We’ve all been there. Too scared to get on your own horse, to the point you think up the most ridiculous excuses to not get on them. Sometimes it’s because your four legged friend has thrown their teddies out of the pram because trotting in an outline is just too much or because there’s just something about your riding you just cannot correct.
Everyone’s had what I call a “wobble” and people who say they haven’t are lying.
It’s nothing to be embarrassed about because at the end of the day you’re sitting on a living animal which can often be scared to death by a leaf being too crispy under foot.
Three years ago I got my first horse. Millie, who was six at the time, was very green. Once she got comfortable she knew how to push buttons and knew where mine and my mums weaknesses were. Shortly after she started running backwards, tossing her head and pulling the reins right out of our hands. No big deal, we worked her harder.
Then the bucking, paddling and bunny hopping started. Riding lessons seemed to be more focus on teaching me to sit to her tantrums than on making her work properly. Riding Millie mostly consisted of tears, arguments and a sandy bottom from when I ended up on the floor. With this Millie made a bit of a name for herself at the yard.
After a lesson in which she floored me four times in twenty minutes, each time upping her game, we turned her away for the summer as she was too dangerous for me to ride. As soon as September hit we dropped her off in Leeds to “boot camp” with Richard Barton, on our way to a family holiday in Scotland.
Within two days Richard was jumping her. That’s when the wobbles really set in. I. Wasn’t. Good. Enough. I’m not strong enough, experienced enough. She deserves better.
After two weeks Millie returned home and I rode her. Practising everything I was told to. And if it wasn’t perfect I got so angry with myself and took it out on Millie. “All of this is my fault” “Millie was only like this because I’m not riding her properly” was all I could think when I was on her.
But I never gave up on her. I just couldn’t. If I gave her up I would give up riding altogether.
Now we’ve dipped our toes into jumping and she loves it. We can canter out on hacks and she’s a different horse. But I STILL get wobbles.
When I rode a different horse for work I would spend the whole time tacking up repeating “This horse is not Millie” over and over in my head. And sometimes even have to do it now.
Millie has so much power in her back end and canter for her is all or nothing making it incredibly difficult to sit to. Four weeks ago I jarred my back cantering her and it took me almost two weeks to get back on her again. People thought I was stupid because of how far we have come and a silly little thing like that would set me back but once it’s in your head, it sticks.
And it’s natural, completely and utterly natural to sometimes be so tense whilst riding that your whole body aches when you dismount. It’s natural to make excuses to not ride today and put it off and off and off.
But you’ve got to celebrate the little victories. You rode your horse past that scary looking tree today? GO YOU. You walked your horse around the school after you said you weren’t going to ride at all today? GO YOU. You sat on your horse for the first time in a while today? YES GET IN THERE!! GO YOU!
From my experiences, riding wobbles are formed when we look at the negatives. For example, your horse lost it because a bird flew out in front of you but (s)he also stood perfectly for cars and a tractor. Or, that was a really shitty transition BUT (s)he was genuinely listening to what you were asking of them.
If you’re currently having a wobble, take your time, it will come but don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to someone you trust and ask for help. Be patient and take baby steps.
Trust me, you’ll never look back!
Catch ya laters,