When BHS member Helen Williams phoned her Regional Development Officer, it was her first step on the road to tackling her riding confidence issues and forming a renewed relationship with her horse Moe (Annamoe Star).
Helen had ridden in riding schools since the age of 11 but it was years later that she was in a position to purchase her first horse. Sensibly, she took a long time to consider her purchase and opted to buy an older, more experienced horse who was good in traffic and would hack out alone or in company.
Things started well, but gradually Helen got more nervous about riding and said: “After 18 months I had stopped riding completely. A friend would ride Moe and I was jealous of the fun they were having together and felt terrible that my confidence issues were getting in the way of being able to ride."
She tried to sell Moe but there were no takers and eventually Helen decided that she would just keep her.
Eventually, Helen decided to phone the BHS for help and the advice was to find a local BHS Registered Instructor. On searching the Society’s website, Helen found Vicky Stilton who, surprisingly, lived in the same village but they had never met.
Vicky, who trained at Hartpury College and gained her BHSAI in 2005, is a registered freelance instructor and she has gradually got Helen back riding – and enjoying it.
Vicky’s friendly approach has worked wonders and every week she walks alongside Helen and Moe during the mile to a local arena, concentrating on keeping Helen chatting and distracting her from any nervousness she may feel.
Once at the arena Vicky sometimes rides Moe first and then Helen gets on for her lesson. Their biggest achievement was when Helen and Moe went out hacking on their own for the first time.
Vicky said: “Helen and I have become good friends. I never set the bar too high for Helen and we keep taking little steps forwards.”
BHS Regional Development Officer Julie Garbutt said: "Many riders experience a lack of confidence at times and fear is a difficult emotion to overcome.
"Having the right horse for your level of ability is a key factor but even then some riders have times when they struggle with confidence. Getting help is essential and seeking the expertise of a good instructor should never be underestimated."
Find a BHS Registered Instructor in your area, and why your Instructor should be BHS Registered.