Seeing The Stride

Hello and welcome to my blog.

Seeing as though this is my first blog post, I thought I would tell you about me and my riding journey so far. My riding journey started in 2010, sitting in front of my TV, watching my favourite show ‘The Saddle Club’. After watching the show, all I wanted to do was ride, so my dad took me down to the local riding centre and I began riding fortnightly there. I rode lots of different horses, but my favourite was definitely a little bay pony called Buttons.

After riding at the centre for a year, I had gradually become a better rider, and at the start of 2011 my instructors moved me up a group. I began riding different horses like a black mare called Princess and a chestnut gelding called Ike. Both of these ponies were naughty and a lot more difficult to ride, so I improved quite quickly and yet again was moved up a group.

My first canter was on a pony called Beau, who was owned by a friend of my parents. I rode her a few times but sadly after a while the previous owners demanded her back. But luckily they had a cheeky little pony called Sophie that they let me lease. We kept Sophie at their property and I would ride her every weekend. I struggled riding her, and she was extremely smart for a small child like me. At our first pony club rally, she went insane. She reared every time I asked her to stop and I was terrified. A man even told my parents that if they owned her, they would have taken her out the back of their property and shot her. It was obvious at that point that Sophie was not the right pony for me.

A week or two after that, we went and got a little sweet pony called Chicco. The second day of me leasing him, we went to a show and came home with many ribbons. It seemed like I had found the right pony; but I was wrong.

Over time Chicco became a bit cheeky, and due to me being so young he was a little strong for me. I didn’t enjoy riding him and every ride was a battle. I also had to stop taking him to pony club as the people’s house we kept him at got a new float that didn’t have room for him. This was the start of my five years of float issues. I came back from a ride crying one day, so my mum and I made the decision to give him back. I regret the decision to this day, but it taught me a lesson to never give up.

So I returned to the local riding school and continued riding there for the next couple of years. One day I was at a family friend’s house and they had a little pony called Pocket that I would play with every time I visited. Eventually they were going to move houses, and they said that I could keep him for a box of chocolates.

So my first was a green, blue roan pony that people had tried to break in but failed. I couldn’t ride him, but I spent every weekend just leading him around and hanging out with him. We kept him at a block of land that my parents purchased with lots of green grass. On weekends I would also go to the riding school, as I was not game to ride Pocket.

On ANZAC day 2013, my parents broke the news that our friends had gotten Beau back, and they were offering for me to buy her. I was extremely excited to finally have my own horse that I could ride, so we went down to the pony club and I gave her a ride there and she was perfect. She wasn’t too strong but she was also very lazy. I went through a lot with Beau, we had many ups and downs, but she was very old and I could not jump her, which had always been my dream.

When my parents decided to sell the block of land, we moved Pocket and Beau to an agistment nearby. We had an arena, small stables, a wash bay – It was heaven! But Beau was struggling through the Winter, as we were unable to come by and feed her twice a day, and she had a lot of trouble keeping weight on. I believe that my last ride on her was at our first show together, doing topsy. We then decided to give her to beginner that could feed her more often than us so that she was semi-retired. Beau is now retired further up North with plenty of fresh green grass.

So I was horseless. But luckily about a year before that my mother’s cousin had horse that was not being ridden, but we had said no as we already had Beau. But after retiring Beau we asked her if she still had the horse, and she said yes.

So a few weeks later we came down to have a look at the horse called Lily (Tamiah Park Lilly of the Valley) , and we took her home on a trial (we had also moved agistments as well). I didn’t ride her for a week or two, and we just bonded together. Then we also moved Pocket and the ponies got along really well. When I first rode her, she was very anxious and forward but she was okay. But when I asked her for a trot, she turned into one of those crazy rodeo horses! I had barley been able to ride a pigroot at the time, and I went flying into the sand. I had no idea what to do. How was I supposed to ride this crazy horse? She was absolutely insane! We got her old owner to come down and give us some tips, and even she could barely ride her. But after she gave her a ride, she put me on a lunge lead and I had a very simple, but successful ride. I couldn’t have been happier that day. I felt like I might actually be able to ride this horse.

We continued riding on the lunge lead, and after a while we had our first canter, then we began riding off the lunge lead. I bought a jump and we started jumping small 50cm jumps. Everything was going well. I took Lily to our first show to do Freshmans jumping, and while the day was interesting, we came home with our very first clear round ribbon. I started riding Lily out the back of the property where there was more space and less rocks and we began jumping higher (75cm). One day, two weeks before a show, I was doing a jumping exercise and Lily got caught up in a jump. We were both left physically uninjured, but Lily refused to even go over ground poles. I worked very hard with her, but this problem was one of the most emotionally challenging problems I had ever tried to face. I was coming home from most rides crying.

Our completion was a disaster. I’m not going to go into detail, but I was shattered. I would go into each ride hoping for improvement and come back with nothing. But with lots of work, Lily began to start jumping again. With months of extremely emotionally exhausting rides, we were back on track. We began jumping higher, and I started feeling confident again. One ride Lily was behaving amazing and we jumped 90cm! I was so proud. We worked our way up the heights and jumped one metre as well. The whole time of me riding Lily, I was desperate to own a horse float to take Lily to pony club. But floats were just too expensive. But in September 2015, our neighbor offered us the use of her float. My first rally was in November 2015, and we would travel to the rallies together. Lily would refuse most cross-country jumps, but apart from that she was amazing. But one rally in 2016, Lily flat out refused to get on the float, and we couldn’t get her on.

This went on for months, until eventually our neighbor got a new horse and did not have room in the float for Lily. I was devastated. My dream was to compete, and I thought I was finally getting there. During Winter I didn’t jump as much, but after my birthday, I got a fair bit of money. So my mum and I decided to pay half each for riding lessons. I learnt incredible things with my instructor, and improved a lot. In August 2016, we bought a horse float. I was so excited and I count not have been more grateful. We got a floating lesson with my instructor and she began getting on the float. We had a bit of trouble with Lily at the start of Spring and her saddle needed to be fitted and she had a sore back, but my instructor helped us with that, too. In November 2016, was my first pony club rally, and it was at my new club.

Lily was a dream. She didn’t refuse a single jump, and we learnt amazing things that day. I am now working my hardest to get Lily to be able to compete later next year in 2017. I can’t wait for the future with my adorable ponies!

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