Learn to slow down and embrace every moment with your horse!
It may be cliché, but equestrians really do need to “enjoy the ride”. Far too often riders become absorbed in accomplishing goals and finding success that they forget to take in the little things. Let your stress go and learn to appreciate your horse and their little quirks.
Is your horse lame? Has your riding hit a plateau? That’s okay because life can be and usually is messy. Think of this though… You’re so incredibly lucky to have a horse and ride. Really think about how amazing it is to have these magnificent animals in your life. It’s a luxury to many. Enjoying the ride starts with being grateful.
How can you show your gratitude?
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” -Epictetus
First, don’t be afraid to be content with what you have. This doesn’t mean you can’t strive to improve, but always give thanks first. You can even make a list by jotting down good things about your horse and riding. What are some of your previous successes? What is your horse good at? Do you they make you smile and laugh? You can take it a step further and show your gratitude with a gesture. Make your horse a special treat or hand graze them for a few minutes. The options are endless!
As you think about how wonderful your horse is, remember those in your life who have helped you make it possible. They could be spouse, parents, or a mentor. Even your barn buddies and the farm owner have likely made your life easier one time or another. Don’t forget to show them thanks, as well.
You and your horse are good enough.
“What do you think is the biggest waste of time?”
“Comparing yourself to others”, said the mole.”
We are social beings, and thus we tend to compare ourselves to others. In the horse world, someone is always a better rider, has a more expensive horse, and fancier tack. Instead of weeping for what you don’t have, learn to focus on your own progress and successes. Try keeping a record of your achievements. Even the little things like your horse waiting patiently for their grain or getting a smooth transition. Seriously, write them down!
It can also be helpful to avoid triggers. You may need to detox from social media for a few days or avoid barn drama. It’s essential you learn what sets you off and try to stay clear of those people or activities if you can. We all know that one person who incessantly brags. And it can be hard to go into high-end tack stores when you know it’s not in your budget.
Don’t overthink your rides.
“While you were overthinking, you missed everything worth feeling.” -Nitya Prakash
Bring your mind to the present moment. When you overthink and worry, you cause tension in your body. This can lead to a poor performance from your horse. Some helpful suggestions include count your horse’s rhythm. You can even say it out loud, such as 1-2-1-2 when trotting. Another clever idea is to listen to music while riding. You can hum the words to yourself or sing them out loud. Music has a way of relaxing many people. And lastly, you can focus on your breath as your travel around the arena. Try a deep inhale and exhale. You should feel the stress melt away!
When you soak up the moment- how your horse feels and what they are doing, you’ll start noticing the little things and how enjoyable they are. Even mundane tasks like stall cleaning or grooming can be pleasurable when you set your mind to it. Enjoy the feel of your horse’s fur, let in the smells of the barn, and listen for the neighs. There is something so magical and amazing about the barn. You really are lucky to call yourself a rider. Enjoy the ride.
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