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MissH 05-03-2010 08:35 PM

A New Dawn, A New Day
I debated for a while whether or not to post a journal, as I'm not sure how far I'll be taking my riding this time and I hate putting pressure on myself. That being said, I think the pros outweigh the cons, so here it is.

To make a long story short, I've been, perhaps "avoiding" riding for the last few years. There are a few reasons for this but the biggest one is as follows. Two years ago I had the worst fall of my personal life (which really wasn't a horror story or anything I suppose...but enough to shake me up quite a bit). The horse I was riding, Toby, tripped and fell while we were on a 20m canter circle. I did a superman over his head, braced with my forearm and landed on my back at full speed. The wind was completely knocked out of me and I broke my forearm. It took me 5 days off of work to recover, another 8 weeks in a cast, and then I don't know how long in physio to be back to normal. I am super fortunate that this wasn't a worse accident - but it still shook my confidence pretty severely.

Unfortunately after that accident, because of the circumstances, I didn't get back on that night, and I didn't end up getting back on at all. One thing lead to another, and although I helped out at the barn, I just got caught up in all sorts of stuff - chores at the barn, work, social life, etc. and fast forward two years later - no riding.

I always thought about it, it never left my mind. I always made excuses - my biggest one was that not owning, and riding with a coach was useless and a half assed way to participate in the sport. Keep in mind I had been riding for about 15 years prior to this. I had the opportunity to ride in Europe and Alaska when I was a bit younger. I was into driving as well - so switched focus between riding and driving depending on the year.

So that brings us to about six weeks ago. My boyfriend and I think it's really important to give back to the community - so we both took on volunteer projects to help out. He works with Scouts and I decided to go and work with the local therapeutic riding stable. Going out there for the first time reminded me how much riding and being around horses meant to me, so it was at that moment that I decided to start over.

I surfed the web for a couple of weeks and finally landed on what looked like the best facility in the area. It was a facility I had looked at before. I had contacted the owner/coach last October just to put some feelers out (wasn't ready to go back at that point), and she was super super nice, and the information she gave me was great. She was super supportive of my situation, and I got the feeling that she actually knew what I was talking about. I emailed again, and got a glowing response inviting me out.

I went to meet her, and she was FANTASTIC! She really got it, in so many ways. She understood how it was difficult to come back to riding after a hiatus, etc. Anyways, I booked in with her and had to wait 3 weeks to start sessions with her as her time slots are insanely booked (as if that doesn't say enough right there).

Over the course of that three weeks I went out numerous times to watch her lessons, all of which were taught with poise and grace. I also watched a clinic which she rode in - I knew then that I had made the right decision.

My first session with her was this last Saturday morning. The barn was quiet - we were the first two there. We chatted it up the entire time I tacked up, but I was feeling super rushed (I like to take my time and we just didn't have it). I semi-panicked, simply because I like being on time and hate rushing the process - it drives me crazy if I don't have time to do things exactly right. Anyways, by the time we got into the arena I was freaked right out, and for whatever reason the nerves had just got the best of me. I had envisioned that moment so much differently - the calm, cool, collected girl I used to be with a solid seat and an awesome ability to ride...not so much? I went to mount, and the block slipped and fell - crushing whatever nervous confidence I had.

Eventually I got on. It was fantastic. I overcame the canter fear. My muscle memory wasn't totally gone (I'm still paying for that today...LOL). It was a VERY emotional ride, and very mentally exhausting. But I did it...and that's the whole point.

I guess that's the beginning! I ride again with her tomorrow - we'll see how that goes. I'd love this thread to be full of positive motivation, and would love to hear from others who have been through the same thing or similar. It was very humbling not to be the rider I used to be...having to relearn is really hard on the pride. I'm hoping with the right coach and some patience, I'll get it all back, and then some. :wink:

PS: It was fairly difficult posting this thread. It would be great to pretend that riding is always tickity boo and perfect, when we all know it's a tough sport both physically and emotionally. I'm hoping that the people who respond keep it as positive as's hard bearing your soul to the online community, especially when you're not a young spring chicken anymore!

RaiRaiNY 05-04-2010 01:14 PM

That's fantastic! I'm really glad you seem to have found the right situation. Take your time, do what feels comfortable, and don't push yourself too hard too quickly. Your confidence will grow and you'll be so happy you made the decision to ride again :)

MissH 05-04-2010 10:37 PM

Well, tonight was say the least.

I got there super early to make sure I wouldn't stress about being rushed this time. It had been pouring all day so that already made me nervous (lots of horses in the arena? and so on?). Didn't even THINK I would have any problems...

This was the first time I had to go and catch Oliver on my own (fourth level trained paint who I am riding...who is a complete sweetheart under saddle, but a bit of a grumpy old man otherwise!). Didn't think it would be a problem. Wrong. Couldn't catch him. Grain? Still couldn't catch him. I was nervous, simply because I didn't know how the other horses in the paddock were personality wise, so anyways it just got the best of me and I guess you could say I kinda gave up and went for help - practically cried on the way back to the barn because I was so let down that I couldn't even catch him. Anyways, that's where it began. By the time I got back to the barn, my confidence was so shot, that when the girl who helped me catch him offered to help me tack up I said yes.

Long and the short of it, everything felt like it was a disaster (because I couldn't do it myself due to total loss of confidence) until I walked into the arena. My coach asked me how everything was and I had a little breakdown... *sigh*. She was laughing because of the way I was explaining it...I have a pretty good sense of humor and the ability to poke a bit of fun at myself, and I thought it was cute that she giggled a little bit at how I felt like I had "so drastically let myself down". the time I circled the arena at a walk for about 10 minutes, I was just absolutely spent. I spilled all about how my pride was hurt that I couldn't handle it by myself tonight, and that I never thought I would have to reach so far back to the beginning and basically start over with everything from handling to riding. She was super great about it, and helped me get it all out and think of ways to move forward.

And then...

I just rode. And it was fantastic. I was more balanced than the first week, more confident, more everything than before. It was like I was a different rider. Now it took me THE ENTIRE TIME before that, venting and upset about not being able to cut it to kinda "get the nerves outta me", so to speak...but at the end of the day, I had nothing left in me other then to ride. So I did.

The point of the story for me is that I have to hang onto the positive and go from there. As for catching Oliver, I'm going back this week just to catch him and get that over with. I haven't handled horses for two years, and I didn't realize that I'd have to get used to it again. So to do that, I need to put some extra time into the things that are important other than riding - including some bonding time grooming, catching him in the field, and so on.

Next ride is Saturday. And although I had some issues tonight, I am actually really looking forward to it.

RaiRaiNY 05-05-2010 11:22 AM

I had quite a bit of trouble catching my horse the other night too. Also, everywhere else I've ridden, they've either haltered the horse for me, or left the halter on during riding. I was struggling to switch the bridle for the halter on Fritz the other night, and my trainer couldn't understand why....until I explained I had never done it before.

She showed how to do it once, but once isn't enough for someone who's only at the barn once or twice a week to be able to just do it immediately. I've also never cross-tied a horse before this barn, so that's new to me as well. We've always just tied the horses to a post and tacked / groomed from there.

Sometimes small issues like not being able to halter rattle my confidence much more than the riding itself.

MissH 05-07-2010 01:01 PM


Originally Posted by RaiRaiNY (Post 625231)
Sometimes small issues like not being able to halter rattle my confidence much more than the riding itself.

Yeah, I totally agree with this! Once I got out all the nervousness and drama because I had some confidence issues without being able to catch him, my ride was amazing. So that just goes to show.

Anyways, just a quick note - went out to the farm yesterday afternoon and caught Oliver without an issue. Going out tonight to do the same, just so tomorrow morning isn't an issue. And on top of that, I'd like to be ready to go 15 minutes before my lesson and warming up when my coach walks into the arena. I'll keep you posted on how that goes. :wink:

MissH 05-09-2010 06:20 PM

Yesterday's coaching session was the FIRST time that I've actually relaxed and been "trainable/coachable" in a lesson with this new coach. I was relaxed, ahead of schedule, and level-headed when we started our lesson.

I went out to the bar over an hour ahead of time because it was POURING and I wanted to make sure that Oliver was clean and tidy when we walked into the arena. He was no problem to catch, and super sweet in the cross ties. Everything went perfectly I'd say?

As for the ride? Fantastic. It was super rainy so the tin roof was a bit loud. So we used my coaches electronic system - I had a headset and so did she, which if you've never tried one, it's the best thing ever. Felt like she was right next to me the whole time.

Trot was great, rising and sitting. Leg yields were fantastic. Canter transitions were a bit sketchy. The last time I rode I got into the habit of leaning forward, which we all know is the worst ever for encouraging forward movement. My confidence still isn't where it used to be, neither is my balance, so tilting forward is my vice. I need to work on that in the coming few weeks.

Overall, great improvements. For the third time with her, I'm really gaining back what I had fairly quickly I'd say.

On top of that, because it was pouring I felt bad for my coach/barn owner, so I helped her bring in some of the horses and switch some of the others to paddocks with shelter. It was a soaking wet job - the two of us were absolutely drenched when we were done, but I felt good about doing it.

Tomorrow night I volunteer with the therapeutic riding association, and I ride again on Tuesday night. Should be a good week! :D

MissH 05-12-2010 08:28 PM

What an awesome ride last was absolutely fantastic. Canter transitions were great, leg yields were great, sitting trot was great....whole thing was excellent. I finally feel like I'm getting my "sea legs" back. Going to stay at two sessions a week for the next two months, and then we chatted about perhaps starting to look for something for me. She has a couple of leases that may work, but she knows I'm interested in buying so we'll see how that goes!

Couldn't be happier! :D I'm hoping to take my camera out to the farm within the next two weeks, so I'll see if I can get some snaps of Oliver for the time being.

RawhideKid 05-14-2010 03:38 PM

The YAWNING of a New Day!

MissH 05-15-2010 09:29 AM

LOL Rawhide...I love the pics! :wink:

Well, notwithstanding my relationship issues this week (he is just a complete idiot and I don't know if we'll last at this point....but that's a WHOLE other story), I STILL made it out to ride last night (he actually put some effort in and came and watched).

It was excellent. I am remembering what it feels like to keep constant contact in a frame and ride right into it. Oliver was ridden in the lesson right before me, so luckily when I jumped on I could go right at it as he was warm. It was GREAT!

I can honestly say that at the end it was me holding everything back and not him. He was taking the contact and working in the frame beautifully, but I had forgotten how much effort it takes to hold him up and not drop him - if that makes sense. So by the time I was into the last part of the lesson working at a sitting trot in the frame, my arms/shoulders felt like they were going to drop off. I told my coach that it's not him who was the problem, but me and my tired body... LOL.

Anyways, I think this was ride 5 out of my first 8 pack - coach and I are taking it month by month, but I think this will continue for a fairly long time, if not up it to three times a month. I think I will also soon outgrow Oliver, as much as I love him to pieces. It feels really really good to be riding again and I'm super happy with the results even though it's only my 5th time around. My seat is getting more solid every time, and I can really sit like I remember now. :D

MissH 05-26-2010 10:08 PM

So it's been a hell of a month, and I can't even list the number of crappy things that have happened at this point. It hasn't really been what I'd call a banner few weeks - that's for sure.

None the less, focusing on riding in this log - I've had three rides since my last post. Will only quickly touch on the last two due to exhaustion.

Thursday, May 20th, 2010 - Not much to say about this one other then I felt like I had hit a plateau, and it wasn't overall a great ride. I was pretty disappointed and left feeling unfulfilled if that makes sense. Perhaps some feelings of "Why am I doing this again?". Because of the long weekend for us Canadians, I didn't ride again until last night - so I promised myself I'd just focus on some "me" time and go back refreshed for my next ride.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 - *Unbelievable* difference. I worked on cardio and a lot of physical activity while I was off for those four/five days and it really paid off. My stamina has improved markedly. This was by far the best ride I've had yet. My transitions were great. I was able to pull Oliver into a frame quickly, and because of that he respected me more throughout the lesson. I also find that as my confidence improves, I am able to reprimand correctly and not fear the worst every single time. This seems to also have made him respect my aids a bit more allowing us to work a little bit more cohesively as a team. Anyways, suffice to say there were a lot of imrpovements made last night and I am super happy.

In other news, my coach laid a new footing in the arena which took a bit of mental getting used to. It's like a cedar wood chip mix - very springy. It's a little different noise wise but other then that it was pretty good.

Anyways, here's hoping that next month is better then this one. I can't say this was necessarily the summer I had been planning for. :-|

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