Part One of The fear of riding: Where it all began
Firslty apologies for the poor piccies-they are very old! I’ve ridden for many years. Starting at a local riding school near me. I was on a little chunky piebald who had a reputation for bolting when he got to the front of the ride. This was when I took my first tumble. Layig winded and unable to catch my breath. but I was okay though and got back on but that’s when the fear started.
I moved onto Callum Park where I rode a fab dun pony called Perdy. She was a sweetie who got me over my fear of cantering. It took a while and often I would have to jump to get into canter. To this day I am still a muppet when it comes to a canter transition and freeze. I much prefer letting them fall into a canter. Bad I know but what can you do? I learnt loads at Callum Park and would often get stuck in with mucking out and so on. Shortly after this I started working at a riding school closer to me. Again, I loved the lessons and enjoyed riding but didn’t have much confidence. I didn’t fall off much. Just an unlucky splatting from a pony that was known to stop. He was a monkey when it came to jumping but a delight on the flat. I carried on. Still being the nervous Nellie in the group but actually I wasn’t a bad rider.
The fear of riding: Showjumpers and Racers
Eventually when I turned 14 I was able to go and work at L & K Jewell Racing. This was pivotal for me. I spent every weekend up there. My poor father driving me there every Sunday for 4 years. Linda gave me lessons and I was allowed to ride the liveries. My confidence grew and I was never given the chance to be nervous. I do remember one conversation though where I realised I was the litmus test. We would ride ponies over from Ireland that were for sale and if I felt safe on the ponies they were considered bomb proof. I was flattered to be involved and remember some adorable ponies, especially Patch, a little coloured cob that I wish I’d been able to have.
Time went by and I got to know Karen and she used to collect me from college. Then we would ride together. I was allowed to school them round the gallops and we would often go for a blast. I was able to sit bucks and rears and actually wasn’t too bad. Eventually I even rode the racehorses out around the road. Confidence growing the more I did it. I had one spin round the track on a racehorse. Timmy was his name. He ran away with me and I overtook who I was meant to be behind. Still Linda was deadpan, holding up four fingers telling me I had 4 laps to go. Well I did them, I didn’t fall off and I managed to pull up and then canter back. It gave me a fright though and I decided that I was better on the roads. I hindsight I should have been proud of my small achievement of not coming off, but you focus on the bad don’t you.
The fear of riding: Useful
Still I felt like I was okay at riding. Never was I going to be the girl that could ride anything but I could be useful and look after the younger girls with their ponies on livery. Plus, I could groom well and muck out. My confidence was probably the highest it had been and I purchased my own horse. A lovely Irish mare called Sharla. Now oddly she liked me and was an angel. Working for Jackie meant I could keep her there and we would take them to the forest. She was a saint, would go in front or behind and also had a pop in her too. Sadly whilst I was buying her my nan, who I was very close too, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
She had a very short battle with it and declined all treatment. This was the toughest thing I have ever been through and I spent her final week with her, nursing her. Watching someone you love in pain. Crying out for help and fading away is horrific. My mum suffered more and I stayed there for her. I rang my dad when she passed away and remained cool and in control. Jackie and Linda were both amazing and Sharla was my focus through all of it. My nan had given me £50 for every birthday so I could buy myself a horse. I eventually did that and I only wish iPhones had been around then. She would have loved to have seen videos and endless pictures. That’s a major regret of mine and I wonder if that’s why I do what I do now?
The fear of riding: Run Away
A delayed breakdown hit me a few month later. I couldn’t deal with being around my mum, she reminded me of my nan. I didn’t want to be at home and I couldn’t face any of it anymore. Consumed with guilt and grief I decided to take a job in Jersey. With the help of Linda and Jackie Sharla was sold. To a lovely home with two young girls who did everything on her. Another heart-breaking period in my life where I could believe I had sold what my nan had struggle to help me buy. In hindsight, I was probably not a fab person to know then and was hasty in my decisions.
As always, my parent supported me and drove up to Coventry to catch some cheap flights to Jersey. A position as a groom on a dressage yard greeted me and I spent the next year learning to ride a little longer. Thor was my ride. He was a 21-year-old school master from Germany who was simply amazing. Happily, I would hack him out. Safe in the knowledge he would always look after me. We had the most amazing canters and the best memory is cantering along the cliffs near the beach. I had lessons and learnt how to do flying changes. I manged to sit up and keep my weight back. Started to feel more like a rider rather than a passenger. I never came off there and loved my little yard that I was my pride and joy. After a year though I became lonely and decided to return home to study Graphic Design.
The fear of riding: Horseless but OK
This was the start of a period of time when I didn’t have access to a horse. I wasn’t able to ride frequently. Whilst I was lucky to go back and see Karen to ride my confidence ebbed away. Still I was able to ride but the confidence that comes with doing something frequently had disappeared. Karen was brilliant, allowing me to pop back home and go out on sponsored rides. Grace, a chestnut mare, looked after me and I realised I still enjoyed it.
Time went by, I did my Veterinary Nurse training and once qualified I decided to move back to Kent. Once home I was able to get back in the saddle, quite literally. Working Saturdays meant I was able to build that tiny bit of confidence back up and I had a happy balance of being happy to go out for hack but no commitment.