Daisy’s Story

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With my new website up and running it seems like the appropriate time to put more focus and energy into my THROUGH THE EARS blog.  So as part of the re-launch here is a very special blog for you.

You may have come across the How Very Horsey  blog written by the lovely Daisy Smith.  Daisy is a talented writer and horsewoman, comes from a long line of well known equestrians and has been very open and honest about her own struggles with riding confidence. Daisy has kindly agreed to write this piece for me to share with you.  When I first read it yesterday evening it brought a tear to my eye and made me think of so many of the riders I have been privileged to work with since 2004 who have similar stories to tell but prefer them to remain private.  The sharing Daisy’s story here is intended to give YOU hope and inspiration and if YOU need help then please do just get in touch and take the first step towards helping yourself to recover your enjoyment of this wonderful sport.  THANK YOU DAISY.


A year ago, I was a bit of a mess. The combination of a bad riding accident, a traumatic birth and associated PTSD and PND, and a few weird years of riding horses I didn’t know or trust, left me with zero confidence. Less than zero, actually. I was at the point that, for the first time in my 20 years of riding, I actually considered giving up. Not even because I wanted to. More because I thought I had to.

I got to the point that I was having such anxiety just driving to the stables that I had to frequently pull over just to breathe. If a horse so much as moved an ear unexpectedly, I would get off. To put this in perspective, a few years ago I was competing at 1.20m level and had previously ridden for England and won BSPS Rider of the Year. Last year, I couldn’t trot around an arena.

What helped me? Blogging. I started my blog when I was pregnant and unable to ride. It was a way I could stay involved in the horse world somehow. I said when I started it that if one person read it and enjoyed it then that was fine. I had no idea of the true impact my blog would have on me though.

Writing honestly about how I felt and what I was going through, firstly, helped me to see it more clearly but it also opened me up to a world full of advice. A world full of people in the same boat or people who had been there. And an amazing crowd of previous strangers who were suddenly invested in my story and cheering me on.

What I would like to share with you guys though is this: People will tell you it will get better, people will tell you that you will be fine, people will make lovely comments about how good you were and how they are sure it’s just a phase. As lovely as these people are trying to be, it will not help.

What will help is this: it can get better.

Last week, I jumped my young, sprightly 17.1hh horse at a county show and won. Tonight, I jumped round a course of fences at home with a smile on my face. I am looking forward to riding tomorrow. It can get better.

 Daisy enjoying riding the lovely Jack

What you need to find is what will help you. Real, practical advice of how to find that confidence. It will not be an instant fix. Confidence is built up through consistent, positive experiences over time. Set yourself up to have those experiences, surround yourself with people who understand and are sympathetic, but at the same time are cheering you on, actively work on changing your negative mindset if you can. I now walk the course and say to myself “This will be fun to jump. What a great feeling it will be!” I am still nervous but it helps me.

 Daisy and the famous American Pie, now a sprightly 23 yrs old.

I can get better.

Life Changing

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Hypno-psychotherapy has helped many of my clients, with many focussed on horse riding.

From confidence building to accident recovery, click through below to learn more from others’ positive experiences.

How we can help you?

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There are many areas of your life in which this type of therapy can support you, these include:

Emotional and behavioural difficulties, excessive worrying, obsessions, insomnia, phobias poor concentration, digestive problems, confidence issues, performance anxiety and sports development, where Jane can particularly help in Horse Riding.

Jane Brindley

Category : Front Page Services

Jane Brindley is an experienced therapist working from her base in Dollar in the Ochil Hills.

Being a full member of the National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists (NRHP) Jane is fully insured and adheres to the code of ethics of the NRHP.

Recovery After an Accident. 1. Carol’s Story

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We all know that horse riding can be a risky sport and will, no doubt, have friends or acquaintances who may have been injured.  In my line of work I meet many people who wish to regain their enjoyment of riding after such an experience.  It’s not always easy but with time, effort and teamwork it is perfectly possible.

I recently asked on facebook for volunteers who are prepared to share their stories and will be publishing a couple of these over the next few weeks.  I am sharing these, not to scare you but to show you that there is hope and that recovery is definitely possible.

Carol is someone who I have worked with and she has kindly volunteered to mention that in this piece.  Thank you for being prepared to share your story Carol, and I commend you for your honesty, bravery and hard work.


Summer 2015 is when everything changed for me, circumstance and bad advice led Owain to spook whilst being given a bad leg up causing me to land hard on his back, he bolted and swerved sharply to the side causing me to fall. I tried to land on my feet rather than hitting my head on the fence, as soon as I hit the ground I knew something very bad had happened.

I was transferred to Glasgow where I was horrified to learn the extent of my injuries, on my landing my ankle had dislocated, then my knee causing my femur to crash right through my tibia, I had over 30 breaks to my leg and not much left of my tibia itself it was crumbled, my surgeons likened it to a head on collision car crash or a motor bike crash it was so serious I was told I might never walk on it again and could possibly lose it all together if surgery didn’t work.

I had 6 hours of surgery, 4 weeks in hospital another six flat out recovery, I was told not to even think of riding for at least 2 years I was devastated, I have 3 large plates ( they had to make them specific) partial knee replacement and 26 screws holding my leg together now.

It was during my recovery I started to let the thoughts in …. the doubt whether I was capable of riding Owain, looking at stronger bits , reading up on calmers for him all sorts of things, I was very lucky to have a excellent instructor who assured me I was more than capable of riding him but the doubt set in.

Much to the horror of many people I wanted to ride Owain and 14 weeks after my surgery I managed wearing a brace on my leg to climb on only for a few minutes but I was on.

I had to start riding again or give up.

I started having lessons on him again every week just walk small bit of trot as I couldn’t still walk properly, i felt good at first but always made sure someone always held Owain and never left me alone, I felt sick getting on always thinking of the what if. Over the months I was riding more and more but still felt sick and apprehensive getting on and off because of the what if … what if he spooks again … what if I fall again … my guts churning, I always had to have someone beside me. I was growing more confident I even had a fall after an enthusiastic jump over a muddy puddle but I seem to put that away but getting on really still haunted me. I would think about the what ifs constantly before riding and end up going to the loo, feeling sick dry mouth … I knew I was a capable rider but always thought the worst before hand.


I seeked help from Jane about my confidence and the going’s on in my head, I knew I could ride him my instructor instilled that in me but my head told me I couldn’t. Jane taught me to change the way I think,to look at things from a different perspective to not let spooks grow arms legs and tentacles…. deal with it ride it and put it away, never dramatise it that’s when the arms legs tentacles grow.

I’ve fallen twice since my accident and managed to have a good laugh about it, we all fall it’s just how we deal with it in the end.

It’s now over 3 years and don’t get me wrong I still have the odd nervous feelings but generally now I just get on and enjoy Owain and we are achieving things now I could only have wished for before thanks to my wonderful friend and instructor Karen and Jane for helping me with my demons , and of course my lovely welshie Owain who has looked after me faithfully since that terrible day.


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Gosh it’s almost a month since I posted Part 1, time has flown recently!


Anyway, better late than never and here is Part 2 which completes the alphabet.


N is for NERVES.  Feeling nervous at times is an absolutely normal part of being human.  learning to accept and acknowledge the phusical and mental sensations of anxiety and then work with them instead of trying to deny them and force them away will help your confidence enormously.  It takes practice but it is so worth it.


O is for OMG!  Let’s face it we all have those moments when we ride.  Times when you get a fright, fall off or something unexpected happens.  What we need is the mental resilience to learn from any mistakes we’ve made, accept whatever has happened and then put the event behind us and move on.  This isn’t always easy but it is important to develop the mental skills necessary to be able to learn and move on.  If we don’t do this then the effects of an OMG moment can interfere with our enjoyment of riding.  Once these skills have been learned then confidence increases and therefore riding confidence soars.


P is for POSITIVITY  A huge part of my job is helping riders to understand the importance of focussing on the positives rather than the negatives.  learning to change your thinking really does change your life.  Identifying what you are saying to yourself, and therefore believing, is the first step towards making these important changes.  So why not spend some time noticing your thoughts and the things you are saying to yourself, then challenge them if you need to.  At the end of the day a useful exercise is to write down three positives fromyour day so that you can end your day feeling good about your achievements.  Try it and let me know how you get on.


Q is for QUESTION  if you need help, then ask.  If you don’t know how to do something then ask.  If something doesn’t make sense to you then ask again.  Find people who’s opinions you respect and who have your best interests at heart and ask away.  Can you help me?  Can you explain how?  I don’t understand, please can you explain?  Admitting that you need help isn’t a sign of weakness, it is simply an acknowledgement that you are prepared to learn.  Asking the question can be the first step to making changes which will help your confidence to grow.


R is for RESILIENCE  Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  I can’t promise any rider that they will never fall of or find tehmselves in a tricky situatiion.  However, I can help you to develop techniques to learn from these situations, move on and put them in the past where they belong.  Developing resilience will help you in all areas of your life and once you discover that you have the capacity to quickly recover then your riding confidence will soar.


S is for SUCCESS  Success is the achievement of goals.  Be proud of every single success, great and small.  Every success is made up of thousands of small ones and is the result of many hours of hard work.  So be proud of all of your successes.


T is for TIME  It takes time to make changes.  Time is precious and we all have many different demands and commitments so sometimes we really need to plan out time effectively in order to make these changes.  A bit of time management planning will help any feelings of being overwhelmed and will help us be more efficient in the use of our precious time.  When we feel more in control and less overwhelmed then confidence will grow.


U is for UNDERSTANDING  Often the first step to making changes is to develop an understanding of what is going on and why.  If you need help with this then it is important to consult someone who can understand the issue and has the expertise to help you to work out the necessary strategies to deal with it.


V is for VICTORY  Victories may be tiny or they may be enormous, they may be achieving something for the very first time or winning a huge international event,  Behind each victory is a huge amount of hard work, detemination and ability to overcome setbacks.  So celebrate your victories large and small.  What victories have you had recently?


W is for WILLING  Are you willing to learn?   Are you willing to make changes?  Are you willing to work hard?  Are you willing to accept help?  Making changes can be very challenging and begins with an acceptance that in order to fulfil your riding goals it may be necessary to change the way you are doing things.  If you are having difficulty and are willing to learn then please do get in touch.


X is for X-FACTOR  We can all come up with our own interpretation of X-Factor but what I mean at this moment is the feeling we get when everything is going well whilst riding a horse.  That feeling when the boundary between horse and rider is blurred, giving harmony and total absorption in the moment.  Can you think back to a time when this has happened for you?  They are moments to treasure.  It doesn’t have to be spectacular, perhaps out on a hack, galloping along the beach or achieving a clear round.  treasure these moments and remember them when times are more challenging.


Y is for YET  Such a small but such a powerful word.  Instead of saying “I can’t do something” try adding the word YET onto the end of the sentence.  it immediately changes the meaning of what you have said and implies that youare moving towards being able to do it in the future.  try it and then see how you feel.


Z is for Zzzzz  We’ve come to the end of the alphabet so it’s time for a rest.  But this can be a metaphor for riding too, it doesn’t all have to be about goals, progress and making changes.  Sometimes it’s good just to simply rest, have a break, spend some time simply watching your horse in the field, have some fun with your friends.  Then after your rest you can pick up the reins agiain with renewed vigour.


So that’s the end of this list for the moment.  I could start again from A and come up with 26 different words related to riding confidence and I may well do that in the future as this list certainly isn’t definitive.


Thanks for reading and, as always, any comments are very welcome.

A to Z of RIDING CONFIDENCE Part 1 (A to M)

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I recently completed an Instagram challenge, which I had set myself, which was to come up with an A to Z of Riding Confidence.  I enjoyed the challenge and was pleased to get some lovely positive feedback and also that some other people joined in.  On finishing I promised to collate the A to Z into a blog so here goes….. I’ll do it in two posts so that hopefully you can enjoy reading each whilst having a coffee or a relax.




A is for ATTITUDE.  Your attitude towards something is the way you think and feel about it and it shows externally in your behaviour.  So what is your attitude towards riding?  Do you ride purely for fun or are you a serious competitor or, infact, somewhere in the middle?  Are you prepared to work hard to achieve your goals and do you accept personal responsibility for your progress?


B is for BELIEF.  If you believe that you can do something then you are most definitely well on the way to being able to do it.  Conversely, if you believe that you can’t do something then you will struggle to achieve.  Changing your thinking (belief) will help you to change your behaviour and this is something that you most definitely can do if you set your mind to it and ask for help if you need it.


C is for CALMNESS.  A calm mind and a calm body will help you to focus, ride in a confident manner and achieve your riding goals.  It will help you to get rid of unnecessary tension which, as we all know, your horse will pick up on.   Calmness doesn’t necessarily equate to relaxation it is simply an ability to be comfortable in your body and in your mind without excessive concern or worry.


D is for DETERMINATION.  Decide what you want to get from your riding and be determined about working towards getting there.  Derterminedly working towards achieving your goals will help to boost your confidence.  Determination is the quality you show when you have decided what you want and you won’t let anything stop you.


E is for ENERGY.  Spending time worrying will sap your energy, anxiety can be exhausting.  So when you are feeling more confident then you will have more energy to put into your riding.  When you give more energy to your riding your confidence will increase.  WIN WIN!


F is for FUN.  Fun is what it’s all about, or at least I hope it is.  What do you really enjoy doing with your horse?  What makes you smile?  What makes you laugh?  Can you have a laugh when things go wrong rather than taking it all very seriously?  Have a think about the times when you have had most fun with horses and make sure that you do them again.  Simply having fun will boost your confidence.


G is for GOALS.  Setting SMART goals will help you to move forwards and out of your comfort zone.  Ticking off short term goals and then re-setting is such a useful way of pushing yourself and measuring progress.  The by-product of goal setting is an increase in CONFIDENCE.


H is for HORSE.  Having the right horse for you and for the activities you like to do with your horse is so important.  You can feel as though you can conquer the world on one horse and on a different one may feel that a canter is too far out of your comfort zone.  If you are worrying about riding your horse then it’s important to ask yourself the difficult question “Is this horse right for me, given my current level of skill and experience?”  Being ‘over-horsed’ can be a frightening and potentially dangerous situation.  if you are worried then seek advice from someone who’s opinion you respect and who has your bst interests at heart.  Then once you are riding a suitable horse your confidence will return and you can continue to make progress towards becoming the rider you wish to be.


I is for INSPIRATION.  Who are you inspired by?  What is it about them that you admire?  is it their horsemanship, their devotion to their craft or to their horses, thier mental strength?  Can you apply these ideas to your own riding and identify areas to work on?  Recognising your strengths and challenges will boost your confidence.


J is for JOY.  A bit like F is for FUN!  It’s not all about making progress and setting goals.  When did you last do something with your horse and experience pure joy?  Whether it’s simply watching him in the field, giving him a cuddle, going for a quiet hack or having a crazy gallop do whatever brings you pure JOY


K is for KINDNESS.  I urge you all to show kindness towards those around you.  We sadly often hear accounts of unkind behaviour in the horse world and surely this has to be unacceptable.  Differences of opinion can be resolved by good communication and compromise. if you see someone struggling with their confidence then why not kindly offer to lieten to them andassist them to find the appropriate help.  Kindness makes the world a better place for all of us.

Of course, kindness towards our horses is a must and there is never an excuse for ill treatment of these beautiful animals.


L is for LIFE.  How do you fit riding into your life?  Or is it how do you fit life into your riding?!  Do you plan your riding time into your other commitments or do you feel as though you are constantly chasing your tail and are never able to focus on one thing at a time because you have so many demands?  If life is chaotic then why not make some time to do a bit of planning?  mark off those times to ride and then get on and ride at those times without distraction.  Time management will help you to focus on what is really important to you, help you to be more mindful and ultimately help your confidence.  Give it a go!


M is for (riding in the) MOMENT. Being mindful and rising in the moment is enormously helpful for confident riding.  Avoiding trying to anticipate what could happen in the future and making sure that you aren’t unnecessarily holding on to past events is so important.  If your horse is moving in the direction of your choice at the pace of your choice at any moment in time then everything is OK.

it takes time and practice to fel comfortable riding in the moment but it really is worth the effort.


So there we have A to M and I will finish the alphabet in my next blog post.


Thanks for reading this and please do get in touch if I can help in any way or feel free to comment.

Team KA Blog – Audrey

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My name is Audrey McGregor Williams and this is my beautiful five year old traditional cob Springtime Breche.

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to buy Breche when she was a three years old, through riding her mum, so I already knew that she was the type of horse for me and that her temperament was the same as her mother’s, but as an older rider and first time horse owner with limited riding experience, I was already apprehensive and wanted to ensure that she had the best possible start regarding her education, so I brought her to be backed and schooled properly by Karen with the help of Abbie Pearson here at KA equestrian.

This was a very positive experience for both Breche and myself, as I felt confident and assured that the process had been carried out in a professional and sympathetic manner with lots of opportunity to pop along and visit throughout her four weeks at Karen’s.On returning to the livery yard we were at, I then started to have a couple of lessons a week on her from a lovely lady who had experience with youngsters. I also had a very competent young rider schooling her once a week and all was going well. We returned to Karen’s the year later to have a lesson and run through a wee dressage test. I was feeling really pleased with our progress.

Things started to change and Breche developed a resistance to even approach the mounting block never mind standing at it. This led to me falling off at the block and fracturing my coccyx which followed on to a huge anxiety issue for us both.

On investigating further and taking more advice as to why Breche was resisting at just getting the saddle on now and didn’t want to be ridden became apparent, she had a sore back. We then followed on with what seemed like a very long process of saddle fittings and lunging.

It was at this point a livery place became available at KA Equestrian and although we were very happy where we were, it seemed too good a chance to miss out on and I contacted Karen and we moved within a couple of weeks.

Since coming to Karen’s we have had the lovely equine osteopath Emily Cuthill to look at her. Emily then advised that we should only lunge Breche for 6 weeks to build up her back muscle which we did. We then had another dentist visit along with another saddle and bit fitting.

After the process of elimination was complete Breche was still unhappy at the mounting block and had now associated it with pain. At this stage my confidence was at it’s lowers ever and I radiated fear and worry which didn’t help the situation. I knew that I had to have help with this and it was now about me and my actions to overcome my thoughts.


Team KA is a group of young riders based at KA equestrian and is generously sponsored by the lovely Jane Brindley from “Horse Riding With Confidence” and although I am no longer young lol …. I was encouraged by the work that Jane did with the group and wanted to be included, so after attending my first session with Jane, Karen and the rest of the fab young riders I found inspiration in the fact that we all had different goals and challenges of equal importance, where we needed to also look at our achievements and what we needed to work on. Feeling part of this has given me new focus and determination.

I realised that what Jane was saying was exactly what I needed to do. I needed to look at exactly what my anxiety was about and where I wanted to be next year. Identifying my goals and talking about them openly with others really made a difference, and putting a time on this too, which I think has been the most helpful way of thinking for me.

As a direct result of my session, I felt I was more aware of what my anxiety was around and challenged this at the mounting block with some invaluable initial support from Abbie, I have now managed to get on my beautiful pony without any issues. In only one month I have taken Breche to our first showing clinic and taking part in the riding sessions with Team KA.We have definitely made huge progress in only a few weeks with a decreased level of anxiety which had allowed me to now concentrate on improving my riding and enjoying my relationship with Breche.

I will continue to meet with Team KA once a month and benefit from the team spirit and inspiration that comes with it. I also plan to have a weekly lesson with Karen when possible as this is also encouraging and motivating. We have another showing clinic booked with Brian Williams an Hilltops Equestrian at the end of March….I never expected to be moving on so quickly and I feel amazing!

Team KA Blog – Bethany

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I am honoured to work with the members of Team KA helping them to develop a positive mindset, to make the most of their riding opportunities and to be focused as they set out on their competitive journeys.  Each team member has their own strengths and challenges and some will be contributing blog posts throughout 2018.  Here is a lovely post from Bethany and I am enormously grateful to her for her kind words about the work we do together.

Hi all!
My name is Bethany, I’m a 14 year old equestrian who met Jane through Team KA, a team of young riders based at KA Equestrian of whom Jane is a sponsor.
Jane has very kindly invited me to write a blog for her about my experiences with confidence and how her sports psychology sessions have benefitted my riding mindset.
I’ve had my fair share of confidence knocks over the 7 years that I’ve been riding. My horse Tia was only 4 when we bought her, and as the owner of a young horse I’ve definitely learned a lot about ‘bouncing back’ from bad experiences.
A good example of this is a fall I had not long before Christmas last year, in which Tia was spooked by horses in the field and bucked me off. This accident landed me in hospital for a day, which was a fairly scary experience.
Finding the courage and confidence to get back on after a bad fall is never an easy thing to do. As humans, our natural instinct is to avoid danger, and when put in a situation we know to be potentially dangerous, we tend to try our best to avoid it.
“Getting back on the horse” is a term used quite often in reference to other challenges in our society, but us equestrians take it literally.
When faced with riding Tia again, I was admittedly pretty terrified. I kept replaying the fall in my head over and over until my memory of it morphed into something worse than what actually happened. Something that Jane talks about often is dramatising a bad experience. This can be through retelling the event, or even simply replaying it in our heads, as I did, and all of this can make the experience appear to us far worse than what it was in reality.
However I found the best way to overcome these fears and doubts was, to put it simply, to get on with it. I found that the longer I waited to get back on board, the worse my mindset became. The first ride back will always be the most nerve-wracking, but once it’s over, the feeling is so elating.
When I was younger, I was never a particularly confident or ‘gung-ho’ rider. Whilst all the other kids were keen to jump and gallop about, I was much more reserved with my riding. My first two ponies were both not quite right for me at the time, so by the time my third pony came along I had little confidence left.
My third pony Andre was what is known in the equestrian world as a ‘confidence giver’. He was a been-there-done-that kind of pony, which was exactly what I needed. In the space of 2 and a half years, he took me from a nervous, tense rider to flying round cross country, jumping a metre and galloping through fields.
I think that in some cases people can be ‘over-horsed’, and this was definitely the case for my first two ponies. It can take a few gos to find the perfect pony or horse to suit you, and you won’t gel or bond with every single horse you meet/ride.
But that makes finding your dream horse that much more amazing!

I hope that you all enjoyed this little blog I put together, if you enjoyed me in general and would like to see more of me and my journey with Tia then you can follow my Instagram, @brp.equestrian!

Another huge thanks to Jane for letting me write this blog post for her! Her sessions have been incredibly beneficial to me and I hope to continue to have the privilege of her services throughout 2018.

Make this Winter an Opportunity

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Yesterday evening I was recording a short video piece with a friend which gives a couple of tips for Winter motivation so I thought I would write about this subject today in a little bit more detail.

In my opinion we have a choice about how we view the season of Winter.  We can either spend the next few months moaning about it being too dark, too cold, too wet, too muddy or we can embrace this time of year and think of it as an opportunity.  So here are my tips for some Winter Motivation.

1.  Accept that we live in Scotland (or elsewhere in the UK/Europe/Northern hemisphere) where the Winter days are short and, let’s face it, it rains a lot!  There is nothing we can do to change that.  So, as always have a think about what you are saying to yourself eg ‘This is awful’, ‘The weather is ****’!

If you’re constantly telling yourself that something is awful then that is what you believe.

So, change it round into seeing it as an opportunity eg ‘At least there are no flies!’

2.  Have a look at your goals.  How did you get on during the Summer months?  Is there anything that you need to work on?  Once again, look at it as an OPPORTUNITY.

3.  Are there any situations which you are avoiding eg riding on windy days or avoiding those shadowy corners in the arena?

Yet another OPPORTUNITY to do some de-sensitisation work.

4.  No where safe to ride?  Guess what?  Another OPPORTUNITY!

Group together with some friends and hire an indoor arena.  Make plans to ride out with other people. (You’re much more likely to do it if it’s in the diary).

5.  Be nice to yourself.

Dress warmly.

Use plenty of moisturiser and lip balm.

Wear bright colours.

Drink hot chocolate.

Go for a sauna.

Think warming thoughts.

6.  Missing the shows and events?

You’ve got it!  Another OPPORTUNITY!

Investigate Winter leagues and arena events.  Sign up and make a commitment.

Check back on your goals and measure your progress.

7.  Work on your fitness.

Use the OPPORTUNITY to sign up for a pilates class.

Go for brisk walks with the dog.

Do some strength training.

Set yourself up for the Spring.


8.  Pamper your horse.

If the weather is too bad to ride spend time with your horse instead.

Give him a good groom and thorough check over.

Adjust his feeding as necessary.

Give your tack a deep clean.


9.  And if you really can’t ride…..

Don’t feel guilty, your horse won’t mind having time off.

Enjoy the extra time with family or non-horsey friends.

Read a book by the fire.

Make plans and set goals for 2018


So, I hope you enjoy the Winter Season and do let me know how you intend to make the most of the opportunities which come your way.