By: Ariane Schirmer
To greet 2016, I had the privilege of riding out in first field with the De La Brooke Foxhounds
out of southern Maryland. It was a memorable adventure to greet the new year with and in the spirit of my 2016 resolution, “be brave, live with intention,” in and out of the saddle. As a newbie to the sport, I came to find it to be like etiquette for adrenaline junkies.
A successful 1st attempt at tying a stock tie has to be a good omen.
In the hunt field, there isn’t a lot of time for second guessing yourself or worrying about all of the finer points of equitation. I don’t mean to insinuate that the riders have poor equitation, far from it; the hunt field is full of beautifully talented riders. But out in the openness of the field, my inner voice was quiet. I didn’t have the usual “eyes up, breathe, heels down, relax your shoulders, breathe… breathe!”
chatter. You have to be in the moment. It was a welcome vacation from the inhibitions of show ring anxiety
and a definite reminder to be more present in my riding.
I’ve had my confidence knocked out of the saddle a few times, but it’s something I’m committed to working on in an effort to become a better equestrian. Part of building confidence involves risk, there’s no way around it. Just 2 years ago, I would have been too nervous to even entertain the idea of riding in first field. Even going out this time was met with a bit of cautious reservation, but getting out of my comfort zone is essential for personal growth. While out, we had the opportunity to lark in a cross country field and it refreshing and reaffirming to confidently school freely over the fences.
Take the opportunity to push yourself beyond your comfort zone when appropriate, and remember to be present in your riding (and with your horse in general.) Take long hacks, try different disciplines, sign up for a clinic. Be brave and live with intention, you’ll be a better equestrian for it.