This month, our wellness columnist reignites a childhood passion
Believe it or not, we’re almost halfway through 2019 now, so it’s a good time to revisit those New Year’s resolutions and see how they’re shaping up. One of mine was to take up something new, and to try to fit in a bit more ‘me-time’. I decided to take up horse-riding, which technically was not so much taking up something new, but revisiting an old favourite!
When I was a teenager, I loved spending every weekend at the local stables and helping out with all the yard work in exchange for rides. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the saddle though, so I wasn’t sure how easily it would all come back to me. I went for a trial ride, and was hooked – I’ve been back every week since!
I’m absolutely loving it, there’s something special about getting outdoors and feeling the wind in your hair as you canter around the track, whatever the weather. Getting outdoors is definitely good for your soul. For all those who say it’s easy just sitting on a horse, I’d forgotten how much hard work goes into it. Riding means you activate muscles you don’t normally use, and it’s great for your core and stability.
Not only is it good for you physically, but there is something wonderful about leaving everything behind and just focussing on you and your horse. I call it ‘mindfulness in the saddle’ as I’m completely absorbed in the moment. It’s a challenge to control a horse and it’s also unpredictable as every animal has a different character. No matter how much you ride, your mount can still do something that will surprise you and keep you on your toes!
There was only one downside, which was the recovery time! I’d forgotten how sore my legs would be. It did take me a few days to feel back to normal, but taking arnica tablets definitely helped take the edge off. I think the riding bug is contagious, as my four-year-old Ella Rose, had a pony party for her birthday, which meant we had two delightful Shetland ponies in the back garden for the little ones to ride, and now she’s hooked, too! Want to revisit an old hobby of yours? Here are my five tips for going back to an activity you used to enjoy.
Consider what you absolutely loved about your previous pastime; whether it was football, tennis, netball or ballet. For example, was it the physical challenge, being part of a team or mastering a particular skill?
Be honest with yourself about your current fitness level and do make sure you prepare yourself beforehand. I’d built up the strength in my legs, as I do parts of the jockey fitness test in my gym workout. It really helped me with my transition back into riding.
See if there’s an adults’ club you can join, so you can make a regular commitment to your chosen activity. This is a great way of meeting like-minded people, as well as doing something different.
A word of caution if you’re using your old equipment, such as a riding helmet – do check it’s still up to the latest safety standards and in good condition.
Don’t assume you’ll be immediately back at the same level straight away. Don’t get frustrated if you’re not as good as you used to be – it might take some time, but you’ll get there!