I’d like to start with a quote from Anna Marciniak at One Horse Life –
Step with confidence and pride on your path, and never forget about your uniqueness.
Do not try to become others or do impressive or popular things.
Do things that are honest and speak about you, and your journey, and you will see that you will grow and inspire others to do the same.
And this is the most important thing we can experience and share with others in Life.
So Here I am! And here are my reflections from today.
I started the day with my usual morning chores (although they don’t feel a lot like chores as they are all with horses, and horses are my life). Turning horses out and mucking out stables is my time to let my mind wander while I do tasks that I no longer have to think much about. The frost makes everything so beautiful and glittery, seeing your breath in the air and that of the horses, the hard ground under your feet, and the icy breeze on your cheeks. A beautiful clear sky and everything feeling so clear. What a beautiful day to be alive!
Late morning was time to ride the lovely Toronto, a friend’s horse who I am borrowing for a clinic next week as my horse needs some work on his trailer and lorry experience – more on that another time. I chose to ride in my bareback pad, even though I’m allowed my stirrups back today, and had a lovely ride along the country roads by the yard. Toronto showed me he is starting to feel the benefit of the fittening work we have been doing, as I only had to shorten my reins and think about the canter along the forest track towards the end of our ride and he leapt in to it with a flourish! It was wonderful to feel this being offered so easily and so willingly with a sense of joy. He has such a sweet nature wrapped in his big fluffy cob body. He is the widest horse I think I have ever ridden, and riding him recently has really been challenging on my hips! I’m getting used to it and didn’t walk like John Wayne when I got off today which is another bonus! I also found a pressure point at the top of my hip/glute that released the little seize/cramp feeling that comes when riding him for a while. This is also the area I need to release for my right leg issue (more below)
Paperwork followed while eating my lunch, the most boring part of the day so let’s move on quickly!
Afternoon chores, again with horses coming in from the fields, and being tucked up in their stables for the night. All the regulars tonight, who now come to call or are ready and waiting at the gate for their turn to come in.
For November I’ve been riding without stirrups (NoStirrups November) in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. It’s something I’ve done for a few years now and despite the challenge it’s always enlightening for my riding, even though I usually want to give up half way through, the benefits of sticking with it out far outweigh the difficulties of keeping going.
This year I had the added challenge that I moved yards at the beginning of November so I was riding my horse Buddy in a new environment and he proved to be rather challenging in the process. I’ve learnt that my seat is better than I thought; staying with him through all his spooks, bucks, bronks and rears, and the month riding without the support of my stirrups at this challenging time has improved my seat even further.
So tonight is the first day I was allowed my stirrups back so I’ve taken to the school with Buddy to see what new feelings I have in the saddle. Buddy is due a session with the chiropractor tomorrow and I knew having my stirrups back would feel strange to so we kept it simple. Focusing on what we have rather than what is missing. Buddy felt a bit like he was moving with his hand brake on (so I will be interested to hear what the chiropractor has to say tomorrow) but was generally willing if a little distracted, still not quite used to seeing so much going on from the arena.
In my riding I was exploring some feelings I had come across in the Equestrian Pilates class this week, mainly in my right hip and leg. My right leg often feels like the stirrup is shorter or that the saddle is leaning to the left, despite the stirrups definitely being the same length and the saddle definitely being in the middle! Some stretches in the class helped me find which part of my hip I needed to speak to first, allowing the right hip bone to drop, my right seat bone to contact the saddle more securely, and I found a much straighter feeling from Buddy when my right lower leg felt like it was more forward, and my right ankle felt longer on the outside. It took rather a lot more concentration to maintain this on the right rein when my inside leg was needed to keep Buddy moving, and the straight feeling came and left again a few times in the session but this is certainly something I will explore further in my riding and body improvement.