About me and this Blog

I am a woman of a certain age who has finally been able to enjoy my love of horses Initially to ride them but as time has gone on I have learnt there is more to horses than riding them and want to share this with you.

I have 2 other blogs, feel free to browse,

you can follow me on Twitter @alisonbarton1

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

There's more to Horses than riding

As we have become better known at the stables, we have been allowed to do more with Hayley's lovely horses before our lesson. I find brushing extremely therapeutic  I run the brushes over Oscar's neck and legs  before I take his rug off. I love talking to him watching his reactions and feeling a connection. He is warm and his breath smells great its not everyone's  idea of a pleasant aroma, but I love it. Don't ask me if it s the actual smell or the  memories it evokes, the lifelong love affair with the horse. That oaty, sweaty smell  oh I love it and that warm air that passes  over your hand and the flick of the ears,yes Oscar I know you're listening to me. A snort and a shuffle of the feet ,yet when I ask him to stand he stands still like a statue ,lifting each foot in turn as I pick out his hooves. If he didn't want to co-operate their would be no way I could make him. The trust and co-operation feels so genuine and honest.

Arrive early and groom the lovely Oscar and get him ready for our ride
Hayley calls him an old boy and I don't actually know how old he is, he's certainly spritely enough  when ridden. In the stable he is so warm and quiet he doesn't push into your space but melds with you as you prepare for a ride. Hey he knows what's coming and he's relaxed about it. That makes me feel good.. I find it hard to convey the warmth that wells up inside of me when I am with him and I can tell you I have my moments of anxiety and stress and Horses well, they just settle me.
Dorothy  ready to get sky's tack on
I am so lucky because moving to a new county, you leave your friends behind and you do wonder how you will meet new friends you can really connect with, especially at my age. Well  Dorothy and Chrissie are new friends I have met through my love of horses. We all volunteer at RDA and although we are at different levels, (I am the entertainment) we can enjoy lessons together and the odd lunch etc.. Yes I am so lucky. Of course I still have my pre- move friends who I love , and make sure we see each other regularly. None of them are "horsey" though . This new episode my life  is so liberating !

Chrissie  with Latina after our ride free of her bridle waiting for some hay(Latina not Chrissie ha)

We are starting to feel like part of the furniture at the stables and glad Hayley now trusts us to be more involved with the horses. I have mentioned before my dream wold be to win the lottery so I could afford my own horse but also afford  the help, as I am not so sure I know enough to really take care of a horse well enough on my own.

I don't want to diminish the  other vital parts of my life , like being a wife and mother , sister and friend but laying underneath that on a par with my dogs I love horses and they complete me. Now watch my "horsey " friends "working" at the stables, we don't exactly break into a sweat!  Ha! Love
Alison x

Monday, 23 April 2012

" Well I wouldn't start from here!"

If I was going to start riding again from scratch would I prepare any differently and would it make any difference? Because I have been posting updates of my progress on my blog I can’t go back and pretend I  did things differently. The story so far is I am afraid set in the cement of the Internet.

On reflection though, perhaps I wouldn’t start at my age (52). The younger the better, for one thing we learn slower, mentally and physically, as we get older. But what alternative do I have now, I don’t have a time machine and the only thing pondering on my age will do is make me older!  If your age is putting you off you have to face up to it you’re not getting any younger so get on with it.

I would not have been quite so heavy and certainly it would have helped if I had been fitter, when I started riding. But this is akin to not going to the gym until you have lost weight and toned up. I asked around about my weight and was told I was fine. (Well that the horse would cope!) Any good instructor will take your physicality (height & weight) into account and choose your mount accordingly. I was half expecting a giant cart horse to be brought out to carry me round when I arrived for my first lesson. Not the exquisite “Flaire” who has borne my weight with ease. Riding is great exercise and I am certainly fitter now and healthier, but no lighter yet I am afraid!

my new boots -I ate my Christmas dinner in them!

Knowing now that I am committed to riding I might have brought some riding gear to start with, instead of turning up in my sloppy Joe’s.  No eyebrows were raised I was just ushered into the shed to choose a hard hat and borrow boots and chaps for my lesson. I was told I could borrow their stuff as long as I wanted. It was par for the course.

After all it would be madness to spend a lot of money on all the gear if you didn’t like it. Not that that was going to happen to me, I loved it from the get go!

 Now I am well and truly committed to riding, buying presents for me is now a doddle I really love all the proper gear now and Santa brought me fabulous boots and chaps, Valentines Day arrived and so did “sticky bottom” jodhpurs, a real boon for getting a good seat. Early on I invested in my own helmet/hat. Acquiring the gear that works for me has been fun.

Friends I have met through Horses(note all the new gear)
So would I change anything, well that’s not going to happen, Its no good getting directions  from A to B if you are at C.  You are where you are and you have to navigate from there, obstacles, challenges an’ all.

So go on get going!


Friday, 20 April 2012

To Infinity and Beyond

Where is this adventure going to take me? Riding and my interest in Horses generally is opening up an exciting new world. When I was diagnosed with ME/CFS in 2007 a day to day struggle of “trying “ was all I could manage. Trying to get out of bed , trying to sit up, trying to hold the kettle with one hand, trying to walk the dogs. Life felt very “trying” and I am sure I was a bit of a git to everyone around me.

The fact that simple things were so hard was in itself so frustrating and draining. Slowly I have regained a level of activity which is extremely satisfying Moving to the Forest of Dean  two years ago was key to my next phase of recovery, although I wasn’t consciously moving for that reason.

Walking the dogs most days in the Forest I regained more fitness and stamina. I started volunteering with the Riding for the disabled and met a lovely group of friends who shared my love of horses. I went for an hour or two to start with as it was exhausting. I was truly inspired by our clients who rode despite a range of disabilities. That’s when I got the confidence to start riding again myself. It was a bumpy start, literally and figuratively. I really should have worn a red nose, when I had my first few lessons it was hilarious. And tired! Well I still sleep or rest for a good few hours afterwards but it’s worth it.

I am making progress I am riding Oscar now a more challenging horse and I love him as you will know from my other blogs. Yesterday I went up early and gave him a good grooming session, oh we bonded. I think my love is reciprocated. Our ride was much more fluid and some tone in my core is helping tremendously, I used to be like a big blancmange, all soft in the middle. I am still soft just a few lumpy bits now. Ha.  

The great outdoor beckons  I haven’t been for a hack yet, but I am told that it’s a must when the bluebells are out and Hayley, the lovely Hayley has told me I am ready to be let loose. Praise in deed, for the sack of potatoes that arrived at her stables last September. 

Imagine riding a horse on a beach like this !
In addition to that my lovely friends, my new friends I met through our shared love of horses have suggested we go on a riding holiday.  Where could we go, what wonderful new horses could we meet. Imagine cantering along a beach with the sea breeze blowing the foam spraying around the hooves of the horses wow,wow,wow. Research time now where can we go?

Alison x

Friday, 13 April 2012

Forget swimming with dolphins


Yesterday I was unexpectedly alone at home in the morning. Usually not a problem I like my own space and getting on with chores, or not, as the case maybe without the hindrance of him indoors is bliss.

However on this occasion I had agreed for the “guys” to come and “do the snag list”, to finish off our newly fitted kitchen. I didn’t think too much about it because I would leave  the “liaison” to my beloved. I planned to go horse riding at 10.30 and to be extra productive squeeze in giving a cupboard a coat of paint before leaving.

Unfortunately having committed to this course of action, Phil had to leave me to it. He said he’d be at the end of a phone. How was that supposed to help?

Well I started painting giving myself plenty of time to finish and clean my brushes and tidy up, which I like to do, ready for the next coat. But the guys didn’t arrive until quarter to ten, I was half way through painting and then they had questions, where’s this where’s that. “In the garage” I told them “look I have to finish this get changed and get to the stables” Stress notches started to turn in my belly. I am not used to multi tasking anymore, I live a quiet life, Urhh!

Anyway I phoned my helpful husband who was indeed at the end of the phone but all he could say was” Its all in the garage” , “Yes I told him I said that but where exactly?” The garage is a no go area for me and might as well have a big no entry sign on the door.

Well then, my less than ebullient husband started going on about why I had arranged for them to come when he wasn’t there. The screw turned some more steam started seeping out of my ears. I had explained I had exactly 3 minutes to wash my brushes change my clothes agree how the “guys” would lock up and that also included zipping my chaps on which can be a fiddle.

I wanted to tell him, quite loudly yes I wanted to shout at him, that when I arranged it he was supposed to be here, but he had changed his plans blah blah, but I didn’t have time. So because my helpful husband on the “end of the phone” could not actually help me at all, I clicked the red phone.  He was gone, If only it was that easy! I can hear you all thinking, naughty!. I don’t do this usually and it is very rude but Hey ho I was going riding and come rain shine, bloody workmen or unhelpful husbands I was going out the door, gone.

 With the rush I actually arrived at the stables a bit earlier than usual, warp speed all the way! My stress levels were through the roof, something was trying to get between me and my precious time with Oscar and being shouted at, I mean guided brilliantly by the ever wonderful Hayley. Oh bother how’s this going to work, you’re supposed to be calm and relaxed riding a horse because they can sense when you are tense, right?

You know by the time I had given him a light brush and tacked him up I was much calmer. By the time I swung my leg up and over his back I was floating on cloud 9. Forget swimming with dolphins. If you want to feel at peace get close to a horse
Alison x

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Flirtatious Moi?

Look I know I have declared my undying love for Flaire and she is a wonderful schoolmistress and she is truly gorgeous. (You can sense a but here can’t you,  

And here it comes BUT,I rode Oscar last week and now I am smitten. I am such a floozy! (He's the one on the right of the photo being ridden by Meg a couple of weeks ago)

I went up last Monday because we couldn’t ride on our usual Wednesday and Flaire was not available for me, Hayley told me I could have a go on Oscar. “You will find him a bit different,” she told me.  The nerves started to creep in.

 I wanted to appear chilled, “oh tell me more?” Well go very soft on his mouth and start gentle on the leg ‘til you find the right level of pressure. Now I am summarising here and not talking proper “equestrian” like Hayley, but that was the gist as I understood it. Sorry, Hayley and all proper equestrians everywhere.

Anyway I got on and I don’t know if you get this feeling when sitting on a new horse like you’re pitched precariously like a pea on a ball, but that’s how I felt. Flaire is so comfy and familiar. Stretching out, warming up and soon into a trot, whoa what’s going on, trying to go in a 20m circle and we do a hairpin bend. I was being gentle with the legs and forgot about the mouth! Scary but exciting, I start feeling his moves better and its lovely , my transitions are pants because I am nervous and Hayley is shouting at me(nicely) “control yourself women” What is a matter with me  I’m doing an alright canter and then collapse down into trot. Ugh!!.  Rise up, she tells me, instead I am sitting there like a sack of potatoes.

The scary feeling didn’t leave me all that lesson but I tried everything I was asked even tried squeezing the rein and using my leg to get Oscar “onto the bit” very technical for me I really don’t know what I am doing unless I am instructed you know.

Later on I started feeling a bit guilty I didn’t even cast a glance over towards Flaire as I left I was just running over all the new feelings riding Oscar. I booked in for Thursday and was on Oscar again and I was thrilled it went reasonably well, a degree of progress in relation to riding Oscar as Oscar needed to be ridden, but not entirely pretty. Me not Oscar ‘cause Oscar is so handsome and now I am in love for real. Given the choice I would ride Oscar now. But I have discovered something new about myself, never ever being the dumpee in my courting days ,I always thought of myself as a loyal stick with it sort of girl. Moving on without a backward glance is an unchartered territory for me, I will be honest I like it. I didn’t plan it, it just happened! (well Hayley may have planned it for all I know!) it turned out to be the right time to try a new challenge. It’s taught me a something about life in general as horse riding often does, you / we /I can be too comfortable for our own good, so perhaps its time to flirt with change, go on you know you want to.

PS I love you all x

Alison x