|Horses - More Rewarding Than Gym Membership|
Like many equestrian folk, once it's in your blood, it's in your blood, so top of my New Year's resolutions agenda was to get back in the saddle and around horses ASAP. I needed to buy a new horse, but I needed to get back in the saddle before I went looking for something to buy. Almost a year out of the saddle and trying new horses, would be tempting fate! I'm am looking for a new horse, but gone are the days when I would merrily take anyone's cast off because it was cheap and offered to me on a plate. That can be a whole heap of pain and hard work, and I need to work to keep a horse so I need to be in control of the dismount (not leave this to the horse). I'm a lot fussier these days and not getting any younger.
So I needed a plan, and as luck would have it, a plan started to form without much forethought. Someone local to me, who works for Google (they do actually call themselves Googlers by the way!) was taking a sabbatical for a few months and need someone to take on her horse (another grey) for a few months and share some of the cost. Perfect! This, combined with a few occasional rides I'm picking up to help out riders and racehorse trainers is working out well.
It's been quite a few years since I've taken any time off riding, and this time round it has really made me realise you never stop learning, and it really is important to stop and consider "have I got a plan for what I want to achieve with my ride today".
I'm a complete sucker for anything vaguely educational when it comes to horses, my bookshelves are full of books and videos that I've used and analysed over the years, covering everything from horse breeding from my National Stud days through to training materials for the competition horse.
The HorseHub App project I started last year with Paul Tapner has been a refreshing eye opener. Reviewing so much content for the app, whether it's event footage from Adelaide Horse Trials or a training video from Richard Davison or Michael Whitaker, you pick up all sorts of little nuggets of information, which I've started to put to good use.
I've only ridden this new horse 3 times, once when I tried him out, and twice since. The second time I was a little blasé, and didn't really start riding with a plan in mind. My old grey horse has really spoilt me. Over the years he has developed such a comfortable canter that he is the best horse to illustrate shorting and lengthening of strides - all very balanced, and very rhythmical, and here I was fresh in the saddle after months away, on a clean horse, expecting everything to just fall in to place. Not a chance!
So ride number three became more considered, more focussed, and thought through. What were the steps to get both me and this new horse into a harmonious rhythm? Beautifully ridden needs beautifully balanced, so I needed to put off a few of the dreamy personal goals of looking like Carl Hester on a medal winning day, and work on some simple basics - Get the balance, then add the power. Dare I say it, I think time away from the saddle has been good in some ways, if only to remind me of the fundamentals.
My own little eventing adventure continues.......