About me and this Blog

I am a woman of a certain age who has finally been able to enjoy my love of horses Initially to ride them but as time has gone on I have learnt there is more to horses than riding them and want to share this with you.

I have 2 other blogs, feel free to browse,

you can follow me on Twitter @alisonbarton1

Monday, 25 June 2012

Am I nearly there yet?

Here I go
Learning to ride, for me is like climbing a hill, but you can’t quite see the summit, but you feel you will see it in a little while just keep making steady progress and it will come clearly into view any minute. You feel the effort of walking uphill and your body takes a while to find a rhythm, eventually your breathing settles down and you feel comfortable, yet challenged at the same time. Keep going to the top you think.

Then you decide its not so close so you stop and admire the view, have a cup of tea even, enjoy the moment, to moment achievement of getting closer to the top. You have  what you think is your goal in view at last for it to turn out to be a bit of a plateau which stretches out for much longer than you could ever of imagined, whilst its sort of easy putting one foot in front of the other, you feel like you are not actually getting anywhere. Then your path starts to climb, much more steeply this time, you realise now that you are actually climbing a mountain. You stumble, quite a bit and take another rest and this time the view is magnificent, but its hard and you still are not sure if what you think is the end is really what it seems. You start to wonder if this height, is good enough, just stay put, why push on any further, how much better can it be up there. Then you consider all the options, rest longer, and enjoy being where you are. Throw the towel in and start back down where you would be much more comfortable, or keep going because it must be worth it.

still going!
While you are making up your mind you turn to your guide and ask “Am I nearly there yet” she looks at you kindly and answers, “nearly”.

Well if you don’t keep going and turn back you will never know what it‘s like to have actually got there, so……….


Sunday, 17 June 2012

A little Elegance, at last!

Sitting prettier?
A new girl joined our gang this week; she had not ridden for years and felt like she was starting from scratch. I must say though she was pretty good, nothing like when I came for my first lesson last year. Which was why I was particularly nervous when Hayley asked her to watch me while I demonstrated my canter, to illustrate the use of the ” seat”. I thought oh no pressure then, and tried hard not to let myself down. Hayley still had some guiding words for me about the transition, as I tend to push and lean forward, which was fine can’t have Hayley standing on ceremony that would really throw me.

Anyway you can judge for yourselves how it went as my friend, Jayne, had come to watch me for the first time and do some filming while she was there. (Probably because I don’t stop talking horse). Jayne loves all animals but doesn’t want to ride, so I found it very touching that she would come and watch. My sister did the same last week and when non horsey people show an interest its quite heart warming.

The ever watchful Hayley + the giving Oscar
I quite like the whole aspect of lessons, I know I am paying for the instruction, but putting that to one side. I get guidance on whether I am doing the right thing. I don’t mind being put right either, its all part of someone helping me be the best I can be. When I do get it right there is instant praise and recognition. Like how we nurture our children, praising them on everyday tasks to encourage confidence and surefootedness. What I have come to realise is that I for one haven’t outgrown the need for reassurance and support, but perhaps culturally we think adults are “there” so we don’t bother with that anymore. Well its not just in the school that I benefit from praise and acknowledgement and I don’t think I am alone. I am going to try and support fellow adults more and hope anyone reading this can remember to encourage each other outside the school too. I for one want to carry on growing and developing. I am not needy, I am just human.  

P.S I can see my dropped shoulder as I come into the 20 m circle, not pointing with the right(left) "booby" again. oh will I ever get it right/left!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Riding, staying ahead of the black dog

Dozer the Labrador Retriever at 3 years old.
He looks so cute but !

Good health is such a fragile, precious gift. Not realising that is completely understandable and in some ways a period of grace exists until bang, wallop, splat. You meet your first demon, which is to shake the innocent ignorance that stops you taking health for granted.

It may be your own first encounter with poor health, for me it was watching loved ones battle illness which burst my bubble of blissful ignorance. Well before, I myself experienced my own small disturbance to good health. So now I am in that worldly position of appreciating the delicate balance of life.

It just keeps raining but we must ignore it
The weather is affecting most of us one way or another and those who tread the thin line between equilibrium and blackness can be devastated simply by endless grey days. Riding is no longer just fun for me not only does it lift my spirits it I am convinced it keeps me well and on an even keel.

My ride was cancelled on Friday the rain was, well, just too wet and the wind too gusty, it just makes sense not to risk it on these occasions. I felt gutted but there is so many unpredictable things that can happen with wind, horses trees slippy mud etc its not worth it. Sense has to prevail. 

I ride in all weathers, just get my camera out when its sunny

But I am not a fair weather rider no way.I am happy riding, and I could just put a full stop there. Because I am happy come rain or shine. love it for itself, what I need to do is somehow bottle the benefits I get from riding which tends to enhance my well being for quite some time afterwards and be able to dip into it when I can’t ride.  

Until then I will keep riding, trying to stay ahead of that pesky black dog and hope anyone in the same boat can do the same.


Friday, 1 June 2012

"Carrot and Stick?" no "Tart and Sugary"

Being given a surprise Bday cake (my own bit of sugar!)
I want to be a good rider so much I am now considering its time for my husband to loose interest in his guitars and start selling them to create a much bigger riding fund.  Like that’s going to happen! He’s as equally crazy about music as I am about horses. And there we strike a pretty beautiful balance, because we don’t intrude on one another, we encourage we show a level of interest and when push comes to shove we actually stand in the wings and support with some zeal. “Yeah go you” and all that!

We are honest we are never going to be fanatical about each others passions but we do appreciate how much they mean to us.. That’s as far as it goes, and why I need other equally horse crazy folk who share my interest with the commensurate passion. I know when I get with the “girlies” as Meg calls us, that we can talk the hind leg off a donkey about horses and we will all enjoy it. I need to be circumspect with others I know because when Phil starts going on about his woofers, tweeters and reverb (sound effects or tools I think) I start to glaze over.

Its all about balance which is lot like being with and riding horses Physical balance in the saddle and balance of approach and demands. I am learning that the horses need a balance of sugar lumps and firm leadership to give them the confidence to allow themselves to be in synch with their riders requests /aids. Last time I shared one of Spirits first schooling sessions with Hayley (see last post). This week I was able to capture Hayley working with him and his nervousness about having the bridal on and how she overcame this and will continue to school him to get better and better.

the most wonderful setting to ride and talk horse
I am definitely on a journey of self discovery through the quest to ride and those around me are helping me juggle with the ups and downs of the challenges I face. Providing “sugar lumps” of encouragement and constructive direction in equal measure. That includes the “girlies”  and the horses.

This week they surprised me with a lovely lunch Meg made a fab leek Quiche (Tart ) and  they gave me a cake (my own sugar lump) on my birthday. It was so wonderful in a prefect setting being able to ride and talk horse endlessly, thanks ladies. 

Meg dishes out the wonderful Tart(Quiche) Chrissie looks on Yum Yum
I feel quite an affinity with Spirit, although he is a gangly teenager and I am an aging old bird, we still need our instructors balanced guidance and with the same measure of   “Sugary and Tart” to develop.
This week you can see how  with careful schooling Spirit is making progress he is more accepting when being mounted. Hayley explained that once he was obviously relaxed she had to be sure he didn't start playing a game with her around the mounting block. He is clearly relaxed!!!! and she therefore felt able to adopt a firmer approach, in tone and body language. I know all about that Spirit "control yourself woman" thats Hayley to me on one of my bumpier landings.

Alison x