Five Tips for Dealing with Anxiety During a Period of Uncertainty

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I am hearing from, and reading about, more and more people who are experiencing increased levels of anxiety at the moment and, of course, this is hardly surprising given the times we are living in. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused huge uncertainty for many people with fears about health, worries about employment and finance, a feeling of lack of control or a sense of isolation leading to increased stress levels accompanied by a feeling of being powerless and anxious.

None of the above is a surprise and knowing that we are all in this together may help some people but not everyone. We are all different in how much uncertainty we are able to tolerate with some seemingly gliding through in a relaxed manner and others feeling close to breaking point.

So for those of you who are struggling here are some simple tips which you can put into practice easily and which will help you through the coming Winter period.

    You may well be hearing this from multiple sources at the moment but it really does make a huge difference.
    Start each day by noting down THREE things which you CAN DO today. This is know as “Setting your intentions” for the day.
    They might be big and important things or they might be small and seemingly insignificant but they are things which you CAN DO.

    Keep in touch with work colleagues, family and friends. If you are self employed think about checking in with your clients and customers to find out how they are getting on and to help them to know that you care about them even when you might not actually be able to work with them.
    Offer to help those who need it where you are able. This could be practical help for an elderly neighbour or being prepared to listen to a friend who needs some extra support.
    There is a lot of evidence which shows that helping others helps you to feel better about yourself.

    Instead of worrying about the things which you aren’t able to do for fun such as go on holiday, eat out and have parties find other ways to enjoy yourself.
    If you’re stuck at home make sure that each day you plan to do a couple of nice things such as have a soak in the bath and light a scented candle, get out in the fresh air when you can or give yourself a home manicure.
    Make sure that each day includes something for fun or relaxation rather than simply completing tasks.

    Make sure to eat well, exercise, stick to a bedtime routine and get up and dressed at a normal time for you each morning.
    Think about researching some simple meditation or breathing and relaxation techniques which will help to settle your mind and allow you to focus on the present rather than worrying about an uncertain future.

    At the end of each day look back at the intentions you wrote down in the morning. How did you get on? Did you do what you said you would do? How does this affect your feelings about your situation.
    Then end the day with noting three things you are grateful for. Again, they might be big and important things or they might be tiny. It doesn’t matter, write them down as you practice gratitude and note how you feel when you do this.

    If you are struggling in any way then seek help. I am always happy to have a no obligation chat and am a very good listener so feel free to get in touch.

A reminder of warm summer days to help you at this time.

New Learning, New Ideas

Last week I went on a little adventure, heading all the way to Bath for a three day course to begin six months of training with Centre 10 doing their Advanced Performance Psychology course for equestrian coaches.

As you know, all my work is done “off horse” and I don’t teach riding skills as such, but focus on the mindset and rider psychology aspects of the sport, so this course is right up my street. I was delighted to be accepted onto it based on my experience working with riders at all levels.

As you probably also know I am a believer in lifelong learning and am always open to new ideas and new ways of looking at old ideas.

So the week was a real treat as well as an adventure. It felt like an adventure because in this year dominated by Covid-19 just simply having a few days away from home is a novelty and the treat was staying in a beautiful country house hotel on the edge of the City of Bath.

There were lots of highlights including meeting the other coaches on the course plus meeting Charlie, Sarah and Steffi from Centre 10 who are all inspirational people, athletes and coaches.

Today I would like to talk about two of the exercises we did last week which were great fun but both brought home important messages and helped me to look at things I already knew from a different and useful point of view.

The first exercise was that we were give a block of wood with a nail hammered into it plus 10 other identical nails. The task was to balance to 10 nails on the one in the block!! We were in a team of three….

It was fascinating to see the approaches of my team mates as well as my own. One person decided that this wasn’t for them and encouraged the remaining team mates from the sidelines. I had been allocated the job of handling the nails (Covid meant that only one person was to do this) and my other team mate was coming up with ideas.

Initially we didn’t actually know whether this was possible of not but after a short while we were told that it WAS possible so were trying with renewed vigour. Then we were given a simple clue to help us understand HOW it was actually possible.

Interestingly my team mate who has a biomechanics background found the next stage of the exercise easier than I did and under her guidance we managed to complete the task!

When you BELIEVE something is possible it BECOMES possible.

There were several learnings from this exercise including:

  • Once you believe that something is possible then it becomes possible.
  • Rather than being given a list of instructions we were given a clue which then allowed us to work out the answer for ourselves, a far more sustainable approach.
  • These seemingly simple ideas can be applied to any life area including helping people to find answers to their own challenges.

The second exercise, which was also hugely entertaining but also a great opportunity to learn, was target shooting!

This is something which I had never tried before so was keen to have a go at. Again we were in teams and we were delighted to be coached by the UK No. 1 modern pentathlete Kate French who trains at the amazing sports facilities at Bath University.

This exercise was all about looking at the process rather than the outcome. We were encouraged to break things down into a process such as our body angle, our breathing, lining up the sights and squeezing the trigger rather than focussing entirely on trying to hit the target.

I soon found that if I DID focus on my process then I COULD hit the target!

Then the exercise got more fun as we had a competition again in our teams so as well as demonstrating our new found skills we were adding the element of competition pressure.

We had a round of what we thought was the competition only to be told that it was a trial run and the teams were then handicapped according to their places in the trial run. This gave our team a 30 second advantage over the next team. We had a team talk, worked out a time saving hand over process and then were ready for competition.

I was the last to go and the next team was catching us up…….!

I had spent some time while the others were having their go breathing, visualising and focussing on my process so felt kind of “In the zone”.

My turn came and YES! I shot five out of five on target giving our team the WIN!! Great fun, not at all serious but again loads to learn and apply for other life areas including riding of course:

  • Focus on the process and the desired outcome will happen.
  • Find a method to focus which works for YOU.
  • In competition stick to your plan.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to other competitors.
  • Control what you CAN control.
  • Learn from mistakes.
Focus on the PROCESS and you will hit the TARGET.

I’m home again now and have enjoyed digesting all of my experiences from last week. These three days are just the beginning of six months of more learning online.

I’ll be posting regularly throughout the six months to share what I am leaning and I can’t wait for my clients to benefit from new ways of looking at things so that together we can work to help them to achieve their goals.

Let’s Talk About It…

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Let’s talk about it…….

Riding and being around horses is good for your mental health isn’t it?

Well, yes it is until you start worrying about riding more than you enjoy it and I know that there are a lot of you out there for whom this is the case.

What we want is for the time we spend around horses and riding them to be relaxing, fun-filled, exciting, great exercise, a source of friends and sharing experiences, a sense of achievement and success, “me time” away from work and family pressures….and so much more.

I can recall a several times when I was feeling especially stressed, but after a good ride in the sunshine, on a beautiful horse, in the company of lovely people my stress levels fell to a much more manageable level and I felt re-energised, calmer and more able to tackle the issues which were causing that stress.

However, sometimes due to a huge variety of reasons riding and working with horses can become the very source of stress which has the opposite effect to all of the above.

This could come from fear and anxiety, from the pressure of competition, from issues on the yard or from concern about the welfare or health of your horse. Or perhaps it might be due to pressures in other areas of your life such as work or relationships which prevent the time you spend with horses from being as relaxing as you would like.

This week brings World Mental Health Day on 10th October and I think it’s a day which is more important than ever given all of the enormous challenges which 2020 has brought. Please do know that if you feel you are struggling with low mood, anxiety, energy levels, feeling that you aren’t coping or feeling overwhelmed or just “not yourself” in any way that it is absolutely OK to ask for help.

Personally, I am always happy to chat or listen and I’d like to draw your attention to the amazing new resource for riders which is Rider’s Minds. “Riders Minds is an online bespoke resource dedicated to supporting the mental health and well-being of all horse riders.”

NB: If you ever feel as though you are in danger of harm because of your own personal mental health issues or if you are in psychological distress then please contact your GP or The Samaritans Tel:116 123 and try to make sure that you are in a safe place with the company of another person.

If riding is causing you excessive worry or distress then please do seek help. Rider anxiety is extremely common and there is a lot which can be done to help you deal with this and return to being able to enjoy riding again.

Role Models….Good Idea….Unhelpful Comparisons….Bad Idea!

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Ok let’s get the bad idea out of the way first! We’ve all done it and I’m sure you know how it goes…..

You look around and see all of those “successful” people and start comparing yourself to them ending up feeling bad about yourself and as though you could never achieve what they have done. Result… feel jealous, negative and fed up and then perhaps even give up trying.

This way of unhelpful thinking might go all the way back to primary school where you perhaps saw the sportiest or most popular person in your class and started comparing yourself negatively to them.

You may have taken this way of thinking on board during your upbringing if you were being told things like “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister/cousin or other “perfect”child” and this can lead to a lifetime of feeling as though you are not enough simply being your own unique self.

This tendency towards negative comparison might continue into adulthood and into your riding life, your work life and within your peer group. Perhaps you see other riders enjoying various degrees of success and, instead of being able to celebrate that success you find yourself thinking “It’s not fair”, “Why can’t I be like her/him?”, “I’ll never be able to do that”, “They’re so much better than me, I’m rubbish!”.

This type of unhelpful comparison can lead to feelings of dejection, demotivation and generally feeling upset and negative towards yourself.

There are a few ways around this way of unhelpful thinking and one which I like best comes from the psychologist Albert Ellis who came up with the idea of working towards Unconditional Self Acceptance (USA) which means that you work towards accepting yourself as a unique human being with strengths and challenges and within that self acceptance you strive for self development and progress on your own terms rather than on someone else’s.

Megan Sy says (and you can read more via the link above)

“Unconditional self-acceptance (USA) is one of the goals we try to pursue in REBT. There is often a misconception, however, that USA equates to taking the “easy way out” and that unconditionally accepting oneself represents stagnation and resigning oneself to the things we dislike about ourselves. Sometimes, this myth may lead us to hold on to our irrational beliefs and consequently, our unhealthy emotions. To the contrary, I would argue that USA is the first step to pursuing self-betterment in a healthy manner. Acknowledging and accepting ourselves unconditionally, rather than rating ourselves globally based on discrete behaviors or attributes, allows us to strive for our goals without self-hated, shame, or anxiety. The aim of USA is to stop berating and condoning ourselves when we face challenges and failures, even though we may greatly dislike these negative experiences. By removing the conditions upon which we judge ourselves, choosing USA allows us to change and grow while still acknowledging that we are fallible but worthwhile human beings.

Learning to truly accept yourself can be life changing and it can also be a challenging process so if this is something that you feel you need help with then please do get in touch.

A different way around making these unhelpful comparisons is to switch it round and finding yourself a couple of positive role models. A role model is someone you admire and whose behaviour you then try to emulate.

I believe that having a role model can be a helpful and a positive benefit which can help you to imagine your goals and work towards fulfilling them.

Think of some well known equestrians whose careers you may have followed for years. What is it you admire about them? Is it their dedication, hard work and mental strength? Is it their horsemanship? Is it their ability to learn from mistakes? Do some research on them and find out more about what goes on behind the scenes which leads them to have the public success.

How can you then apply what you have learned to your own riding?

At a more local level, are there riders on your yard, in your riding club or whose name you see regularly at local shows? What is it that you admire about them? What can you learn from them?

If you meet them how about asking them about the processes they have in place which allow them to fulfil their goals. Then, instead of comparing yourself unfavourably to that rider you can work out how you can make some changes in your own processes which will help you to achieve your own goals.

Having a role model doesn’t mean you try to copy them directly (because they, and you, are unique with their own strengths and challenges) but it does mean that you can examine yourself, learn and therefore grown in confidence and in self acceptance which is always a positive thing.

Role models….good idea…..unhelpful comparisons….bad idea!

Do Yourself a Favour and drop the “It could have been worse”!

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You might be surprised to read a title like this, after all I like to encourage people to see things in a positive light and focus on the good things rather than the bad. So why don’t I want you to say “It could have been worse”?

Imagine the scene, you’re on the ground after falling off your horse. A quick check of yourself and you realise that you’re OK. You might be a bit sore and you might have got a bit of a fright. Your pride might be damaged and you might be disappointed but all in all you and your horse are fine.

What do you do next? Dust yourself down and get back on or perhaps take it easy for a few days until the bruises heal? It’s up to you and depends on the situation you find yourself in at the time.

Then what frequently happens is that you start to talk to your friends about what happened to you and then it starts ……..

“OMG guess what happened to me today. I had such a lucky escape! It could have been SO MUCH WORSE” “If, I had been just a little bit closer to X then Y would have happened”. “If I’d been a couple of minutes sooner/later then XXXX would have happened”

What’s the result of this “It could have been worse attitude”?

What tends to happen is that your over active imagination starts to frighten you with all of those possibilities which you’re now thinking about. So the minor fall or incident grows arms and legs and there is a tendency to turn it into a potential disaster movie! It turns into a mental catastrophe!!

Instead, my advice is that, after an incident or fall, you talk it through with a friend or a coach to analyse what happened and why. Was there anything you could have done differently to prevent the accident? What can you learn from it to hopefully avoid it happening again? Then don’t talk about it any more, it’s finished and over and has no power over your future as long as you do learn from mistakes.

By dropping the “OMG it could have been so much worse” you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to move on from the incident and leave it in the past where it belongs.

If you’ve had an accident that you’re struggling to get over then don’t suffer in silence. Feel free to contact me for some help and advice so that you can move on from past occurrences.

Trying Something New? Try These Before/During and After Mindset Hacks

Do you ever find yourself getting pretty nervous about trying new things?

Does your mind take you to some scary and uninviting places when you’re anticipating this new event?

Try these before, during and after mindset hacks and they really will make a difference to how you feel about the up and coming event and how much you enjoy yourself.

These ideas can be applied to horse riding, other sports, work or any other area of life.

So, last weekend, a couple of my oldest pals and I went on a two day kayaking course up on the west coast of Scotland. It was a beginner’s introduction course and there were going to be six in the group, the three of us and three others who we didn’t know.

Practicing in shallow water

I was certainly looking forward to the weekend but I must admit I was feeling a little bit nervous too. Those old familiar thoughts were creeping into my mind such as “Will they all be better at it than me?” ,”Will I fall in”, “Will I look stupid” etc etc. I’m sure many of you reading this will have experienced similar thoughts. It was these thoughts which were causing that sense of nervous anticipation!

SO! I quickly reminded myself to practice what I preach and to apply all the things I talk about with my clients and that’s just what I did and the result was that I had an amazing weekend!


  • As soon as you recognise those unhelpful thoughts creeping into your mind you can say “STOP” to yourself to break that chain of thought and then challenge those unhelpful thoughts and replace them with something more encouraging and supportive.
  • Remind yourself that any feelings of nerves are simply feelings and NOT a predictor of something bad happening.
  • Practice visualising what you DO want to happen. So for my kayak course I visualised myself gliding through the water with a big smile on my face and enjoying the company of my friends and the amazing environment I was in.


  • Remind yourself that you are there to learn. Ask questions and enjoy trying out new skills. Have a laugh when you make a silly rookie error, we’ve all done it and it’s part of being a beginner in any new activity.
  • If you feel any physical tension use your breathing to help you to let go of that tension. So you can breathe in comfort and breathe out tension. Remembering to breathe helps to keep your stress hormones within their normal range and therefore lessens any feelings of nervousness. It can help to anchor feelings of comfort to a word. I like to use the word “drift”.
  • Focus on what’s going on “in the moment”. If at any moment in time your kayak (Or your horse!) is doing what you’ve asked it to do then all is OK. This is a useful way to avoid trying to predict what could happen in the future.
  • If you’re in a learning situation make sure to be honest with the instructor about your previous experience or lack of experience. Their job is to be supportive and to teach you new skills so allow them to do their job.
  • Make sure that you’re not comparing yourself unfavourably to those around you. Some people will find some things easier than you but they’ll also find other things more challenging. Everyone is different and there to learn as well.


  • Be proud of yourself for what you have achieved and make sure to focus on all the good things which happened rather than being tempted to magnify any errors.
  • Think about what you have learned so that next time you do this activity you will be ready to take the next steps in the process of learning.
  • Enjoy the sense of achievement, the physical tiredness after working hard and look forward to an evening reminiscing about your day and feeling excited about doing it again.

My kayaking weekend was great fun. I didn’t fall in, kept up with the group, learned about a few different paddle strokes, when and how to use them. I saw some wonderful wildlife and views which will stay with me forever. I was really proud of myself when we had to work pretty hard into a strong headwind to reach the beach where we were planning our lunch stop, I was slow and it was hard work but I did it! It was definitely a weekend to remember.

The sun setting after a wonderful weekend.

What I Enjoy About My Job and Why I Do It.

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Welcome to the final piece in the short series to tell you more about me and more about Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland.

Answering the “Why do I do it?” question isn’t always that straightforward but the answer is that I know what it’s like to want to do something really badly, but have my mind prevent me from doing it. To have doubts about my own abilities or about my ability to move out of my comfort zone. In the past I was a bit stuck and using all of the things I have learned over many years I no longer feel held back by my mindset. So, because of what I have learned about myself I want to be able to help other people to overcome their fears and worries and to be able to enjoy the things they choose to do, so much more than they perhaps thought was possible.

Being able to enjoy a ride without worrying about the “what ifs” is such a joy.

I love so many things about my job and meeting riders and getting to know them as whole people rather than a “riding issue” is one of my favourites. I enjoy that first session so very much, where a rider has the opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to talk openly about what’s going on and how it’s affecting their riding. Being told people’s personal “secrets” is a real privilege and having them trust me enough to tell me is an honour.

The next thing I really love is when a rider returns with a smile on their face and exclaims “Guess what I did!!” or they send me a message or a photo of themselves doing that very thing they used to be scared to even try. I’m smiling to myself as I write this and remember some of the people I’ve worked with over the years.

Some riders are relatively inexperienced and their fears may come from that lack of experience whilst others are very experienced and may be riding and competing at a level which demands a lot of skill, focus and mental strength. I love having a large tool box which allows me to adapt to the needs of the individual and my aim is always to help a rider to help themselves. I can’t do it for them and very often the riders I work with are doing things on horseback which I will probably never do but my wish is for them to develop their own mental skills which will allow them to fulfil their goals and to enjoy everything which goes towards being able to do that.

Then, of course, there are other practical things on a day to day basis which help me to enjoy my job. I work from home and am my own boss and can plan my own diary. I will always try my best to be flexible with appointment days and times but I do also make sure that I have times when I’m not available, plus plenty of time to do other things I enjoy as well.

These two keep me company when I’m working from home.

I also enjoy being part of the equestrian community both here in Scotland and increasingly, thanks to social media, throughout the UK and beyond. We’re an interesting bunch united by our love for horses and all that goes along with that. Over the years, I have really loved making connections with other equestrian professionals and these have given me many opportunities to share my experience and knowledge. Just today, I’ve been chatting with a new connection and making a plan to do some exciting work together.

I keep thinking that I’ve finished writing this then I remember one more thing I want to tell you……..!!

I love that this job keeps giving me opportunities to learn more about myself, more about the human mind and more about what it takes to fulfil riding goals. I’ve signed up to begin a new course in Equestrian performance psychology starting this autumn and am super excited about that and about where my business will go next.

I could go on but I think you’ll have got the idea by now that I really do love my job!

Natalia’s Story 1

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Having recently completed, and loved, the Centre 10 APEC Performance Coaching Foundation course, as part of my CPD, I obviously wanted to put my refined skills into practice as soon as I could. I have several ongoing clients who were already benefiting from my new learning but thought I would also offer a “Performance Coaching Package”.

As you may know, I’ve done a lot of work with the amazing team at Equiteam Confidence Camps over the last few years so I thought it would be a nice idea to offer a supported package to an Equiteam Camper as a thank you for all the support I’ve had from the team. I duly created a post and sent it to Equiteam for them to share and I looked forward to receiving applications from riders for the package.

I received a good number of lovely applications. One in particular really stood out for me so this was the rider I chose to receive the package of four hours worth of performance coaching. The reaction from Natalia when she heard that she’s been chosen was lovely and over the last few weeks we have begun doing some work together. I’ve loved meeting Natalia and hearing about her riding journey and her lovely mare, Princess.


Natalia says:
“Last month I was flicking through my newsfeed on fb & I saw an advert on a Equiteam Confidence camps post for a sponsored coaching package with Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland. I’ve always struggled with lack of self belief in the saddle so I decided to apply. I follow Jane via her Facebook page & found her posts thought provoking & relevant.

After a long hard few months last year of feeling literally feeling rock bottom with my riding I was starting to feel better about things again & decided I had nothing to lose but to apply.

I was ecstatic when Jane contacted me to say she had chosen us. A few weeks ago we had our first session & I am now making clear (achievable) bitesize goals which are much more realistic to achieving my ultimate goal.

Before I was setting goals within an unrealistic timeframe then beating myself up when this didn’t work out. With Jane’s help we now have processes in place to help us to get there & to enjoy the small wins too. Jane even sent me some tips to prepare us to feel more relaxed before our last training session which was fantastic, both of us had a great time & jumped a fence we wouldn’t have even tempted before.

I’m soo excited for the rest of 2020 & with Jane’s support we are chasing our dreams harder than ever!!”

It’s going to be fun being part of Natalia and Princess’s team and I’m already enjoying working with someone who so obviously cares greatly for her horse and is prepared to work hard to fulfil her dreams.

You can follow their journey on Instagram @powertoprincess

If you would like to know more about Performance Coaching Packages or any other way in which I can help YOU to achieve your riding goals then just get in touch.

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Why I Started Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland

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Welcome to the second in a short series to tell you a bit more about who I am and what I do.

In the early 2000’s I was looking around for a career change and wondering what to do. I had been a community midwife and left that for all sorts of reasons and had a bit of a break but then I missed working with people. I had been doing some psychology studies and the teacher suggested that I might make a good counsellor so I looked around for some suitable courses.

None that I found seemed to appeal until a friend told me about a course in hypnosis and psychotherapy which was accredited, thorough and a good challenge so I found out more. As soon as I read the syllabus I knew that this was the course I’d been looking for, so I applied and was accepted.

While I was doing the course (which took two and a half years to complete) I started to apply what I was learning to my own riding and almost immediately I noticed an enormous change.

I had never been the most confident of riders but very quickly I noticed that I was pushing myself more, worrying less and enjoying everything I did with a new found increase in confidence and self belief. I felt GREAT!

Using what I was learning I quickly became comfortable hacking out alone.

So, when I came to the end of the course I decided to see if I could use my new qualifications to help other riders and popped an advert in a freebie horse magazine to see what would happen.

This was 2004 and I was almost immediately inundated with riders saying “HELP!!” and my little business was born!

Initially, riders were a fairly small proportion of the clients I was seeing and the rest were people with various other issues like general anxiety, phobias, stress related conditions etc. However, over the years, the number of riders I was seeing was growing and these days I only see a very small number of non-riders and focus more or less entirely on helping riders with their anxieties and mindset issues.

As well as working alone I have enjoyed making connections with other equestrian professionals and collaborating with coaches to offer sport psychology and confidence boosting techniques alongside the riding skills training offered by the coaches. There is huge scope in the equestrian world for education and rider development through teaching the mental skills needed in order to fulfil goals and simply worry less.

I’m a great believer in lifelong learning and, over the years have done many more courses which help me to help my clients. Recently I have signed up for the APEC Advanced performance psychology course run by Centre 10 which starts soon and I can’t wait to get going with that and see what I will learn.

I hope I never stop learning.

A few years ago I was driving home from giving a talk at a local riding camp , smiling to myself after a great evening and filled with the warm glow of realising that my career had brought me to a place where I felt I was meant to be and which I totally loved. It’s a very good place to be.

A Little Bit More About Me!

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I’ve been set a challenge to tell you a bit more about myself and my background and what brought me to Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland.

So this is the first in a short series of posts about “Me”!!

I get asked fairly frequently about my own personal riding and horse owning experience so here we go. Here’s “My Horsey Life”.

I first started learning to ride when we lived in Germany and I was about 9 or 10. We were taught by the ever so slightly scary Herr Hase on what, I now realise, were dressage schoolmasters. We did all sorts with them but, I have to say, there wasn’t a lot of time for fun. No opportunities for charging around or heading out for hacks. It was all schooling in the indoor and, only very occasionally outdoor, arenas. I rode there for a few years but gave up after one too many experiences on Rex the Rearer.

I then rode occasionally on holidays and when opportunities arose but nothing regular.

I remember a conversation soon after my husband and I met. We were talking about what we would like to be in a position to own one day. He said he’d love a LandRover and I said I’d love a horse. I often think about the conversation and am so glad that both our dreams came true.

When we moved to Dollar in the early 90’s I decided to start riding regularly again and within a couple of years I bought my first Highland mare Judy. I was very inexperienced but we had a lot of fun together, hacking out and doing some showing.

Judy was the first of three Highland mares I’ve owned. I have her daughter Luna who was born here in millennium year plus another mare, Gigha, who I bought as a two year old from her breeder. Somehow I managed to produce two nicely mannered ponies with very little experience of riding and handling youngsters. I honestly think I got away with it because they both have inherently nice natures. Again I did some showing plus lots of hacking and fun rides with these two until they retired.

Luna and Gigha are still with me. Neither of them is sound enough to be ridden now but they will spend the rest of their lives here simply enjoying each other’s company and living a good life.

One of my favourites of Luna and Gigha from a few years ago.

Over the years I’ve been on some great riding adventures including up and down mountains in Italy and riding across the Rajasthan on very skinny marwari horses on a fundraiser for The Brooke.

Fun in the heart of the Andes (and of course I do advocate wearing a suitable helmet, it just wasn’t available that day!)

So now, whilst I own two horses, I don’t have anything of my own to ride. For a while I thought I might give up on the riding but then I started to miss it too much. I asked around and found a wonderful riding school with excellent horses and I now have regular lessons from great coaches.

If I’m very honest I feel like I’m finally learning to ride properly and I’m loving developing new skills and confidence on horseback.

I had a plan for a big riding adventure this year going coast to coast across the north of Scotland. Covid-19 put a stop to that but I’m very much hoping to do it in 2021. The thought of being on horseback in the wild country up there is very inviting, I can’t wait!