Today, it is exactly one year ago that I had my first test-ride on Emily. My, how time can fly! I can hardly believe we have been together a whole year already. But on the other hand, we have been through so much since that first day…
I thought it would be fun to make a short overview of our first year together. Even if only to have a clear idea of our progress myself. And maybe you’d like to see it too!
Of course we will keep doing things to improve our bond and work towards being able to go for “normal” rides again. But I have to say, I’m quite proud of where we are now already! Take a look, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Emily and me: the story of our first year
So, last autumn, I was on the lookout to buy a horse. It would be the very first I would be able to call all my own. After living in Norway for a while, I now knew I was going to stay in the Netherlands. That meant I had a solid base and could take on such a large responsibility as buying my own horse. I set out looking for one that was athletic but dependable as well, so that we could enjoy endless outdoor hacks.
And guess what I fell in love with? Exactly: an overweight, slightly tense Irish-Cob x Frisian… But what did it feel great to be with her!
This is our first test-ride:
After that, I visited her again (accompanied by my slightly worried parents), this time on a stormy afternoon. All went well and it still felt like the right decision, so after the vet had confirmed her to be healthy, I went for it. In under a week and a half after seeing the add, she came home with me!
Unfortunately, I had quite underestimated her “issues”. After we had been muddling on with some stressfull rides for a while, things went wrong. During a hack in the forest, Emily reached a tipping point in stress and started to run, she really tried to escape whatever was making her so nervous. Turns out, that was one or several of the things involving me riding her. After a few miles she still kept going and after a very sharp turn, my saddle started to slide to one side. I can remember thinking that I had to do something and deciding to jump off to try and stop her that way, but somehow, somewhere, that plan didn’t work.
The end result: I woke up on the forest floor, could not get up, and Emily was nowhere to be seen…
In the end, we both got very lucky. A nice, helpful man saw Emily running and called the emergency service. The police was able to quickly find and catch Emily, while I was being carted off towards the hospital. It was terrible, feeling so helpless, knowing that my horse was out there somewhere, probably scared out of her mind, and not being able to go to her. Luckily, I quickly got word that they had found her and would bring her home, and my very, very sweet flatmate rushed over to see her properly cared for. I’m so grateful for all of those having helped there!
Anyway, Emily was fine afterwards. I don’t think I could ever have forgiven myself if she had been injured. I, however, was stuck at home with a broken collarbone, a bruised back and a concussion.
But of course that couldn’t stop us. So before too long, Emily and I were going on walks and cuddling like never before. We really took the time to become friends again and just spend quality time together.
I wrote a post about it then: A Fresh Start for Emily and Me
Then it was time to get back in the saddle!
Well, that was a short-lived thing. Emily’s earlier trauma’s and insecurities had become even more evident through the accident. So after a few tense rides and rodeo-like outbursts, I soon realised we were not going anywhere. I decided to stop riding for the time being and start over at the very beginning with her.
With a great trainer, we started working according to the ideas of Parelli, something that was completely new to both of us.
I wrote about starting all over with her: A second fresh start for Emily and me
What a change I suddenly saw in my horse! It took a lot of time and patience, but bit by bit she became more confident and relaxed. Such an amazing transition to be a part of!
Read the full story on that in this post: The incredible change in my horse due to Parelli
After a few months it was finally time to take the next step: I could very carefully climb back in the saddle again. First it was only mounting, sitting, and dismounting again. Then we would prolong the sitting, and even ask her to bend her head a bit for example. Baby steps, that’s the key with my darling.
In the meantime we also moved to a different place, where Emily feels much more at home. I can see that reflect in her behaviour during training sessions as well. Now she is much more relaxed and happy, and we were quickly able to move forward with our training.
These last few weeks, we suddenly make huge progress with riding. It is as if Emily has turned a switch, suddenly she can handle so much more. Of course we still have to take it slow and I have to watch out not asking more than she can mentally handle. There are still days when she is just too tense or too fidgety to even attempt riding or when I decide to dismount after only a single lap. But all in all, it’s going great!
That I can just trot around the arena on a loose rein with her, it’s something I wouldn’t have dared dreaming two months ago!
And the best of all? We have already been on our first outdoor “hack” again! It was only to the corner of the street, with my trainer walking next to us, but what an amazing feeling!
(Let’s just ignore that today we couldn’t even make it halfway across the drive… We can’t expect miracles every day, right?)
It’s not only the things I have visibly achieved with Emily, but also the enormous amount of wisdom and horsemanship knowledge that I have gained this year. That is what makes our journey so incredible. It has been tough sometimes, but I’m actually glad we got to experience all that, strange as it may sound. It has made me grow so much as a person and a horse owner.
That said, I hope Emily and me will keep growing together and will be able to go for relaxed outdoor rides sometime soon. I’m excited to see what the coming year holds for us!