It has nearly been a year since I started doing my blog and in that time much has changed – some of it good, some bad – yet a lot has stayed the same. One constant, is how much I mention my daughter, as over the years she has become an integral part to my horsey journey and life. It is very rare that she will not be with me on an outing or schooling trip, now serving as a great help with most things, as we have come to work very much as a team, each of us having our own jobs to do, making sure we have everything packed up and are ready for some hot food at the same time. And if I ever do escape on a schooling mission without her, it does feel strange and not as liberating as I imagine it should. She loves horse shows, she loves dressage outings, she loves getting lessons and she loves the familiar faces of the horse world that have now come to be her friends. But she doesn’t always find it easy and is pushed out of her comfort zone, regularly.
This is partly to do with the fear of not doing things right in front of people and partly because she doesn’t think she can. As a mother this is hard to watch and some times no matter how much I try to convince her that she is capable, she still refuses to believe me. So it has to be handled well when it comes to children and ponies, but I think that ponies can give some benefit to every child. A very confident child will always push to do more than they are capable of and in my experience this is when the pony becomes the teacher and makes them realise that, maybe that wasn’t a good idea? I was one of these children and I have made many stupidly brave decisions when it comes to horses, not all of them working out as I had hoped. Like the time I decided to canter my pony bareback, in a headcollar – with the leadrope tied to the other side of it to create reins – up the lane from the field. As I woke up surrounded by cattle looking down at me, I slowly pieced together what had gone wrong.
My knot tying had let me down badly and after some rather exuberant cantering and pulls on my ‘reins’, I was left with a rope only on one side of the pony’s neck and the only way I could turn was left. This just happened to be into a ploughed turnip field, which the pony galloped across, after depositing me over a barbed wire fence into the company of the curious bovines. I pulled myself up from the dung covered field and walked back to the stables thinking it was a bit foggy and that my arm was sore. The pony was fine and had found his way back no problem and when my Dad came to pick me up from the yard (at the arranged time of 5pm as I didn’t have a mobile phone) and I explained what had happened, I was quickly ushered to hospital.
I had a fractured wrist, a chipped cheek bone and two black eyes – I had clearly face planted the field at a great rate of knots, knocking myself out in the process. I remember the looks of admiration I got when I went back into school, with a plastered arm in a sling, two of the best shiners and a huge bruised cheek bone. As I’ve mentioned it wasn’t a particularly reputable school and the kudos I got for looking like I’d been in a bad fight, was second to none. If that happened to Megan now I don’t know how I’d cope, but as a rider she is generally under rather than over-confident, so I am sure (and I hope) she will opt for self preservation, over thrills and death defying stunts.
Since she is (unknown to her) such a big part of my blog, when she knew I was doing it, she asked if she could write a piece for it and I embraced the opportunity to get her involved. The text below is her version of her horsey life so far, in her own words, unedited.
Hi , everybody I’m Megan Matthews , aged 11 , born 4th August 2007. I’m Allison Matthews daughter (but you’ve probably already guessed that). Mummy told me to write a blog about how I feel riding and what I do with my pony, so here I am . I have a pony called Spartacus (a.k.a fatzo) he is a 14hand , Bay gelding, aged 17 . When we got Sparty in November 2017 that’s when my riding really started . I started off with not the best pony but when you think about he really taught me quite a lot , anyway I always hated jumping and new I probably always would and I still do to this minute . So then I started dressage and showing, my idol in dressage is Charlotte Dujardin I would love to be like her someday even though I’m only on intro it’s not that me or Sparty are unable to do it is my confidence to do it. My confidence is a big thing in my riding because my pony didn’t give me the best boost of confidence but things changed when I got Sparty I started trusting in him and believing in him because he had been through it all . But then my AQE tests came along and that really held me back because you felt like doing nothing because you had worked so hard all day and the pressure of the 3 tests , but as soon as you got out and did things you were fine when you were riding everything flew away and you had a good time and laughed and enjoyed the things you do . When you don’t have the best confidence it is hard to build them up again unless you get a clear run and what I mean by that is that you don’t fall of but for me I’ve falling off quite a few time but as the saying goes you dismount with style! I’ve falling off coming up to a water jump but thankfully I didn’t land in it , I’ve also falling off when Spartacus jumped to the side and the last one was not that long ago , it was the 9th February 2019 I was at the Meadows for the first time and the horse beside me spooked and Spartacus saw it and thought that looked fun so he tucked his head below his knees and I went flying forward I got back on cantered away and I was fine until 2 days after it and I could not move my shoulder but we are fine now. I’ve fallen off many more times with my old pony but if I told you all you would all be sleeping. Now onto what I do with my pony me sparty have went to many shows but the main ones are Armagh, Ballymena, Antrim. My challenge is to go to Cavan horseshow but to do that you need to put extra hours and i don’t so I really need start working an believing in each other , I’m going to end this blog here hope you enjoyed reading it .
By Megan Matthews