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.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Horses = Relaxation

Hope everyone's having a good week. I'm going to start off with a little diversion before I get to the horse stuff but believe me, you'll see the method behind the madness. If you've read this blog before, you know I am totally blind. I usually get around with another four legged being, my beautiful cross labrador golden retriever, Bailey who is my faithful sighted guide, my guide dog. Where I ride, unfortunately, there is no where to leave the pup while out on the horses so to save on taxi costs and to help my own independence without the pup, I have learned the route with the cane. I was a cane user from being seven or so until I was twenty-two when I got Bailey. I am not fond of it and much prefer the enhanced mobility the dog brings but in this situation, sadly, I have little choice. To save on my energy and emotional state, I catch the bus and walk about five or ten minutes to the stable. The route itself is not too bad minus a specific turn off. Everyone knows that stables and farms alike are more than often situated at the top of a dirt track. The stables where I ride are no different and the majority of the walk is OK until one particular turn off. I have not yet managed to get this turn correct and have had some nice work men assist me in the direction. Sadly, today, I got pretty lost on this turning and it took me twenty-five minutes to find the right path but I did make it. As you can imagine, my stress levels were up and I have to say I felt pretty disappointed in myself and slightly upset. Once I reached the stable yard, I heard the owner teaching in the school and calmed down by stroking the nose of one of the horses. That helped but the huge relief came when the owner asked someone to find me a horse to brush. I spent a good fifteen minutes brushing this lovely quiet horse who stood there happily while I brushed his body, his legs and mane and tail. Those minutes of pure relaxation, being just there with this beautiful, quiet animal really helped me to relax and calm myself down ready for my lesson. Now, for the lesson. I was put back on my tall, white friend and off we went in the rain. I had a different teacher today so we did some walking, a bit of trotting and yes, cantering. With no problem whatsoever, I put my legs on and off he went on a great canter. There were a decent few strides and more and more it feels so natural to me as trotting has now become. Soon, I know once my leg ons make the horse go to a good canter and I can keep he or she in that gait for a good few strides, the hands will be coming off of the saddle and onto the reins. and although, a few months ago, I felt a little fear of cantering and going faster, letting go of the saddle seemed a scary prospect, I now look forward to it as it means my relationship and level of control with the horse is growing. The second attempt of a canter didn't go as well but the strange thing was that he almost transitioned to a canter twice, I could feel it and my teacher agreed but not quite there. Never mind, Tuesday isn't far away. So the lesson was fantastic and having another teacher was good for me, as I've been having a few issues with doubting if I can do the horse dreams I have, but knowing how easy it was for this young lady to take me on a ride and not patronise, or try to hold my hand so to speak has lifted my spirits. This also coincided about a rider I have just learnt of. Someone told me about this blind rider who does endurance riding which I admire anyone, regardless of ability for doing but that has made me realise again that being a horse person is actually within my grasp and there are many people out there rooting for me. Those of you who read this with curiosity, those who teach me every week, and those who do not yet know me but will. I have high ambitions, it is true, but standing in that stable today, having had a terrible time with my mobility and test of my independence, brushing that lovely animal, without someone panicking that I couldn't be left alone with a horse because I couldn't see reminded me that in the equine world, there are far many open minded people than not and those who are unsure, well, I'll just have to show them. Battling is something many of us with disabilities have to do on a daily basis and I've always said, the blindness is the easy part, people's attitudes is what I find hard to deal with. I'm sorry this blog wasn't essentially about my actual lesson today but I felt I should share some of what I've been going through and how the horses that we all love and have a strong passion for helped me to relax and think about things this afternoon and reflect that my dreams are possible, I just need to find a way to make them happen. Thanks for reading this very philosophical blog today and please pop back next week for more tales of riding from a blind rider. Marie


  1. I've got to tell you I could have cried when I heard of your exploits!I HATE getting lost at the best of times and I can't imagine what it would be like not being able to see where I was either.

    Of all the people I've had the pleasure to meet in my lifetime you have to be one of the most inspiring, Marie. You're certainly becoming an inspiration to many out there in cyber space.

    Years ago I had the pleasure of teaching a blind lady who went on to compete at affiliated dressage. I used to shout out the markers and she worked her way round the school. She had true grit like you do. Not for her the RDA. She took on - and beat - the able bodied.

    One day I'm going to be stood at the ringside watching YOU! If sheer determination won prizes you'd have thousands.

    Look forward to next week :)

  2. Lorraine, your words mean so much to me. I am inspired by wonderful people like you who know that just because someone is blind does not mean they are incapable of riding and taking care of horses. Despite my daily battles, you and others like you have reminded me that the prejudices I face are not alway present and there are people out there rooting for me.

    I am always interested to hear others have gone before me and achieved such greatness! Good for the lady you taught, wanting to compete with everyone else.

    Thank you for your faith in me, and I hope I can live up to everyone else's expectations, as well as my own through this journey that I feel I started years ago.

    Meeting you has already taught me so much, not only about horses but how my faith in humanity should start to be restored because not everyone sees the barriers and puts them up to restrict me, you and the stables I ride at are giving me the tools to jump those barriers and do all I can. :) So thanks again, always for your support and words of encouragement, you don't know what they mean to me. :)