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Case Studies

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Sally and Cilla used to be very afraid of riding. Now between them they ford rivers, try their hand at dressage, gallop in the lead, ride on the beach and loads more. Most importantly, they have fun. They have very generously agreed to share their stories with you. I believe that their courage, honesty and achievements will be an inspiration to every rider.

This is how Cilla used to feel:

"I have read and re-read your website and finally I have decided to contact you. I was a typical horse mad teenager but parents and life got in the way and I never did get to learn to ride until the ripe old age of 48!

Back in Jan 2005 I decided I could afford to experience the dream of a lifetime and go and spend a week on a ranch in the states and be a 'cowboy'. Off I went to Montana in September 2005. First day off we went out into the wide open spaces....to this day I don't know what happened but I fell off! I landed on some rocks, broke three ribs, punctured my right lung and split my liver open. I spent four days in intensive care and another week in hospital, then a week on the ranch before I was allowed to fly home.

I have bought Lizzie from my riding school, a 15.1 big lazy dark bay cob, the 18 year old safe ride who hates schooling but will hack out all day every day. I ride once or twice a week and we are even cantering again, the one thing I was really afraid to do because of my accident but......I am still so scared I want to throw up before every ride!!! Sometimes I sneak off around a corner and cry because of the fear! Even when I think of riding, my stomach flips and I feel very scared and worried. I sometimes sabotage the planned ride by 'forgetting' my tack!

I have read a good few books, had hypnotherapy too but still I am a bag of nerves before I ride. I try to visualise and re-live the previous ride and how well it went but still the time before a ride is hell. I don't want to be like this anymore! It is wearing me out and spoiling everything.

I would like to possibly come for a two day course ( I cannot afford to have you come to me unfortunately). Do you think we could find a way for me to overcome the obstacles in my mind? I look forward to the day when I am no longer a mess before every ride. I know its possible but I do not seem to know how to reach this goal alone.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on my problems and perhaps you can offer me a solution."

And after a two day Enjoy Riding clinic:

"I have just got back from an hour and a half ride on my lovely cob Lizzie in our local woods. The first ride since the enjoy riding course a few days ago. I nearly sabotaged my ride by trying to find excuses not to go but I remembered what you said about just getting on and doing it. I would say immediately that my stress level was down to a 5 instead of a 10 before we set off. I had spent the drive to the yard via the feed place visualising a good ride despite the weather!

Well. I used breathing and Hara to great effect and Lizzie felt like she had a rocket up her a***!! I no longer need a schooling whip to get her going. I no longer need leg aids to ask for trot, I just click my tongue and off we go. I must be different because Lizzie is.

Three of us went out, one horse being a very feisty pure bred Arab stallion! He was prancing and jogging and we had to let him go off for a gallop up ahead and when I said she could Lizzie galloped off too! She did run out of puff but after a breather we were off again in a lovely canter and when I asked for trot she slowed but I could feel she wanted to go on so we were back into canter again...unheard of for Lizzie. She has never done that before, usually she is happy to plod along given the chance, probably because I haven't been a comfortable passenger for her before today. I even had time to look around in canter, something I have never done before, and I used Hara to keep my balance and move with the canter too where before I would feel I was losing my balance and Lizzie would slow down to trot.

I really didn't expect such results so soon. I tried to keep an open mind and wait and see but I must admit I am astonished at the change in me.

So, simply, thank you. Thank you for giving me the tools. I am so glad I took the risk and had the courage to do the course. I will keep you up to date with my progress until you get fed up and beg me to stop!

love cilla xxx"

Cilla


Two months later

"My riding has been up and down if you will excuse the pun! We have good days and bad which is probably normal but when things are bad I just breathe and find my centre and all goes well.

I think Lizzie doesnt like the new confident me as she has been pulling out all the stops to test me. I think previously when I was too terrified she might have got away with it but I am becoming a confident rider not just a passenger so she cant be an old school horse any more. The lazy old girl now loves to canter. Instead of everyone having to wait for us to catch up on a ride we are now on everyones heels and closing fast. She even likes to be lead mare now as long as all the boys behave and stay behind her. Hee hee. I still have to run to the loo before my lesson in the school once a week but the visualisation is still my best and favourite tool and not just for riding either. Using Hara and breathing have become second nature which I don't need to consciously think about anymore too. Because I am smiling and laughing and actually breathing my mouth doesnt seem to dry up.

I am now the baby sitter at the yard. I go out occasionally with the other scaredy cats, owners of youngsters or young girls who need someone calm and safe to go with. ha! Lizzie and I calm and safe!?? Who'd have thought it! OK. Another mammoth report. Over and out!

love thanks and hugs

cilla xxx"

Move over Indiana Jones!

"I thought it was about time I told you about my latest escapades...because that's what my riding has become! I have gone from going back a few steps a couple of weeks ago and being too terrified to ride to going on a four hour hack last Saturday! We forded three rivers and galloped over open fields! It rained towards the last hour and we got soaked but my lovely old cob was raring to go and proved to have more energy and stamina than all the others including an Arab stallion that used to do endurance. Lizzie was happy to go in the lead and when some of the huge 17 hh boys freaked at a bridge over the M25 Lizzie and I just carried on without spooking. I didn't even feel worried but stayed calm and projected my thoughts forward.

My latest hack round our local woods yesterday proved to be an eye opener too. Where Lizzie once went into riding school mode, this time we were lead and trotting and cantering quite happily. Our relationship has changed and we are now becoming a partnership. I no longer dread rides or get over excited. At last they have become 'ordinary' if you get my drift. I look forward to them calmly and enjoy them as I would all other every day events as if they are 'normal' and I have a sense of purpose instead of a feeling of overcoming the obstacle which is my fear. It seems I automatically relax now when I get in the saddle and I am aware of my breathing and use it as a tool as I ride.

I am sure I will have a few glitches and go back to being scared at some point but we are planning another marathon hack and I have bought a set of pommel bags already to carry a drink, food (i.e. chocolate haha!!) and my raincoat!!!

I have yet to conquer hacking out alone as sometimes it would be good not to miss riding when I don't have anyone to ride with. That may take more time to accomplish and it is as yet just a goal I have set myself for the future.

I think I am now starting to feel like I did before I had the accident almost two years ago.

hooray!!!!

love cilla xxx"

Watch this space

Photo Galleries

A picture says a thousand words - here is a collection of photographs from various Enjoy Riding events

Testimonials

It's lovely to hear from people who have been on Enjoy Riding clinics, holidays and workshops. People often keep in touch and let me know how they're getting on. I get lots of Christmas cards! This is what FW wrote inside her card:

"Still enjoying riding, still riding without fear.. but with respect and loving every vital second. Blossom and I flourish together!"

Corporate Testimonials

As well as helping hundreds of individual riders, I also work with organisations to provide confidence coaching and stress management for their staff or clients. Here is what some of them had to say:

"Caroline knows everything there is to know about confidence problems." Your Horse magazine.