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WISE Riders Formula:
For Riding Through the Years

Hosted by Andrea Wady and The WISE Riders

Riding Through the Years

Hosted by Andrea Wady and The WISE Riders

Part 1: WISE Riders Webinar

Start here, please watch this webinar to meet Andrea, and learn how WISE Riders began and the meaning of the WISE Riders Formula.

Part 2 of the Free Series: We have put together a series of detailed articles explaining each part of The WISE Formula and helping you apply it to you and your riding. 

Enrollment for WISE Riders Club Opens May 29

  • Connect to Like-Minded Riders from Around the World
  • 12 Monthly Webinars and Meetups
  • Dedicated Private Facebook Group
  • Personal Learning Pathways

Enrollment for WISE Riders Club Opens
November 7 - 14

  • Connect to Like-Minded Riders from Around the World
  • 12 Monthly Webinars
  • Dedicated Private Facebook Group
  • Personal Learning Pathways

Article 1

W is for WHY

Learn from Andrea

I don’t know when it started, when age crept past my consciousness and popped its head up, smacking me on the cheek and whispering its pervasive messages in my ear. Sharing its woeful stories in so many ways. 

An ache here, a twinge there. I forgot something, I must be losing it. Gosh, that horse looks a little lively this morning. As I swung up in the saddle, I thought… “I am not sure what that feeling is in my stomach. Is that nerves?”

Arriving back home from the jungle of Costa Rica, with just a backpack in March 2020, straight into a few years of uncertainty and lockdown, my nervous system had taken a bit of a battering. As well as working with my online students, I was riding and training horses with behavioural issues.

This was incredibly physically challenging work as they acted out their fears and trauma in giant ways.  I was heading for a metaphoric fall. 

So many changes, not just in the world, but inside my body and my head were creating the perfect storm. It sounds terrible, but it turned out to be the most liberating thing to happen for me in a long time.

I could see how people slide when “aging” occurs. But how much of this was mindset rather than physical changes? I have never been a person to feel sorry for myself, so I grabbed life by the reins and set off to find answers. 

I went rock climbing on my 50th birthday and it felt like a fabulous way to celebrate my milestone. Granted I could barely walk the next day, but that was on me, I had let my fitness slide. 

That was something that had me pondering… were all the aches and pains, lack of mobility and general malaise due to age, or the fact I had stopped doing anything to keep fit and mobile since leaving my peak fitness behind me in Costa Rica? It had to be the latter, because there seemed to always be another news article about some amazing 80 year old climbing Kilimanjaro or some such death defying feat. 

As my business got busier, I noticed I didn’t want to ride the damaged and challenging horses I was working with. Nothing bad had happened, but I was helping to care for a house bound relative, felt the tug of people relying on me, and I realized… I didn’t want to get hurt. 

That rot of thought infiltrated my already frazzled nervous system and the decay began to really take hold. “I had best not do that” “STAY SAFE!” Oh, how that statement got my back up. 

During covid it was the message that was rammed down our throats, FEAR FEAR FEAR. At the time, it was important, I personally saw too much tragic loss during COVID to doubt what havoc it could wreak, but the time had passed and still the fear was ingrained into us. Be careful! This was a sure-fire way to have our nervous system on red alert, flooding our zen state with a cocktail of hormones guaranteed to have us running for the nearest cave.

Comfort zones shrank all over the world, people who were once adventurous and daring, shrinking back, feeling concern over small daily events. I know this, because they wrote to me, my wonderful students who were struggling, and it made me realise, I was too. 

I even found the science to back up I wasn’t the only one. 

Well, I wasn’t going to take this lying down and so I set about researching and finding ways to get back out there again. 

What I found surprised me.

So I started developing something. And what I developed not only got me back on my feet it helped me change the way I felt and the way I acted. 

I thought I wanted to get back to where I once was, fearless and willing to ride any horse in front of me. 

Instead, what I discovered propelled me way past that, to a place where I no longer cared if I gave up the crazy exploits of my youth. 

I found a way to be my own person again and do what felt right to me without feeling like an abject failure.  Nor caring if anyone judged my actions or choices. It was liberating, empowering and life changing. THAT is what I want to share with you. 

Welcome to the WISE Formula.

The start of this formula came to me early one morning. I was thinking about a high energy, rambunctious horse that was causing a friend some issues. I knew I could help, I had the skills and the knowledge, but I had severely damaged my arm trying, by getting swung around and pulled on, and not for the first time. 

I knew it was causing long term damage, as just the day before, my physio (one of my best friends) said to me “Are you literally going to wait until a horse pulls your bloody arm off before you wake up and make some changes to your life?” Ouch…. but it was a fair point.

Just because I knew I could help, didn’t mean it was my responsibility to fix the problem. There were others, younger and more physically fit trainers, who could help. Saying no to working with this horse was hard, but when I dived into why it was so hard, the answer was blindingly obvious, it was ego. 

How many times do we do something that is not in our best interests just to quieten down the ego that wants to wear its sparkling crown? Too often! 

I took a deep breath and wrote a message to the owner of the horse saying something needed to change. It did change, for the better and the horse is doing well. 

This was a turning point and I remember saying to myself, well that was a WISE move. I love words, as you might have noticed, and the word WISE rolled around my mind for a few days. The formula was taking shape.

W became Why. Why did I need to change? Why did I want to still be with horses? Why did I want to make my life with these incredible animals?  The whys rumbled on and from it I started to find an incredible peace. Also, I found a plan. A way to move forward that suited me better without the feelings of failure that accompany a decision that isn’t backed up by deep thought and understanding.

I had hit on a formula that would literally shake up my life. 

I thought of all the people I knew that had gone before me. In fact, one was a friend who passed away, tragically, at the age of 34 years old. I used to often think of her when I felt words on the tip of my tongue, wanting to moan about getting older. “What would Nola say?” 

She would have given anything to still be here and moan about a new wrinkle or line on her face.

“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

What is your WHY?

Why do you ride? Why do you want to be with horses?

Go and grab a pen and paper and write your Why, this is the foundation on which we will build our WISE formula.

Article 2

I is for Intuition

Learn from Andrea

There is a huge storm battering the world outside my shed where I am hunkered down writing in the dark before dawn. Raging in from the North Coast of Cornwall, I am alert for sounds of the trees, will they come down? Will the roof come off? I am relatively safe and warm, but aware, being in a wooden shed that all could change in a heartbeat. I am hyper aware of my surroundings and making sure I don’t need to make a dash for a safer place. 

It made me think of our beautiful horses, how much they hear, sense, see, and smell that we don’t. How often do they get chastised, in some sad cases violently so, just for trying to be aware of and trusting their instincts, for being a horse!  

How many times have they been told to “stop being so stupid” when they are just making sure they stay alive. Oh, the misunderstood horse, I could and most likely will write a book about it one day. It is something so dear to my heart as I know how many mistakes I have made and will most likely, in my humanness, continue to make. 

The horse’s connection to their intuition has made them one of the most successful species on this planet. They have been leaving hoof prints on the earth in some form for the last 55 million years. 

We could learn a lot from the intuition of horses, they instinctively know when it is time to stay still, time to move, or time to sniff the breeze. We have that skill, but it has been lost in the haze of rushing, producing, creating, accumulating, and moving oh so very fast in our daily lives. 

Coupled with the internet, telephones, television, and a myriad of other distractions we have lost the very thing that connects us deeply to our horses. Our intuition, our inner guidance system. 

I in the WISE formula is for INTUITION. 

It is never too late to uncover it, as it is within all of us. Its wisdom aligns with what is right for us and our horses. It starts with knowing our true core values.

I want you to take a pen and paper and write a letter to your horse.

Write down your pledge to them. What are your core values when it comes to your horse? Do you want to only ride when they agree? Or maybe it is never to yank the reins, or never push them forward without giving them a little time to think if they are worried? Maybe it is never to let anyone do something to them that doesn’t align with your core values. Even if that means stopping the trainer who has more experience than you. Or asking the farrier to step away mid trim. You are the advocate for your horse, no one else. 

Maybe you don’t own a horse, but lease or ride a school horse. Your core values are just as important. Remember, you are the paying client. Let your lessons align with your core values by talking about them with your trainer ahead of time.

Intuition will keep you on your path. Once you have written down and remind yourself of your core values with your horse you can make sure that everything you do with them is in alignment with those values. When emotions are pulling you away from that path, your intuition will let you know, listen to it and step back to where you align once more. 

A soul unfulfilled will never be a soul at peace. When you go against what you believe, if those niggling feelings of “This just isn’t right” is undermining your intuition, your relationship between you and your horse will suffer. Suffice to say, you will never feel at peace with yourself or your horse. 

Don’t we owe the horses this? Be true to what you believe in.  

You already have your why, now you have your core beliefs. Together this is the foundation of your relationship with your horse. Your intuition will guide you if you listen to it. 

When I first worked on the intuition part of the formula for myself, I wondered, could I get out of the way of my ego and truly listen to the quieter voice that came from deep inside? Could I listen to the messages that my ego batted out of the way? Could I gently let go of the things of youth without feeling like a failure? Could I trust that intuition to still let me grow but in a different direction and quiet the voice that worried what others would think? 

The results came quickly, and peace came back to my life with horses. Doing this inner work was something powerful for me and I have never looked back. 

The wind is still battering outside, and it is just getting light, my mind has wandered to my horses Branna and Blu. I hope they are ok out there, but I trust them, they are clever native horses who listen constantly to their own intuition. They will be tucked under the high Cornish hedges surrounding their fields and most likely not even feeling a bit of the wind that is howling several feet above their heads. They know best how to stay warm and dry in a storm. 

I wish nothing but the best for you and the horses in your life. Trust yourself, you are full of life experiences and wisdom, let that voice be heard. Before you know it, it will get louder and bolder… truly then you will be unstoppable and your horse will feel it. Trust will build and the relationship will blossom. 

You are well on your way to becoming a WISE rider.

Article 3

S is for Safety

Learn from Andrea

As she walked towards the mounting block, I could see her visibly starting to shake. Her shoulders rose higher around her neck. The horse, previously standing quietly with her handler, started to dance and move away from the steps. Immediately, the horse was circled and held back in place. I stood up and left, I had seen enough. 

It was the start of the macabre interaction between a confused horse and a nervous rider. I wanted to shout stop! And help the rider find her grounding, calm herself before she climbed on the horse, but in this “fake it till you make it” world, she was told to swallow it and hide her fears… My friends, you can’t hide from a horse. 

My new mantra is “Don’t fake it, face it!”

This is a scenario that plays out almost daily between horses and humans. The fear virus spreads through the body, the what ifs and maybe flooding the emotional landscape. Our horses respond immediately, they don’t know how not to. 

Our heart rhythms can become entrained, but which way will it go… the nervous rider calming to meet the stoic, beautiful school master waiting patiently to carry them past their fears? 

Or will the younger horse, the dream partner for the person who waited a lifetime to have their own horse, will their heart surge in the wrong direction to meet the person stiffly walking towards them, with a mind full of doom? The perfect storm awaits. 

Of course, I can’t sit here and tell you that you are never going to get hurt. I expect at some point today you are going to get in your car and drive somewhere. But I bet you don’t walk towards your car saying, “Oh my gosh, I bet I crash today!” 

Fear is hands down the most common reason riders, or horse people in general seek us out at WISE Riders. Fear can be one of the most pervasive emotions we experience. Of course, it is vital, I have a brother who fears very little and his list of broken bones (albeit accompanied by spectacular stories) are starting to take their toll. 

When it comes to humans and horses, I feel there is the chicken and the egg scenario. The rider feels nervous, what if the horse spooks, trips, bucks, bolts, rears, falls? Our heart rate shoots up, our mouth goes dry, our bodies go stiff, the horse thinks, “Wow, what’s going on here, do I need to run”? 

“Is this person feeling bad because they know something I don’t?” 

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the horse responds in kind. Or a person rides a horse way over their pay grade and as the horse dances around due to feeling fresh, feeling the wind or a million other reasons, the over horsed human starts to panic, and a risky scenario begins.

I believe in the power of words and what we can attract to ourselves. I have seen this in action. I had a horse in my care who was incredible, he was perfect in every way. He would move off my energy and intention like no other. I had let a friend ride him. All I heard out of her mouth was “He is going to buck”. 

All the while I am watching my horse relaxed and calm walking along with a rhythmic walk and all was fine. “Will you please stop saying that” Again and again she stated the fact “He is going to buck”. I had enough. “Will you just get off” BANG. 

She was neatly put down on the floor in the first buck I had ever seen that horse do. No fanfare, just a neat and tidy up and down. He looked at me as if to say “Well that is what she wanted right? I mean I heard her 10 times!” Watch what messages you send your horse; they might just be listening. 

At this point you may be ready to hang up your boots and think why did I sign up for this series? 

Well, we can change and we will change! If you really want to, that is. This brings me to the next letter in our formula. 

S is for Safety. 

We need fear in our lives to a certain extent but the endless messages of fear we bombard ourselves with can hold us back from the joy and fun that is possible with horses. This game is way too expensive to not find joy in it. Remember your why from our earlier article.

We often tell ourselves stories that may be worse than the real situation. A Mark Twain quote I have often recounted to myself springs to mind. 

“I have lived through some terrible things and some of them actually happened.” This always makes me smile and helps calm the what if’s that things like heights put in my mind. 

How many of the things we worry about, the stories we lavishly develop in our heads happen? Not many. 

Furthermore, ask any enlightened instructor and they will tell you the more tense the body the lighter the seat, the lighter the seat the more likely the rider is to come off. 

There ARE ways to help ourselves feel safer and that in turn sends a message to our brains to stand down, ease up with the stories it fills us with to get us to step way back into the centre of our comfort zones. 

Safety equipment is something that can help us not only feel safer but be safer. 

I am not here to be the helmet police. I look at you all as consenting adults who have made it through the journey of life to get to this point, it is up to you what you do with your head or body. It is not for others to tell you what you should be doing. 

That said, I wear one and it makes me feel safer. I also use a body protector as I have a young horse, and regardless of age it makes me feel better. That allows me to be more relaxed in the saddle, ride better and lower my risk of falling off in the first place. Furthermore, I like neck rein. I use the 3 in 1 neck and chest plate from Ride Correct Connect. All these things can help us be safer and feel safer.

There are many additional options you can look at to lower your risk of a fall. I like what HorseClass instructor Wendy Murdoch talks about. She has you look around when your anxiety goes up on a horse and ask yourself, “what is my level of danger here”? Give it a number. If it is over a 5 out of 10 then DO SOMETHING, get off or whatever you can to BE safe. If it is lower than a 5 and you are just walking along but your brain is telling you to be afraid, then practise some calming techniques and see if you can bring that number down. 

Ok, so I can hear you say, that is all well and good, but I can’t help it. You can! There are many things you can do. As you heard in the interview with Lisa Pulliam in the webinar we shared above, our brains are capable of change, and the right tools can do just that.

I want you to grab your notebook now and write down what helps you feel more safe when you are around your horse or riding.

Is it equipment you use, walking your horse before you ride, asking your instructor to ride the new school horse before you get on in the lesson, going in the back of the trail ride… 

What are the tools you can use to feel better? Use them shamelessly. Because we are here to have fun.

Article 4

E is for Evaluation

Learn from Andrea

By our age, hopefully, we have uncovered the elements we need to work on in life to help us be our happiest and healthiest. But we all are works in progress.

One of the traits I must navigate is how I run at a million miles an hour throughout my life. 

There are just so many things to create, words to write, lessons to share, water to swim in, horses to play with, family emergencies to solve, admin to do, friends to visit, health hiccups, hills to climb, sunsets to watch and so the list goes on into infinity. I love to take life head on, wringing every last ounce out of it, but often I forget to STOP. Correction, I rarely stop!

Stopping is an art form I am yet to master; it is now on my to do list every day because it just doesn’t come naturally to me. 

Recently, Callie (founder of HorseClass and one of my best friends) and I just spent 5 weeks together creating and adventuring, it was a month-long laughter filled, creative work adrenaline high. 

Back home, separated by an ocean, we both admitted whilst it was incredibly fun, and productive, we were both exhausted! As my husband pointed out, we should only be together for a good time not a long time as we live life WAY too wide open!

What we all need at times is to stop and reflect. I am not a massive advocate for looking back. I love the saying “Don’t trip over what’s behind you” but equally how do you know if you want to repeat something in your life if you don’t mull it over. 

This leads us to the last letter in the WISE formula.

E is for Evaluation.

This understated section at the end of all the excitement is probably the most vital. 

How was it for you? Did you enjoy yourself? Did you ride your horse straight out of your comfort zone? Did your emotions get the better of you? Can you rethink and plan a different approach? Did you have the time of your life and can’t wait to do it again? Did your horse enjoy it? Did it align with your core values? Did you feel Safe? 

Gather all this intel and make an informed decision, what is your evaluation? Was it a hell yes or a hell no?

I want you to try this now, grab your pen. Think about the last time you interacted with your horse, whether it was ridden or in hand. How did you feel? Break it down and evaluate. What felt great, which bit needed work? Then decide… were you comfortable and did you have fun? 

The beauty is there is an approach to any answer. The YES is obvious – do it again! But don’t forget, once you are totally comfortable doing something with your horse, maybe try to aim for some progress, and gently widen your comfort zone. 

If it was a resounding NO, ok well let’s dig in. What didn’t work? What did work? 

Here is where you can use what I call the 1% rule. Maybe riding felt like too much on that particular day and your confidence has taken a big knock. It’s OK, you are not alone in this. Many of our WISE rider members have shared confidence issues, and the 1% rule proved to be a game changer. It is a vital part of our WISE ethos.

How does it work?

Let’s say something didn’t go to plan and you are now feeling nervous. Let’s find what you can do and how you can apply the 1% rule. 

Did you ride and you felt nervous? Ok, no problem. Let’s approach it a different way, instead of climbing back on and white knuckling through it. 

Can you just climb on the mounting block, sit on your horse and feel, ok? YES! Great, now GET OFF, seriously. GET OFF. Don’t bust through your comfort zone by riding out through the gate, get off. 

Bank the good feeling and let yourself feel a sense of accomplishment. Then try again tomorrow. 

Take time to let your confidence build. This way your foundation will be strong. Not like riding on a crème brule topping. One tap with the spoon and the whole lot cracks! 

If you got on your horse, sat there and didn’t feel ok, break it down more. Can you just sit on the mounting block and relax without feeling fear? YES? Great, bank it, then tomorrow try the getting on piece.

Break the task down into smaller bite size pieces, bank the feel goods and build on it.

The 1% is the final piece in the WISE formula that can really help you reach your goals. 

Now you have the WISE formula.

W = Why

I = Intuition

S = Safety

E = Evaluation

Use the 1% rule for comfort and expansion.

It has been my utmost pleasure to share with you the WISE formula that continues to help me ride through the years.  

If you have enjoyed the lessons, the fun, and the camaraderie we are opening the WISE riders club to the public on May 29. If it feels like a good fit for you, we would love to welcome you in!

The club is a yearlong program of monthly 90 min webinars sharing the world’s finest educators, plus monthly meetups where we share our challenges and triumphs and enjoy a true sense community and camaraderie.

You can ask the questions you have always wanted answers to. Learn and be inspired. Our aim is to keep you and your horse on track and achieve your goals whatever your age. 

I have brought together some of the greatest minds in the equestrian world to share with you their knowledge and personal experiences of learning and how to thrive with horses in later life. 

The best part… they are all of a certain age!

Don’t worry if you can’t make a webinar live, they are always recorded.

In the coming months we will be learning from David Lichman, Letitia Glen, Jim Masterson, and many more. 

Learning, community, and camaraderie awaits you in the WISE Riders Club. 


Enrollment for WISE Riders Club Opens May 29

  • Connect to Like-Minded Riders from Around the World
  • 12 Monthly Webinars and Meetups
  • Dedicated Private Facebook Group
  • Personal Learning Pathways

Coming Soon!