Being an equestrian has felt like a full time job at some points, but a job I love, don’t get me wrong. Us amateurs could learn a little from the weekenders/vacation trail riders. Riding has been an enjoyable hobby since we were little and just learning how to tack up our ponies, ah those were such simpler times. This is for all those equestrians that are stuck in the middle and adult ammy’s that have regular jobs to support their love of going horseback and trek to the barn late at night after work.
If you’re like a lot of other equestrians, you are probably just looking to have fun, build a partnership with your horse with the encouragement from your trainer while seriously seeking to develop your riding skills at the same time. This takes up every summer weekend away at shows, missing family bbq’s and time relaxing poolside with a glass of wine. We wouldn’t want it any other way, but at the same time, it is a huge responsibility of time, effort and sometimes runs you ragged!
Once in a while, we all need a break, even from the things we love. Similar to working with your spouse/significant other. You know you love them, but healthy breaks for friends and time apart is beneficial. This is when having other commitments may relieve some of the equine-related stress that you have.
Having a few not-as-productive lessons in a row and just becoming overwhelmed with all of the running around is totally ok and gets to everyone. Getting familiar with another hobby can be a great source of variety for your brain and even promotes cognitive development and maintenance.
Personally, I’ve reached a point in my riding where I appreciate a few days off once in a while and so does my horse. This can even be true with new partnerships. Riders with new horses that have recently arrived to their new barn can often not act the same. The stress of being plopped in a totally different stall with different bedding, different smells, different horses and the worst- different water, can really knock your newfound friend’s confidence. Giving new horses time to acclimate can be another appropriate time for you to get familiar with a new activity.
This is a great chance to bond with your significant other within their hobbies too- haven’t you tortured them enough by dragging them to the barn to watch you stare at your horse for 2 ½ hours?
Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, metal detecting, cooking and what the heck even crocheting! Working different parts of your body and your brain is good for your overall wellbeing and will probably help improve your riding. Being trapped in a cloud of negativity and repetivity doesn’t help your posture, increases muscle tension and creates a sense of “never getting there”. Taking a step back and doing something else can absolutely boost self confidence and reassure you that you are capable!
Taking a break will also instill how much you do love to ride still. While enjoying another activity you’ll probably find yourself missing what you were frustrated with. If non-equine related activities are totally out of your bounds, get the creative juices flowing and build some tack room furniture or customize some brushes. That way you don’t have to feel completely guilty spending some time away from the barn. And if that is even too much, make a change to your riding schedule, get out of the ring and onto some trails or, go out and hack the hilly pastures. It’s good not only for you but for your horse! Some variation in work is beneficial to work different muscles and get your horse acclimated to being in different environments while still listening and respecting your aids.
As equestrians, we are often told and read that this is all we do and that is often true, so take a healthy mental break once in a while, you and your horse deserve it. It’s OK to not want to ride for a couple days- it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your horse-y spunk, it just means that you need to focus on something else temporarily.
You want to continue to enjoy something, not drag it down. If it isn’t enjoyable, it isn’t worth doing. Don’t ruin a good thing!
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