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BLOG: What horse riding has taught me (Part 1)

Horse in paddock - Labelled for reuse

 

By Jade Mariani

If you had told me twelve months ago that today I’d be buying competition clothes, I’d have probably just been very concerned that my spending habits had gotten that far out of control considering I had only ridden a horse once…

To say that I’m surprised where horse riding has led me is an understatement. If I’m being honest, when I booked in my first lesson a year ago my only expectation was to spend an hour a week with horses and learn the basics of riding. Little did I know how far it could take me, and how much I’d learn along the way!

1.    You need to be committed

If you intend on competing or fine tuning your skills, you need to be dedicated to lessons and allocate enough time to practice. I often find that if I take a two-week break (which pains me to even think about), it takes longer for my muscles to adjust and to get the horse working in unison. While the horse I ride is older and usually stiffens up after a break from work, I think this is true for a lot of other riders as well. Training should never be rushed, but practicing regularly will make it a lot easier to develop new skills.

2.    You will force yourself to stay organised

Juggling university, work, friends, sleep and riding is definitely a struggle! So, I recommend cutting out university. Only joking… sort of. While study is already painful enough, it’s even harder when you’re in class and staring outside at a perfectly sunny day. I’m very lucky to have an instructor who is quite flexible, and during summer months I’d sometimes have lessons as late as 7pm. Now that daylight savings is about to end, I’m scheduling my time quite strictly and forcing myself to stay on top of study so my lessons aren’t affected. Having something to look forward to each week means that I am motivated to stay organised – even if it means sacrificing sleep some nights (2 hours is enough, right??)

3.    Not everyone will have your best interests at heart

As a beginner, you will be easily influenced by experienced members of the horse community. You’ll learn a lot from being a sponge, but it’s also important to use your own judgement and morals when making decisions. For some, the horse industry is merely a business – be careful when making financial decisions and always seek a second opinion. Be nice to people and stay focused on your passion for the sport.

4.    You’ll know when you’ve found the right instructor

A good instructor will teach you a lot about horsemanship and riding. A great instructor will also teach you about life, friendship and makeup products *ahem I mean, horse products*. Your instructor should inspire you to be the best rider you can possibly be, and support you through the moments where you don’t feel as if you are. You should feel challenged in a safe environment, and walk away from each lesson feeling excited to get back in the saddle.

5.    Riding isn’t easy!

I was so excited for my first riding lesson. I’d watched every episode of the Saddle Club and had even read all the books. Making the horse walk was easy, a little squeeze of my legs and some minor steering. Quick check of the brakes and then we were trotting! Now, I don't remember any girls from the Saddle Club looking quite how I did… in fact if anyone was watching me they’d have probably been quite worried. I had fun though! Flash forward twelve months and riding still isn’t easy – but it gets easier. Perhaps that’s what I love most about the sport — that feeling when you finally get it right after thinking you never would.

 

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