Our Horse Answers Today and Mountain Horse Equestrian Wear Enjoy Riding campaign continues as we introduce to the second of our featured riders, Gerry Stroud.
Returning to riding after a break of 20 years can be rather daunting. Yet Gerry Stroud has really taken the bull by the horns - for she's bought a horse and is enthusiastically having regular riding lessons.
From a young age Gerry enjoyed all aspects of riding - from hunting to riding racehorses to side saddle - but then university, marriage, children and a career meant something had to go. Now, after a long break she's back riding and thoroughly enjoying it.
'My daughter Amy was riding and enjoying dressage and I started to go to competitions with her. I watched people and thought 'I can do that' even though I've never had any training or lessons in dressage.
'I'm 48 now and thought that riding would help me get fit and sustain me physically and mentally in the future. I've had my horse, Tommy Tipple, who's a full Irish Draught, since September and I can't imagine not riding now.'
Above: Gerry with her lovely Irish Draught, Tommy Tipple, who just loves to work and to learn something new.
Finding Tommy has involved Gerry in a long search - she was always keen to have something like an Irish Draught and has a passion for our native breeds, believing that they are very much under used, especially as so many riders now opt for the flashy paces of warmbloods. As she has details of his breeding, Gerry has established that Tommy's line can be traced back to Eclipse, the foundation stallion of English TB racing stock.
We joined Gerry for a flatwork session with her instructor, Valerie Armitage. During the half hour session Gerry was learning to build the energy in her horse's trot, easing the trot out without letting Tommy run on to his forehand. She also had to think about the accuracy of her circles, for instance, when riding 20metre circles, and to be aware of her own position.
As they finished the session Gerry commented on how she felt that she had been riding more from her body and leg aids and that Tommy felt much more balanced than he had done previously. 'His whole front end feels lighter as he's using his hind end now' she said. 'He loves learning something new and being told he's a good boy'.
Let us know! If you're new to riding and have any questions or thoughts please get in touch with us. In the meantime, follow our riders as they progress. You'll find Enjoy Riding updates every week on Horse Answers Today.