Throughout the month of August, I posted through the #HorseBloggers channel a top tip every day in keeping topics flowing when it comes to blogging about all things equine. I have decided to write thirty one posts, each taking on board the tips that I recommended. So my third post is all about my horse riding goals and ambition or actually…. the distinct lack of it!
So what are my horse riding ambitions and goals? Actually, I have none! See, I have now said it…. Have you gasped in shock or have you completely agreed and felt relief that actually a fellow horse rider is admitting that you only want to enjoy your horse in your own way? Don’t get me wrong, I have tried to have some competitive ambition when it came to getting into the saddle, but I found it all a stressful affair.
My lovely Belgium Warmblood that had finished his showjumping days, came to me to have a quieter life which I have totally given him over the last thirteen years. I had a horse that could potentially put in a beautiful dressage test, but I could never find those buttons. Lessons were one step forward or six steps back. I sometimes had moments of greatness in collecting him in the arena but they were soon lost. I used to get talked into competing locally which was put to me as low key dressage and it will be fun. Yes, fun! It would turn my stomach to knots and I wouldn’t sleep for days on end trying to remember where to start the 20m circle in canter and would I be able to keep him in canter! I used to finish the test sweaty and red faced through sheer stress and exhaustion. If I can redeem myself throughout this I never came last which was something. I think the most I ever achieved was seventh out of around sixteen horses which was ok. My instructor used to say that’s great and we can work on this and get you those rosettes. Actually, I wasn’t bothered about the rosettes or trying to come third….
As a child, I used to love riding in small gymkhanas at my riding school and used to sometimes come first as well as last! Personally, it does not bother me coming last and that actually is ok. As they say “its the taking part that counts”. We live in such a competitive world where you are expected to be at the top of your game shrouded with huge ambition and success. We all have some natural ambition and it is up to you where you harness it, whether that be competing in eventing and working your way up or actually just hacking out your horse and enjoying the experience of just… horse riding. Many years back I wrote about being just a happy hacker and how sometimes you can feel a little unaccepted in the equestrian world because you enjoy only riding out with your horse. With our roads and lanes getting busier and our bridleways becoming fewer, riding out a horse can be a real hazardous experience. When I have hacked out my horse and had a screeching lorry coming inches towards me around the corner or pass a tractor hedgecutting, those are real hurdles to overcome and to survive these are an achievement. Luckily my horse in his advancing years is very accepting of these hazards but the thought of taking out a youngster and coming across these dangerous situations takes actually some ambition!
If you love getting out in the dressage arena or flying around the cross country course, then this is brilliant and we need to embrace this ambition to keep our equestrian sport alive. If you just love tacking up and riding out with your horse or pony, going on a sponsored ride or just having some occasional lessons, then this is brilliant too. Riding horses and enjoying them can be a real goal, especially if you haven’t ridden much before. So make your riding ambitions what you want them to be and be proud of whatever you achieve, whether that is coming first or last in a hunter trial or simply hacking out on your own through open fields and countryside!
Written by Samantha Hobden
Image Credit: Zeb and me with sheer relief that we have actually come out alive of a dressage test!