5 Tips to prepare for a Live Video Riding Lesson

Having your first live video lesson with a new trainer can be daunting. Will it go ok? Will my horse behave? Will I be able to manage the tech? What if it is a complete disaster???

Well the first piece of good news is that we are so confident that you will  love the experience, that if you are not completely satisfied we will give your your money back. No questions asked!

But, to make the process as seamless as possible here are our 5 top tips to prepare for your lesson.

1. Ensure the trainer has accepted your lesson request.

This one can sometimes catch riders out. They book a lesson, pay the money in advance but don’t get a confirmation back from the trainer. They then turn up at the scheduled time and the trainer isn’t online!

Please remember unless your lesson is not confirmed until the trainer has approved it. You will receive a confirmation email when this happens and if you are unsure  you can check the status of the lesson within the website. It is always best practice to double check the day before or morning of the lesson and perhaps even drop a little reminder to the trainer through chat. They can be notoriously forgetful!

On the flip side of the coin always remember to write down the date and time of your lesson so you don’t forget. We’ve had a few instances of trainers logging in to find the rider has completely forgotten they had a lesson booked!

2. Chat with your trainer in advance

It is definitely best practice to get to know the trainer a little in advance using the chat facility on the Wise Owl Equitation website.

Through this you can agree the goals and focus areas of the lesson.

You can also upload a video of you and your horse for the trainer to critique beforehand. This will give them a better idea of your riding style and your horses way of going. This is totally optional however,  and not something you should feel you need to do.

So as not to waste any valuable lesson  time ask the trainer if there is anything you can set up in advance of the lesson such as poles, jumps etc. If jumping it is always best to have someone on the ground. This is from a safety perspective, but also so that they can raise and move poles during the course of the lesson

 

3. Check that everything is working correctly beforehand

It is really important to ensure you have a good internet signal in order to take part in a live video lesson.

Wifi and phone signal boosters can be purchased from companies such as Amazon if necessary. If you can watch a YouTube video on your phone in the location then the signal should be good enough.

You can test your phone camera and sound in advance here. Please note sometimes when phones go through software upgrades it can mess up how the earphones work so it’s always worth retesting after an upgrade.

Top tip: Tape your earphones to your ears as they do tend to fall out in canter.

4. Get your phone into optimum position

We recommend for the best experience having someone film you while you have your lesson. We do however appreciate that this isn’t always possible.

Flexible tripods such as this one can be purchased inexpensively and work really well. As you can see in the pictures below.

You can of course also purchase a smart tracking device such as a  Pivo but really going  to that much expense isn’t a requirement.

It is also worth noting that you don’t need any special facilities to take part in a lesson. We have had riders take lessons in fields, even on the beach or if they are lucky enough in their own schools or arenas.

5. Relax and have fun

This is what it is all about. Try not to be nervous or stress about the tech. Relax and enjoy your lesson and remember to rate your trainer afterwards!

15 Common Dressage Judge Comments Explained

In April Zara Pawley – a top FEI International judge and Trainer held an incredibly informative dressage masterclass for the Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club.

 

As part of the session Zara recognised that often the meanings of comments made by judges on test sheets aren’t very clear or understandable to riders. So she  took the time to explain 15 of the most common ones . Here they are summarised below…..

  1. Against the hand – the horse has too much weight in the hand and is fighting against the rider
  2. Behind the leg – the horse is not sharp enough off the leg or thinking forward – use this comment as homework in your schooling
  3. Brief – the movement was too quick, this shows the judge that the rider doesn’t have confidence that the horse will stay into the movement – a mark will be lost here
  4. Disunited – the rhythm has been lost in the canter – the legs are incorrect. If this happens often check the saddle fitting or speak to your physio
  5. Dropping the contact – the horse disappears off the hand and the rider hasn’t got any weight in the reins
  6. Hollow – The horses head comes up, also referred as above the bridle, or tight through frame or tight behind the saddle
  7. Clarity of rhythm –  when the paces don’t have the correct rhythm e.g, at a walk there isn’t a clear 4 step beat – it appears to be more of a lateral movement
  8.  Inaccurately ridden – When the movement is performed incorrectly, not at the marker or a 20m circle is not a circular shape
  9. Inactive – not travelling forward, lack of energy
  10. Incorrect bend – the horse is bent to the outside through the corners or on the circle
  11. No stretch – when the rider doesn’t give enough rein to allow the horse to stretch out during the free walk
  12. Lacking engagement – the horse needs to step more under his body or the steps needs more jump
  13. On the forehand – the horse needs to be more uphill, step under the body more and use their hind legs better
  14. Resistance/Tension – The horse is shortening his neck and the hind legs aren’t pushing him forward
  15. Tongue out – As described, loses 2 marks as per the rules.
The above is just a very brief taste of what was covered in the masterclass. She also explained the fundamentals of dressage from a judges point of view, and then took us through a recording of one of our members riding the Prelim 13 test and clearly explained how she scored each of the movements.
This is a a masterclass not to be missed  by any rider seriously looking to improve their dressage scores!
To catch the recording join the Saddle Club using the link below.

5 Surprising ways life with horses changes after having a baby!

As equestrians we are often better equipped to cope with newborns than most. The reality of having someone relatively helpless rely on us for their survival isn’t new and doesn’t come as quite as much of a shock. For years our horses safety and well being have been a priority. They rely on us to feed them, clean up after them, make sure they have a constant supply of forage and water, and be responsible for their general health. So for a first time parent how hard can a baby be right?

That’s the theory and it’s certainly true but juggling a baby and our horses is hard! It takes quite a bit of adjusting and planning. Certainly in the early days our standards of creating a perfectly symmetrical bed for our equine partners will slip. Significantly!

We have a master plan. We are determined that we will still get time to ride, compete and enjoy time with our “first babies”. Mostly we manage (because that’s how we are built) but not without encountering some quite surprising life changes along the way.

Weird and wonderful feeding situations

Whether feeding by breast or bottle, (that’s a whole other conversation) when the baby needs feeding the baby needs feeding.

Personally I have fed in the field while poo picking. At the side of the school in the middle of a lesson while my horse stood patiently and the instructor looked on uncomfortably.  In the back of the lorry, at the side of the

showring between classes. In the stable. In the front of the lorry driving to a show (I was the passenger!) At the meet of a hunt before setting off, and again as soon as we returned. Thankfully I was just about spared having to get off and feed between lines – I have friends who weren’t quite as lucky!

One of the funniest blogs I remember reading was of a woman who came-to in the back of an ambulance breastfeeding her baby. Her last memory was of being in the middle of the cross country phase of a Novice Event. She had suffered concussion from a fall!

A good sense of humor is key here. If you can’t laugh you may well cry!

You can do almost anything with a baby carrier

If you are one of the many horsey women who didn’t particularly enjoy having a great big bump disrupting your center of gravity, particularly towards the end of your pregnancy wearing the baby afterwards will seem unthinkable.

However you will quickly find that if your baby is refusing to sleep or sit quietly in their pushchair a baby carrier is the only way you will get anything done. Mucking out. Poo Picking. Filling haynets – can be tricky but not impossible. Clipping. Rugging, lunging the list really is endless.

Invest in a good supportive carrier and get a back carrier also for when they are older. Trust me, you will thank me for this!

Your riding confidence will disappear.

So many friends warned me about this one and I laughed it off but it’s so true. Things you wouldn’t have thought twice about before the baby arrived (even while pregnant) will suddenly seem terrifying. I went from being almost completely fearless to having sleepless nights at the thought of jumping a cross pole!

It’s completely natural and just our brains way of ensuring our (and therefore our babies) survival. There are many ways to overcome this fear. Personally I found self-hypnosis really helpful. I would listen to the tracks going to sleep for a few nights before an event and found when it came to actually doing it I was calm and confident and jumped pretty much as normal. Stubbornness also helps!

The Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club has great self-hypnosis tracks for riding confidence, among other tools available for members to avail of at anytime.

Check out the Saddle Club here:

Saddle Club

Pelvic Floor!

After having a baby things change. As equestrians our core and stomach muscles are very strong but this does not necessarily translate to our pelvic floor muscles.

My advice – do your exercises, pack some tenna lady – particularly when doing jumping or fast work, when in doubt wear dark flexars, and if you are having difficulty see a women’s health physio sooner rather than later.

Travelling to lessons just doesn’t really happen anymore

When you have a baby precious baby free time can no longer be wasted on the road. One of the biggest realisations for me was that suddenly there was no way I could justify a 2 hour round trip, on top of loading and unloading time for a 45 minute lesson.

 

 

This is where live video lessons are an absolute lifesaver. You can train with a coach anywhere in the world, in real time just using your phone and a set of wireless headphones.  Check out the Wise Owl Equitation’s wide range of top international trainers across all disciplines here.

Home

Having a baby changes your life that’s for sure but despite your mother in law telling you there will be no more time for horses, it doesn’t change things that drastically.

You will need to make some adaptations, relax your standards a little and accept some indignities (feeding/pelvis floor). But one day you will chat to a newly pregnant friend and be able to reassure her that’s its all manageable, temporary and everything  will be just fine!

 

5 Reasons why Equestrians don’t enjoy their horses and riding as much as they should

Happy Easter!

Spring has well and truly sprung, the days are getting warmer and longer and summer is just around the corner. The memory of the dark cold winter is starting to fade and horse ownership is becoming far more enjoyable again.

At this time of year many of us stop questioning why on earth we do it to ourselves. The mud, the cold, the early mornings and dark evenings. ALL THAT MONEY! The danger, the frustration. Of course we will argue it’s our passion, that feeling we get from a soft nuzzle, the exhilaration of a good long gallop on the beach or the pride at winning a rosette or getting a PB dressage score makes it all worth it. And of course it does! As do countless other special moments we share with our equine partners. I would never argue otherwise.

However, I do believe that most equestrians don’t get anywhere near the amount of enjoyment from their horses and their riding as they should do, and here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Confidence Issues

Pretty much every rider out there has dealt with a lack confidence at some point in their riding career. These issues can range from fear of getting it wrong, fear of falling or getting injured to crippling competition nerves.

Of course nerves are a good thing. Nerves prove we care. Riding can be a dangerous sport and it is important to be conscious of that and not behave recklessly. However it is a matter of scale.

Personally I have had periods of time where I have refused to canter in the school, not because I was afraid of falling but because I knew canter w

as our weakest gait and I didn’t want to “ruin” my schooling session.How on earth was I ever going to progress in dressage if I couldn’t allow my horse to canter and break contact?

I’ve gone through episodes where I’ve been afraid to jump a cross pole and days that my nerves and tension have literally ruined any chance we had at a competition!

Tackling rider confidence issues is a fundamental part of the Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club offering. Members are provided with masterclasses delivered by rider confidence coaches and tools aimed at overcoming the most common confidence issues such as bespoke self-hypnosis recordings.

  1. Imposter Syndrome

Closely related to the above is Imposter Syndrome, This is the feeling of “I’m not good enough”. “I don’t belong here”. “My riding is letting my horse down”. It’s when we compare ourselves to others or feel judged. It’s also when we feel embarrassed to ask questions or for advice. It’s pulling up beside huge fancy Lorries full of thoroughbreds with our 2nd hand trailer and hairy cob, or scrolling through Social Media and feeling deflated.

I would confidently bet that most equestrians have also felt Imposter Syndrome at some point in their riding careers. Our minds and our rider mindset can either be our greatest asset or biggest downfall. It’s a choice we make every day without even realising it.

Through the Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club riders are helped to take control of their mindsets & effectively deal with these thoughts and feelings when they occur.

  1. Time/Money Constraints

We adore our horses but let’s face facts they are certainly not cheap! For most of us we have to work exceptionally hard to keep our equine partners in the luxury to which they have accustomed to. This means that they have to fit in with the rest of our lives. Work, school, kids and other responsibilities often need to take priority.

It may mean that we often spend most of our “horse time” caring for them rather than riding them. It could mean that if we want to ride we need to be at the yard before dawn or after dark – best of luck finding a trainer to help at those times!

It could mean that we forgo lessons with a trainer we really want to work with as we just can’t justify the travel time for a 45 minute session. Or, it could mean that we sometimes resent our time at the yard as we are missing the kid’s bedtime again, or are just completely and utterly exhausted.

Our families may also have to sacrifice special treats because the funds required have had to be allocated to the “horse budget” or an unexpected vet bill. This can lead to feelings of guilt, resentment and exacerbate our Imposter Syndrome.

 

  1. Feel Stuck in a Rut

96% of riders wish they could do more with their horses and feel stuck in a rut with their training and performance. This may mean starting competing or moving up a level. It could be trying out new discipline or working with a new or different trainer.

For many of us we are very habitual in our riding routines. We use tried and tested schooling excersises, go to the same competition venues or cross country tracks, take the same routes on hacks. Rinse and repeat.

There is nothing wrong with this per se, however it can leave us sometimes stuck in a rut or unable to solve a specific problem we have with our horse. For me my horse tends to rush. She will rush into jumps or around courses. I have spent years trying to break this habit, and at times will see good improvement but fundamentally I always seem to revert back to the same issue.

Money and time constraints exasperate the issue, as does the lack of trainers in the local area or their availability at times I’m able to ride. Live video training solves this problem.

Through Wise Owl Equitation a rider can train with any trainer they want in any discipline, affordably and at a time that suits them. Riders in Australia can have 121 lessons with trainers based in the UK without having to leave their property.

  1. Lack of support

Let’s face it, the equestrian world can be a difficult one. Everyone has an opinion and they aren’t afraid to share it. People can be judgmental, and bullying within the equestrian community both on and offline occurs far more often than it should.

Riders often don’t feel comfortable sharing their goals, worries or challenges as a results of this. Sometimes equestrian groups leave riders feeling inadequate and deflated. Our individual goals can seem insignificant when compared to what others are doing especially on Social Media.

The Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club offers a safe and supportive community where riders off ALL levels, disciplines and backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged. Support and accountability are at the core of this group. Whether your goal is simply to sit on your horse and walk down the drive or go round Badminton that goal will be respected, supported and celebrated when you achieve it within the group.

If you would like to learn more about setting riding goals. Or accessing the tools, resources, support and accountability to help you achieve them. Check out the Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club below.

Saddle Club

5 Reasons Why Equestrians Fail To Reach Their Riding Goals

Do you like so many others set yourself a series of challenging goals each New Year? Do you start of in January motivated, excited and driven to achieve those goals? Next thing you know it’s Spring and you can barely remember what goal you set. Or you seem to be a million miles away from achieving it. If so,  don’t despair!

There are many reasons why we fail to reach our goals and there are just as many ways we can overcome them.

Our goals aren’t our own!

It is so important to get clarity on what our goals actually are and that the goals we set are in fact OUR goals. While we all need inspiration in life, our goals really need to be our own and not overly influenced by others.

A rider may set a goal to get a certain score in a Prelim dressage test when actually what they would really love to do, more than anything else is have a nice long canter along the beach and get some beautiful photos to treasure forever.

Of course, she could do both, but more often than not the rider will spend her summer frustrated in the school practicing dressage & not seeing the improvement they want instead of truly enjoying their horse and their hobby.

Whether your goal is to establish a better bond with your horse, canter twice around the school, or get out to compete in a BE 80cm. It’s so important that it is something YOU actually want to do not what your yard friends, trainer, husband or mother wants you to do.

We need to be specific on what we want to achieve and by when. The best place to start is by asking yourself where you want to be, or what do you want to have achieved by the end of this year? This is a question that only you can answer not someone else.

Our mind literally works against us!

Immediately after thinking about a goal or ambition our mind will produce two thoughts:

  • Imagine if…….
  • What if……..

The imagine if thoughts tend to be the positive ones, imagine if I won! Imagine if we pulled this off! Imagine actually doing this….

The what if thoughts tend to be more around imminent disaster. What if I fall? What if I or my horse gets injured? What if we fail and I look stupid? These thoughts when left unchecked can escalate quickly. They will then lead to pre-disappointment which is where we are left feeling a sense of deflation from just thinking about setting a goal not to mind even trying to do it.

Whichever of these thought we listen to and believe will determine whether or not we succeed in the goal we have just set. Taking control of our thoughts and our rider mindset is the key to success. We only need to believe we can 51% v Oh crap 49% to tip the scales towards achieving our goals.

We have no plan OR, we do have a plan – which we can’t see past!

When thinking about bigger or longer term goals it is so important to get a clear picture of the desired end state and work backwards from there. What needs to happen in order to achieve this goal? What smaller more manageable steps can we take to get us closer to that end state? If you want to ride a dressage test ,one mini goal you will need to achieve is the ability to go down the center line straight. This then becomes something to work towards and celebrate when you achieve it.

On the flip side sometimes we can get so caught up in the plan that we are unable to see past it. When working with animals, especially horses it is inevitable that deviations will occur.

They will pull a shoe the night before you need them. Rain may well cancel one of the training shows you planned on doing in the run up to your big event. These mishaps, which are completely out of our control do not necessarily spell disaster.

Just like when you are going on a long journey in the car, you input your destination in the Sat Nav and along the way you come across roadworks. You don’t simply turn around at this point and go home. Instead you let the Sat Nav re-route you – having complete confidence that you will still reach your final destination. Perhaps slightly later than planned, but maybe the views on the new route will be prettier to look at.

We don’t know what we need to help us succeed!

Sometimes we don’t know what tools and resources we need to help us succeed, let alone where or how to access them. Is it lessons with an amazing trainer? Are there any in your locality?

Often riders need as much, if not more support off the saddle. Perhaps a self-hypnosis recording to help overcome any riding confidence issues? Maybe a workout that will help us become more balanced and stronger in our core?

Sometimes what we need doesn’t become apparent until it’s too late. Even then trying to access the solution can be really difficult.

The Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club offers all of the above tools and resources, and much more to help riders access everything they need to achieve their goals.

We tell the wrong people about our goals!

It is so important that we are very careful about who we share our goals with. Even a well meaning friend who just happens to be swimming in a different lane may not understand them. Their reaction could then leave us feeling foolish and deflated before we’ve even started.

It’s fair to say that the equestrian community has a tendency to be a somewhat judgmental beast.

Everyone has their own opinions and they are not afraid to share them whether invited to or not. Finding a safe and supportive place to share your goals, ask for advice, support and accountability can make or break your likelihood of success.

It’s those that are there to help pick us up on the harder days that make all the difference.

The Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club offers the most safe and supportive global equestrian community on the internet. Each member is working towards their own individual goals but all face similar challenges. Encouragement and accountability are at the core of this group. This online community provides the safest space you will find to share your goals and ambitions.

If you would like to learn more about setting riding goals. Or accessing the tools, resohttps://wiseowlequitation.com/saddle-club/urces, support and accountability to help you achieve them. Check out the Wise Owl Equitation Saddle Club below.

Saddle Club

Learning to ride Side Saddle

I first tried side-saddle at a have a go clinic where about three years ago. Immediately I was absolutely hooked. However, I was secretly about 11 weeks pregnant at the time. So, I knew I would have to put it on the back burner for a while.

I had my second lesson about a year later at another clinic. Again, I absolutely loved it, and decided there and then that I had to learn how to do this most elegant form of riding properly.

I decided to rent a saddle and go from there. Having had a most beautiful saddle fitted to my horse I went in search of a local trainer. To my disbelief there was no side-saddle trainers less than a three hour round trip drive from me. This would mean I would gone from home for a minimum of half a day in order to complete a 45 minute side-saddle riding lesson!

In the past this wouldn’t really have been a problem. However, with a young baby which was still being breast fed it just wasn’t feasible. Getting the trainer to come to me wasn’t an option either due to her time constraints and my budget constrainsts.

I thought to myself there has to be a way to make this work. I really was desperate to learn properly.

This is partly where the idea for Wise Owl Equitation came about. If only there was an affordable way to train with a top class side-saddle instructor at a time that suited me and without the need for travel. Well there wasn’t! So, I decided to create one.

Through the Wise Owl Equitation platform I was able to train via live video horse-training lessons. All I had to do was set up my phone to video me, put in my wireless earphones so I could hear my trainer and off I went. I can also record my own side-saddle schooling sessions and upload the videos to my trainer for expert tips and advice.

I’ve absolutely loved learning to ride side-saddle. I’m still a very long way from being an expert and can’t wait until I am capable of jumping large hedges aside while drag hunting. That is definitely a huge life goal.

You can check out some of our amazing side-saddle trainers here:

Growing up in a non-horsey family

Growing up as a pony mad girl in a thoroughly non horsey family certainly presented some challenges when it came to training.

From as early as I can remember I was completely obsessed with horses and ponies, one of my earliest memories is refusing to go home in the car with my Grandparents after mass insisting instead in getting a lift from their good friend in his pony and trap. He had a grey mare called Dolly and faithfully promised 4 year old me that if she ever had a foal it wold be mine.

Needless to say old Dolly never did go in foal but after years of continuously badgering my parents I was eventually allowed go for riding lessons. A couple of years of further continuous badgering resulted in a pony and my life really and truly was made!

I grew up on a dairy farm so the pony was given a small field which was rarely used and an old cowhouse which served as a stable. I was desperate to be the best pony owner I could possibly be and devoured every issue of Horse and Pony magazine I could get my hands on.

That was about as far as my stable education went. The internet wasn’t a thing in the 90’s and I didn’t really have the transport to take me and my pony to regular lessons, even if I had there were very few instructors in my area and certainly not in a discipline as fancy as dressage!

I often felt a little bit envious of those with “pushy pony club mothers” and beautiful 14.2 showjumping ponies but looking back now I appreciate the valuable lesson I learned by having to work hard for what I wanted, and really I was extremely fortunate to be able to ride at all. Over the years I progressed from ponies to horses and developed a lifelong passion for hunting.

I would as a teenager have really loved to get into showjumping, eventing, or even showing but I just really didn’t have the first idea where to start.

This is the gap that Wise Owl Equitation is designed to fill. Although today there are far more resources and information available to riders than Horse and Pony magazine, there still is a huge number of equestrians who, for a variety of reasons just don’t have access to the training support they would like. 

Wise Owl brings the instructor to you, even if that instructor lives thousands of miles away. The platform brings a wealth of expert knowledge right to your yard or field, the eyes on the ground and the voice in your ear. Now there really is no reason not to try a new discipline or develop your skills so as to progress up the levels. 

All you need is your horse, your phone and a set of wireless earphones. You can literally train anywhere and at anytime. When I think of what 15 year old me would have done with that opportunity?!

Why not start your virtual training journey now to see what you CAN do with the it?

Fund out here

www.wiseowlequitation.com

Riding while pregnant

This time 3 years ago my life was very different. I was flying high in the corporate world, had just started a new job in financial services and my life outside of work revolved around my mare April. Riding has always been my sanity, for me there was absolutely no other therapy after a long day at the office than to go straight to the yard. 

I was out competing most weekends through the summer, and drag hunting with my husband every Sunday of the winter. We had just returned from a holiday of a lifetime driving cattle across the Wyoming mountains with the cowboys when suddenly everything changed! 

My mare, my absolute pride and joy came in from the field cut up and lame after getting into an argument with another horse. After weeks of box rest, bute and investigations we discovered she had fractured her Pedal bone and I was left with the decision to turn her away for a year (two weeks before opening meet!) or go for surgery. 

I agonised over what to do and finally made the decision to operate, the very same day I made the decision I realised my period was late (with all the stress I hadn’t even noticed) and figured I had better take a pregnancy test. I was more than a little shocked to see the positive result! 

I knew I had to stick to my decision as it would give my horse the best chance of recovery and figure the rest out along the way. Not riding was not an option, taking a young, green horse hunting for the season (as I had originally planned) was definitely no longer an option either!  

April thankfully had a successful surgery at Newmarket Equine Hospital and her journey to recovery began.  

I did a huge amount of research into riding while pregnant and decided with my midwife’s blessing that I would continue completely as normal until 12 weeks and after that I would avoid higher risk activities such as drag hunting and jumping. The baby is very protected and low down in the pelvis in the early weeks so even if I fell, I knew the risks were low. 

I was so lucky so many amazing friends lent me their horses for days out hunting, all quiet reliable types amazingly as nobody knew I was secretly growing a little bump. I even did my very first side saddle lesson on one of those amazing cobs. Once I’d hit 12 weeks April would be ready to rehab slowly and I would be able to concentrate on that.  

But then we had a setback! The screw which they had inserted to her foot hit a nerve and she became very lame once again! The fracture had healed perfectly but I had no choice but to operate again to remove the screw. More weeks of box rest and finally she was ready to be brought back very slowly into work. My bump by this point was getting more prominent so on vets’ advice we used Sedalin the first few times but she was a complete star and really didn’t put a foot wrong.  

During the months that passed I really felt my bond with my horse grew so much stronger, we had to take care of each other and I took the time to go right back to basics and work on our flatwork which had never been our strong point. I rode right up until the day before my daughter was born and honestly felt it helped me so much mentally and physically. 

A few weeks later we were back out and about jumping and competing again and I can’t begin to describe the happiness I felt sailing over that gate!

I’ve recently just had my second baby. This time thankfully without any major horse injury dramas. Again, I continued as normal for the first 12 weeks, I even hunted side-saddle (albeit only for 1 line, in second field and avoiding any jumps) and stopped all higher risk activities after that. I didn’t ride for as long this time as towards the end I was retaining so much water I could barely get my feet into flip flops let alone riding boots!

Whether to ride or not while pregnant is a very personal decision. Everyone has an opinion about it. For me I trust my horse completely. I minimised the risk when the bump appeared and my babies moved further up into my belly. Lots of women I know continued to jump until much later in their pregnancies and for them that was the right decision. I’m happy with the decisions I made, although it would appear my daughter has inherited my love of ponies so it may well end up costing me quite a bit of money in the future!