Before riders are jumping 3’6″ and riding Prix de St-Georges, before they are working horses that cost a year at Yale, before they are showing for weeks in Florida and New York and California, equestrians must ride a lesson horse. Every single horseback rider on the face of this earth has that one pony ride, that one led ride around an arena or on a hot walker or through a pasture that hooked them on this sport. Every rider can attest their passion for riding to that one old horse who had the patience of a saint and carried children as though they were faberge eggs.
Riders competing at the top level can turn horses with their legs and their seat. They can ask a horse to extend their canter stride to fourteen feet and collect it down to nine. They can lift the horse into a proper frame so…
I know that there are many out there who will see this post as an indication of the most reckless and selfish nature there is, maybe there is some truth in this but everything we do in life is a calculated risk. Only a few weeks ago in Madrid I slipped on a wet pavement and in to the road, luckily there were no on-coming cars. I find that descending escalators in rush hour, wearing a suit and carrying a laptop more of a high risk activity while pregnant than riding. Not only for the obvious potential of falling face down and being jostled in the crowds but for the stressful and tiring nature of the activity, only to be followed up by siting immobile at a desk for many hours.
For the sake of my mental stability, I need to continue riding for as long as is possible and this I will do on a choice of my trusted steeds. I have remained heathy, mobile and not putting on excess weight, I still have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Yes this is a lifestyle choice, it’s mine and it makes me happy.
I know there must be people out there who will agree; once you find yourself in the grip of the alien world of pregnancy there is a sudden shift in peoples behaviour toward you. This is along with a list of physical symptoms which can leave you wondering who the hell you are, and how you ever managed to even get out of bed in the morning without a list of guidelines and a blood test to confirm it was safe to do so. Of course we are grateful for the concern and we acknowledge that we are amongst the lucky ones, but insisting people change their lifestyle can be mentally damaging.
For those who come in to regular contact with a seasoned rider, you will most likely be aware of the steel with which these women are made of, for most it is a lifestyle, their Raison d’être. You are more likely to evoke teenage feelings of rebellion within them in an effort to prove they are not made of china, this is what is dangerous. Calculated risks go out of the window in an attempt to retain a sense of identity. Don’t judge us, help us; mucking out my 3 takes twice the time it used to, my hips are sore, my shoulders are tired and my feet hurt but I still get a sense of pride when I have perfectly set beds, full hay racks and water buckets. I like this feeling, and if I can’t enjoy over indulging with alcohol and stilton this Christmas you will find me taking extra special care of my boys because this is the one thing which I can do which still makes me feel like me.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a jar of pickled onions to finish off before googling a way to dismount a 17.3 without a crane.
It’s not your divine right to climb aboard any horse, weighing too much can result in damage to your horses health and behaviour. The attached article is addressing the issue which many of us are too polite to tackle.
With all the consideration we pay to our horses diet and fitness we should be applying the same principles to ourselves.
We are coming out of winter in the UK, my first event of the season loomed, that morning I zipped up my long boots and wondered if my feet would still be attached later in the evening when I removed them. I could actually monitor my pulse just standing squarely. It happens every year, during the off season I hibernate, drink a little more and carb up.
It goes, give me a day out with 4 rides in one class and its gone but there is the one fundamental muscle you need as a rider to keep you balanced and in the saddle. Fortunately with all the shifting and lifting which is involved with just keeping horses over the winter you never really become unfit but without your core muscles keeping you stable in the saddle you are a danger not only to yourself but the safety of your horse.
I copied a link to the numerous exercises which you can do to ensure you keep in tip top condition – if you lose it, its really hard to get back. trust me.
I think we are finally getting this right, it’s taken 4 years of humiliating marks and dismissive comments.
I have never owned a horse this height before, at 4 he was 16.1 now, at 8 he is 18hh. It has taught me that patience is essential, we know that young horses have short attention spans but if they are still out of balance and their limbs are not yet developed; time is the only answer and I can honestly say it has paid off.
Too many promising youngsters are ruined competing in young horse classes, breaking down at 10, larger horses need the time to develop physically and mentally. All I can do is thank the advice of my dressage trainer, when 3 years ago he took one look and said “he’s going to be huge, you wont be doing any lateral work on him until he’s 7”. It’s this advice which has left me with a sound horse who now takes every thing in his stride.