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Feel the fear and ride anyway – April 2018

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I hope you’ve all been enjoying more daylight hours and maybe even managed a post-work hack already? For me, the hard work’s only just begun. 

Getting ready 

Both my horses are almost competition-ready, and two very different methods go into preparing one for showing and the other for eventing. Bender needs serious conditioning work and desensitising to umbrellas, while Pat needs de-spooking for cross-country – again!

I spent the winter putting on a layer of hibernation blubber, only to find that what you increase in bodyweight over a month takes five to lose. Ideally, a stone needs to go before the eventing season starts and don’t get me started on the unforgiving canary breeches I’m going to be sporting for the Horse of the Year Show qualifiers!

Not-so-social media

Twenty years ago when I started out on my competitive riding journey, there was no such thing as #horsesofinstagram or Facebook Live. The only time you caught a glimpse of other riders’ gear, jumping skills or supper was at a show.  

Now I probably spend at least an hour a day scrolling through pictures of other people’s lives. I look at their beautifully groomed horses, jumping style, clothing and tack. While doing this, I subconsciously rate myself against them, comparing my life to theirs and naturally wishing I could be more like them. But it’s important to remember that social media is often filled with the best bits of a person’s probably very average life – it’s not real. 

Be proud 

Wishing you were someone else is just holding you back from being yourself. Every single one of us has something that makes us different, something to be proud of, so let’s focus on being ourselves.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I found myself in a downward spiral, losing every scrap of confidence I ever had. I’d just left my job running a large dressage yard where the riders were very skilled and I felt distinctly average. I compared my horse and my riding ability to that group of extremely talented and well-trained riders competing at a much higher level. It made me feel dreadful. I tore apart my ability and decided it probably wasn’t worth me pursuing this sport any further. 

What I failed to realise at the time was the yard ran like clockwork and the horses were immaculately produced due to my skill. I didn’t give myself the credit for the things I was good at, only focusing on where I thought I’d failed.

Live your best life

Turning this around took time. Every day I try to tell myself at least one thing I’m doing well – it might only be avoiding chocolate or that I managed to take my makeup off before bed – but instead of spending hours scrolling through other people’s life highlights, I create my own memories filled with positive thoughts.

Why would you want to be like someone else when you can make your own brilliant, totally original life? I haven’t looked back with jealousy or comparison for months now, because I’ve trained myself to be proud of what I have, even if my hair isn’t brushed and my belly spills over the waistband of my jeans. I love that I’ve laughed over enough port, cheese and mince pies to get a belly like that in the first place!

Try to smile at yourself for the smallest things. Everyone is on their own journey, so make yours one of happiness and one to be proud of. Your horse has no idea if your hair’s brushed or if you’re wearing the latest fashion. He doesn’t judge you, so why should you judge yourself?

Love as always, 

Vic and Pat

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