Agile Working – Active People: Rachel Rees

In our continuing series of blogs, we highlight the energetic members of the Paramount team to prove that office design isn’t just about sitting behind a desk.

Today, we asked our Senior Designer, Rachel Rees, to tell us how she keeps active outside of the workplace.

My Midlife Crisis Obsession and Passion for Horses

Horses are warm velvet noses, affectionate, clever, funny and comforting in the sometimes crazy world that we live in.

They are stunning, majestic creatures that will happily carry you and look after you, mostly stopping out of concern if you falter.

They can be sweet, obliging, disciplined creatures who react to your every whim.

Despite it being a hard, dirty toil, and tough in the depths of winter, it is a privilege to care for them, as they give so much back. It can be a beautiful relationship of trust.

Female horse rider and horse in stable

They can also be vicious, lunging at their foes within the herd, demonstrating the upper hand with you on their back, or they can be wild or scared and impervious to all your efforts and skills when trying to stop them.

An out-of-control situation is the scariest thing of all, a kind of ‘well-this-is-it-then’ flash situation. Above all though, the pleasures outweigh this and make it a worthwhile, healthy obsession.

Rider instructions have to be clear, quick and sometimes forceful, otherwise, the horse can be like wayward teenagers and take advantage.

Horse and woman in silhouette

Clichéd I know, but it’s an experience that makes you feel alive and in love with the world, when you’re trotting through the long grass, along the river on a warm summers eve, after a day at the office.

It’s just you, and an animal responding to your body’s instructions… oh yes, and an irate instructor yelling that you’re doing it wrong, and to keep your heels down and toes pointing upwards.

Horse-riders in a field in Wales

Riding makes you fit, but you have to be fit to do it, and so regular runs in between my lessons help strengthen my legs to do the required job.

You mustn’t ‘grip up’ or you will eject yourself. Flying into mid-air from a horse is too far to fall, without snapping something crucial, and as adults, we don’t bounce as well as the kids.

It’s about position, balance and being at one with your horse and its gait.

Horse-riders on a beach

It’s a mindset thing. You have to believe you can do it in order to do it. Horses sense you and your body condition. If you’re tense and uptight, they are too, which is not the best combination.

I watched an instructor on her own horse, training for competition, who effortlessly made everything stack up and come together, looking elegant and in tune with her horse. This magnificent animal was putty in her hands.

I asked another instructor why, for all my efforts, I can’t do that, upon which she explained that it was about a lifetime of intense training commitment and experience.

Polaroid pictures of horse-riding

I’m a grade 3 ‘wannabe’ in the 2 plusses. After 2 years of sometimes intense lessons, and all the various stages, I am now competent at cantering with no hands. The next stage to face is jumping.

I would have hated to have lived my life without cantering. Will I feel the same about jumping? Ask me in a year’s time.

Riding disciplines can be adapted to outside situations. No matter how difficult, if you have a job to do, get on with it! Step by step, believing in yourself. Shoulders back, head up with a strong core!


Keep an eye out, because we’ll be “trotting out” a new Active People blog soon.

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