This is a delayed blog post from a month previous. My eye related blogs will be delayed as I physically and mentally couldn’t write them at the time, plus the time i can spend in front of my PC is limited.
This title counts for lots of things in life. Why can’t i be rich? Why cant i just get paid to ride horses and not work? Why cant i have my own livery yard? Lots of “Why’s” which motivates people to become successful in life. My most recent “Why’s” have been, Why cant I ride? Why cant i fill up my haynets? Why cant I Drive? Why cant I be normal again? Why can I still not see out of my eye? Why can I not sleep?
No one can really answer my why’s apart from the ever most popular “Because you need to get better and rest” but still, i feel this answer isn’t enough to keep me wanting to do what i cant.
The main reason for this post isn’t necessarily to talk about my “whys” and “wants” but to talk about an experience that has helped me to face some little fears along my way. My friend came across a local clinic on Facebook called “Why Can’t I Do That? You and Your horse together” at Checkendon Equestrian Centre. After feeling very weak and vulnerable when around Panda I registered my interest in the clinic and soon received a personal message from Gill Garside who runs the clinic to discuss in further details. I explained to her my story and that I now understandably lack confidence on the ground with Panda, who is a big girl anyway but grows to an 18hh Giraffe if on her toes. Gill took me through the clinic agenda, and what outcome I could leave with so I thought, Sod it, lets do it, I have noting to lose? Accompanied by my friend, we hitched up and set off to Checkedon.
I have always had more confidence riding Panda around a show ground rather than leading, as she is a big girl and i feel a lot more in control when in the saddle than I do at the end of a leadrope. She also settles quicker and knows her job once I am on, it just takes away those added stressy nerves on competition day. (Absolute nightmare for competing nerves. If i am ever rude or blunt at a competition it is nothing personal or intentional, i just have a funny anxious way of dealing with my nerves!)
We arrived at Checkendon and met with Gill and Rob Waine (Rob Waine Dressage) , and 3 other lovely ladies that attended the clinic for personal reasons of their own with their ponies. Gill and Rob made introductions and discussed their personal background and how they came together for the “Why Cant I Do That” clinic’s Individually, we all went around the table discussing our own personal stories and what we wanted to get out of the day. Mine being a connection and control of Panda on the ground in hand.
Moving on from our stories, Gill highlighted the areas we were to run through before getting the horses, I cant remember them all but I think we talked through Positiveness, Relaxation, and confidence. Working around the table, Gill was able to take us all to a place we felt confident, positive and relaxed, and demonstrated on how we can find that place in any situation around our horses.
We wrapped up in the training room, and I can remember feeling pretty sleepy at this point, but I volunteered to go first with ground work with Panda. We were instructed at this point to bring the horses out with just a head collar and lead rope. As Panda walked off the trailer, she instantly engaged “Giraffe” mode. New sounds, new smells and a new sights, she froze for a couple of seconds to get a good look then we pretty much jogged our way to the indoor school, me at the end of the lead rope and my arm in the air! As we walked around the indoor school still in Giraffe mode, Panda was on high alert,sniffing and snorting at everything, standing tall to be able to see over the wall of the school, I did not have any control, however, nothing tragic happened.
Rob and Gill taught me how to connect with Panda, how to become the leader and how to gain her respect. It probably took 10-15 minutes, but I eventually got her attention on me. Seeing her lower her head and respond to my “leadershipness” buy licking and chewing, all I could think of was wow, I did not expect that I could take her anxious eye off whatever she has locked on too, and bring her into a relaxed stance, I was pretty overwhelmed! Next, Rob asked me to un-clip her leadrope but keep the connection together. This again I thought would be impossible, unless I had food, which I didn’t. I walked away and remember saying to Rob, “she isn’t following me is she? I bet She’s buggered off!” To my surprise, Rob’s response was, “She is right over your shoulder!” and as i turned my head to the right, there she was, following me in this spooky new and interesting environment. I felt the joy and happiness run from my tummy up into my throat and I gulped holding back the happy tears. I didn’t think that joining up and connecting with a horse is particularly difficult if you have formed a bond with your horse, but I just did not expect me and Panda to click that quick, in that kind of environment. Absolutely chuffed to bits I was!
Now Panda can still be a madam at times, there is no doubt about that, but if this workshop taught me anything, it taught me how to channel my nerves into confidence and how to find that confidence in nerve wrecking scenarios. Panda is a sensitive mare and if I am nervous or anxious, so is she. It has also reminded me that horses are horses, they are flight animals, I do not have a “bad” horse, i just have a sensitive horse. After the accident, the thought of selling her had kept me up over night, but actually, no, she doesn’t deserve that, she is just being a horse, and look at how I got that horse to connect with me, and freely follow me whilst having the opportunity to run to the gate. Since then, we have really come on leaps and bounds, more so riding. I feel like we are finally gelling together, after almost 18 months ownership!
I would greatly recommend Gill and Rob’s “Why can’t i do that, You and your horse together” Clinics to anyone whom suffers with anxiety around horses, Troubles with staying focused and positive, Pre Competition nerves, Lack of confidence or even if you think you are lacking any bond with your horse. I have added their website below for anyone interested to take a look and they also have 2 workshops coming on 30th May and 25th June at Checkendon EC.