Before and After – I’ve come a long way in the past year.Well, it’s been just over a year since I got back in the saddle and a lot seems to have changed… or at least I hope it has. Let’s start with my confidence level. I used to get butterflies just mounting. Now I’m confident to walk, trot and canter bareback, ride and jump without stirrups, take Luc over small solid obstacles, and jump little oxers and grid lines. A year ago every little spook or misstep sent my heart racing. Now, not so much. Sure there are days when I feel like I might be sitting on a ticking time bomb, but I’m much more confident in my ability to handle the little things. I’ve even become much more coordinated in using the whip – something I struggled a lot with in the beginning.

I also feel like my balance and position have improved. Sitting the trot is a little easier, I’m not flopping around at the canter, and my leg seems much steadier, not to mention stronger. I’m now no longer aching after every single ride, and I have enough muscle to actually make Luc move (some of the time anyways!).

However the biggest change has very little to do with riding, but had the most profound impact on it. Some of you may remember that when I first got back into riding I set out to lose some weight along the way to make things easier for Luc. Well, I’ve kept that promise to myself and to Luc, shedding more than a hundred pounds, with a few stubborn more to go. I feel much better, I look better, and I think Luc appreciates the lighter weight.

I’m all smiles.

I’m all smiles.

Perhaps what surprised me the most about my weight loss is how much easier riding has become as a result. I was capable of riding at my heavier weight, but things just started to get easier the smaller I got. Getting on was less of a struggle, I could feel the horse I had beneath me better without all the extra padding, and my balance improved. I’m now almost back down to the weight I was when I was showing as a junior!

Next up for me will be spending more time working on my position. I need to focus on riding properly, not just riding. I also need to do some more fitness building activities off the horse. Strength training and core work will be in my future I’m sure.

A few things haven’t changed at all now that I’m officially another year older. I still look forward to heading out to the barn more than anything else in my week. I still have a burning desire to own my own horse again someday. And I still love Luc to pieces. He was even good enough to be well behaved for my birthday ride this week.

I’m thrilled about everything I’ve accomplished this past year and incredibly proud of how far I’ve come But what has me most excited is the endless possibilities that await for me in the future. Here’s to another amazing year to come!