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Sierra Progress

April 7, 2019 by Charlie

So I thought I’d update you a bit on what’s been happening with Sierra.
We’ve done quite a lot hacking and with view like this, who can blame me! The hacking is all exclusive to the Christmas Tree farm we are on and the hills are fantastic, so we’ve been walking up and down them to build up a bit more strength. She has been schooling really well and I’ve done a bit of polework with her.
Last night she went out overnight in a big field (with lots of grass, at last!) with her new friend and neighbour, Thor.

I think they’re going to be great buddies.
This morning after her big night out, she came into the arena a bit on her toes! She called out once to Thor, but then settled straight down to business. I’d put a couple of cross poles out just to school over as I’m not sure how much jumping she’s done while she was on loan, so I wanted to start out just getting our rhythm back
This horse literally makes my heart sing.

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˜€

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.