Equo's central brand ambassador, Leanne Ehren, shares what inspired her to get back in the showjumping ring.
If you’ve read our other blogs (particularly the first one) then you’ll know the journey we’ve been on. You’ll know my confidence has taken a battering and this is no more apparent than in the showjumping ring. Although we started to pop over fences within a year of our jumping accidents, it has taken us at least another nine months to get back into the competition ring.
I want to share with you a little story about someone who – and they don’t know this – really made me fight my demons and take the fences head on. She’s my inspiration. She’s not an instructor, nor a parent or boyfriend, she’s just another rider, on her own journey – I just hitchhiked along the way for a bit.
Anyone who returns to any sport after a break is brave in my books, but getting back into riding after a 30-year gap is pretty remarkable. To then have a nasty fall showjumping and break bones within a few months of buying your new horse though is a bit of a kick in the teeth.
I saw Jo ride when she first arrived at our livery yard just six weeks after I moved in. You could tell it was all there, the passion and technique, but boy had her confidence taken a knock. Let’s just put this into perspective; when Jo first came she would not canter over a cross pole and wasn’t too keen on even trotting her horse out on a hack, so how, within a matter of months, was she elegantly breezing her way round a course of showjumps at the British Riding Club National Championships?
I stood at the edge of the ring in Lincoln riding every fence with her, butterflies in my tummy for her, and smiling from ear to ear with her when she came trotting out beaming with joy at what she’d achieved. It was then that I knew I had to find some courage.
Equo Events venue Forest Edge EC (Norfolk) was the destination, the 70cm and 80cm unaffiliated rounds were the task, and Jo was my secret weapon.
The classes were dragging that morning and all this did was add to my nerves; I can’t even remember how much Rescue Remedy I consumed but it was a lot. I warmed Buddy up and he was feeling good but suddenly as we trotted in I forgot everything. Everything I learned over the years, how to introduce your horse to the ring, prepare yourself for the first fence had disappeared from my brain – the bell sounded and my entire body went to jelly.
Then I saw Jo standing at the edge of the arena with her horse Prince, egging me on just the same way I had done for her, and I knew it was now or never. If Jo can do it, I know I can do it. I wanted to feel what she had felt that day at nationals after flying around her class. So I sat up, tightened my core and kicked on.
Of course, my angelic horse flew round – admittedly at about 100mph – and it was all over in less than two minutes and it felt great! There was no stopping us the rest of the afternoon as we jumped round the jump off and then the next class – we were having a ball! We didn’t come home with any rosettes but we truly had taken one giant step. Jo and Prince had an enjoyable time too and despite not winning, Jo’s positive outlook, inspiring and encouraging comments and happiness to be with her horse was so lovely to see. They were total winners in my book.
I’m not sure why it took watching someone else’s journey for me to get on mine, but it did. I’m honoured to have sat in the passenger seat with Jo and Prince along their road trip – they really are my inspiration for getting back in the competitive showjumping ring. But now it’s time for Buddy and I to get back behind the wheel and tear up the long and undoubtedly windy road ahead of us. Wish us luck!
Keep up to date with Leanne’s brand ambassador blogs to find out what her and Buddy have been up to.