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I do enjoy a good collaboration with fellow equestrian professionals so when the chance came to invite Georgina Bull to share her story, I jumped at it, especially once I heard that she had worked hard to overcome confidence issues and regain her enjoyment of riding. Here is ‘GEORGINA’S STORY……’
Georgina is a registered Osteopath in the UK who, alongside treating horses and humans, takes a special interest in the relationship between how horse and rider move together. A rider herself, owning 2 horses and competing in Endurance riding, she has worked with the Team GBR Elite Endurance Squad travelling with the riders to European and World class competitions. Georgina runs her own clinic in Northamptonshire and regularly runs rider biomechanics workshops. You can find Georgina on FaceBook as well.
I remember being like every typical horse mad kid, I couldn’t wait to ride every time I got the opportunity and rode my bike dreaming it was a horse! At 15, I was doing routine chores for a private stable and being allowed to ride in return. They had beautiful horses, but one day things didn’t quite go to plan.
That fateful day saw me get on a huge, 17.1hh plus dark bay mare, who I was riding in a dressage saddle. Needless to say, I couldn’t reach her girth to do it up, and when her saddle slipped, she took off bucking and I landed on the floor. I remember thinking I was dead, until I realised thankfully, I wasn’t, I’d just badly broken my shoulder.
Whilst I was in hospital, I said to my mother I wasn’t going to ride again. She insisted I got rid of all horse related stuff, and I couldn’t bear that thought, so I made sure I’d ride again when I could. After having my shoulder fixed in an operation, I then didn’t get a chance to ride for several months. When I was invited to ride a friend’s confidence giving gentle mare, I was an absolute wobbling, nervous wreck.
My confidence took a huge beating and for many years I rode at home myself but never dared even consider hacking or competing, it was totally outside of my comfort zone. I regularly went out and helped various friends as a groom whilst secretly longing to actually be riding myself. That longing never went away and I visited a variety of confidence clinics and hypnotherapists to try and help myself.
I was so frustrated at myself for getting so stressed at something so simple as just hacking out but when I moved my mare to a different location 5 years ago, I realised I was making excuses for myself. I had no other facilities to ride other than a bridleway and initially hacked out on a lead rein with a foot soldier with me, after riding my whole life! I very quickly discovered that nothing went wrong and was supremely proud of my achievement of hacking for 20 minutes with a friend on her horse one day!
I owe a lot to my mare, she taught me to trust her and she taught me that whatever happens, I can do it and she will look after me. She has been wonderful and with her quiet insistence that we go and investigate this clump of grass, or that tasty thing over there I began to start hacking confidently, even if only in walk and trot! When I found myself in the position of buying an Arab, I never believed I would be good enough for him, but the joy that he also brings me is humbling.
With some key breathing techniques and the help of a wonderful group of friends who helped encourage me to stretch my comfort zone and test my limits I found myself riding further until they set me the challenge of actually entering an endurance ride. Back came ALL of those worries I thought I was overcoming. The day of the ride I literally couldn’t function thanks to nerves but again, they told me to breath and take it step by step, at my own pace. It may not have been fast, but I completed it against lots of odds and I’m still elated 4 months later! I know I still have a long way to go, and have to work at my confidence each time I ride but the smile it gives me to look at the ride pictures never goes away, and the love I have for my horses just gets more each time I ride.