Right, so for 2 years I have been trying to start a blog. So far I haven’t got past the first post because I have had no idea which element of my life to write about.
I have finally decided that I am going to write about my return to competitive equestrian sports as an old, overweight, never quite a ‘has been’, on a 9 year old homebred horse who was bred out of sentimentality, whom should have done more over the last 4 years. I have reached a point of now or never and while I could continue to use the excuses of; lack of time due to working full time and having 4 young sons, not having enough money due to having 4 young sons, being too tired due to having 4 young sons, being overweight and unfit due to ………… you get the picture right?? I could continue to give myself genuinely good reasons not to have made a return to competitive riding, and believe me when I say that there is far more to the story of my riding career and why I gave up than I have as yet eluded to, but that’s a blog (a very long one) for another day.
A much shorter story is my surprise return to eventing at the end of last season. I say surprise because it happened by accident and I got carried away. I am a strange combination of being a complete control freak, over thinker, over planner and an impulsive lunatic. I had given birth to baby #4 in the February of 2018, gone back to work (I am a teacher) in the June and had just started riding my horse a bit more and a bit more. My husband had previously told me that if I didn’t start doing something with him then I would have to think about selling him. I couldn’t do that. Too much history is involved in the story that resulted in his existence for me to sell him on…. and to be perfectly blunt, he is at times a complete little shit.
It got to August of 2018 and for some reason I entered an unaffiliated one day event. It was a little unplanned (unheard of for me – impulsive lunatic side coming out), and this unplanned thing was a good thing because I had no time to overthink the situation.
I am fortunate that I have a couple of really good friends who help me with Beau. One who has been riding and helping me with him since last spring. As another busy mum, she had sold her horse but still wanted to be able to ride, have lessons and compete. We were competitive friends throughout our childhood and I trust her without question with my horses. Without her involvement he wouldn’t have been fit enough for my impulsive return- so I am very grateful for that. The second friend, has been with me through the tail end of my competitive life 14 years ago to my return. This relationship is a really interesting one because our roles have almost totally reversed, he is now coaching me whereas I had taught him when he was a teenager. He again is someone whom I entirely trust with my horses.
I have gone off at a massive tangent so back to last August. (PS. If you like blogs with short sentences and a direct pathway through a concise and short explanation of events, then this is not the blog for you). So on entering the unaff event I then realised that I was too overweight (by about 3.5 stone) to fit into any of my competition riding clothes. The safety standards had all changed and I was now looking at needing to invest some money in buying new equipment. So out with my 2000 Rodney Powell body protector, my porter boots and bandages, gone is my over girth and my regent leather boots with their garter straps. Hello to all new clothing for this overweight, old woman and her grumpy, lazy horse.
I had for a long time held the belief that I had lost my bottle. As a child I was fearless. I regret being fearless now because much of the pain in my body when I lie in bed at night, unable to sleep, is because I once was fearless. My body carries long term effects from the injuries I acquired through my recklessness of my youth. Back then I had a high pain threshold and a do or die mentality. I broke lots of bones while finding my physical limits. It didn’t really hurt at the time, but it does now. Anyway, once again, back to the story…… turns out I hadn’t lost my bottle, it was just another excuse.
I went to the event and although I got a disappointing mid 30’s dressage and a pole SJ, we had a lovely clear XC (yes I was actually disappointed with this because I kind of thought I might win!!). With this under my extra large belt I entered a BE 80t class at Sapey. This is great because back in my day Intro’s (BE90) barely existed. With my sister in law in tow we went and again disappointingly I didn’t win. I had a lovely day though and it pushed me to enter Monmouth BE90. As my third competition this one for me really felt like the first ‘proper’ competition so I was really pleased to get around with a fence SJ and clear XC even though I hadn’t won! On the way home I realised that something in me had changed and I now needed to formulate a plan………