Guest Blogs

Guest blog: How Horses Helped me Get over my Eating Disorder

I have always been a perfectionist, anything I do I will give it 110% effort. This is one of my greatest strengths and one of my greatest weaknesses. My brain is always working in overdrive, I must be constantly busy and I worry, a lot. 

My family have always ridden (my mum, dad and sister) and growing up it was something I just did because everyone else did it. I was never a talented rider like my sister and instead always won the attendance and condition and turnout awards. Things that I could work hard at. 

I think my eating disorder started to manifest when I initially became depressed after severely breaking my leg during a fall XC training. The break was so bad that it took 18 months to heal and I had to spend a lot of time in a wheelchair due to me having a large fixator fitted. I was 16 at the time and felt isolated from my friends. I decided to throw myself into my schoolwork and became an A* student.

It was after recovering from this and a week before my 18th birthday that my horse of a lifetime Buzz Lightyear came into my world. He gave me my first taste of success riding. And my confidence grew so quickly, we started competing and then eventing. 

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However I then left for uni, returning at weekends to see Buzz. This is where my eating disorder grew stronger. I did not enjoy uni life, it was not for me. When you have good grades, this is the path that you are almost told to take by teachers and schools. I missed my home, my family and my horse. My days were spent starving myself. Following by period’s of binging and purging. My confidence and my health deteriorated quickly. The hair on my head thinned, my skin was dry and sore, and my periods stopped. 

Towards the end of the first year, I confessed to my parents that uni life was not for me and I would take my exams and then leave. Of course, I worked hard and scored top results. But my decision had been made and my parents were so supportive and understanding. 

I then went to work in a saddlery where I was so much happier. I could ride Buzz every day and buy lots of pretty things for him. But my eating disorder was still as bad as ever. Not only that, I was now lying to my family a lot. I was throwing away my lunch at work, hiding food, saying I had already eaten or saying I was meeting a friend for dinner, but the truth was I was sitting by myself in a car park wasting away time before I could return home. 

The day that I knew things had to change was my last event with Buzz at Pulborough in 2009. He had carried me around and we had got placed. But I had been so tired, surviving all day on a pack of Haribo. I was so relieved to have not fallen off as I knew that my bones would shatter. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore, I was not strong enough to ride Buzz. I had become a horrible person, I was constantly tired, cold and short tempered due to being underweight, weak and lacking energy. Buzz was then sold to a young girl to take her eventing. I knew it was the only option, as he was fit, strong and loved competing. I needed to get myself better and my life back on track. 

With time, help and a lot of love from my family and my then boyfriend (now husband), I started to get better. It wasn’t over night and there were a lot of step backs and re-lapses. But I finally realised that if I didn’t want to be hospitalised or die from this illness, I had to change. 

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My sister has always worked with horses and she would have horses and ponies in to sell. She would encourage me to have a ride on them. I remember how happy it made me. After a couple of years, I decided to look for a new horse of my own. And with that decision, I determined that I had to stay healthy and happy for the sake of this horse. As I wanted to give the next horse I had a forever home. 

In 2014, I found Tigger, a 7 year old, 15hh Connemara who was an absolute godsend. I had initially bought him as a happy hacker as I was far too nervous to even go over a pole on the floor and he was so well behaved on the road. But he was so kind and trainable that my confidence soared. And I now compete him at Affiliated dressage and unaffiliated show jumping and eventing. 

Then in 2017, we got an email from the lady who we sold Buzz to, saying that they would be selling Buzz as the daughter was now off to University so would no longer have the time for him. This felt like fate, as my mum had been looking for a horse for herself to hack. As soon as we saw the email we knew we had to buy Buzz back. 

He arrived home and settled straight back into his old stable (which still had his nameplate on). He has always been a happy pony but he looked like he was beaming. Buzz had his own challenges as a youngster. Having been misdiagnosed with wobblers syndrome and narrowly avoiding being put down. 

Within months I was back competing Buzz and it felt like life had finally fallen back into place. The cherry on the top was us then being placed 4th in an unaffiliated one day event. I crossed the finish line with tears of happiness. 

Now whenever I am feeling stressed or down, I go for a ride and suddenly my world is okay again.

By Lizzie Robinson.

Be sure to follow Lizzie on Instagram @ponies_and_prosecco and check out her blog

If you are suffering or know someone else suffering with an eating disorder there is loads of information and support online at Beat Eating Disorders.

Lifestyle

What I have Realised Since Being Separated From My Horse

I wanted to write this blog today as I know everyone has been struggling over the past few weeks because of the Covid-19 virus.  As I live in France I have been in complete lock down since the 17th March. This has meant that I have not been allowed to go see my horse Mya as all the stables in France have been closed. Only proprietors have been allowed to look after the horses. Mya is totally fine, she lives out and the weather has been beautiful here in Toulouse. I know now some other countries including the US have had the same measures put in place and people all over the world may be separated from their precious horses today. 

However even though I am completely sure she is fine I am having a hard time not seeing her! I wanted to share some of things I have realised since not being able to see her.

Horses just get on with it! We treasure our horses dearly, but having a few weeks off in their paddocks will not do them any harm. Yes they may lose some fitness but in the scheme of things their lives will continue like normal. We miss them more than they miss us for sure! Think of it as a little holiday for them! 

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We shouldn’t stress over the small things. I know before all this began, I used to fret about what dressage classes to do, how often I should ride. I used to put pressure on myself to accomplish this and do that.  It isn’t until I was separated from my horse that I now realise all those things don’t really matter. It’s having fun together that counts.

Don’t put things off! I didn’t ever occur to me before that I could be separated from Mya. I am so glad I started to do my online dressage competitions and start having lessons with an instructor again before this happened as I had put that off before. If this has taught me anything it’s not put things off unnecessarily, as now when I can go back to the stables I will be able to restart things a bit easier than if I hadn’t gotten going at all. 

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How much I rely on my stable time. I live in the city and I always said that I loved driving out to the country to see Mya 3x times a week.  But I really do miss being outside and out of the city. The stables is for me like for a lot of people my happy place, my therapy and my thinking time. Hacking through the countryside is the ideal time to reflect on things and I am really missing that! 

What an outlet riding is. Now I am not riding I am really aware of what other little exercise I do! I’ve had to make a big effort to do some pilates in my house and go running so I do some exercise. The problem is I don’t get the same joy I get from riding. But instead of dwelling on that I have decided on trying to stay fit so I can get the most out of riding when I return to it. 

We shouldn’t worry about what level we compete at. Before Covid -19 my main concern was dropping down a level in my dressage. I was really worried that I would look silly and felt a bit embarrassed that I wanted to drop down. Now, I would just be happy riding at all! 

How much I love my online dressage competitions. I was always a jumper and when I started riding Mya there was a massive transition period of not really knowing what to do to keep her and me interested, so we started doing online dressage. I really enjoyed it when I started but as I am quite competitive I found it to be a frustrating when I wasn’t progressing how I thought I should be. However now I can’t do it I miss it tremendously and have realised how much I love doing it. *Gasps* Maybe I am a dressage diva after all?!

How we should use this time to spend time with our other pets. My husband and I had a dog for 12 years. Sadly he passed away in July and I really wanted another pet. Living in an apartment it wasn’t fair to get another dog. Our dog coped well in a flat but I know that wouldn’t be the same for most dogs, so I convinced my hubby to get a kitten. It’s fair to say we forgot how trouble a baby animal is! We were shocked at her energy levels, her constant need to play and quite frankly found her a little annoying!! Sadly for Gwen she had very big boots to fill after our dog Ziggy.  However now we have been home with her we have bonded so much and we now love her dearly. She is a rescue kitten so us being here all the time has given her reassurance and she has calmed down a lot. She is my new best bud!

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We should appreciate every minute we have with our horses.  I always thought I appreciated my time with Mya. It is my favourite place to be. Now I definitely have a renewed appreciation for my time out in the countryside at the stables and my time with Mya, who I am lucky to have to miss.

It will be a tough few weeks for those who can’t see their horses or ride them like normal. So I suggest we stick together. Don’t try to deal with all these emotions alone. If anyone needs someone to moan to, talk to or just someone to chat with during this time I am here. Either comment on here or find me on Instagram @induehorse.

We can get through this together! xx

 

Uncategorised

6 Rock Stars Who Can Ride Horses

I thought it was about time we had another celebrity list here on In Due Horse as my previous celeb lists have been so popular! Ever wondered which of your favourite singers love to ride horses? Well, these rock stars love riding!

 

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish horse riding
Photo credit: Islington Country Club & Hotel Facebook page

Turns out Billie Eilish is a horse girl! It’s been well publicised online that Billie regularly spends her spare time on tour horse riding. Stopping in the U.K. and New Zealand to have a ride in between shows on recent tours! Eilish took riding lessons from a young age at a ranch near her childhood home in California and has always loved horses.

Elvis Presley.

Elvis horse riding
Photo credit: photobucket.com

Elvis kept many horses at Graceland. He kept a few horses and a donkey there to start with but things got more serious when he first bought a horse for his soon to be wife Priscilla and another for her friend so they could ride together. After that he bought his favourite horse a palomino called ‘Rising Sun’. He actually renamed the barn at Graceland ‘House of the Rising Sun’ in his honour! There are books are about Elvis’ horses and his equestrian life as he ended up owning many horses and one of his favourite past times was riding around the grounds of Graceland.

Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea horse riding
Photo credit: Fame Flynet Pictures

Iggy Azalea started riding after her music career launched as she needed a new hobby. Music had always been her hobby but it had become her job and she needed a new escape. She claims horse riding saved her life and she treats it like therapy. She now owns two horses called Defender and Strictly Business. It is rumoured that Iggy started riding after a fan suggested it maybe therapeutic for her. She liked it so much she introduced her friend and fellow singer Kesha to riding too.

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus riding a horse
Photo credit: Trunk Archive

Miley Cyrus grow up riding horses on her father Billy Ray Cyrus’ ranch in Nashville. Miley has two horses and two miniature ponies. Her sisters Brandy and Noah are still competing on their horses on the hunter jumper circuit.

Rihanna.

Rihanna Horse riding
Photo credit: Splash News

RiRi was caught on camera confidently riding bareback whilst filming an advert for Barbados Tourism in 2013.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse riding a horse

Photo credit: Blake Wood

It’s been said that riding horses gave Amy Winehouse a sense of freedom. She liked to ride along the beaches whilst holidaying in St Lucia. During a long stay there in 2009 Amy was photographed frequently riding there.

Copyright of Louise Dando and In Due Horse 2020.

Other blogs that may interest you:

8 Celebrities That Look Ridiculously Good On Horseback

7 Horse Riders That Have Really Famous Parents.

16 Facts You Didn’t know about The Horses in Game of Thrones

Lifestyle

9 Things to do When are in Confinement and You Cannot Ride Your Horse.

I sit here writing this in my apartment in Toulouse, France. Where like Italy and Spain we are in total confinement for 15 days to try and combat the Covid 19 virus. We cannot leave our houses unless we have particular jobs or are going to buy food or medical supplies. Even then we need to fill in a form issued by the government to give to the police/army explaining why we are outside. It’s very surreal and quite frankly scary. For an equestrian this bizarre situation is perhaps a little worse as we are not allowed to see our horses. All stables are closed and only proprietors are able to enter and look after the horses . For us this means Mya is in good hands with Christina and Fred but it’s hard not being able to see her.

As I have 2 more weeks at least of this I have been thinking of things to entertain myself with and thought I would share them with you incase you are stuck indoors as well. None of these ideas are ground breaking but I thought I would share some of my favourite things incase you don’t know them already.

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  1. Watch your favourite equestrian vlogs. Over the past few months I have been really getting into watching horsey vlogs. My faves include: 

Horsey Vlogs

EM Tee Eventures following Tina and Emily who compete their horses Banksy and Lola in Eventing. Their friendship is really fun and the girls are very relatable and funny.

Elphink Event Ponies. In these vlogs you can follow Megan and her yard of amazing event ponies to their competitions.  Although only being 23 years old, Megan is so knowledgeable and switched on when it comes to her ponies.

If you are like me and can speak French my fav french speaking blogger is Vicky Life. Vicky makes videos about everything to do with her horsey life and has a gorgeous horse called Soli, who she competes with in dressage. Excellent for those wanting to improve their french horsey vocabulary. I have learnt a lot from Vicky.

Non – Horsey vlogs 

The Kitten Lady. As a new kitten owner myself I was introduced to Hannah the professional kitten rescuer by the couple that looked after Gwen before we adopted her. She has loads of informative videos about looking after kittens, rescuing kittens and kitten behaviour that are so helpful! If you like cats you’ll love these videos!

2. Podcasts. As you may or may not know I actually am a co-host of an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse and since I started recording my own podcasts, I have gotten more into podcasts.

Here are some that I really like:

Horsey Podcasts. 

Olivia Towers podcast.  Olivia is a grand prix dressage rider and podcaster/vlogger. She is very honest and open and often interviews interesting horsey people.

Small and Supercharged podcast by Rhea Freeman. Rhea is a horsey business consultant that works with equestrian businesses, bloggers and riders to help them market their businesses. The podcast gives you tips on how to use instagram for your blog or business,  talks to interesting people in the equestrian world and talks about issues that everyone faces like internet trolling. Its informative and interesting for other bloggers like me or entrepreneurs that need a hand getting their biz off the ground.

Equi Ratings Eventing podcast. Talks to event riders, vets and topics related to eventing.

Non – Horsey Podcasts 

Serial. Oh how I love this podcast so much! If you love true crime documentaries this is the podcast for you. This podcast looks at the case of Adnan Syed who was convicted of killing his ex girlfriend in 1999. The podcast looks at his case reexamining it as they go to try and figure out if he did actually do it.

Goal Digger. This podcast by Jenna Kutcher who is a self made millionaire. She brings you tips on being a successful social media influencer. Now this is obvs not for everyone but the episodes relating to blogging and instagram I have found really useful.

3. Colouring. Now I thought colouring for adults sounded a bit ridiculous when I heard about it a few years ago. However I was intrigued and I bought a couple of colouring books and actually found it to be really soothing. Quite frankly I don’t really have the time to do it normally, but in these weird isolated times – time is what I now have bags of and I plan to get my colour on!

4. Blog writing and vlog editing. Again this will not suit everyone but I will try and blog as much as I can whilst I have the time. I said before I am finding that my day can easily not be very productive but by simply writing a blog I feel I have achieved something and it helps my mood. I also have a vlog that I need to finish editing and publish that I will try and do by the end of the week.

5. Pamper session. Again something I don’t normally have the time to do, but at some point this week I plan to get my face mask on. I always buy a face mask from Primark when I go so have a few in the bathroom I can treat myself to. This will hopefully make me feel nice, as quite frankly if I am house bound I will be mainly staying in my pyjamas that is for sure!

6. Self learning. As my french school is shut I hope to take some time to revise what I have learnt in the last few months of my lessons. I will also sort out and organise my notes and work on things that I feel I need to relearn. You could do this with any language or course you have started and would like to continue with. Keep that brain ticking!

7. Stay fit. Now only because we can’t go out doesn’t mean we can’t exercise. I personally love the Body Coach’s HIIT sessions on Youtube. They are free and they are each 15 mins long. They are a really good work out and so easy to do at home. I will make sure I do a few a week to keep from feeling like a complete potato. There are also lots of equine specific workouts you can do to get fit for riding.

8. Stay in touch with your friends and family.  Make sure you do this! No matter if you are like me and live in a different country to your family or live down the road. Just stay in touch, it’s good for you to speak to someone everyday and it’s good for them to know how you are getting on. It’s a worrying time, only because we have to not actually see each other doesn’t mean we can’t talk to each other.

9. Quaran-streaming. Lots of groups, musicians and clubs are getting together online for chats, concerts and conviviality from the comfort of your own home. Today we watched a concert by Mark Rebillet for free which he put on from his apartment in New York.

So, in this scary time please be sensible and stay at home as much as you can! Lets work together and stop the spread of this horrible virus, as it affects the most vulnerable the most.

Stay safe and take care! xxx

Blogging

Lockdown: No Horses No Problem! Grow Your Blog Now!

Fellow bloggers this one is for you! This is a very strange and scary time, however as most of us are now confined to our homes what better time to work on your blog?

I wanted to tell you how I get nearly all my blog traffic and that is by using Tailwind! Now if you don’t know already I am actually a Tailwind affiliate, which means this post contains affiliate links so if you do decide to try it and click on the link below at no extra cost to you I will receive a little bit of commission and to be really honest I was also compensated to write this post, although I assure you all opinions are my own. I would never post anything on my blog that I didn’t truly believe in.

The reason I am a Tailwind affiliate is because I am a user and customer of theirs and have found Tailwind to be an excellent way of getting people to read my blog.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What is Tailwind?

Tailwind is a scheduling tool for Pinterest (and instagram but we are focussing on Pinterest for today). If you are not using Pinterest to generate blog traffic you are really missing out. I use Tailwind to easily schedule my posts to Pinterest in bulk, then just let Tailwind post at the set times that I have scheduled which means I don’t have to be on my computer all day everyday pinning on Pinterest, because if you are like me I spend A LOT of time online already.

How to get the most from Pinterest

Fresh content works on Pinterest! In order to get the most from Pinterest you need to create new fresh content, which means creating fresh new pins regularly. Tailwind is particularly helpful with this as you can make new pins each week and batch schedule those pins to Pinterest using Tailwind.  To really get people’s attention you can create pins that are eye catching and this can include new images from your blog posts and new product listings but also new images for existing posts, products and pages. However the key is it has to be FRESH! It is a known thing that the Pinterest algorithm now prefers new content, so hop on board the Pinterest train and ride it to success using Tailwind!

Remember that means even if you are not creating new blog posts constantly, you still need to be creating new pins constantly to fully benefit from using Pinterest. Just schedule those new pins each week quickly with Tailwind.

It’s simple to get started. All you need to do to set up a Pinterest page and try Tailwind for FREE by clicking here. **This is my affiliate link**

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Typical results

I will share with you that I went from very few views when I started In Due Horse. My blog is an equestrian blog, so it is very niche but that niche has a big online presence. I just couldn’t seem to get anyone to read my blog. Then I started using Pinterest and Tailwind and I quickly started to see great results. I went from 694 views a month in February 2019 to 4792 views in August 2019! I think you can agree although still not enormous numbers there was a massive difference! Although I cannot guarantee this if you do choose to start using Tailwind I did want to share with you my experience of using it.

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My blog’s visitors from Feb – Aug 2019. Showing the total views in August.

 

Typical Results for Tailwind for Pinterest members can be found here: https://blog.tailwindapp.com/typical-results-of-tailwind-for-pinterest-members/

 

How Much is it? 

Ok so I know I have spend all this time telling how amazing Tailwind but not mentioned how much it is! It is $119 a year for each social account. Now, I personally think this is worth every penny. I pay this myself and feel that the amount I pay is worth how many people now read my blog. I honestly believe every blogger could benefit from using Tailwind for Pinterest.

There are other more versatile packages of Tailwind available but I will talk about those features in later blogs.

To try Tailwind for FREE just click here **This is my affiliate link**

Other blogs you may enjoy:

Take Your Equestrian Blogging To The Next Level!

 

Louise and Mya

Going Back to Basics With Your Horse

Well, what a week! I am now on day 6 of complete confinement in France. It’s been pretty tough on the horsey front as  I cannot even go and see Mya at the moment. The stables are closed and she is being taken care of by the yard owner and lives out, so Mya has been enjoying the beautiful weather we have had here this week in Toulouse.  I, on the other hand have been making ridiculous horsey themed videos in my apartment to try and cheer everyone up! Head to my instagram to check that out!

Before all this began I was enjoying doing my online dressage competitions each month with Mya, but had noticed that I wasn’t progressing very much or very quickly schooling alone. I was able to find a brilliant French coach called Noelie who I now have fortnightly lessons with and I wanted to share some things with you following on from the last lesson we had.

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I realised when I started doing dressage that despite being an experienced rider, I actually had not mastered some of the basics of flat work that was needed to do dressage well. As the months went on I could feel that the feedback from my dressage tests was the same each time. My contact was not consistent, which meant Mya was sometimes in an outline, sometimes not and sometimes actually a little on the forehand. I needed to learn to use the outside rein to balance Mya whilst using my inside leg. I actually needed to start using my legs to ride and start using my seat and core to slow her rather than my hands. I was aware of all of this and really enjoyed getting feedback from the dressage judges, as normally it was very positive and supportive but also enough to give me something to work on.

However, It wasn’t until my last lesson that Noelie very clearly told me, when I had asked her to help me do a turn on the forehand that I need to stop trying to do things that are too difficult and focus on the simple things and do those well first. I must admit it was tough to hear. I had been aiming to compete at Novice level by the end of the year and I did appreciate that was an ambitious goal. I didn’t expect Noelie to tell me the stuff I was doing now was too hard! Although it did force me to reflect and suddenly I remembered how frustrating it was that I still not competitive in the online dressage classes at prelim level and that my marks were no longer progressing. But I didn’t realise it was because it was too hard for me! I just thought all dressage was hard!

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So now after a very supportive discussion with Mya’s owner Kate, I have decided to drop down a level and still do my online tests but at Intro level. At first I felt a bit silly, these tests don’t even have canter in them! I wondered if it would be a bit embarrassing to admit defeat at Prelim level and drop down to what even I would describe as a very novice level. But after some consideration I’ve decided it is the only way to improve and I really want to improve. If it takes stepping back to go forwards then I will do it! I realised I can still enter the championship qualifiers online (if I get out of confinement soonish) and actually realised I could now be in classes that I could actually be competitive in! Also how silly would I be to not listen to the coach that I pay to teach me?!

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Now, with the world suddenly becoming a very different place. This seems all very insignificant. Just one week ago this was forefront on my mind and now quite frankly I can’t bloody wait to just be outside with Mya. I don’t care what level I am riding at. I am getting quite emotional writing this actually just thinking about being back at the stables.     So I think what I am trying to say is that it is ok to not be perfect and its ok to just enjoy our horses. It’s great if you want to be a better rider, I think we all do for our horses. It doesn’t matter what level we compete at or whether we compete at all the important thing is to have fun! I cannot wait to get back on and get back to doing my dressage!

Take care everyone and stay safe xxx

Other blogs you may enjoy

10 Things You Can Do To Be a Better Rider Right Now!

Rider Biomechanics Why Is It So Important?

9 Things to do When You are in Total Confinement and You Cannot Ride Your Horse.

Guest Blogs

What is Confidence and Why Does it Help Us as Riders?

It’s ‘Mindset March’ here at In Due Horse and to kick start a month dedicated to rider mindset and confidence I am delighted to share this guest blog by Jane Brindley from Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland.

We hear so much these days about rider confidence, or the lack of it, as if it is something
which you either have or you don’t…and if you don’t have it then how on earth can you
enjoy yourself as a rider or hope to fulfil any goals?

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There are many different definitions of confidence but I like to define it as having a belief that one has the skills and experience to handle a given situation which leads to a feeling of strength and comfort. Confidence enables a belief that one will cope with the vast majority of unexpected occurrences and leads to an ability to tackle new situations willingly and without overwhelming self doubt.
Confidence isn’t a static thing throughout life, both riding and general life, in contrast it can vary greatly at different stages of life and when riding different horses or tackling different horse activities. Many riders are super confident as teenagers and then struggle once the responsibilities of adulthood kick in. Other riders may be totally comfortable when riding one horse but full of doubt when they get a new one. Some people are confident in their work life but find riding, which is supposed to be “me time”, a real challenge. Then, of course, we probably have all come across those lucky riders for whom confidence never seems to be an issue at all. Some riders keep their feelings very much to themselves and may cover up very strong emotions, either because they feel they are the only one who is finding things difficult or perhaps they have a sense of shame about how they are feeling about riding.

It’s hard to make assumptions but in general a confident rider will have most of the following characteristics:

They will ride willingly and often.
They will be prepared to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
They will tend to say “yes” to new suggestions.
They will ride in all sorts of different situations.
They will ride alone and in company.
They will enjoy riding at whatever level and in whatever discipline they have chosen.
They will accept challenges and be prepared to work hard to achieve their goals.
They will generally use positive language to describe themselves and their riding.
They will find positives and opportunities for learning when they have a bad day.
They will accept praise with grace and without need for excessive reassurance.
They avoid unhelpful comparisons with others.
They will usually look physically comfortable, even if they are an inexperienced or novice rider.
If they don’t want to do something then they will say “no” for a genuine reason.
They will be aware of danger and avoid putting themselves, others or their horse in a
situation for which they are unprepared.

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A rider who is lacking in confidence will exhibit the opposite of most of the above.
So, looking at the list of attributes of a confident rider it is easy to see how they will enjoy
themselves more, will make more rapid progress in learning new skills and generally have more fun and, if they choose to compete, more success.

If you are reading this and feeling that you are lacking in confidence then please do be
assured that it is absolutely possible to learn lots of techniques which will help you to feel more comfortable. Find someone to help you who is experienced in working with anxiety and who has skills and knowledge they can share with you allowing you to develop the tools which you can apply in different riding situations. By learning to challenge thinking processes, you will change how you feel and therefore change how you act. Ultimately this can change your life. Learning positive visualisation and the use of breathing and relaxation will help considerably. There are many useful techniques to help recover from traumatic incidents and accident which, when used correctly, will enable you to leave that trauma in the past where it belongs. A loss of confidence can happen to any rider, I know I have certainly has many periods of self doubt over the years but now, putting into practice all the things which I teach my clients, I find that anxiety no longer escalates to a level where it spoils any enjoyment. I know that there are always going to be times when I experience anxiety and that it is simply part of the human condition but I no longer “fear the fear”.

 

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If you would like to know more then please feel free to contact me via
http://www.horseridingwithconfidencescotland.co.uk

Top Tips

10 Things You Can Do To Be a Better Rider Right Now!

I think it’s far to say that all of us want to be the best rider we can be not only for ourselves but for our horses too, and whilst trying to do that you can get a bit lost on the way. By either adding too much pressure on yourself and your horse or just ending up feeling a bit rubbish. I know I am guilty of this!

So here are my tips on becoming a better rider without actually getting on your horse!

1) Stop worrying about people think. I don’t know about you but I go a bit funny when people watch me ride. Now I wouldn’t even describe myself as a nervous rider, I just want people think I’m a good rider, even when I am riding in front of my friends.

When I was recording my latest online dressage test I had a bit of an epiphany! Who cares? Why does it matter what other people think? So what if the other girls at the yard don’t think you are amazing? Your friends won’t think you are rubbish because they are your friends and if they are negative in any way perhaps you need some new ones. I gave my really nervous friend some advice many years ago before she went into the showjumping ring. “They probably aren’t even watching you anyway” which may seem super harsh but its probably true! Not in a nasty way but don’t ruin your ride because you think someone is watching. They probably have their own stuff going on and haven’t even noticed you. Do what makes you happy and don’t let people having a little look at you worry you. They may be thinking how good you look.

2) Don’t be a sheep! It’s sometimes easier to follow the crowd. All your friends love jumping but it scares the life out of you? All your friends love eventing but it stresses you right out? You don’t have to do it because they are! If you want to be a dressage diva do that. If you want to try endurance do that. If you don’t even want to ride then do that. It’s up to you what you do.  Just because you always used to do that or everyone else is doing that doesn’t mean you have to do it too. Find something that suits you and your horse and stick to that.

3) Find a Coach you like. Now when I was younger I wouldn’t really care what instructor I had. Of course I had my favourites but I would just get on with it regardless. These days I realise that I want a particular sort of instructor and that hasn’t been easy to find in France. I don’t want an instructor that tells me I am brilliant so I keep having lessons with them and also don’t want an instructor that is too ‘gun ho’ either. I am lucky and I seem to have found a lovely instructor, who seems to share mine and Mya’s owner’s values and I can already see an improvement in my riding after two lessons.

4) Do some homework. The internet is a wonderful thing! If there is something you would like to work on with your riding or you are looking for new schooling ideas there are so many resources out there now online that can help you from the comfort of your sofa! I have recently discovered equestrian vlogs and they are just great. There are all sorts of educational videos, schooling ideas and how to videos for basically anything you want to know about riding and horsemanship.

5) Do some in hand work with your horse. To be the best rider you can be you need to be comfortable with your horse and trust them. This is a massive issue for Mya and I, as she can be pretty unpredictable to handle sometimes and it really scares me. Last year I lost all trust in her, which led to her losing trust in me and our rides suffered. Normal rides became problematic as I felt nervous, so she would be nervous too or act out. It was rubbish and not very fun. However we overcame those problems when her owner worked with me and showed me how to handle Mya assertively and confidently in hand. We did lots of ground work sessions and it helped tremendously. My confidence was restored on the ground but it also came back in the saddle too. Now, when Mya is naughty being handled I now know what to do with her and will forgo riding her sometimes to do some in hand work so we keep that level of trust that we have built back up.

6) Goal setting . I am all about goals! I think it is so good to have something to work towards. Start by setting little achievable goals as it feels so good when you reach them. I have set goals that have taken me way longer to achieve than I thought they would. That is fine too. Make sure you are realistic and be flexible with the time it may take to achieve them. Then quite often you will find you will set yourself a goal which naturally then leads to another. It’s also a great way to realise what you have achieved when you are feeling negative as you’ve probably progressed more than you think!

7) Stay inspired. I am a sucker for this one. I like to set goals and become a little obsessed. At the moment it is with my online dressage competitions. I just love them! So I focus all my energy on training for a test or two each month, and quite frankly once I have filmed my tests I am bit dressaged out! Particularly if I do more than one test a month. So I realised I need to stay inspired in a more well rounded way. I need to make sure Mya and I go hacking often too, we started having a lesson once a fortnight and I have found some really cool pole work exercises to do with her as I realised that I need to make it all a bit more fun or the inspiration will dry up pretty quickly!

8) Try and watch the professionals at work. I get so motivated after I have watched Badminton or Burghley and come away full of enthusiasm wanting to be able to ride like the pros. It isn’t going to happen. BUT it’s great fun feeling motivated and watching those horses and riders compete at the highest level of our sport. Any motivation or enthusiasm you can take will come out positively in your own riding.

9) Try something different. If you are feeling a bit flat or bored with your regular riding go try something different. Have a go at polo or go for a beach ride. Anything that will relight your passion. Even something as simple as going for a lesson at a different yard on a different horse may make you realise that you can actually ride quite well after all.

10) Have fun. It’s why we do it! Don’t let silly things get in the way of having fun with your horse. Do what makes you happy what ever that is and try not to be too hard on yourself. You are a great rider and wanting to improve is a sign of a great horse person. Just don’t get too caught up in that and put too much pressure on yourself. You can improve and progress whilst having fun and your horse will be thankful for it as all they want is a happy relaxed rider!

Other blogs that may interest you:

Rider Biomechanics Why Is It So Important?

The Lesson That Changed Everything!

Set Goals Smash Them and Repeat! My Goals for 2020.

 

Copyright of Louise Dando & In Due Horse 2020.

Fun Ideas

12 Reasons Why Horse Riders Make Great Skiers

I don’t know why I have never had the idea to do a blog about my two favourite hobbies before! So, its mid February which means its ski season here in France, which means at the moment my ideal weekend is riding Mya on Saturday and then going skiing for the day Sunday.

I have been riding since I was five years old and I learnt to ski at the age of 18 years old and I found I took to it pretty quickly as many of the skills you need to ski I had already because of riding.

So here are the reasons why I think horse riders make great skiers.

1. It’s all about position. When you learn to ski, you learn that the position of your body affects where you go and how well balanced you are. Just like when you are riding your horse, if your position isn’t quite right it has the potential to mess everything up!

2. It’s all about confidence. Although there is no horse to sense this when you are skiing, it hinders your performance if you are terrified just like when you are riding. In both sports you will move your body defensively which affects your position, which will ultimately affect your balance.

3. Both sports I have felt the fear and did it anyway! There has been many times that I have been terrified jumping a massive course of show jumps and have never told anyone and also many times where I have been terrified skiing down a black run with my mates. I use my pretend everything is fine face for both sports! However it’s much easier to hide the terror skiing as conveniently you wear goggles.

4. Ski Pistes are a lot like cross country courses, just with no actual jumps, just ice, moguls and a varying degree of steepness to them . You totally get that same buzz when you have done a challenging ski run as when you have finished a round of cross country jumps. The pistes vary just like cross country courses too. Green/blues are like your 65-80cm classes that are great for people gaining confidence or new to the sport. Reds are your 90cm courses, there are some challenges but then blacks are your 100 cms plus courses that sometimes you just have to look at them to feel nervous!

5. On the other hand skiing can be like a nice hack. If you stick to the blue pistes, you can have what feels like a gentle stroll around the mountains similar to a trail ride vibe.

6. Horse riders are used to wearing boots all day. Ok admittedly ski boots are slightly more uncomfortable but it’s the same principle. Also in both sports you wear a helmet and gloves too. Samesies.

7. Horse riders are not put off by a bit of weather. I think it helps as well if you are a British horse rider like me. Let’s face it if we waited for it not to be raining in the UK to ride we would never ride. So a bit of snow and wind isn’t going to bother us when we are on our ski hols either.

8. Leading on nicely from that, horse riders are used to feeling absolutely freezing after riding in the winter. That feeling after being out all day at a winter showjumping competition and a day of skiing in the cold are very similar.

9. Also horse riders are used to falling off, so falling whilst skiing is actually not as bad! We are used to falling from a height, skiing you just fall at great speed, something we are actually used to as well.

10. Ski pistes can be a lot like warm up arenas. You need a level of awareness of what is going on but that same level of disregard so you can concrete on your skiing and not be worried by anyone else.

11. Horse riders are used to having to lug heavy equipment around before and after riding like saddles and jumps etc. Just like skiing where you have to carry your skis to and from the piste. Skis are actually a lot lighter than a full water bucket or wheel barrow for sure!

12. And finally in general I think its fair to say that horse riders (particularly British ones) enjoy a drink. Skiing is famous for it’s drinks at the apres – Ski. The perfect way for the skier/ horse rider to end a day of sport!

Let me know in the comments if you are horse riding skier!

Copyright of Louise Dando & In Due Horse 2020.

Other blogs you may like:

8 Reasons Why Horse Girls are Great at Camping.

10 Reasons to Watch Peaky Blinders If You Love Horses!

Horse Girls need to eat too. Asparagus & Smoked Salmon Salad Recipe.

Guest Blogs

Rider Biomechanics Why Is It So Important?

Welcome to the first guest blog on In Due Horse. 

Over the past few years the topic of rider biomechanics has become more popular and lots of people are turning to it to help performance issues for them and their horse, but do you really know what it is, why it’s important and how it can help you and your horse? 

What are Biomechanics?

Let’s take a closer look at biomechanics. If we break down the word into its ancient Greek origins, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, bios means “life” and “mechanics” refers to the study of the mechanical principles of living bodies, particularly their movement and structure.  During sport, the laws of mechanics are applied to how a body moves in order to help us understand what is and isn’t working, and how we can change it for the best to improve performance and reduce injuries. 

Now we’ve got that little nugget out of the way, let’s put this in the horse and rider scenario: Rider biomechanics looks at how the horse and rider move, both by themselves and in relation to each other. It looks at the tilts, twists and wiggles we all do and how they can be worked on to create a much better harmony between each other’s bodies, improving balance and flexibility. If we improve balance and flexibility, we can encourage better movement and directly influence performance. 

Why are biomechanics important?

The short answer is that biomechanics can help us make sure our horse is as comfortable as possible when being ridden, and that they have a long and healthy ridden career, as well as ensuring that us riders are as balanced and easy to carry as possible.

Let’s put that into an example: If we sit more to one side when we ride, or if we alter our posture from the idea of “perfect posture” we significantly change how the horse has to carry our weight. If we ride a bicycle and we wobble to one side, we will topple to the same side until we correct our posture. Thankfully for us, our horses are very adept at compensating for our poor posture and balance. Our posture and balance can cause such significant problems for the horse that we can contribute towards issues such as shorter stride lengths and flatter jumping techniques, right through to influencing injuries and degenerative changes, just by forcing the horse to work in a posture that isn’t normal for it.

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 Let me just say at this point that despite it sounding horrific, most of these changes happen VERY slowly and there is a huge amount of other influencing issues that need to be taken into account in each horse/rider combination’s unique set of needs. We all spend money on physical therapy and saddle fitting for our horses, but we are one of the biggest influencers as to how our horses use their bodies, so we need to take time to look at ourselves too. 

When both bodies are working at optimum performance, and that has to be optimum for the individual combination, whether simply hacking out, or doing 5* eventing, we can minimise injuries, train more effectively and correct poor performance before they ever become a big problem.

How will looking at biomechanics help my horse and me?

The horse carries 60% of its weight on its front legs and when we ride, we add to that weight load, so the muscles that hold the horse’s front legs to its body, the Thoracic Sling muscles, have to be pretty tough. But as we’ve discussed earlier, if we sit out of balance, we will have a bad effect on our horse’s posture and performance.

When we ride, there are 4 main areas we need to look at to potentially make changes to:

  • Seat
  • Legs
  • Arms and Hands
  • Head

Maybe you sit to one side, drop your chin forward, have a wayward hand or a leg that likes to grip up, maybe you lose one stirrup or constantly battle to keep your reins equal lengths: These are all signs that you have biomechanical issues going on that can be changed. 

A biomechanical assessment as a rider will look at little niggles like this and try to work out where they are coming from to then make positive changes. Surprisingly, most issues can be linked to our seat and making subtle changes to how we sit in the saddle can correct a variety of other issues! 

On that note, it’s worth talking about saddle fit. It’s a topic of hot debate, but a saddle that is out of balance from pommel to cantle, too big or small for either the horse or rider will imbalance the rider and cause pain for the horse. 

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There is such a huge array of fun exercises that can help riders and with the added use of gym balls, therapy bands, small inflatable balls and the like, that everyone can enjoy exercise, so we improve our overall balance and posture. This can also help any niggly aches we have in day to day life and help us to combat repetitive habits we have; Yes, they also affect your horse!  

We owe it to our horses to be fit enough to ride, but that doesn’t mean we all have to take up running! By changing repetitive habits, making sure little things like stirrup length and saddle fit are right, having the occasional lessons to work on us rather than the horse and keeping up with our overall body strength we can make enough subtle changes to help our horses work to the best of their abilities and with as little discomfort as possible – an all-round win! 

About the Author:

Georgina Bull is a registered Osteopath in the UK who, alongside treating horses and humans, takes a special interest in the relationship between how horse and rider move together. Georgina is a rider herself, owning 2 horses and competing in Endurance riding and she has worked with the Team GBR Elite Endurance Squad travelling with the riders to European and World class competitions. Georgina runs her own clinic in Northamptonshire and regularly runs rider biomechanics workshops.

To find out more about Georgina and what she does head to her website  and be sure to check out her blog.