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Charlotte Cundall June Blog - Back to Basics

KBIS horse insurance

The Coronavirus pandemic is a truly tragic event, something which will stay with us for the rest of our lives. It is now a ‘part of our lives’ that will never leave us and will be a chapter of our story which we will refer to for many years to come. If someone had said to us on January 1st just how much life was going change in so many ways, I don’t think anyone of us would have believed what we were being told.  My thoughts go out to anyone who has been affected by the pandemic in the many ways in which it is making an impact on the world.

If for a moment we separate lockdown from the virus itself and just focus on ‘lockdown’ as the way of life we have all been living in for however long it has been now, it could have been taken in one of two ways, a massive interruption to the extensive list of plans you made earlier in the year, or a massive opportunity…

When all competing stopped and riding really in the grand scheme of things was not deemed as essential many of us took the view that putting the NHS under anymore strain by riding and risking injury was not going to help those that really were in desperate need of our frontline workers. I had time to have a think about how I could really use this time wisely.

When else are you gifted a period of time where there is no pressure of competition deadlines. There was no clear timescale on when we would all be back out in the competition arena so why not use the time to look at things in a different way? I tried to look at it as one huge opportunity to address things that perhaps I had been patching over rather than stripping back. We can all too easily get hung up on the movement we are struggling with, repeating the same right half pass, or move off from halt over and over and over again. But is that always the answer? During the season it is often a case of making the best of what you can at that stage, but then with winter and summer competition seasons there is never really a good time to STOP and take stock of things. So, I went right back to basics!

You will always know when a horse has been broken in correctly and forgive me sounding old, but in the good old-fashioned way, not a quick fix, stick some tack on and ride it away in about two minutes! The secret of the old-fashioned way is more often than not, time and groundwork. Horses will have hours and hours of groundwork done with them educating them about the world and the simple tasks in life, forwards backwards, start stop, left right, and moving sideways. I do not mean advanced movements – purely very simple ones. So, I decided that groundwork was what I was going to do. When else would I get his time to do this?! I did some research and found lots of helpful videos online and I dug out an old book I had bought years ago when I had my first accident and was not allowed to ride. It has lots of exercises that you can do from the ground. I also looked in to the TRT Method – I had seen a lot on social media about it so thought why not – well all I can say is why not, give it a go! I will let you go and have a look into it, I won’t ruin it all by telling you about it now, but I committed a good amount of time to simply groundwork, no riding for a while, all work from the ground.

Even when you think you know and understand your horse there is still an enormous amount you can gain from this - I have learnt so much more about Red during this period than I thought possible. Things that maybe weren’t quite working in training now seem to ‘make sense’. I think sometimes taking your foot off the gas so to speak and stepping back and looking at alternative ways can be so beneficial. I am so glad that I really stuck at it and had a go at something different – I will certainly come out of lockdown with no regrets on what I did or didn’t do with the horses. If you have a go or have had a go at something similar let me know how you have got on, I would love to hear your story? Feel free to direct message me.

Going back to basics could be said for all aspects of life during lockdown don’t you think? I think we have all realised that we can work smarter and that we don’t actually need to be in the office all of the time, so much can be done remotely, we don’t need to be rushing around at a million miles an hour all the time and we have all managed just fine without dashing to the shops because of that thing you absolutely NEED. A more simple life for a few months I think will have done us all good in many ways, time to appreciate what we have around us, making use and good of things we already have stashed away in a cupboard somewhere and enjoying the things in life that cost nothing and are there for all of us to see if we just open our eyes. Everyone keeps saying there is so much more wildlife this year, do you not think a lot of it is because we are now taking the time to see it?

Staying with the basic theme, I want to share something which has really helped me now we are riding again…We are very lucky that we have an arena to ride in, but this tip can be used in a field just as easily. So our arena is about 42m x 36m, (very approx!). This means that it is very easy to accidently find yourself riding a really nice 35m circle, this is obviously not very useful for riding a dressage test. Discipline in riding corners correctly is also easily avoided as you can end up floating nicely around. I decided to put a stop to this by constructing an arena within the arena. All of the jump poles that we have are now my arena boards, (cost nothing as we already had them), and this gives me discipline and actual right-angled corners to ride in to! If anyone needs to quickly evacuate the ‘arena’ this can also be done very easily by incorporating the side of the arena into a nice pole work exercise! Now for markers – I did have a look online for some nice freestanding plastic markers, the first set I saw were £560, I quickly stopped looking…there had to be a cheaper alternative. There was….8 x plastic waste paper bins, on sale at 60p per bin, 8 x fake flower stems at £1 per stem and some mud…this meant that 8 markers cost me a grand total of £12.80p. I now just need to find some white vinyl letters to stick on and we are all sorted! Not quite sure why I didn’t think of this before…I was probably too busy; I just needed the time. This again showed the advantage of looking for an alternative and taking the time to address things.

So my lockdown messages are to think outside the box by looking for a different way sometimes, and don’t forget the basics. I am loving being back riding and I genuinely feel the time and work I have put in during lockdown are really paying off. Hopefully I will also be able to ride a much better corner now too…

Take care everyone.

Let me know what you have been doing during lockdown…

Charlotte xx 

KBIS are one of the largest independent horse insurance providers, offering all types of insurance for the equestrian. During the coronavirus pandemic, our staff are working from home to keep them safe. Our phone lines are still open, please call 0345 230 2323 to speak to a member of the team to discuss your insurance needs. Our products include horsebox and trailer insurance, breakdown insurance, personal accident cover, liability insurance and horse insurance including a wide variety of veterinary fee options. You can get a horse insurance quote online or call 0345 230 2323.