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A buffet of possibilities

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Gosh, since last month I have been busy. Firstly I did all of my talks at Your Horse Live, survived, and even ended up enjoying the experience.


As soon as I arrived at Stoneleigh it was all a bit surreal. I had borrowed my husband’s “mid life crisis” car so I would arrive in style, and was ushered into the car park for exhibitors that is right up close to the centre. Then, greeted by security, and welcomed by a member of the Your Horse team. I had a walk round to orientate myself, and at the major entrances I could see big posters, with<BLOG_BREAK> Oliver Townend....... Geoff Billington..... Laura Bechtolsheimer..... Ruth Dickens....., all listed on the same poster.


Saturday was packed, my first talk and loads of people came and listened. I guess Riding with Confidence on the Roads is a topic that resonates with a lot of people. As they turned up and filled the seats, filled the cafe behind and also filled the walkway at the side, standing and sitting on the floor, I suddenly felt a rush of nerves. This is not good when you are giving a presentation on “confidence”!!


Ha Ha, I reframed the “fear” into “excitement”, made a “ring of confidence” around the whole area, triggered a “resource anchor”, “grounded” myself, “greeted” the feelings, did some breathing exercises, slowed down, and all this whilst getting to grips with the microphone for the sound system. You know, I often reckon that in my approach to confidence I do not use these “techniques”, preferring instead to take myself out of the emotive and allow myself to be in a place where I can think more logically, but in the heat of the moment it was reassuring to see that my “safety net” of secondary techniques was there, and kicked in good and strong.


 It was funny, I felt like I was in unfamiliar territory for the prepared “talk” bit and had to rely on the techniques, but when we got to “questions” I was off and running. A friend said it was like looking at me with a “Rubik Cube” as I asked the questioner’s name, repeated the question via the mike for everyone to hear. By that time I had sorted a possible course of action and was away. For the “Talk” I was quite straight, on answering the questions I was more free, and even had the “ministry of silly walks” when describing how horses can be different when at the rear of a pair, or in front, on the road!


I have pondered the difference in how I felt, and think it is because “giving a talk” is very one sided, you are more talking “at” people, there is little interaction and feedback. I am not getting to know the audience as people. I could work on this further, as I believe great speakers give the impression that they are speaking to each audience member individually. With the questions I was far more interested in actually connecting with the person who had a problem, and my skills of presentation were taken over as I had a desire to connect.


The Sunday was quieter generally, in the trade stands and everything, and in my talks too. The photo at the head of this blog is of the first talk on the Sunday, with the not as nice shirt as I had on the Saturday! Photo courtesy of Emma Reeve, thank you.

Giving the three talks has further helped me to crystallise in my own mind how I tackle confidence issues. Each talk was different, I was learning as I spoke, my desire to help other people helped my own connections and understanding. This has to be a win/win situation.


Jay has been having a quieter life, we have been schooling at home, and jumping in a hired arena at Sykehouse once a week. After a few weeks Jay seemed a little “Arena board” so I hired a Cross Country course in North Yorkshire. Not to do serious Cross Country training as Jay is no longer shod up with stud holes, it was just as a safe place to run round and have fun, the objective being that Jay came away feeling good, and as if he is the “bees’ knees”, as indeed he is!


He has been a bit sharper as winter has bitten, but nothing too bad. However this day I did have an uncomfortable time. They train race horses at the same place as the course, and Jay is always a bit fresher there. Add to the mix that it was extremely windy, and Jay was a bit sharper anyway. Then I forgot my neck strap, but thought that it would not matter. Well....... The neck strap did matter!


No, I did not fall off, but Jay was sharp with the race horses, wind an’all, and when he did the odd spin or two......without my neck strap I caught him in the mouth! Gosh, he thought I was being short tempered with him I think, he did not realise that I was just a bit loose in the saddle, and he got all upset with the situation. When you hire that course you hire the entire complex, so I went back to the arena and worked his backside off, to get him thinking forwards, accepting the bit (as in the bit is a communication aid, and mummy was not using it as a means of punishment...).  Soon Jay was going better, and right at the end of the hour we did some nice XC work too!


The next day I took him to dressage at Sykehouse, and he had not forgiven me for not having the neck strap the day before. He was a bit sharp on the warm-up, but then realised I DID have a neckstrap, was not catching his mouth, and went on to quite the nicest dressage test we have done yet. All relaxed and swinging. Still a lot to improve, but hey, I was pleased!!! I bought a photo, and this is him. It shows his rather iffey clip. I am good at clipping reluctant horses, but my actual clipping skills are doubtful! Photo courtesy of Country Pursuits Images, thank you.


Jay has since forgiven me and settled right back down. We have jumped, and Jay is being very understanding. Also, at home Mum bought me a lovely sheepskin bareback pad for Xmas, and I have used it already. Naughty I know ,but it was to do with Jay mistaking me losing my balance with punishment. I know that when I rode both Sherlock and Charlie with a bareback pad they started to have a sense of responsibility, like if I would slip to the right they learned to actually move to “catch” my balance. They also both learned that it was better all round to move in a soft way, to work with the rider rather than bracing against.


Of course this can only be learned if the whole experience is started from a steady perspective, so we started slowly. Even so, the first time I mounted Jay was surprised by the different feel of my backside on his back, and by how close my legs were. We started with 20 minutes of walking, only moving on when we were both comfortable and confident.


I have since used this pad on Jay 4 times, and he is indeed starting to realise that mistakes can be made, he can help, and so far he has acted very responsibly. In fact this is a photo of us practicing our canter/ trot transitions. As you can see, at home I am a style guru, with jogging bottoms, steel toecaps and a checky jacket (Matalan £9.99, bargain!)!
bareback pad style guru


 This month I also went and spent a day as an assistant trainer on a NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) course, it was for the same company that I took my NLP practcioner’s certificate with last year. In fact I contacted Christine as I was so impressed that the techniques she taught me had laid in the background, but when I needed them most at the Your Horse Live event, they had jumped into the foreground.


It was good to be classroom training again, and as assistant trainer I was at a unique place to learn so much. I was able to study the main trainer, Christine Dawson, whose business it is, and how she sets the day up for success. I was also able to study the group interaction, watching people make changes. The NLP course is about making changes to the way we think, and even the BHS is embracing the concept, so it must be now considered mainstream.


The day I was training was the one that made a big difference to me last year, where you have some interventions to drop fear, anger etc, and most importantly for me I dropped the limiting decision that I “was not good enough”. It was good to be able to help other students through. Plus I was able to reflect on how much I have changed myself over the last 12 months. Plus I got a free lunch for giving up my time, and a free lunch is never to be sneezed at!


This week I also had my medical to continue and renew my HGV licence beyond when I am 45 years old next month. Now THAT made me feel old; however I passed all tests so that is good. I have been offered some work for Eddie Stobart’s, as a Temp Driver, which is tempting, but with everything else I feel that may be one commitment too much.


The Eddie Stobart thing has not been entirely dropped. I have no ambition to drive for them long term, but it is such an iconic firm. I can see me in years to come, a little old lady in my old folks home, telling people of my life, and I can just see the rolling eyes as I say about my life experiences “and then I went to drive for Eddie Stobart”. Ha Ha, they would think it unlikely.


A friend of mine has a small son, and when they travel they always play the “Eddie Stobart game”. You drive down the motorway and as soon as you see one of those wagons you have to shout out “Eddie Stobart”. You keep score as to who sees them first. Unfortunately her son can’t say it, and shouts “Eddie Snowbart”. When we are out and about she makes me play the game (she always wins as when I am with her is the only time I do it, whereas she is an expert!), but of course it is the “Eddie SNOWBART” game that we play! Did you know they name all of their wagons? I wonder if they have a “Ruth Elizabeth”???


Gosh, isn’t life just a buffet of possibilities??

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  1. A.C.

    Yes there is a Ruth Elizabeth on the Stobart fleet, it was listed as spotted in June this year on one of the fan sites!

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