Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time horsing around. And I mean that in the literal sense.
My family has managed to accumulate 6 horses over the last few years. I blame my daughters for this – apart from the occasional trail ride when I was a teenager I was never into the horsey thing. When we bought our property 12 years ago on the south coast there just happened to be a riding school next door and my eldest, then 7, was keen to ride as was her younger sister. What harm could it do? I naively thought. It’s outdoors, it’s not overly expensive for a simple trail ride and they are beautiful creatures.
Silly me! My daughters soon became hooked so when the riding school closed down we started lessons closer to home. Before long a “friend of a friend” had a horse that needed riding. That horse, Sprite, became first child’s first horse. We still have him and my youngest has just started riding him. He’s 20 now but as spritely as ever.
That first purchase was the beginning of the end. Before long I fell in love with a horse at the stables and soon he was mine. A number of other purchases soon followed the latest being a mare in foal who gave birth in September to the lovely Rio. My inability to say no has meant an empty bank account but it has also allowed my daughters to spend time with amazing animals, wonderful people and to develop the strong sense of assertiveness that’s needed to manage a very large, strong animal.
And me? Like my writing I came to riding later in life. In both cases I’ve had to take my time, learn the ropes, continually practice my skills. Although the two practices are entirely different in many ways, in so many others they’re alike. For both you need to learn the basics first, you need to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes, you need to remember that there will be good days and bad – days when the horse (and the pen) will seem to do whatever you will it to do almost without any effort on your part and days when no matter what you do nothing will work and you’ll probably end up in tears of frustration. Both pursuits are highly intuitive. You need to learn to listen to the horse just as you need to learn to listen to your inner voice when writing. And for both you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone if you want to get any better. Over the last couple of years I’ve entered some Western Pleasure horse shows, dressing up in the bling and putting myself – and my horse Morocco – out there. At times the nerves have been so bad I’ve really questioned why I would do it to myself. But the answer is the same as it is for putting your writing out there for others to see and read: it’s a way of pushing yourself to do better. Sometimes I win a ribbon and it’s all worth it – just as sometimes I get great feedback on my writing. Other times I crash and burn and wonder why I’ve wasted my time. For both.
Most importantly in both cases you need to believe you can do it. When you ride a horse with positive intention and believe you can do it you will experience the most wonderful connection possible. It’s the same with writing – have faith that you can do whatever you set your mind to do and (assuming you do the practice) you will be rewarded time and time again.
I’m certainly not an A grade rider and I still have a long way to go but every time I ride I build a little more confidence. It’s the same with writing, it’s the doing it that matters. Every time I write I get new ideas, renewed confidence and the thrill that comes from getting just that little bit better.
What do you do that forces you to put yourself out there and learn new skills? Would love to hear your stories about writing, horse-riding or anything else.