Getting back in the saddle series: Starting from scratch

This blog is going to be something a little different. Perhaps something a little bit more for myself rather than all you lovely people. It’s Ag related in a way, but very much NOT journalism related. Sorry, not sorry.

Today begins the first of a series of blog installments over the coming months that will chronicle my journey back into horse ownership and riding. So these blogs will more than likely involve me falling off my horse, so you know it will be a laugh considering I managed to fall off a stationary horse not so long ago.

If you follow me, you will know I began taking riding lessons at the start of year after a number of years off. In reality, I hadn’t ridden ‘properly’ (aka not just hacking around the farm) since I was about 15. This was on the back of one of the nastier falls I have had . My confidence was knocked out of me and to be honest, I never made much of an effort to get it back either.

So at the start of the year I made a few goals and getting back into riding and conquering fears was one of those goals. Over the course of the following months, with the help of an amazing instructor who knew when to push me into things and when to back off, my confidence grew as did my ability (although I still have to be reminded to keep my heels down).

The biggest hurdle I had to get over was the dreaded canter. After falling off a few times and often refusing to even try my instructor decided singing was the only to go. ‘Let it go’ from Frozen became my anthem for a number of weeks.. Singing does a few things for the brain in this scenario. A) You have to breath! otherwise you will pass out Holding my breath is something a lot of people do when nervous, this causes tension, which makes for a tense rider and a tense horse. B) Keeps your mind occupied. You take your focus off your fear and put it into remembering song lyrics. Then, one day, without even realising, I no longer had to sing to canter.

After a bit of thinking and lots of money later, I purchased my own horse ( well me and the boyfriend did). Flynn  is a 11 year old TB ex-racer.He stands tall at 16.3hh. In retrospect he may not have been the best purchase for my first horse back to riding. So why then did I purchase him? Because I’m a big softy. This tall handsome lad was in need of a loving home and a lot of TLC. This was the very reason why I decided on Raph, my retired racing greyhound.

Flynn getting some TLC the day after he arrived.
I think Flynn was feeling depressed about his hair cut in this photo

He has his issues. From floating through to teeth (fixed after the horse dentist did their magic) and hooves (soon to be fixed by farrier).  He has been out of work for so long he is very unfit and he came to me lacking a lot of weight. Over the past  few months I have had him he’s gradually putting on weight and with that, he is starting to show some personality too!

Despite all this, and his complete lack of ground manners, I think he’s a horse worth putting some effort into. He tries his heart out when he’s under saddle, and is such a dude when your on him, but due to his current level of fitness (which is similar to my own – non-existant) we are limited in what we can do. Over the coming weeks we will be starting the process of bringing him back into work.

I did have the option of my instructor bringing him into work for me while I was in Europe but I opted to do it myself for a number of reasons.
1) Bonding – Horse riding is about a partnership between horse and rider, and I wanted to establish this from the start. By learning and getting fit together, bond between horse and rider can be cemented.
2) Experience – I have never brought a horse into work before so I wanted to learn how to do it. I researched and made up a plan myself and want to be able to take pride in one day being able to say that I produced this horse myself.
3) Because I’m stubborn and want to do everything myself.

I will of course be doing this with the advice from many other horsey people and in due course will begin lessons again, but for now Flynn and I will be working on the basics. Jumping, will not be in our future any time soon, but who knows what we will be doing in a few months time.

I had planned to chronicle this journey in a diary for my own personal use, but this blog is effectively just that!

New beginnings 

This past weekend the boyfriend and I moved Flynn to his new grazing block. Due to limited space where he was, we had to move him. Getting him on a horse float was a bit of a headache and highlighted further problems with him that will need working on. After trying food as a lure, good cop and bad cop routines we had to enlist the help of a more seasoned horse person to help us get him on. We discovered if we didn’t give him time to think about what he was doing, we could get him on. He nearly trotted on the float, but at least he got on.

After we arrived at our new block he had the mother of all hissy fits. Flynn is a very vocal horse and VERY fidgety. This combined with new surroundings meant feet were stood on, bodies crushed against walls and one terrified looking horse. He was determined to be glued to my shoulder. After giving the lead rope to the boyfriend so I could put his covers on he twisted and wriggled around so that I was always within in his line of sight.

I’m pretty sure the boyfriend was scared off horse ownership for awhile, but in fairness, when a horse of that size is proving to be a handful to handle, it can be scary.

After a wrestling match to get him covers on and a near race through slippery, muddy paddocks to get him to his new digs, the big boy calmed down and took in his surroundings, standing tall to survey the land. The problem with Flynns height is that when he stands upright and alert, his nose touches the top of my head (I stand at 5 foot 7) Which can be intimidating. By the time I unpacked my gear, met one of the other grazers (who also happens to have a blog! see it here), made up his food and wandered back to his paddock, he was grazing happily like the previous tanty never happened. This, I thought, must be what having children must be like.

So today, being Monday, marks the start of a new week, which means the first official day of Flynn’s training plan. Because I am waiting on the arrival of his new saddle, we will be working on the ground today and working on those manners I know he has hidden deep down somewhere.

The plan is for me to jot down notes from every day and put up a weekly post summarizing our progress, problems, triumphs, disasters and funny moments from the week.

Wish me luck!





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