Rider Story

Taking Risks: What I Learned From Grooming in the UK

22 April 2016

Taking Risks: What I Learned From Grooming in the UK

Anita Marchesani goes on the ride of her life in the UK…and learns some life lessons on taking risks and reaping the rewards.

My boss was riding next to me on her young chestnut gelding, and I was on her experienced, 4 star eventer.  We had spent the afternoon hacking around what they call a Hunter Chaser course in the UK – basically farmland with some fairly basic cross country fences of various levels that the farmer hires out to make some extra cash.

She wanted to give her youngster some experience, and I was basically just a passenger on the big bay I was riding, who certainly knew his job, going along to keep them company.

We turned off the track and she chatted away at me, we laughed and joked and walked through the trees and afternoon dappled shade.

She led me round a sharp turn, almost doubling back on ourselves, and pointing to a line of steeplechase fences, asked me to lead out.

I nudged my bay into a canter and we headed off towards the first, nice inviting brush.  All good.  Onto the next, whoa. That was a bit bigger.  Then the bay asked for his head and suddenly we at the bottom of the biggest fence I’ve ever approached with a massive ditch in front of it to boot.

I had no idea what would happen next, and my heart leapt…

That day out in the fields jumping those fences, the last approached at a gallop, the ditch yawned dark and foreboding and the brush seems to stretch for miles.

If my boss had asked me, “Do you want to try it?” I would have said no way.  I would have wimped out.

But there I was, one stride out, a whole lotta horse in front of me, his ears pricked, I thought “bugger it, this is happening”!  I grabbed his mane and dropped my heels.  He hit the perfect takeoff spot and we flew.

I pulled up on the other side, laughing, almost crying, and so was my boss.  She knew if I had the choice, I would not have taken the risk, I would not have trusted that she knew my bay would look out for me.  She knew that I would have chosen not to have that opportunity, that experience, and feel the reward.

Now, it’s one of my favourite memories from my time spent in the UK, and of course that fence gets bigger every time I tell the story.

It stuck with me though, that without taking risk, there is no reward.  Without committing 100%, there is no chance.

There are a lot of “one days” out there.  If you keep waiting for that one day, that perfect moment, that day when you feel absolutely certain, you have your guarantee, you know for sure and believe in yourself 100%- you’ll be waiting for eternity.  All those wasted hours, all those tormented nights when you wonder what if…

Even getting to the UK was a massive leap of faith.  I left my new career, my friends, my family behind.  One day, watching the Grand National on BBC and reading the Horse & Hound I responded almost on a whim to an ad from a yard looking for a groom.  I took a chance, I took a risk, I opened myself to the possibilities.

And I had the best time of my life shovelling horse poo for the next 4 years.  Well, it wasn’t all just horse poo.  There was the travelling, the learning, the experiences, the excitement, and so much more that all contributed to making me the person I am today.

The biggest personal growth comes from being outside of your comfort zone, putting yourself out there and challenging yourself.

Now, I don’t ever wonder what if… I don’t wonder if I could have jumped that fence.  I know I did.  And I know it felt amazing.

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