Me and Captain went out alone!!!
For many riders hacking out alone would seem like second nature, they wouldn’t even think twice about doing it. I WAS one of these riders. I loved hacking and the freedom that came with it. If I was having a bad day, I’d hack. If I was angry, upset, happy, excited, I could not wait to get out and ride. There was no better feeling than going for a good canter and gallop through the fields to clear the cobwebs.
Five years ago I had a very nasty accident while hacking, I didn’t know the horse I was riding and the accident left me unable to properly walk for quite a few months. I was also in the position where I didn’t have my own horse to then get back on and help me to get my confidence back. It was nine months before I rode again, my nerves to ride in an arena were manageable but this was still a strange feeling to me. Before the accident I would get on any horse, had no real fear as I knew a horse wouldn’t deliberately try to hurt me. I had entered into a whole new world that was holding me back and I didn’t like it.
I was than luckily enough to find an incredible horse to ride, she helped me get my confidence back to some extent. Over the two years I rode her she allowed me to feel happy being in the saddle again. We loved hacking with other people and we would school happily on our own. But, hacking alone was still unimaginable. As much as I wanted that sense of freedom back fear outweighed it ten times over. I began to think that hacking on my own would never be possible again.
Then came along Captain. He is pretty sensible hacking with another horse but if I tried to ride out with someone on foot he would rush everywhere, I couldn’t put my leg on as he was too sensitive, I just couldn't get his attention. You would just have to sit there and point him where you want to go and hope that you didn’t need to ask him anything on your way! Now, I don’t put this down to him, he is a very sensitive horse and I know full well that my nerves were causing the majority of this reaction. I needed to do something to sort this out.
Having spent time working with Rosie Withey (Horses as Teachers), having lessons with Captain and attending Rosie’s workshops in EFL, and having lessons with Linzi Hardingham it gave me tools to use to improve my own confidence and self-belief, not just in riding, as well as Captain’s trust and confidence in me. I’ve realised that Captain does look to me to know things are ok, he needs me to be there for him as much as I need him. I have also used EFT (tapping) to work on my confidence and work through the trauma of my accident.
On Sunday, I took Captain for a short ride, with my mum walking the dog and he was so good. He walked out well and was also listening to me, I was even able do some schooling on our ride because he was so responsive, rather than being anxious. Then came Monday. I’d been feeling really ill for a week and just wanted to escape for a little bit. All I wanted to do was go out, just me and Captain. So I tacked up, took lots and lots of deep breathes and off we went.
Now to say I wasn’t still anxious would be a lie. I haven’t suddenly got back all of my confidence. We only went out for about 15 minutes and half way round my ‘tools’ to stay calm did begin to falter, there is only so much deep breathing you can do! But we made it round and Captain remained relatively calm. We still have work to do and I know with baby steps we will get more confident together.
Reflecting back I am so proud of myself, and Captain, to think how far we have come together. I know I found Captain for a reason, he is always guiding me through new things and I can see how, when you work together, you really can face any challenge.
We’re gaining our freedom.
Love Alice and Captain x