At last some rest bite from the appalling conditions that the UK has had to endure this winter . It may only last 24 hours so we are making the most of it and so are the horses . Not going on tour this winter has been a necessity as the young ones need some time on home turf to prepare for the circuit later on in the season and Sir Toby is having fittening and training work before the Spring when competition life will get very busy once again.
It’s hard to remember the warmth of the European sun whilst battling the torrential wind and rain but today with LEWIS EQUESTRIAN it felt like hope was on the horizon especially as the young two year old mare basked in the rare midday sun , albeit sharing her field with ducks and swans on the waterlogged ground ! It is very easy to lose ones mojo when at home in the UK battling daily weather such as this but it is during these times that a sense of direction and most definitely a sense of humour is essential!!
Early next week Sir Toby and Betty are off to enjoy two days boot camp training . Will and Betty are a new partnership so some intense sessions and constructive criticism will be welcomed to tap into the mares existing talent . Fingers crossed we are blessed with more of the blue sky on view today !
A duvet day for the horses as it was known by most during Thursdays horrendous rainfall allowed time to plan and organise future competitions . To have a goal and work horses according to what will be asked of them is essential as we’ve already addressed the fact it’s not all down to ‘ lucky socks !!! ‘ So for now many of our friends continue to do well overseas achieving some fantastic results and the horses are enjoying their competition time in the warmer climate . Back home we have finally been granted a reprieve from the gales and wet weather …..with any luck conditions will continue to improve as even the ducks that have recently become firm friends with Chin Chin’s Florentine in her newly acquired lake were looking depressed . So order of the day I think is to keep those rays coming …. keep the training going and address the moment with a smile , kindness and that essential sense of humour !
Green socks and always the same stock pin were my security that the dressage test was going to go as planned …..the halt would be nothing other than square , the medium trot simply awesome and the halfpass spell binding !
Without fail my ‘ competition socks’ would be worn ……. or else my centre line , my showjumping and cross country round would be both flawed without them !!
So why did I continue to believe in this superstition so strongly when still at times my halt was anything but perfect , I had faults in the showjumping and on more than one occasion feared the finish line cross country would never be crossed alive and in one piece !
However I always continued with the same green socks and stock pin! A small voice in my head telling me that without these securities it could have been a lot worse . It strengthened my mental state to enter at ‘A’ positively and with total conviction my horse and I as a partnership were on point . It gave me a silent confidence that in heading towards a solid cross country obstacle that required forward thinking riding , bravery and skill I would be able to succeed in piloting half a tonne of equine around a demanding course. Silly maybe ? but not foolish and it all went hand in hand with how the horse was tacked up and worked in to my religious routine .
Will has inherited my superstitious traits and at a competition carries out his own small rituals . Psychology of the rider is a mind field and a subject coaches spend hours studying and understanding. I once read that Christopher Dean would always put the same ice skate on first and when asked what happened if he didn’t he replied “I have no idea as I have never done it any other way from the first day I took to the ice”
So I do believe many riders have their superstitions big or small and am in no doubt can lose focus if for some reason this ritual is compromised . However I believe more strongly that the perfect square halt and the clear rounds don’t just happen because the rider is wearing their lucky green socks and so on but they happen because of preparation and hours upon hours of it.
As the saying goes …..fail to prepare , prepare to fail . I know when my dressage mark was not the score I had wanted no blame could be put on the colour of my socks ! So I had to go back to ‘ the office’ go over the judges comments and work even harder .
So as LEWIS EQUESTRIAN steps into 2020 any superstition rituals can never really take the credit of that valuable double clear but it is owed to the hours spent in ‘ the office’ on cold dark days , having faith that goals are achievable and maintaining the motivation to make them possible , receiving the expertise and striving to carry out mentors advice and sacrifices made ‘ not failing to prepare.’
So very often you don’t ‘ find horses ‘ but they do truly find you . Sawyer l’enchante aka Toby is definitely no exception . So introducing the big 16.3 chestnut gelding who should be old enough to know better when being handled on the ground !!!
Warm, welcoming with hot coffee on tap …. desks all perfectly arranged , comfy chairs and carpets add a homely feel and regulated air both in summer and winter make life comfortable for all who work within . LEWIS EQUESTRIAN has a very different kind of office !
The carpet is a mix of sand and rubber granules providing sure footing all year round although this seasons weather has done its hardest to turn arenas and paddocks into lakes ! . The variety of work that takes place all depends on the individual horse and the air conditioning is in the form of whatever the outdoor elements throw at you … rain, storms, sun and snow !
For a show jumper the arena is their office , the place where they go to work producing horses and training both themselves and others. It is a place where they compete, showcase their talent and relentless hard work to tackle whatever the course builder tests the partnership with…. always fair but demanding and technical as you rise up the ranks . It is a place where they have a job to do and must focus 100%.
There is no place to hide in this office, no staff room , no designated smoking area for a quick time out or a screened barrier between a rider and a bad day . Training and competing not only highlights and develops your strengths but also exposes your weaknesses where the difference of riding 7 strides between two fences instead of the correct 6 can dictate a fall or failing. This office can be a very unforgiving place !
Training is a continual daily programme for LEWIS EQUESTRIAN in ‘the office ‘, working towards meeting the needs of each horse mentally and physically and complete dedication all year is required.
So the office for LEWIS EQUESTRIAN is a multitude of places ….. it can be warm ( very !!!! ) in the height of the summer it is always well ventilated ( particularly on dark winter nights!!! ) it can be the place where the rider knows the ‘ walk of shame ‘ only too well after making an unforgiving error but it can also be a place where riders develop and grow in ability, a place where a horse is produced and excites all who are involved and it is also a place where tears of joy are shed when a horse and rider succeed in producing that winning round from years of time spent in ‘ The Office’ Showjumpers wouldn’t swap theirs for comfy chairs and carpets that’s for sure !!!
I sometimes think the word friend is over used so much in the world of social media that it’s true meaning has somewhat been lost along the way .
We use it to gain access to peoples lives , follow their photographs and more often than not with a click of a button ‘ like’ a new post. These friendships on social media are common place , however the equestrian world for so many years, longer than our technology of today has experienced friendship that is truly genuine , has no hidden agenda and runs so deep through the heart that you feel it with every beat.
Unlike through the phone or Pc you can’t force or assume this friendship. Often the relationship isn’t obvious at first , for a horse and rider it may not seem the perfect match to begin with and certainly may not be love at first sight!
But certain horses overtime have an ability to get into your soul , not because they are easy , not because they are machines but for those moments of true tenderness that half a tonne of equine may display. These moments may be rare but makes them more valuable or they may constantly crave your human touch and just have that character that makes you smile through the rain .
Every Lewis Equestrian horse I do believe finds ‘that friend ‘ be it with their owner , rider , groom or supporter . A friend who relies on the smell of everything horsey ! The nuzzling of that inquisitive muzzle and warmth of their breath being exhaled as the horse allied himself to become vulnerable and trusting for one of those special moments .
These friendship moments are a privilege, they build bonds that are rarely broken …. cannot be blocked or unliked and the love you receive from your soulmate is unconditional.