Horses have always been a big part of my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was one of those crazy horse girls through school, went on and studied equine management at college and then went on to work in the horse industry.
It all started when I was around 6 years old and my cousin was telling me about her horse riding lessons. I decided there and then that I wanted to try it out so I told my mum and she wasn’t too fond about the idea of me, her dainty 6 year old daughter, riding an animal that could easily trample and kill her so, I went to my dad and boom! I began my horse riding lessons at one of his childhood friends stables.
I carried on with weekly lessons for around 10 years before moving to college. Within those 10 years of having riding lessons they helped me improve on a number of personal qualities;
My independence shot up from around 12-13 years old. Horses were a common interest between my dad and I and after his death there was a period of time where going to my lessons didn’t feel the same as I didn’t have his encouragement. My mum would still take e to my lessons each week despite her working hours (she was a teacher) and the amount of course work she had to do along with markings students work so she didn’t always watch which I understood and then this helped me to gain some more independence as I would get myself ready and my horse ready for the lesson without anyone there and it boosted my independence each time.
It takes a certain amount of confidence to hop on any horse and know that you can effectively work both yourself and the horse. It takes confidence to jump back on after you have fallen off and each time you do, it boosts your confidence. My confidence within the horse industry was flourishing during those 10 years. I didn’t have much confidence in my personal life but at the yard and/or on a horse my confidence was visibly showing.
Both physically and mentally. Horse riding is a great form of exercise and I loved finishing each lesson feeling and knowing that I had worked hard. After my dads death I was confused with grief and riddled with PTSD, depression and anxiety, mentally I wasn’t in a great place but I seemed to forget all that during those 1 hour lessons. My brain would be more focused on what I was doing, what I needed to do and what I was going to do so everything else in my life just temporarily slipped away. Even just being in the presence of a horse offered me some peace that nothing else could then I’d come home after my lessons and feel so much stronger within myself.
Always be grateful for a horse because that horse could easily destroy you if it wanted to. Be grateful that they listened (granted they don’t always listen, but when they do…), that they did what we asked and that they tried. Show them your gratitude by giving them a scratch in their fave spots, a carrot/apple, a cuddle or even just a simple pat and a “well done”. I am very grateful for the horses in my life (both past and present). They have all shown or taught me something about either myself or themselves.
It is healthy to show affection. I didn’t show much affection towards people then (even now I sometimes show affection in my own type of way) but I was always so affectionate towards horses. It was easy with them as they don’t talk, they also show affection in their own way and you don’t have to worry so much about your affection getting rejected and then you possibly getting embarrassed by it. The more people saw me be affectionate around horses the easier it then became to try and be more affectionate in my personal life but even now I am probably more affectionate towards horses (animals as a whole) than I am towards people (which probably won’t surprise many people).
My riding lessons helped me gain the confidence to move away for college and keep faith within myself that I could then go on to create some sort of career path in the horse industry, which I believe I have succeeded in but I think I’m going to eventually head off down a different path and although I know horses will forever be in my life, career wise, I don’t think so but there are 5 key reminders that horse riding has taught me.
- You work for what you want.
You want to ride that horse in an outline well then you work for it. You wanna jump that 1.2m fence, you work for it. Whatever you want in life, you work for it. Another way I think of this is if I really wanted something, but I wasn’t willing to work for it, then that means that I truly don’t want it.
- You are tougher than you think.
I never really had any bad falls. I never broke anything but I had been trampled, thrown into wooden poles/fences/wings, dragged and flying dunked off a few times but you know what you always do? You get back on. If you aren’t going to hospital, you get back on. If you’re crying, you get back on. If you don’t want to get back on, you get back on. Then of course there is the biting, the kicking, the toes/feet getting stomped on, along with the temperamental weather you work/ride in and of course you sometimes have to deal with some of the horse industries most stereotypical people. Trust me, you are tougher than you think.
- It’s okay to lose your shit with good reason.
It’s okay to express negative emotions within good reason. It’s okay to tell a horse off for being naughty or when it tries to walk all over you, just like it’s okay to put your foot down with people and express what is bothering you (as long as it is within good reason) in a controlled manner.
- You can do it.
The fear of failing is very prominent in most of our lives, but that’s the thing, it is just a fear. Use the fear to drive you forward and push yourself because the fear of failing does not prove that you will fail. It doesn’t prove anything. All those horses I thought I couldn’t ride, those jumps I thought I couldn’t jump or those school movements I thought I couldn’t do, turns out I could do them, it was just my fear of failing that held me back but I always got on with it. There were times where I’d have a bit of a cry before a lesson if I was riding a horse that I thought would be too much for me but by the end of the lesson that horse would be my favourite (favourite for that week at least). You just gotta do it or you never will.
- Failure means you have a chance to try again.
I find there is usually something that you can take away from each failure it be a talent/skill, a relationship, a task or a situation, whatever it may be, each failure provides a lesson or a note to remember for when you next try again.
Horses always have and always will be a part of my life but if it wasn’t for the horses (and of course the instructors) that taught me I wouldn’t have been able to create a path like this in my life without them.
Shout out to the many horses I learnt from.
Sending my love,