Jumping for joy! and a not so memorable exam!

 Richard starts his riding journey at 30 something

 Ricahrd shares his challenges of learning to canter and trot

One of the perks of Richard regularly helping out at his riding school was to sometimes receive a free riding lesson when someone cancelled. One of these lessons lead to his first jumping experience.
rich riding spotty
I had wanted to try jumping for a while and when the instructor said it was going to happen - I was full of excitement.
I joined the group at the back of the class and was in a great position to see all the young kids on their ponies jump first - My moment had arrived and before I could enter the arena the instructor walked out and made the jump higher, at the time this seemed to make sense as I was sitting on a 16hh horse that towered above the small ponies that had gone before me - Not to say that my horse might need a bigger jump to be happy.
We entered the arena - and off I went, fence ahead of me, horse and rider going well - kick and take off, and to my amazement I didn't fall off! It was exhilarating - Yes I was a little unsettled in my seat and I noted that my horse had quite a change of shape over the jump but I was thrilled. The group got several more turns at the jump and by the end of the lesson I was feeling a lot more confident and really happy with how my first go at jumping had gone - and I was certainly up for doing lots more of it.
rich gimped

I was therefore taken by surprise at the end of the lesson when the instructor came over and apologized for not putting the jump higher and hoped the lesson hadn't been too boring for me.
I simply replied that I had really enjoyed my first go at jumping and thanked her for her time and making it so much fun. Then it all made sense! The instructor gave me an odd look and said "I had assumed you could jump already, that's why I was putting the jump higher for you." WOW I went away with a big grin and full of confidence - The next lesson couldn't come soon enough. 
I was actually quite pleased that I had been thrown in at the deep end for my first show-jumping lesson because the following week I was able to simply enjoy my lesson to the full in the knowledge that the instructor could see I was caper able  of doing more than was expected of me at this stage of jumping.
My desire to improve my riding and knowledge led me to look in to doing my BHS stage 1 exam in Riding, Horse Knowledge and Care, I knew I had only been riding several months but I thought this would be the ideal test for me to improve my knowledge and competencies and receive a recognized qualification at the same time. 
I duly went and did my research and within weeks I had signed up to a course and was on my way to my first lesson. On arrival I was greeted by an individual who said “You must be Richard, you don't look like a natural rider” I was left standing there, lost for words, this certainly wasn't what I was expecting.
I don't think I am particularly a natural rider but this individual had never seen me ride, so naturally I entered the course with a little trepidation.
There was a lot to cover and the course was quite stressful, but I simply reminded myself why I was here - to learn and increase my knowledge and skill in areas that were going to be very relevant and beneficial for when I became a horse owner. 
The end of the course and exam day came quickly and I thought I had managed to answer all the questions well especially when it came to performing the many practical elements involved which I was able to demonstrate confidently.
tail bandage
Next was the Riding element and prior to the exam I would have told you that this section was going to be the least of my worries. However I entered the arena a bag of nerves and as you can imagine this part didn't go so well.  I was given a horse that I found difficult and as the exam progressed the earlier negative comment was in the forefront of my mind, by the end of the exam I was beginning to wonder why I had put myself through this, who was I trying to kid, I hadn't even been riding a year, I just lacked the skill and experience I needed. Not a good finale to what I thought had been an OK performance so far. 
The results were as I had expected, I had passed the horse care and stable management part of the exam with flying colours, but I had failed the ridden part, the element that I thought I would pass. Disappointment immediately set in and I was now at a loss as to how after trying so hard in my lessons, I was going to move my riding forwards.
Not to be beaten - I reminded myself that I had only been riding less than a year and was probably being too hard on myself - The riding school I attended was excellent and I really enjoyed it, but maybe I needed a secondary approach to enhance and develop my riding ability so far. It wasn't long before such an opportunity presented it's self in the form of Heather Moffett, who wrote Enlightened Equitation (a book I had been avidly reading) and who was giving a demo at a local riding school - so ticket purchased I looked forward to seeing what I might learn.
5 tips for BHS stage 1 exam preparation  Read more great tips
1 Write your own revision posters and stick them up all over your house
2 Practice tail bandaging on as many different horses as you can
3 Wear the clothes and boots you will be wearing for the exam in your lessons to get used to how they feel
4 Go for one off lessons at different riding schools to get used to riding horses you are not used to
5 Don't let anyone stop you being positive and confident