RSS Feed

  1. Affecting your riding


    How does your everyday life affect your time spent riding?


    With an average of 143 hrs spent doing anything but riding or equine related jobs, how do those hours spent elsewhere affect the physical and mental aspects of riding?

    We all need to sleep, eat, drink, travel to and from places, work, relax, have family time etc, all these things can have a direct impact on the time spent riding.

    How? Well, let’s take an average day for an average person who owns 1 horse, on DIY livery near to home, but also has a full-time job in an office 9-5pm Monday – Friday. We will call our person Lucy.

    Lucy wakes at 6am to allow time to get to the yard to do yard tasks, due to work times she can’t ride in the morning, so gets all yard duties done before returning home, showers and gets to work, skipping breakfast, but having her caffeine fix to get her going. Already the morning has been busy, although Lucy is used to it, others wonder how she does it. Lunchtime Lucy pops to the local sandwich shop and grabs a sandwich and some snacks as she is now hungry, being hungry she eats her lunch quickly, swallowed down with more coffee. Mid afternoon another quick snack of something chocolate based. 5pm comes, Lucy drives straight to the yard, gets changed, tacks up and jumps on board. Its already 6pm, but she has a dressage competition this weekend and she needs to learn her test, so she gets her phone out to look at the test, she notices a message from someone and reads that first, then a social media post pings up on her phone, she reads that, she then scrolls to see some of her friends are also doing the competition this weekend, Lucy thinks she is already beaten as they always do better than her in her mind. Lucy’s mood has dropped and although she still wants to go at the weekend, she is already feeling deflated. After 30 mins of wandering around while she was scrolling, thinking, worrying, she finally looks at the test and rides through it. Her horse was a bit tense in the test riding, so she tries again, this time wanting a better outcome, but her own tension has created more tension in him, so the second test is worse. She keeps thinking “Sophie’s horse never has this problem” and gives up. She ensures her horse is washed off, dry and comfortable, fed his dinner and finishing the yard duties, before driving home at 8pm.

    Lucy still must eat, but is too tired, so grabs some snacks to sit and eat while she “relaxes” with some wine to unwind while she scrolls through social media.

    10pm and a bottle of wine is gone, several sweet snacks have gone while she was watching you tube videos of the test for the weekend, then comparing them to her last video test she did.

    10.30pm, bed.

    6am, Lucy is up again and repeats the same as yesterday.

    This probably reads as a bit extreme, but honestly, I see this weekly, our imaginary rider here “Lucy” is everywhere. She works hard to pay all the bills, she wants to be successful, her horse doesn’t ask for anything, but she is always tired and finds switching off hard. Although she thinks this is “normal”, that is because that is all her mind and body know, she doesn’t realise her own lack of quality nutrition, relaxation, her wine to switch off in the evening, and all her other tasks she must do daily, are having a negative effect on her without even realising it.

    The stress she carries is internal to her, but her horse senses it, she desperately wants to ride a relaxed test, but her horse just feels her tension and reacts to it, the stresses of seeing your friends entering the same competition have caused a spike of anxiety, the horse has no idea what’s causing this anxiety but cannot relax, the anxiety travels through her entire body to every extremity, unknown to her, but her horse feels every nerve twitch. Both physically and mentally Lucy has begun a training session on the back foot. The nutritional element means when Lucy is tired, she has no reserves to fall back on, her reliance on sweet foods gives her a hit of energy but it’s not sustainable, so her blood sugars will spike and fall causing tiredness and fatigue.

    Having such a busy week, means that when the competition day comes although she is excited, she is running on empty. All this, alongside seeing Sophie riding round the warmup arena means she enters at “A” once again in a body full of adrenaline fuelled anxiety.

    There are so many areas that Lucy could address to turn this daily routine from a ball of stress into a streamlined relaxed one.

    The areas she would need to address would be:

    1)      Nutrition – simply eating balanced diet, eating a nutritional breakfast and drinking more water (I know I sound like a food writer!!) would help her energy levels tremendously.

    2)      Relaxation – Using relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, or just putting the phone away 30mins before bedtime would help massively.

    3)      Alcohol – (yes I am going there!!) Alcohol is a depressant, although most people love a glass or 3 of wine, (or put your choice of drink in here…) drinking will affect your sleep, and your mood. If you like to have a drink on an evening, it would be wise to stop a good while before going to bed to allow the body to metabolize it and remove it from your system.

    4)      Sleep - Although Lucy is going to bed at a decent time, if she goes to bed still stressed the mind and body will find sleeping and relaxing harder, alcohol adds to these issues, although she may fall asleep straight away, the stages of sleep will be fragmented.

    5)      Social media - we all love a good scroll, but what you are exposed to will have an impact on your mind, whether that be positive or negative, so be aware of what you are exposing your mind to.

    6)      Comparisons – Every single time you look at someone else and want to compare yourself to them, like Lucy did with Sophie, you are limiting your own beliefs. What you see in others is what you start to believe of yourself. So saying someone is better than you tells your mind that that is the truth! Your mind is your most powerful tool, so feed it well!! I am not saying don’t watch others, but never compare yourself to them.

    7)      Focus – As lucy has limited riding time in the evenings, every second she spends with her horse must be focussed, not that she can’t chat to friends etc, but once she is riding she needs to make that time count, having some kind of plan – like learning a test – is excellent, but to make the most of it she must not allow her mind to wander off to irrelevant things, i.e. that Facebook post her friend posted, it’s irrelevant and has taken a chunk of her time away from the session.

    This is a real example of a single person, with a single horse, giving it her all. Add in a family and the demands of that thrown into the mix…… it’s real and it happens, daily.

    Owning and riding horses is a lifestyle, but it is still possible to have a normal life outside of that, it is all about how you apply yourself to the organisation of it. Life is for living and enjoying, horses are our therapy, so why do we allow ourselves to be balls of stress when we should simply enjoy it.





  2. As my 2024 sponsor has begun her journey with me, I would like to introduce you all to her.

    In a recent interview, she tells us how she begun her equine journey and speaks about Mr Wiggins, her current horse. 




    We hope you have enjoyed reading about Philippa and Wiggins, we would love to here what you think, maybe you have your own questions to put to them? Share it with us and enjoy the journey with us.