Become a master beginner

I heard a saying on Warwick Schillers podcast-”Beginners take intermediate lessons, intermediates take advanced lessons and advanced dancers take beginners lessons with an advanced perspective”. Or words to that effect. 

Basically once you have learnt the basics of a skill the way you get better is not with new moves but by being better at the original moves now you have more experience of them.

This is true of your horse when you’re riding and in how your body works whilst riding.

If you haven’t established a balanced walk, trot and canter you’ll come unstuck further down the line when you try to change the gears up and down within a pace, collection, extension or you try to go sideways. If you don’t have a balanced canter you won’t be able to canter well over a fence etc. 

In terms of your own body whilst riding if you don’t have a stable seat, good rein contact and at least a near grasp at symmetry you’ll come unstuck further down the line. For example an unstable seat can’t ask for and maintain collection and extension or land well after a fence ready to ride on to the next one. A huge difference in asymmetry left to right will make one rein much better than the other, it will make your lateral work harder or your balance a bit funky on turns to and from fences. 

If you think of the Spanish Riding School riders spending two years on the lunge with no stirrups before they are allowed to ride independently, they have truly mastered the basics so that when they begin to ask for more advanced work their position is so ingrained and secure that doesn’t hold them back. 

Now I’m not suggesting you go and spend 2 years riding on the lunge, although some lunge lessons would definitely help. I hope my instructor isn’t reading this……….

What I am suggesting is that when you’re planning your own fitness don’t be fooled into thinking you need evermore elaborate and complicated exercises, particularly when you haven’t spent a solid amount of time mastering some basic exercises. Watching people wobble through exercises with terrible form pains me as I know those people aren’t really going to improve from that suggestion, at best they’ll feel some burn at worst they’ll end up injured. 

Master some simple movement patterns and I mean really master them.

For example with a Squat.

  • Is there equal weight through the feet?
  •  Do your knees stay aligned over your feet?
  • Do you hips travel straight up and down without a left right shimmy?
  • Does your core stay strong to support your back?
  • Do your shoulders stay down and back?
  • Did you breathe?

That’s a lot to think about in just one move! So if you’re rushing through them, then adding weights, instability etc without ever really mastering at the start you’ve skipped the beginner lesson and it’s going to come back to bite you at some point in intermediate or advanced.

This is why my online programme isn’t all out hardcore 5-6 days a week. It’s 1 strength and 1 stretch with some solid foundation building exercises with progressions and regressions were necessary. I give you the cues you need to keep good form and we don’t rush to try and fit as much in as possible. It’s always quality over quantity. It’s short sessions of no more than 30 minutes, so it’s easy to fit around work, horses, family etc and it’s just £5 per month!


10 Years of Small Steps

This week marks 10 years since I started my business. I got my first client and was still working my full time legal job. In fact I still have that very first client and yes I have sent her a gift!

This week also marks a new chapter as I bought a new Pony! It’s been 9 years since I had my own pony to ride (bar the bits I was backing and then swiftly retiring my mares). So be prepared for all the Gwydion spam on my social media-he is gorgeous and needs to be appreciated!

However how gorgeous my new pony is will not be the subject of this blog. But he is gorgeous!

It’s about starting new journeys and taking the first steps.

At  the start of my business I took small steps. I started with one client and consistently made steps to grow, and at times they have felt like incredibly slow steps and often even backwards steps.However 10 years later I’ve built a little studio, almost finished the gym, built a 121 and class client base of amazing people many of whom are now genuine friends. All of that has just weathered an absolutely monumental year and is coming out the other side still intact. For that I feel incredibly lucky. 

 I imagine the same will happen with Gwydion. He’s not used to being in a school or doing things without fellow Fell ponies about so it’s all a bit new to him right now. We’ll just take small steps so we don’t over face either of us and who knows where we could be in 10 years? I’m aiming for happy as a partnership above all else.

If you’re embarking on a fitness journey or a journey to improve yourself to improve your riding it can feel monumental taking those first steps. It can be tempting to try and take all the steps at once and then feel disheartened when it doesn’t go to plan. 

Starting from zero on the exercise scale to 5-6 days a week of HIIT will quickly leave you burnt out and sore. So start slow and give your body time to adapt at each stage.

Accept that there will be set backs. You may get injured, that doesn’t mean you’ll never exercise again it just means you may need to take a step back and address your weaknesses. 

You might get ill and find that few weeks out feels like starting all over again. Just take a step back in and build it up, you’ll get there quicker than you think if you don’t rush.

If you can just keep taking small steps, accepting that sometimes you hit rocky patches but you keep travelling; you will look back on yourself in 1,2,5 and even 10 years and realise how far you’ve come just taking all of those small steps.

If you want someone to take those steps with you, keep you on course when it feels like you’ve veered off and generally just have someone hold your hand I’ve got space for 121 clients online and in person, and live classes will be back 29th March under the barn for now and there’s a couple of spaces free. Let me know if you want to be part of my next steps so I can help you with yours.