Monday, 28 September 2015

Where the hell did my confidence go?


A couple of weeks ago I was riding a horse I've ridden maybe 50 times. He's lovely, good paces, tries really hard and is so sweet I have a real soft spot for him.

He can be nervy sometimes, and when he frightens himself he finds it hard to calm down again. A lot of people have fallen off him. My first fall from him was a good few months ago when the string on the end of my whip had unravelled. I got on and he felt it tickle his side and freaked out. 

I was down to ride him the other day, put my foot in the stirrup, sat down and he bolted, at speed. I came off backwards and was unhurt apart from a sore side and sore pride. 

But actually, that fall has bothered the shit out of me, because it was frightening, and because I don't know exactly why it happened. Theories are: 

a) he may have caught something out of the corner of his eye that spooked him.
b) girth might have been too tight.
c) he was full of good grass, having escaped into the giant field and gorged himself. 

It also bothered me because I felt like a crap rider for letting it happen, and because I wasn't able to get back on without help. Which sort of puts your ego firmly back in its box.

Which is where it belongs really. There's no place for ego with horses, it always ends in tears and humiliation. 

After a mild existential meltdown I've decided that there is every likelihood that my confidence will return to its normal level if:

a) I keep riding.
b) I keep the fall in perspective (everyone falls off, and the more you ride the more likely it is that you will)
c) I take extra care when mounting to do so carefully, with my reins nice and short, and with my brain in gear in case anything does happen.

Riding horses can go wrong. And when it does you realise what a miracle it is that it doesn't happen more. When you get binned, you get a reality check. And it doesn't feel nice, but it does give you a chance to pause for thought and ask: "Is this worth it?"

The answer, for me, is always: "Yes."

Be happy x

My Nancy

I'm forever grateful to the friend who told me about the Robert Burns poem quoted in the picture. I'm pretty sure he wasn't writing about a lurcher but me may as well have been because the words fit her so well :) I'm equally grateful to my other friend, who took the photo and captured her beautiful little face so well. To see more of his work click here or follow him on Twitter @bbtakesphotos 

Be happy x

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The hidden terror of owning a horse

I want to write only about how happy I am to have a horse again. 

Especially one as adorable as Zed. I want to tell you about how good he is. How he's been an absolute treasure as I've introduced bridle, roller, saddle bit and the teeniest spot of lunging. How he rests his head on me and falls asleep again when I go to see him early morning. 

But that would only be half the story. 

I'm frightened he's going to die. I'm frightened I'm going to arrive at the field and find him half dead, like I did with Rodney. I'm worried I'm going to fail to look after him and it's going to kill him. And I'm also afraid that he'll die even if I get everything right.

Life is two stories that run parallel to each other. One is the glossy, fun version that appears on Facebook, or in the news you tell a friend you haven't seen for a while. It's the highlights - the parts that happen when the sun is shining, the good days that give you hope and fill you with enthusiasm.

The other is the part that grabs you by the leg at 4am and tells you that you've got everything wrong and you're too silly and small not to fail.

I'm NOT writing this looking for sympathy, more as reassurance for anyone else who feels like that. And I think most of us do at some point.

We all need those two sides of life. Sharing good news and successes makes us all happy, and confronting our fears and failures makes us tougher - if we let it.

I think trying anything in life after you've failed is worth it. It's worth accepting your fears and doing it anyway, because not doing it is worse.

So here we are: I am a horse owner again. My horse might die. And it might be my fault. But I'm going to love him anyway.