This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to ride in a clinic taught by Beth Underhill hosted by Vector Equestrian. This was a total fangirl moment because I have loved watching her ride since I was a horse crazy pre-teen.
I told my husband that I was thinking of auditing this clinic and his immediate response was “why don’t you ride?” So, my brain went immediately to all of the reasons why not: I was out of shape and only riding about once a week, I was about 5 weeks into rehabbing my shoulder and back (chronic pain issues for over a decade now), I hadn’t ridden a full course at the clinic height in about 2 years, I didn’t have a horse to ride, etc. His only response was, “why not ask if they have a horse you can ride?”
Vector was kind enough to loan me a school horse that they had available and I attended one quick lesson before the clinic so that I could learn a little bit about horse before the clinic, I had never ridden him before. My anxiety was still in a bit of an overwhelming overload state, I felt completely unprepared, but I was determined to do it.
If I had to pick one word to describe the clinic, it would be “amazing”! Beth was a kind and patient instructor who had a ton of excellent pieces of advice on top of her plan for the clinic. That’s what I love about clinics the best! Sure, you learn a ton just by riding the exercises, but it’s when things don’t go exactly right and you hear the bits and pieces of advice in between where you find that you have another tool for your toolbox!
After the first day, I actually felt braver about my riding that I have in a while and found just a little more confidence in myself. As you might be aware, often depression is a partner in crime with chronic pain and this is also something I struggle with. It’s a constant battle, not just one single thing to overcome, so something that left me feeling confident and happy is something to be treasured!
One of my constant battles with my riding (and everyday life) is the fact that I overthink everything. So on day 2, my goal was to try to stay out of my head and more relaxed in the moment. It did catch up on me near the end of day 2, when my fitness level was catching up and my body wasn’t doing what my brain wanted it to do.
I had a terrible few jumps and then couldn’t remember where I was going since my brain was still focused on the first jump. Instead of admonishing me for this, Beth was supportive and helped me think through what happened and then away we went again! This point is huge for me as I was already upset with my performance, she brought me back up instead of down!
While I might not have been confident enough to strike up a conversation afterwards with one of my riding idols, I was brave enough to ask some questions while actually riding. Mostly about the exercises, but I like to plan my rides, even if I don’t always ride the plan!
I suppose this post is reflecting more on the mental aspect of the sport rather than the actual riding, but that was my largest takeaway from the clinic. I mean, sure, I need to relax through the back and shoulders, remember that my elbows bend, don’t over think things, don’t jump ahead and the list goes on.. but I know that these things will come with time and patience.
I am truly grateful that I had this opportunity and I would like to take the time to thank a few people:
- Thank you Beth for being such a wonderful kind and patient instructor
- Thank you Vector Equestrian for loaning me Chase for the weekend
- Thank you Allison for coming out to support me and for untacking my horse on day 2 when I could barely stand! Also for the videos! ❤
- Thank you Melanie and Katherine for the photos!
- Thank you James for convincing me to do this!