I’m not sure what’s worse as an adult, being a complete beginner, or returning to something you used to be good at after a long hiatus. More than twenty years have passed since the carefree days I had playing ponies in my youth. Bar the very occasional trek on holiday, I’ve not ridden at all.
For months, my children have been learning at Lavant Equestrian, a stunning horse riding school near Chichester, nestled at the bottom of the South Downs. The riding school facilities are extensive and tuition is progressive in its approach. Instructors have empathy for both horse and rider and undertake regular training themselves. Each time I watched my daughter’s riding lessons, the itch to ride worsened.
Lavant Equestrian offer a return to riding package of twelve x 45 minute private lessons. An ideal start for anyone, from absolute beginners to those who want to ease themselves back into the sport they once loved. So, I decided to get back in the saddle. I was nervous and excited in equal measure. Was it really just like riding a bike? Had I forgotten it all?
Understandably, some adults have concerns about falling off, the stakes are higher when you’re a grown up. Reassuringly, Lavant house stables pride themselves on their very low fall rate. This is because they take great care in matching each horse to the rider, in terms of temperament and ability. By using analysis and ongoing training of horses and instructors the school ensures standards keep pushing forwards. Assuring to say the least.
‘We have a wonderful selection of well-schooled, kind horses to suit every ability as well as highly qualified and experienced coaches. It’s never too late to start your riding journey or get back into the saddle.’
Amelia Ayling BHSII
A handsome Irish/Thoroughbred called Joey was my trusty steed for the riding lesson. I was grateful for the floodlit indoor arena on the cold, wet day. My coach being an accomplished eventer and riding instructor who loves to build confidence of beginners and those getting back into riding. She started the lesson by asking what I wanted to achieve by the end of the twelve weeks. I hadn’t even thought of a goal – except not falling off! Feeling comfortable in all paces and a bit of jumping was about all I could think of until, ’I want you to push me and take some risks,’ popped out of my mouth. Excellent. Me and my big trap.
There’s plenty to think about when you ride – horse, head, hands, heels. At times I felt like I was doing the pat your head and rub your tummy exercise, badly. I’d forgotten the meaning of some schooling terms and my coach reminded me with good humour and grace. But, the good news is that it wasn’t half bad, I wasn’t half bad. I didn’t feel silly once. Amelia was constantly assessing me, making sure I was comfortable and kindly nudging me to breathe when I was concentrating so much I forgot to. Things can come back to you pretty quickly given the time and space to try. In the 45 minute one-to-one lessons, time and space is exactly what you get. With an expert all to yourself, leading you at your own pace. And breathe. I did it. Roll on next week.
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and mother of three. Follow her experience of her return to riding over the next six weeks. If you’ve any questions/subjects you’d like her to address in the blog, get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org