It is almost a year since I returned to riding. I started my Tuesday riding lessons on 22nd January 2019, and it has been an incredible and nerve-wracking journey, although one thing that I can say is that every lesson ended with a huge smile on my face.
I do feel as though throughout the year my riding improved in so many ways from my core, in my first lesson I felt like a sack of potatoes, to my mindset, my confidence and of course my riding ability.
As I have been sharing my journey on Instagram, it has given me the opportunity to look back on my lessons and how far I have come, and the support I have had has been wonderful, so I have had company the whole way.
I started the year on my trusty ride Princess, who I wanted to cling too and ride forever, however my instructor Becky was not going to let that happen and knew I needed the experience of other horses and ponies.
On looking back, I had completely forgotten that Princess had in the early days given an objectional buck, which was very unexpected and amazingly didn’t put me off.
I had also forgotten that in one of my lessons the horse I was riding came to a complete unexpected stop and I fell off.
During 2019 I also started working on my mindset, the first step to come from this was to end my lessons with three positive things, as I found I was only ever concentrating on things I had done incorrectly and beating myself up, so instead I started to look at what went well.
This led to a wonderful opportunity to share my tips in an article in Harry Hall One Club Magazine.
There have been many nervous moments and anxiety before lessons, worrying about having to canter, would I be on a new horse? and as I progressed there was always something new to face. That new thing is now learning to jump.
I have made mindset adjustments along the way, changed my lesson to the first one of the day so that I don’t have to spend the morning worrying about it, tried deep breathing to keep myself calm, read many books and it is a work in progress, however I am becoming more confident.
Each lesson has chipped in with a little bit of confidence and with consistency and practice, a year doing anything can make a difference. I am not the same rider that went for that first lesson in January 2019.
Of course, I am still on a journey, both in improving my riding, mindset and confidence and on the bottom rung of jumping, however it will be interesting to look back on 2020.
Horse riding confidence can be improved, it is possible to get back in the saddle, and you can take it as slowly as you like, but know this; in 12 months’ time, you will look back and be amazed at how far you have come. Remember take everything at your own pace and if possible, find an instructor like mine, who is mindful of how nervous you are, but knows just how far to push you.
So, for 2020 my riding lesson Tuesday continues, and my plan is to have more lessons, perhaps join a group class once a week.
Who knew when I returned to riding, I would have goals? I was just happy to be back in the saddle, however one encouraging instructor later and I am gearing towards my first jumping and dressage competitions which are hosted at my local riding school. The jumps will be tiny, the dressage test will be for beginners, however it is exciting (although on the day that will turn into nerves) and who knows I may fulfil a lifetime ambition to win a rosette.
I also want to learn more about looking after horses, so building on that knowledge will form part of 2020 as my main goal is to own my own horse.