Sunday, 24 April 2016

U is for Undeterred!

I was having trouble coming up with a word for the letter U
I was going to do underweight 
But after what happened yesterday
It could only be one word 

Rewind to Thursday
I got it in to my head 
That I wanted to do more riding 
And check out the stables in my area
I got a couple of numbers 
But got no answer 
So I decided to call in to an equestrian centre that's about 20 minutes from my house 
I'd been to this centre before 
A few years ago when I did a beach trek with my sisters 
So I knew where it was 
My Dad and I set off 
We drove in to the yard 
And we were greeted by a woman called Rachael who runs the place
I asked her about the possibility of lessons 
She said they don't do adult lessons
As they don't have the demand for them 
But she did say I could book a private lesson
Costing €35 for half an hour
And €45 for an hour 
So I decided to book a half hour lesson for yesterday 
Half an hour doesn't sound like a lot
But when you are riding with no break 
It's exhausting 
The lady asked me about my experience
I said I could trot and canter 
I'm now thinking after what happened I shouldn't have said I could canter
As I've only really done it once 

Sunday came 
And I spent all day looking forward to my 4pm lesson 
The time finally came 
And my Mum and I set off
First I had to get fitted for boots and a hat 
The lady said to me that I had skinny legs
And gave me a pair of children's boots
My ED loved that one!
So I got myself kitted out 
And then went around to the stables
Rachael introduced me to my horse called Sonny
And OMG!
He was huge!
Much larger than Star
We went in to the in door arena 
Where I held Sonny until my teacher came 
She came like a ball of energy
Susan was her name 
Something I've noticed 
Is that horse people are hardy 
Very hardy 
The second thing I noticed about Susan 
Was that she had two facial piercings the same as me 
Straight away 
She had me get up on Sonny 
And straight in to a trot
There was no messing around with this girl 
The first thing I noticed about Sonny
Was that he was much faster than Star
An awful lot faster 
But it felt amazing!
Soon she asked me to go in to a canter 
From a trot 
You sit in to the saddle 
And kick and squeeze with your legs 
I grabbed the safety strap
And kicked on 
What happened next happened so fast I can barely remember what happened
Sonny shot off like a bullet 
And completely took me by surprise by how fast he was going 
As he turned the corner
I could feel myself losing control
And began to slip off the side of the saddle
My feet came out of the stirrups 
So I had nothing holding me on 
I was bouncing around on Sonny like nobodies business
And the the next thing
I tumbled off 
And fell in a heap at the side of the track
The first thing I thought was Sonny was going to go over me 
And I instinctively curled up to protect myself 
I don't know where Sonny went
But he didn't run over 
The thing was 
I could feel myself falling 
But even though it seemed to happen in slow motion at the time 
I still got a huge shock
I got up straight away
Susan asked what if I was ok
And if I was hurt
I didn't think I was 
Nothing was broken anyway 
I asked her for a minute to catch my breath 
She said ok
But to get back up on the horse first 
I tried to mount Sonny
But I was shaking so much 
I couldn't get a grip to pull myself up 
Second time 
I managed 
And I just sat there for a moment 
Susan said it was important to get straight back up on the horse 
As the longer I left it
The harder it would be 
Soon I was ready to go again
And we began to walk around the arena
Slowly at first
Then trotting 
Then Susan asked if I felt ok to canter again
I must admit 
I was afraid 
But I really wanted to try again 
I didn't want my fear to get the better of me
So I tried again
Straight away
Susan stopped me
And said she knew why I fell
It was my feet 
In riding 
You are supposed to push your heels down and toes up to anchor yourself 
But i was riding with my toes down and heels up
So I was totally unbalanced
After she discovered the problem 
I was able to correct it 
Although I found it hard
I felt like I was sickling my feet
The way I used to do in ballet 
So Susan was constantly shouting at me 
Heels down!
Heels down!
We tried the canter again 
And this time I felt a lot more sturdy and balanced 
Susan said it was one hundred times better

By the end of the lesson 
I was wrecked 
And sweat was pumping out of me
Susan showed me how to put up the stirrups 
And take off the saddle 
And the bridle 
Which was good to learn 
I was still pretty shook as I went back to change out of my boots and hat
Susan said if I am going to pursue horse riding 
Then that was my first fall of many 
To be honest 
It had never occurred to me that I might fall off the horse at some point 
I had no fear about it
As I always thought that a fall happened when jumping 
Now I know different 
Susan said I could join the kids class on a Saturday if I wanted to
Or I could continue with the private lessons 
I stil don't know what I'm going to do 
So I told her I would think about it
And give them a ring 

The lesson yesterday was so different to the horse therapy I do on a Wednesday
Therapy is so informal and relaxed 
And it's more about the social side of things 
And less about technically getting better 
It's about gaining confidence
And building a relationship with the horse and trainer 
To be honest 
I kind of felt like I was cheating on horse therapy going to another stables 
I just wanted to do more of it though 
As once a week is just not enough for me 
So I'm wondering if I should tell Eilish I'm doing other lessons
Or should I continue with the extra lessons at all?
When I got home yesterday
I was telling my sister and her partner all about the fall
My sister was horrified 
She said we will already have my mum in plaster 
We don't need another broken bone in the house 
She pleaded with me not to go back
But the thing is 
I really want to
I really enjoy the adrenaline rush
The speed 
The power 
It's like a drug 
My sister said that I always have to push things that little bit extra 
And she is right 
Maybe I am turning in to an adrenaline junkie!
Who knows?

So today 
U is for undeterred
I got back on the horse after my fall
And i guess that's a metaphor for life 
When you fall down 
You dust yourself off 
And get back up 
Ready to fight another day 
I guess I've been doing that my whole life 
Maybe that's why the fall off Sonny didn't phase me too much 

I woke up this morning 
And my ribs and legs were hurting 
I was in with my doctor 
So he checked my ribs and lungs 
Which were fine 
But he said I may experience pain for a few days 
But you know what?
I kind of enjoy the pain 
It's a sign I was working hard
And loving every minute of it!


  1. People have to LEARN horse riding for a reason, it takes years to be really safe. it is DIFFICULT. you could even seriously hurt yourself AND the horse if you do not know how to do it... But that's life Ruby, the things that do not come easy are the ones you'll enjoy most once got a grip. Good luck! Every proper rider has been through it. and you know what? even pros still fall off their horses! xx

    1. Thanks anonymous
      It's all about learning
      Growing and improving
      I learned from my fall yesterday
      I know where I went wrong
      And was able to correct it
      The important thing was to get right back on the horse
      And not let the fear grip me
      I love it though
      It's quickly becoming a passion of mine
      It has helped me so so much x

  2. The bigger horses tend to be more relaxed, but I guess Sonny likes a good run... One of the first things they taught us when I started riding was how to fall off. It was terrifying at first, but in the end it made me much less afraid of falling off. I'm surprised they weren't on top of you for the heels down at your therapy lessons. Riders can easily snap their ankles if they're thrown off and their feet aren't in the right position.

    If you like it that much, you could always start out doing the extra lessons every other week, and then see how that goes. Horse riding can be a dangerous hobby, but so is pretty much everything else. My cousin was professional and riding for over 15 years when she got thrown off and trampled by her own horse. She was in a full body cast for months and still has nerve damage, but the first thing she did when she could walk again was go horse riding. Her parents were horrified. She still rides, though she can't do it professionally anymore. I think she might actually be working doing trail rides again out in Mulranny. They do lovely rides out on the beach if you're ever headed out that way! Nothing like galloping across a beach on a giant horse that won't listen....

    1. Yes Sonny was huge
      I even struggled to get my leg over him
      For some reason it never occurred to me that I might fall
      And now that it has happened
      It wasn't too bad
      I'd like to avoid it as much as possible
      Now I have so much respect for jockeys and race horses
      They must have some amazing stamina to do those races

      Oh your poor cousin
      That's awful
      I would be the same as her though
      Up on a horse the first chance I got
      Where is Mulranny?
      Is it in Achill or that part of the country? X

    2. Mulranny is sort of the last bit of civilization before the loooooooong stretch of bog that eventually ends at Achill Sound.

  3. Holy crap, that sounds scary! I'm glad to hear you're okay Ruby. As for going back, there's a reason they always say "getting back on the horse". I can understand your sister's concern, but logic says falling must just be a part of learning to ride horses. You know what you were doing wrong, and you learn from it and move on. I can totally picture you joining in on the kiddy class though!



Thank you for leaving some love x