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Rider Re-Cap: With Trepidation

In the spirit of our Austin Eventing Blog , we have so much fun with Rider Re-Caps we decided to start them here too! Thank you to OM Clinic participant Andrea B. for sharing her experiences and impressions during the clinic.

It was with much trepidation I was persuaded by my daughter to attend this clinic. I have owned many horses, ridden many, many years starting as a child in England then Malaysia, my birth country. I am 52 and the horse bug bit me when I was 3. Horse mad from the moment I realised these amazing four legged beings existed. I arrived broken in confidence, as was my horse, my little Irish horse, Beni. Since obtaining Beni, we have been together almost a year, I agreed to take him on and give him a good home. We have grown in trusting each other, both bringing to the table an enormous amount of “baggage”. We did dressage and poles on the ground, and when I could afford it, a trip to the chiropractor to straighten him out. Denny Emerson said in one of his recent blogs, this is the worse combination, two beings with broken confidence. My ideal horse should be a complete packer to give me back my confidence, lost during my last clinic a few years ago which permanently lamed my horse at the time. To say I was nervous was an understatement. Beni is a “looky” fellow and lacks confidence in his surroundings, his favourite place is in an arena, protected by boundaries. He had recently tried to buck my daughter off, when she was trying to help me out by keeping him fit, while I was at work. So of course I had that worm in my mind. What I hadn't realised at the time, was Beni had complete trust in me, and he had chosen me as his person, as we had worked together over in the months since last August, and had formed an unbreakable bond. I think and he does. I ride by feel, if it feels good, we do! I am his person and no one else will do.

This clinic was something new, no covered arena, a field in the middle of a beautiful Hill Country ranch owned by the Storm family, yoga was included, despite being born in Malaysia and being half Asian, yes I am a British Eurasian, I had never done this spiritually Asian exercise! Well my friends, everybody who gets on a horse should participate in yoga, it helps you and your horse. It freed up parts that are absolutely essential for a good connection to your horse, and gives you balance physically and mentally. And let me tell you Beni appreciated it, I could feel he liked me even better as his rider.

Lisa did an amazing job pairing us up with the other clinic participants. I was paired with Elizabeth and her lovely Percheron cross mare Sara. Sara had a habit of “leaving” when she felt scared and intimated despite her size. Even though Beni isn’t the most confident in strange surroundings, somehow he instilled in Sara a peace and confidence in the outdoor arena, surrounded by brush and trees and wildlife. They fed off of each other, and I felt such a peace and confidence on that first day of “dressage/flat work”.

The next day was a different story I was to face my nemesis, “jumping”, I had completely lost my confidence in jumping. My last horse, I realise now, was an awkward jumper, hard to stay with and a dirty stopper because he wasn’t physically well enough to jump (I was ignorant, I should have known better, and now I do). Beni was a stopper, because he was physically broken, and needed time off to repair and gain confidence again. Again, not an appropriate horse for my comeback. Yoga at daybreak and once more into the lesson we went. Beni had been very excited about doing lots of poles on the ground. I did tell Lisa, I wanted to be guided, hand held to jump, of course she said “sure”. Beni and I did poles on the ground, cantered around the outdoor arena, surrounded by bushes, trees, cattle, and the other clinic participants come to watch and encourage, this time not so “looky”, confident in my riding. Taking the lead, helping Elizabeth and Sara build their confidence culminating in leading Sara over a cross rail. Just go jump that was my instruction, nothing else, no “do this, do that”, just trot over it, help Elizabeth and Sara, given a purpose….I did it with my Beni, he led me to it and we jumped it, I was euphoric. I didn't even think about it, just did, again and again, and at a canter both ways. I had a purpose I did it without overthinking it. Beni, who had always hesitated in the past, dragged me to it. WE DID IT, with complete confidence and trust. I was that girl (old lady haha) lifting her arms to the sky in that movie “The Horse Whisperer”, I found me again. It was easy, my body remembered. Was it the yoga, was that confidence Beni and I had, always there, I just had to trust, and completely enabled by this lovely young woman, who has that spiritual connection to the people she meets, and to the horses her people ride.

I now realise I am not the only one to have felt like this, but I now know Beni and I have a solid bond, that other people noticed and applauded me for. Lisa was the enabler and helped consolidate that bond and gave me my confidence back in my riding and in my horse.

Namaste and thank you.

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