Meet The Latest Member Of Our Content Team, Chloe Dudley!
Hi there! My name’s Chloe and I’ve just become a contributor for Horsemart. I'm so so excited to be here! My content will mainly consist of discussions and help/advice. I’m 23 years old and live on the outskirts of Birmingham. I’d love to say I’m extremely confident but I’m not! I lost my first pony, Conker, when I was 8 years old, and the 5 year gap between losing Conker and owning my now horse, Poppy, proved to be harder than I thought it would be.
It seemed like I’d missed out on such a large part of growing up with a horse/pony; every other young child at the stables seemed to be out galloping and jumping as high as they could and I just really struggled. The good news is, I’m getting there! But the biggest struggle for me was finding motivation…
It’s cold. It’s dark. The last thing you want to do is go up the stables and ride. When did this get so hard? When you’re younger, it’s all so fun. Juggling a job, a house and a horse is a lot harder than I ever remember anyone making it look. You’re stuck in a cycle; ride every day and be exhausted, or ride once a week and have a fizzy horse that you get annoyed with. This is then a pointless activity, as neither you nor horse are enjoying yourself and you’re not learning anything either – you are potentially teaching bad habits instead, which is definitely not what you want.
All over social media there are people you know making amazing progress with their horses and in the groups you’re part of, there are people spending an hour setting up a pole or jump exercise. I don’t know about you, but I then sit there thinking ‘How do I get my motivation back? Where do I start?’ envious of the love they have for what they’re doing.
For me, I don’t want to go to shows every week throughout summer; it isn’t important to me how high I can jump. What is important is having fun, finding that passion again and having a sense of satisfaction knowing we’ve done well. I’ve been around horses for over 15 years and yet, I still feel like I don’t know anything. I’m not sure of the reason why I’m doing the riding exercises that I am when I’m in the saddle, all I know is that this is what I was taught years ago and it’s all I really know.
With all these thoughts going through my head, I set out to look for an instructor; I took it upon myself to give it a go. I didn’t know anyone who gave lessons that I would want to work with, so this was scary. I’ve owned my horse for 10 years and hadn’t had lessons in well over 5. I assumed that people would think I was stupid.
I found the instructor I use now through Facebook. She had a page which included reviews; this was a good thing for me as I was able to understand her work better and see what her clients thought of her, including whether they had gained anything from her lessons. My confidence has since been restored! I have lessons with her once every two weeks and this gives us things to work on. Not only have I regained my confidence, but I have begun to learn again and find myself constantly researching how to improve our core competencies; balance, energy and straightness.
Now, I don’t get jealous looking at others’ videos, instead I use them for inspiration. I experiment with pole exercise and feel like I’m starting to find my love for riding again.
As my horse now lives out, due to several medical conditions, I had also forgotten how important it was to spend time with them; grooming, feeding and even doing bits of ground work. Building your bond can help with trust and confidence under the saddle.
Overall the past year has been a learning curve for me, one that, when I was younger, I assumed didn’t exist. I feel like as, an older learner, I appreciate what I am doing more and really understand it. Now, my first thought when she isn’t doing what I ask isn’t that she hates me and wants me on the floor, instead I ask myself ‘Why might she be doing that? Is she uncomfortable? Is she just finding it hard? Should I take a step back and try and simple it down, or get off and try it on the floor first?’ I find myself working for us, our bond, not just to look good, or for someone else.