Equo's Leanne Ehren provides a slightly different outlook on things in her latest brand ambassador blog.
Come rain or shine us horsey girls will always be out with our four-legged friends. So when the hail was lashing down and fairies were dancing under the wheels of the horsebox, I wasn’t going to let it stop me from competing.
I’d entered the unaffiliated dressage running at Norfolk’s Forest Edge Arena – just over an hour away from where Buddy is stabled – and despite feeling a bit under the weather that morning, I’d still dragged myself out of bed, pulled a wet, muddy horse in from the field and separated the dreadlocks in his mane to plait up. My tack was on the lorry, lunch was in the cab, and the horse was on board… but I still wasn’t feeling great. I pushed how I was feeling out of my mind and set off on the road to Norfolk.
I ignored the thunderous clap of weather and told myself it would dry up by the time I arrived at Forest Edge. One thing I suddenly couldn’t ignore was just how utterly rubbish and weak I was feeling, and the thought of ending up feeling even worse and looking like a drowned rat with a grease-stained pair of breeches (why is it always so hard to get them clean after you’ve ridden in the rain?) was really making me second-guess carrying on my journey.
Over six months earlier I’d been diagnosed with the crippling infection of glandular fever and it had destroyed my work, social and equestrian happenings for months. I’m an extremely determined person and even though I’d followed the doctor’s orders and reduced my physical activities and kept myself well rested, it was still hampering my life. Girls at the stables were regularly mucking out my stable, bringing my horse in and giving me much-needed days off – I’ve called them “stable fairies”. Despite everything, I had just about managed to keep Buddy’s education ticking over throughout the summer with a couple of sessions a week and by the time autumn came I was almost feeling normal.
But there were bad days – and this was one of them. I hate being defeated and not going through with things, especially when I’d planned and worked for something. On this particular day, by the time I’d reached a roundabout about 10 minutes from home, I did something I’ve never done: I turned around.
For the next 30 seconds as I was driving back home I felt annoyed, angry and upset. I felt beaten by glandular fever (and maybe even the weather?!) and felt that I’d let down myself, Buddy and even my lovely sponsors Equo Events. However, what good would it do if I turned up at an event with my heart not in it and not strong enough to ride the ox that Buddy sometimes is? It was at this point I suddenly realised how far I’d come.
Goals should not always be measured on how many rosettes you take home or what percentage you get on a dressage test. My equestrian life and relationship with my horse is something that can be measured by other means as well, and in this case, it was about what I achieved by turning around.
I’ve learned from previous experiences earlier in the year how it is not fair – nor successful – for me to even attempt a competition, challenge or pretty much anything more than a plod around the field when I am feeling sub-normal. Buddy ends up tense, I end up angry and the two combined are just not a good combination.
Admitting I was not well enough to compete was actually a huge achievement that enabled me to recognise how important it is to ensure the rider is fit in both mind and body enough to take on any challenge. Since this incident there have only been a couple of “bad” days but the great thing is that nearly one year on from contracting glandular fever, I know I’m almost mended and Buddy and I are even stronger than before. I’ve learned how important it is to be physically strong to ride and also how valuable it is to have a supportive “yard family” around you.
So next time you are on your way to that show and your heart isn’t really in it, just take a pit stop and think about if you’re doing the right thing and what you will achieve by carrying on your journey that day.
Sometimes, you may just learn something more by turning around.
Want to find out what else Leanne Ehren and Buddy have been up to? Check out her other brand ambassador blogs.