I knew I had work to do on his schooling, and our first challenge was the left canter lead which Archie didn’t know existed. He was always more balanced on the right and he would chose it every time no matter how many different ways I asked. I was also stronger on my right side which made everything more tricky, and it took weeks of work to get him to even think about cantering comfortably on the left.
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
An 'out of control' Rottweiler is seen chasing and barking at horses in Oxford.
The incident was recorded by Tracy Smith, 40, an experienced horse rider.
She says dog owners need to be educated more on safety around bigger animals.
Dogs should be kept on leads and in ear shot of owners when a horse is nearby.
A mum in Oxford has revealed terrifying footage of an 'out of control' Rottweiler chasing her teenage daughter's horse for more than three minutes.
Tracy Smith's daughter, Ella, 14, clung on in fear when the large dog repeatedly darted at her horse, barking as it chased them in circles near their home on August, 12.
What a gentleman! Realising the horses may be spooked by his trailbike, this motorbike-rider thoughtfully turned off the engine and inqured as how best to pass... he had polos in his pocket too. RESULT!
The bike rider is James Higgs and his video has gone viral with over 1,0000 views on social media.
He keeps his bikes on a livery yard so he is used to encountering horses.
“I’ve hacked out a few times as a beginner but stopped after I injured my knee in a fall, which hurt a great deal more than any fall I have had whilst riding motorcycles,” he added. “You horse riders really are some tough people.”
Thank you, James.