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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.
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.
I can get better.