My partner and I spent a week in the UK in August with one of the horses he competes. It was a brilliant week and we learned quite a few things about being an Irish Equestrian abroad!
1. There are some really nice people. I mean ridiculously nice. As in dropping your b & b guests down to the local restaurant for no charge and coming back several hours later for them nice. As in helping another competitor out when it’s their first time at this type of competition nice. Also as in giving up your whole day to travel to a show to help b and b guests you only met a few days before nice.
I first came across Aztec Diamond a few years ago on Facebook and took a look at the website. What caught my eye was simple – the models looked fantastic in the products. I know it’s a running joke among equestrians that the pristine outfits on ladies in ads for equestrian products would quickly be filthy working on a yard but I don’t see anything wrong with trying to look good while doing what you love.
As part of my recent blogging opportunity with Horseworldeu.com I was invited to pick some products to try out and review. Along with the Horseware Riding Tights, I also chose the Eskadron Competition number set. My reasoning for this was this was I felt another new innovative product.
Goals are personal and what matters to each rider really does depend on their own experiences. For me, competing successfully at the National Dressage Championships has meaning because when I first started proper dressage training a few years ago it seemed ridiculously unlikely that I would ever be good enough to be able to do it.
While I have focused on dressage and showing for the last number of years I actually used to event. I evented for a few years on the riding club circuit in the intermediate grade. I used to event whatever I was allowed to sit on. My biggest challenge was a chestnut mare ex racer who went like a bullet cross country with her head between her legs. In the show jumping she also went like a bullet but would either jump clear or turf me off. I used to be terrified as the speed had my eyes streaming but after a few events, some of which we won I finally had control of her. At our last event together we would have won the national championships, having led from dressage only I was so delighted at having the mare going well I missed a fence cross country and had us eliminated. It was a hard lesson to learn and I was angry at myself as it was completely and utterly my fault. Sadly we never had a chance to try again as the mare died from a kick a few weeks later. I still think of her often – she thought me the power of positive riding and more importantly how to stick your bum like glue to a saddle. My last ever riding club event was in 2008 or 2009 on a gentleman of a gelding who at 21 years old still thought he was a young lad. We had done a few events together and he was so experienced at his job that all I had to do was steer him. At that last event, also the riding club championships our team placed second which was a lovely finish to my eventing adventures. It is safe to say that I had learned from past mistakes and did not omit a fence.
My anxiety around competition was never really just about competition. It was a fear of the unknown, of lack of control, of new things. It started when I was a small child and if I was anxious about something I would feel sick and nervous. Things like exams, trying new things, bus trips. Over time it got worse and I was anxious before things I was actually looking forward to. The anxiety in turn caused illness as I have a sensitive stomach anyway so it got to the point that I was anxious of being anxious. I missed a lot of things because of it – sleep overs, the first day of pony camp, scouting trips. I was afraid to look forward to anything. My poor mother was tormented by it and had the patience of a saint at times especially when it came to high stress events such as the leaving cert (which I did on three Valium and about seven packs of polo mints a day). I managed miraculously to compete on horses as a teenager and adult. It was hard going – I used to meditate on the way over to try and calm myself down (yeah I was the odd ball), couldn’t eat and would be white as a sheet before a competition and exhausted afterwards.
Always watch the 1 and 2* riders XC. No one gets it right every time but their ability to handle what comes up is what counts and gets them around. There was me having an asthma attack in case I got the wrong stride at a log when I saw someone get no stride at a massive combination, sit up, ride it with one stirrup and school a horse through clear – lesson learned!
I was recently chosen to be part of a group of bloggers asked to review products by Horseworld (horseworldeu.com). As part of the group I was asked to choose products from the website to use and review. We were given a huge range of choices but I wanted to make sure I reviewed something that was new or of general interest so I asked a few equestrian friends for their advice. The general consensus was that riding tights / riding leggings are a product that has really exploded on to the market in the last year and one that people were curious about in terms of fit and use.
When you are riding by yourself with other people in the arena….
These are the other riders you can often meet…..
It doesn’t matter how big the arena is or how much you try to ride exercises and movements in your own space – the magnet will gravitate towards you and stick to you for the entire time making it impossible to practice anything except escape. If you try to hide, they will find you. Magnets are usually completely oblivious to the fact that they are essentially following you around the arena as they have no concept of herd instinct or of asking their horse to ride independently.