When Mum told me we were moving house, I was absolutely heartbroken. I was really going to miss my friends from school and the stables. I begged her to change her mind, but she wouldn’t budge, we were moving from Norfolk all the way to Yorkshire.
The big move
All too soon the car was packed and we made the long drive to our new house. The fact that my room was a lot bigger than in our old house made me feel a bit happier, but it wasn’t until Mum promised to take me to my new riding school for a jumping lesson that I felt a glimmer of excitement. I couldn’t wait to meet the ponies, plus I’d been feeling really frustrated with my old instructor, Julie, because she refused to move me into the more advanced lesson, even though my riding was clearly good enough. At the new yard, I’d get a fresh start and I wanted to make sure I went straight into a better group.
New yard, new me
The drive to Nightingale Barn Stables didn’t take long, and when Mum turned through the gate I peered out the window at the red brick stables. Once she’d parked, we got out of the car and headed towards the yard. Before we could ask where the office was, a head appeared over a stable door to our right.
“Hello!” they called, extending a hand for Mum to shake. “You must be Brenda and Rachel. I’m Karren, and I’ll be teaching you today,” she smiled at me.
“Yes, this is Rachel.” Mum replied, pushing me forward. “It’s lovely to meet you Karren, but I’m afraid I’ve got to dash. I’ll pick you up in a few hours Rach, have fun!” She gave me quick kiss and headed back to the car.
“Well, Rachel, I’ll give you a quick tour and you can tell me about your riding. From what your Mum told me, you’ve just started jumping, is that correct?” Karren asked as we walked down the yard. Mum really hadn’t been paying much attention to my riding. I’d learnt to jump ages ago and could happily jump a course of 60cm fences.
“Ummmm, that’s not quite true,” I said hesitantly. “Mum hasn’t watched my lessons for ages and I’m actually jumping 90cm now.” I crossed my fingers behind my back as I lied, hoping she’d believe me. “Oh, okay. Well, I had you booked in the earlier lesson, but I have space in the more advanced group. We’ve been working over 80cm courses, does that sound okay?” I just nodded. I was amazed she’d believed me!
After the tour, Karren introduced me to Peaches, the pony I’d be riding for the lesson. She helped me get her tacked up and then it was time for my lesson. I was starting to get nervous again. It seemed like such a good idea when I told Karren I was happy jumping 90cm – it was too late to back out now, though.
The first half of the lesson wasn’t too bad and I was relieved to see that my flatwork was at the same level as the others in the group.
Then, Karren asked us all to pop over a cross-pole. It was a little bigger than I was used to, but I took a deep breath and steered Peaches to the middle of the fence. When she cantered over it I was super-relieved. It really boosted my confidence, until Karren changed the cross-pole to an upright – it was huge!
“Alright everyone, I want you to focus on your position over the fence,” Karren instructed. I watched nervously as everyone else in the group cleared it easily.
“You can do this,” I told myself when it was my turn. I pushed Peaches into a steady canter and steered her towards the fence. When Peaches took off I felt myself being left behind. Panicking, I shut my eyes, flung myself forward and screamed. Thankfully, I didn’t fall off, but landed sprawled over Peaches’ neck.
“Rachel! Are you okay?” Karren rushed over. “I’m alright,” I replied, pushing myself back into the saddle and trying desperately to keep the tears from spilling from my eyes. It was all too much and I couldn’t stop myself from confessing everything to her, about how I’d wanted to impress everyone and thought I was ready to try more advanced lessons.
Thankfully, Karren was very understanding and I managed to finish the lesson. I was so embarrassed that I’d cried in front of everyone, but I did make some new friends that day, too.
It’s been a few weeks since that first lesson and I haven’t ridden in the more advanced group again. However, I’m still riding Peaches and I’ve come on so much with Karren’s instruction. But I definitely won’t be lying about my riding experience again!