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Team Players

April 4, 2019 by Charlie

When I was 14 my parents bought me a pony. He was a beautiful, palomino, Welsh Cob cross. He was 8 years old, and boy could he buck! But so the saying goes ‘if they can buck, then can jump’. Well, he could jump. He just didn’t always want to!
Every night, after school, my mum (who knew nothing about horses), drove me to the yard so I could ride my pony. The indoor school was jam packed with kids like me, just home from school, riding their ponies with their parents at the side line, chatting and having a coffee while we were yelling ‘circling!’ or ‘cantering!’ or ‘change the rein!’. I loved those evenings and the friends that I made there. Many of whom I’m still friends with now.
Once or twice a month we were bundled up into the lorry and driven off to a show. The excitement! Ponies on board, kids in the living of the lorry, trainer driving, music on. And then when we progressed out of ponies and into horses, I would take Storm and the kids I had competed alongside in juniors also had bought horses and took them along. Same vibe! All riding together, competing together.
And note that word. Together. We were a team! I’d never really been part of anything in my whole life before that. Not anything where I felt included and involved and really with the competing I never stood a chance of winning with my pony that threw me off all the time, and my horse who was scared of her own shadow and not quite right in the head! But it didn’t matter, because as a team we were awesome. Imagine being in a group of people who have the same goals and dreams. The same work ethic with their horses. We would commiserate and congratulate each other. We would cheer for each other from the side lines. We would be shoulders to cry on for each other. (But never in public. I was taught to hold it together and be dignified until back at the lorry and then cry all I liked!)

There is nothing quite like being a team player.
So my plea to you if you are a competitor (or even if you just ride with other people!) is this.

1) Be kind to each other – Horse riding is a tough sport, physically and mentally.
2) Be courteous – Manners are free! If you have just finished your round in the arena, stand aside and let the next person in. Wish them good luck! If you are about to go in the arena then tell the person who is coming out well done! ‘Good luck’ and ‘well done’. Simple.
3) Say hello – It’s great to be part of a team and have each other, but it’s hard travelling your horse, warming up and competing if you are alone.
4) Help the show venue organisers – If you’re called to the arena then BE ON TIME! If you pull out, notify them. If you are non-riding and can help in any way (pole picking etc) then do it!
5) Also a ‘thank you’ goes a long way. Thank your trainers, thank your support team (family, friends etc), thank the show organisers, thank the judges.
6) Most importantly THANK YOUR HORSES for they are the most important team member of all! ๐Ÿ˜€

Go Wrong With a Smile

March 4, 2019 by Charlie

I’ve not written for a couple of weeks as ‘life’ happened!

I’ve learnt some very valuable lessons in the last month, one of which is to go wrong with a smile.

Let me explain.

Life throws us all sorts of curve balls. It is NEVER plain sailing, and you know what? that is OK. Our job, hard as it may seem, is to enjoy the journey. And if we’re not enjoying it, then we can certainly learn from it.

I feel like I’ve learnt a fair few things this year, even though we’re only 2 months in! But most importantly I’ve learnt than even when things go wrong, and you get news you don’t expect, or life takes turns that you didn’t intend for it to take, you can muddle through all of this with the help of family and friends, and still manage to do it with a smile on your face. In fact, that smile is vital. Positive thinking goes such a long way and is so valuable. Studies have even shown that optimism and positivity even boosts your immune system! The power of the mind is truly amazing.

I’ve also learnt that the majority of things that I worry about are really very small in the grand scheme of things. Taking a step back to really analyse whether or not something is worthy of the effort that it takes to worry is really key. A few things I’ve found myself worrying about lately relate to my house, my mortgage, my horse and my dog. Well. Let me tell you. I gave myself a short, sharp slap in the face fairly recently as, let’s be honest, most people would give their left arms to have a house, or a horse… or a house AND a horse. I am very fortunate that I have worked hard for years and managed to be in a position to have these things. But let’s get real. There are bigger things in the world to be worrying about.

So, my take home from January and February is this. Worry less and smile more. Even when things go wrong. Go wrong with a smile ๐Ÿ™‚

Below is an example of how going wrong with a smile can be adapted to everything in life(!)

 

Begin

February 12, 2019 by Charlie

This is going to be a short and to the point post as I want to address the act of โ€˜getting things done.โ€™

Iโ€™m not going to mess about with this one.

It can be so easy to sit and deliberate and plan and do something over and over because it’s ‘not good enough’ to show anyone.
In the end you end up going around in circles and never producing or doing anything.
How many times have you been almost ready to approach that person, write that book, start that painting, mail your CV?

Let go of your self doubts. Let go of those voices in your head telling you that you can’t or that youโ€™re not smart enough/talented enough/tall enough/short enough/young enough. Those voices are not yours. You most definitely can.
Stop waiting for the perfect time to do. Just do.

 

 

 

Fear and Desire

January 21, 2019 by Charlie

Let me set the scene.

I had just got back from spending a year in New Zealand where I had been working with trekking horses. We rode through rivers, across river flats, and up mountains taking clients out on guided tours through filming locations such as Lord of the Rings and Prince Caspian.


This was my first ‘horsey job’ and I had never felt more free. I came home to London and felt immediately claustrophobic and, even though I applied and got another job, I couldn’t do it as it would have meant sitting in an office all day. I felt I wouldn’t be able to cope with that having just come back from the open spaces of New Zealand. A job was going at the yard where I kept my horses, and I leapt at the chance to be back in the great outdoors. I was working part time to start with and eventually becoming their yard manager.
I learnt so much in my years, not only having horses there, but working on the yard as well. It was a family run establishment and the family included absolutely everyone that rode there kept horses there or were Mums and Dads of kids with ponies there. It was an amazing place full of knowledge, love and laughter. I learnt some very valuable lessons there which I try to apply not just to my riding but to my every day life.
One particular Thursday afternoon my trainer was out teaching and I had something I needed to ask her so I had wandered across the arena to speak to her. In progress was a lesson she was giving to a small girl who must have been about 6 or 7 years old. She was happily bobbing along on her pony and my trainer put up a small cross pole at one end of the arena and shouted out to the girl ‘when you’re ready pop over this’. For the next ten minutes I watched this girl bravely trot her pony up to the small fence and then at the last minute turn away. I can’t remember how many times she did this and eventually her mum piped up and asked my trainer a bit cautiously ‘Aren’t you going to make her jump it?’. What my trainer said next has stuck with me for ever after. She said this. ‘The desire to jump the fence will eventually outweigh her fear of jumping it’.
Let me repeat. ‘The desire to do it will eventually outweigh the fear of doing it’
Guess what? She jumped the fence. And not only once. But again, and again and again.
The first lesson I learnt watching this 6 year old come to grips with her own desire and fear is that if you want something badly enough, it does not matter how afraid you are, you will find a way to overcome that. And you will do that scary thing.
The second lesson I learnt is that once you have overcome that scary thing and your fear of it, it probably wasn’t as bad as you first imagined that it would be.

Don’t let fear get in the way of your desires.