Sunday, 8 January 2012

New Beginnings.

I was determined after the cushings news that things had to change. I couldn't yet sit on Hillary, but I wanted to make sure that I could exercise her in other ways. The first thing I had to do was learn to lunge her. Through lunging, I would be able to exercise her from the ground, and this, backed up with Halina's regular hacks up the hills, would enable us to work on Hillary's fitness. However, Hillary was incredibly fresh and sprightly, and so I had to learn how to control her, and my nerves. 

One person who was instrumental in this was the farm owner, Gaynor, who knew how I was feeling. She showed me how to lunge Hillary, what equipment to use, and how to make sure I stayed safe. At first, Hillary would tear round the menage, and I would feel afraid, but after a while, I learned how to watch her movements to try and predict what she would do, and I also learned how to use my voice to help direct her in what I wanted her to do. Over time, lunging became one of the most fundamental parts of my confidence growth. Lunging took the pressure off me to ride, and so I didn't feel as guilty as I had done. Also, when I eventually started to ride again, lunging allowed me to gauge how Hillary was feeling. I could watch her on the ground and decide what sort of mood she was in and how much 'fizz' she had. Lunging is fab, and I'd recommend it to anyone with issues like mine.

Despite how even the thought of riding made me feel, I was sure I still wanted to do it. I knew that I was suffering with a mental 'blip,' and knew that I wanted to get over it. I wanted to ride so much, and yet it was like being faced with a brick wall. I often cried about it, and got incredibly angry with myself. It's hard for people to understand what you're going through unless they've been through it, and added to all the pressure and frustration you feel, is the nagging feeling that other people think you are making it up too. My family were a strong support, especially my younger sister, Jess, who has not only taken my mind off my feelings by being a chatterbox, but who also modelled all my behaviours when she began riding, allowing me to see how my behaviour affected Hillary. My mum always told me to keep trying, and to think positive, but my dad was a little less sympathetic. In his mind, I'd spent all this money on a horse I couldn't ride. Though he frustrated me, I think that actually, his matter of fact way of seeing things helped me to think more positively and helped to give me a sense of determination.

My parents did, however, help immensely by making sure that if I needed something to help me, they'd make sure I got it. They took me to get a top of the range body protector, and even lent me the money for a dressage saddle- riding with a longer leg makes me feel more secure. I am lucky to have parents who ensure that I have what I need, and who have never questioned me about it.

I remember the first time I managed to sit on Hillary again; five seconds of not breathing and sheer terror. I slid off and my legs nearly buckled. I couldn't help but repeatedly hug and kiss Hills, and I even cried as I rang my mum to tell her about it. This getting on and sliding off continued for days until i managed to take a few steps forward. Hillary was very accommodating about it,and behaved impeccably.

One day, whilst lunging in the menage, Gaynor joined me riding her lovely horse Olly. She worked round me while I lunged, and eventually stopped and said: "Right, get on." I was terrified, but I didn't want to look stupid, especially as it seemed she was about to give some of her time up for me. I scrambled onto Hillary's back, and, heart beating wildly, began to follow Gaynor round in little twisting lines. She didn't stop moving, and kept talking to me all the time. We weaved round the menage again and again, and eventually I began to relax. Then we moved into trot. By the time I got off, I was a whirlwind of excitement and emotion. It was this excitement that over ruled the fear and what kept me going in the first stages, although we were a huge way off. 

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