I didn't start learning to ride until May 2010 and for the entire summer of that year was injured. My first year of riding was not that solid but since April last year, I've not missed a ride. I can walk, sit and rise trot, canter, and have started learning transitions and diagonals on a variety of horses. Come and join me on my adventures with my horsey friends all done with no sight on my part. don't feel afraid to ask me any questions. being blind and a horse rider is new, interesting and very exciting. So I hope you can gain something from reading this.
Monday, 4 July 2011
More To riding than, Well, Riding
A lot of the opposition I've faced in my life has revolved around my sight impairment. This is still true with riding and being around horses. Thankfully, not where I ride, however. Once I knew I was achieving my goals on the back of the horse, I knew one day, I wanted to own my own horses. That is still a dream but I knew that in order to be a good horse person, I would need to learn how to care for these beautiful animals. Being blind strikes fear into most people and because the increase of para equestrianism, being on the back of a horse is a little more acceptable but some still have their reservations about allowing the disabled to ride freely. I am aware of restrictions I will have to put myself under as a horse owner, when I have my own and will no doubt adjust to taking care of my horses with techniques that work, but I know I will one day, finances aside, be able to own my own horses and care for them. One of the restrictions is definitely riding out but there are ways even around this, ride out with others or have someone sighted alongside you on the ground but it's not impossible. Riding aside, and back to caring though. The people I've spoken to who almost fall into fits of apprehension when they discover I not only ride but am learning Stable management is hilarious. "What if you get kicked, or bitten or stood on?" they ask with trepidation in their voices as though no sighted rider or horse owner or anyone working with horses has never had these things happen to them. Some have said my mum, despite my being 27 years old, is irresponsible for letting me go off on my "crazy whims" of wanting to do such things as ride and learn how to care for horses. I'm lucky, I guess, my mum was a horse owner herself in her youth and frequently tells me she was bitten, kicked and stepped on more times than she cares to remember and there's nothing wrong with her sight even now. My attitude is, it happens, it happens. It's about learning how to be around the horses, how to handle them and ensure they're working with you and not against you. As in riding on the horse's back, trust is a huge issue in my book and once your horse trusts that while you're brushing near his sensitive hooves or around his delicate face, that you mean him no harm, then his level of calmness and submission will rise around you. I started off reading a great book by Heather smith Thomas, "Care and Management of Horses" from the iBooks store that taught me a lot of things I needed to know. Spacial awareness, for example, and how you need to let your horse know to get out of your space if he tries to crowd you. How leading him should be done with your shoulder against his to ensure you're leading, not him. And many things I have read in that book are helping me along with the instruction from my teacher. So far, I've learnt to remove all my horses tack after a ride, how to brush him, how to be around his legs, how to move and constantly allow him to know where I am, how to brush mane and tail, move with him when he moves or move him out of my space if he encroaches on it. I've also learnt how to lead correctly and before long, more little things shall be coming, I have no doubt. I just wanted to note that even this side is possible and I'm learning bit by bit, as I am in riding and both are going hand in hand with one another. It's a great learning curve and I'm thankful I found a stable where they're open minded enough and willing enough to teach me these things. I'll be forever grateful to them for this experience and hopefully future experiences I may have with them.