Birth of a Download

My ‘other’ life when I’m not out and about teaching is that of a law student. At times like these, less than a month from exams, I wonder why but when I’m not under mad exam or assignment pressure I really do quite enjoy the learning process and content.

I’m an off campus student and can even order library books over the internet which are delivered to me by courier. I go on campus to do exams and purchase text books! Technology being what it is means I’m able to download my lectures and listen to them via my iphone. For someone who spends as much time in the car as I do this is a Godsend for me!

Something that’s often occupied my thinking is how I would pay the bills if I was injured by a horse, ill, or another unforeseen circumstances arose and I wasn’t able to teach. This is one of the many issues of working for yourself, there’s no sick pay and my insurance covers me for public liability but not if I’m hurt myself. I can get insurance to cover me of course but it’s very expensive and not justifiable at the moment on top of what I already pay.

So I’m driving around the countryside listening to various law lectures and the proverbial light bulb comes on over my head! Imagine if you could have the ‘voice in your head’ as you rode!! The voice checking your position, suggesting exercises, giving confidence etc. I often see people working their horses who do a warm up and then not really have any sort of a plan of what to do next in terms of training for the day. Most people I teach work, have families and are generally busy. They come to their horses for some relaxation and that time is often very precious and fought for in their busy lives. They may not have a collection of schooling exercises in their head to draw on. How great would it be if I could give them something to ride to at an appropriate level?! They’d just pop the headphones on and I’d guide them through a training session. The added bonus of my fabulous idea is that it offered me an income which didn’t involve me being physically there.

I drove home that day full of grand plans! I mean how hard could it be? Find something on the computer to record in an MP3 format and then just sit there and talk! Like I do in a lesson. Fantastic. I’ll have a dozen done in a week! Boy was I in for a shock. I hooked up the computer, hit record and started talking. It was probably after about take 12 where I had stopped because I’d said um or a weird silence where I thought of something, that I realised that perhaps a script, a plan or some further thought would be a good idea!!

I started writing……and writing, and writing, and writing. It turns out to speak for long enough to make a download takes between 5000 – 9000 words of writing! The recording is the easy part, believe me.

My next epic fail was sending the first recording to some friends and students who I knew would give me good feedback over and above ‘oh that sounds great!’. One Saturday night I was talking with a close friend who remembered she hadn’t listened yet. She rang me up after about 10 minutes and goes ‘erm Fi, are you meant to be swearing at yourself in this?’. Cue more swearing as I realise I’ve sent her the wrong download and I panic and try and work out how many other people I’ve sent that version to!

Now, some six months or so later, I have two downloads available for sale and a number more VERY close to being ready. It’s taken considerably longer than I’d ever thought however I think it’s been worth it. I’m much clearer about what I want to be able to offer and who I want to be able to offer it to.

My aim is to offer some structure, ideas and exercises to people’s daily rides for a low cost. My market isn’t those out there training and competing at higher levels of dressage, it’s the average amateur rider who’s juggling other commitments and rides for pleasure, for exercise, who may have confidence issues, who enjoys going out and competing with a group of friends. These are the people I love teaching, the people I celebrate with as they achieve something they hadn’t thought they could do, be it cantering, just getting on, struggling with issues on a particular horse or that first competition. I’ve many more downloads in the works but I’m always open to options. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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