Review: How to get your leg over (Diary of a Wimpy Eventer) by Victoria Brant

Over the last few months, I have been sporadically entering “retweet and follow” Twitter competitions. I never really expected to win anything, but it is worth a shot, right? Well, no one was more surprised than me that I ACTUALLY WON when Haynet offered the chance to win a copy of the Wimpy Eventer’s brand new book. Sometimes these things happen for a reason and I think this book found its way into my life at exactly the right time.

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Have you ever found yourself having a crisis of confidence? Doubted your abilities, even over something you used to be able to do with your eyes shut? The Wimpy Eventer has, and she has opened up about her decision to look fear right in the eye in honest, humorous and heartfelt fashion. It’s difficult not to fall a little bit in love with Vic, and her superstar pony Pat, after she lays her soul out on the table for her readers. The journey to regaining your confidence and trying to jump in with both feet when you’re paralysed with fear is not an easy one – and this book doesn’t pretend it is. You find yourself rooting for its author every step of the way, laughing along with her and celebrating her successes (both large and small).

Somehow, by the end, you find yourself believing in yourself a bit more. I have a number of books written by professional dressage riders that were supposed to motivate and inspire me. Sadly they have primarily left me feeling a bit inadequate and apologising to the ginger one for failing him as a trainer. This book is different. Its author is an every day rider who works several jobs to fund her expensive horse addiction, has zero transport to facilitate competition entry and is often convinced that she just is not good enough. Yet she is getting out there and smashing it. And she makes you believe that you probably can, too.

This book arrived in my life at just the right time. After 5 weeks off riding due to injury, I was definitely having my own crisis of confidence. What if all our hard work recently has been forgotten and we are back to square one? Post reading this book I have done two things that terrified me: interviewed for a part time groom job at a professional event yard (still convinced they’ll throw me off the yard as a fraud any moment) and got back on my horse. Do something you are afraid of every day. There will almost certainly be non-death to celebrate at the end of it and, you never know, you could come home with more success than you ever dreamed of. It works for the Wimpy Eventer after all!

Coping with rider injury

Three weeks has passed since I was cruelly banned from riding due to an unfortunate yard accident. To add insult to injury of course it wasn’t even a dramatic accident, so no exciting story to tell. I was turning my friend’s mare out for the night and she took offence at a child on a trampoline, spooked and landed unceremoniously on my foot. Four hours in A&E and a plaster cast later, I find myself confined to the sofa with no riding on the horizon. Just as the ginger beast is starting to go really nicely and I was filling the diary with plans for fun rides, jumping clinics, dressage tests and maybe a camp at Hartpury over my birthday weekend. Luckily fracture clinic were less doom and gloom than A&E, so the good news is I now have a protective boot instead of a cast and am hopefully only another two weeks away from being back in the saddle. Of course, I have my beloved, old-faithful Harry Hall jodhpur boots to thank for things not being worse. Always wear the right protective gear around the yard, accidents like these can happen in a heartbeat and we have all seen the photographs in Horse & Hound of what happens if you are wearing flip flops when they do!

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Nothing more flattering than hospital pjs!

The first tip I have for coping with injury is make sure the yard has a good human first aid kit! I was so unprepared for incident that I ended up borrowing from ginge. I’ve been treating myself to a My Horse Box subscription for the last few months, so luckily Stark has a well stocked first aid kit. I can officially confirm that the Equi-N-icE cooldown products really do the trick, as I found myself wearing his post workout socks to bring down the swelling en route to A&E.

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Once home, my first worry was boredom. Us equestrians are so used to being rushed off our feet with full time work plus taking care of our horses and somehow fitting in time to ride. The idea of being sat still for days on end is so alien! So I’ve kept busy – and would recommend it. I’ve brushed up on my horse care knowledge, dusted off the BHS stable management books and taken online courses on equine nutrition and bedding management. It’s important to stay up to date with best practice in the equine industry. We all want to know we are doing the best for our horses, so it is good to have the time to check in.

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The other obvious worry is this guy! He is obviously quite happy snuggled in his big straw bed or stuffing his face with grass and I am lucky enough to rely on great grooming staff to take care of him. However, it is peak grass growing season and while he is going so well and looking fit I don’t really want to come back to a barrel. My fantastic trainer has ridden him for me instead of our scheduled lessons. Watching her ride has been great, I am so proud of how good ginge is looking and how hard he tried. Definite proud mum moments when other liveries have come up to comment how good he is looking! Sadly having her ride him very regularly is not an affordable option. Lucky for me, a good friend is planning on horse shopping in a few months and has jumped at the chance to ride a new horse. The benefits work for both of us: my boy is kept ticking over and she gets to ride something completely different to the TBs she has got used to – a big help in deciding what she is looking for when she is ready to go ahead.

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Now I am looking ahead! My foot is healing rapidly. I’m almost ready to walk without crutches, so I’m hoping to at least start loose schooling and renewing our bond with groundwork within the next two weeks. I’m also starting to plan our schedule for the rest of the summer – fingers crossed we can get some of those clinics in after all!