In The Saddle column with Anita Marsh: The essential rules for a happy, horsey life!

Welcome to 2022. Another year smashes its way into our lives, regardless of a world wide pandemic.

By Anita Marsh
Friday, 7th January 2022, 8:53 am

I thought I’d start my equestrian column this year by reflecting on things I’ve learned throughout 2021.

As many of you know, I live at home with my three horses, three cats and three dogs including my now-teenage daughter and horse-widow husband.

I’m by no means a fabulous rider, but writing is my passion and after working in the corporate world of internal communications, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to somehow start up an equestrian column and talk about my life with horses.

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Anita Marsh has issued her guidelines for a happy, horsey life.

So what things have I learned? Let me run through them with you.

It’s easy to sit in fear. Pushing through it is the only way to confront it and become stronger for doing so. Even if you’re crying or screaming during the process. I scream most of the time on Sully. He just goes faster like a roller coaster.

Cats, dogs, horses may bind you and take your money, but nobody could love you more and give love so freely. Never be without one of them by your side.

Just because you think your thighs can crack nuts with your muscles doesn’t mean you should try it.

Anita has been looking back at 2021 and ahead to 2022.

Don’t be afraid to ride in the rain. Some of my happiest times have been in thunder storms with my horses. I didn’t melt. I did however appreciate I was still alive whilst going sideways down the road, unable to see, shouting swear words and ‘I wish I was into shoes and handbags instead!’. In fact, maybe stay out of thunder storms. Just stick to rain.

A rosette is the equivalent of a diamond. Be proud, even if it says ‘special’. That’s because the judge knows you truly are.

Sometimes you just have to admit you’re blind on a show jumping course and just jump in whatever order you like, as quick as you can, before they eliminate you.

A true equestrian never listens to a doctor about time-off from injury. We ride with broken bones (as long as someone can hoist us into the saddle).

You'll kiss horses more than your partner, says Anita.

Ponies are ultimately like dogs, but much more expensive.

My superpower is forgetting a dressage test the moment I enter an arena. The moment I enter at ‘A’ my memory is wiped.

If you teach your children anything in life it is to never walk into a field of horses with a packet of mints and no escape plan.

No matter how much you’re enjoying a fast gallop - don’t smile. Flies will zoom into the back of your throat quicker than you can cover ground with hooves, trust me.

Appaloosa horses will keep you entertained for years to come. Usually at the expense of your things getting wrecked, but you will always smile as you rectify the fencing for the umpteenth time that day. You will find you repeat swear words rather a lot. Most other breeds are normal. Trust me.

Life is short. Eat the cake, buy the pony and always splash in puddles.

You’re the only one who truly has your back but remember your inner voice isn’t always on your side. There are times to ignore it. You can do anything with your horse if you set your mind to it.

Grow old disgracefully. You can do this by dressing up on your horse and meeting your daughter off the school bus looking like Father Christmas. Even if it’s summer. One day she will remember this fondly. Maybe avoid this if she’s 13. Mine wasn’t impressed.

If you are to choose being cool over making people smile, choose the latter. Always the latter. A sense of humour with horses is an asset.

Remember everyone is on a different part of their journey with horses. Some are just learning, some have lost confidence and some just don’t want to compete. Let’s not judge, but support one another instead. We are all here because we love horses. That should unite us.

No rider ever ever goes to their horse without asking them how they are or why they have ripped their rug.

If someone could bottle confidence up and sell it they would make a fortune. There is no right or wrong thing to do when it’s lost, but to take each step slowly. It will return. I am living proof and we have all been there. Don’t let others pretend they haven’t.

It is not true equestrians are rich. Just when you think you have spare cash your horse will rock up with half its rug missing or a limping leg requiring an immediate out-of-hours vet.

You can never have enough saddle pads.

Horses have more money spent on their shoes than we ever will. We think nothing of wearing split wellies into flooded fields as long as they are ok.

You will never be as concerned about the right diet plan for yourself when you have horses. You will find they have everything they need to remain fit and fantastic. Meanwhile, you are grabbing a chocolate bar to sustain the mammoth poo picking sessions left behind from such wonderful food.

Nerves are normal. I eat calming cookies by the truckload.

At every opportunity wave to small children whilst out hacking. Their smile says it all and you never know who you inspire to want to ride a pony.

Horses are a great way to appreciate life. I often feel pleased I am simply alive after a ride.

Never think you can tell a mare what to do. She has a fire in her belly that she saves for this exact moment.

Having a horse is not glamorous. We are often covered in snot, horse poo and hay. Please don’t judge us in Tesco. Our riding gear generally costs more than a new Range Rover.

Never underestimate the value of a good trainer. They can also be unwitting therapists.

An equestrian’s car is simply a tack room on wheels. Feel lucky if you are offered a lift. It means she has shifted a number of rugs, empty coffee cups and brushes to let you get in.

You are never too old to learn to ride. Our Olympic team surpass any pre-conceived ideas about age for athletes.

Never does your grip become more highly attuned than on a bucking horse.

Holidays are a thing of the past. Get used to your horses eating your cruise in the fields you spend hundreds on to maintain.

Partners and husbands need to accept you will kiss your horse more, take more photographs of them and plan your life around them. Also a five minute cut off of horse-talk is not enough time to tell your partner everything about your horsey day. Insist on reliving it in real time. I do.

Finally when you’re going through a tough time with your riding…remember it’s like a British season. It will change. Hang in there. Or hang on there (if that’s more appropriate).

Thank you for following our column and my adventures on Facebook through ‘In The Saddle -Anita Marsh.

Happy New Year. May 2022 be filled with horse-filled adventures.