Overcoming Riding Slumps- Thoughts, Tips and Some Retail Therapy to Get You Through August 05 2015
I have been in a riding "slump" for the last year. I would ride on trail here and there, maybe a little arena work, but nothing consistent. I was at a loss- how does someone go from a life long love of horses, to having a "marginal" passion for riding?
Well, once I recognized that I had riding "malaise", I started to ask around- friends, fellow boarders, even online communities- for other's feedback on my situation. I quickly discovered that I was one of many who has been through this- so I wanted to share my personal experiences and solutions to hopefully benefit others!
It was very clear that my beloved, lazy horse and I had become "de-sensitized" to our riding routine, and we were both in desperate need of re-kindling the flame.... So, I looked at him, 20 years young, but a bit atrophied, and made a decision to build his body and mind, and my own drive.
Here's what I found that has helped me get out of my slump:
- Identify the Blockage: Why are you no longer interested? Is your riding routine just a routine? Did you reach a training stumbling block with your horse? For us, I didn't know where to go from where we were, and I just didn't have the time to get into a specific discipline and compete. Also, despite Desario's tip top health, it seemed that he wasn't very interested in doing much either, as he would plod along through every ride. It was clear I needed to re-energize our time together.
- Make Goals: Decide why you're riding. Doesn't have to be to win a blue ribbon- although that's a very motivating goal for many-; it could be to increase your strength, build your horse's topline, or simply learn something new. But decide on why. For Desario and I, I decided I wanted to build both of our core strenghts, and wanted to elongate his health as much as possible. So I signed up for dressage lessons to increase his flexibility and exercise his mind.
- Develop an Execution Plan: How are you going to reach those goals? My trainer told me that he needed to be ridden at least 3x per week to get into the condition that I wanted. So, enter my execution plan :)
- Stay Accountable: Make sure that you put a system in place that requires you to continue to reach your goals. Our lessons are once a month. That gives me three weeks to practice and show the trainer how much we've progressed. It's really helped and we are ready to learn new moves at each lesson!
- Plan Fun Dates: Now you can make lots of analogies to dating... :) Make sure not all of your execution plan is goal-oriented! It's always important to have those relaxing, goal-free rides to check in with your horse and enjoy the moment. Desario and I love to trail ride, so I try to plan one of those somewhere in our beautiful coastal town at least once a month.
- Stay Healthy: And of course... you and your horse can't do well at anything if you're not feeling well. When we started our program, I had taken Desario off his joint supplement, HylaSport OTC, to see how he would do; I quickly regretted it and put him back on, and the amount of forward motion in each of our lessons improves every time. I also douse him with a generous amount of Aloe Herbal Fly Spray Concentrate, mixed with Apple Cider Vinegar, and use the No Fly Zone Healing Salve for any sensitive areas prior to our rides during these hot, buggy summer days. And if he has had a tough workout, then I also do a once-over his legs with EquiSpa's Cool Muscle Wash, which I am working on adding to the store! As for my health, I am a natural health nut... but I won't bore you with that for now :)
I hope this was interesting and helpful and I hope you are looking forward to as many gratifying August rides as I am!