I would say, at this point in my life, I know a lot of equestrians who are in school. Like, most of them I know are in school. Some of them are in school, work, and ride. Myself? I work, I have my horse, and I’m also in school part time. Even though my schedule is way more relaxed than many others, I still have a hard time fitting things into my daily schedule and getting all of my stuff done. By things and stuff, I specifically mean I don’t always ride my horse So many other riders I know manage to ride one, or more, horses daily, get their school work done, and also hold down a job. Why then, can I simply not get my act together? Well, I actually have quite a few
- I don’t have a trainer. Since I cannot afford lessons, riding and trying to make improvements before a lesson isn’t even on my daily priority list. I just want to see a mental and emotional improvement between rides right now, and that I can judge on my own (with the help of my horse). I do, of course, want to improve my riding but I’m not on a weekly schedule with that. More like a… “whenever I can get someone to come video me” schedule.
- I have an anxiety disorder. Sometimes this anxiety disorder gets really out of control, and when that happens it makes it incredibly difficult to maintain a level head and I have found that riding when I’m anxious just doesn’t go well (sensitive mares for the win, amirite?). I AM making improvements on being able to leave my anxiety at the road when I get to the barn but sometimes I’d rather cuddle than climb into the saddle and for myself and my horse, that’s a-okay.
- I’m super obsessive about my grades. Friends and teachers alike have told me to chill out because I’m too obsessive. Spring 2017 I almost dropped a class three/four weeks into the semester because I was convinced I was going to fail (I got an A in the class btw). I didn’t do well in high school (thank you anxiety disorder) and I’m really trying to change everything about how I approach school related stress for college. I’m currently only at a community college but the goal here is to transfer to a university for a Bachelor’s (and possibly a Masters) as soon as I’ve got the necessary credits.
- I’m not willing to wake up at 5 or 6 AM to go ride before I start my day. This is 100% a me problem. I can’t even complain about this one, I’ve given up my right by saying that I’m not willing because that proves that I know it’s a possibility. Honestly, my boyfriend wants me waking up that early to go to the gym and again I’m not willing at this point in time. However, I am hoping to commit to making that change within the next year (to go the gym, we’ll see about the riding).
- I’m at a small farm. How is this an issue? Everyone else at the farm works full time jobs and most of them have families. While one or two of the other borders also ride English the primary discipline is Western and most of the riders just trail ride. This means that when I go work my horse, I’m working alone. This is good for focus but that’s really a double edged sword. I could be focusing on all the wrong things and wouldn’t know. I don’t have anyone to tell me what’s going on from the ground and I don’t have anyone to video for me so I can visually see what I need to work on.
- I have a lot of body issues. Not body image issues, literally body issues. My muscular structure is fairly weak, and my skeleton likes to shift out of place. This has made it incredibly painful to ride. My hips, back, and shoulders are all extremely painful, whether I ride or not. Oh and of course my ankles and knees get achy when I’m in the saddle for too long. Every equestrian seems to go through pain though, and obviously we all ride through it. The pain is just one more reason to keep me out of the saddle when it’s one problem of many.
Know what the beauty of that list is? I feel like it’s all just silly excuses. YES they are my reasons but I also have realized, since working on getting back in the saddle and bringing my girl back into work, that they’re just excuses! They can be worked around!
I love my horse, I love riding, and my mare needs a job. It’s not necessarily that I’ve convinced myself that she wants to work, (let’s get real, the Punk is p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y happy standing around in the pasture with her boyfriends grazing and swatting at flies); it’s that when she doesn’t work, or when I don’t see her often, her entire personality changes. She gets so bratty about everything! Won’t lead respectfully, won’t stand tied (she’ll either break her halter or untie herself, no shit), gets sassy about being worked with or tacked up, and then if you do risk it and get on she’s batty under saddle because she’s got way too much energy.
Beside the benefits for her, there are some insane benefits for me. One of the best things for anxiety levels is the outdoors and exercise. I’ve always known this but because of the negative effects of anxiety it makes it hard to remember it or be motivated to get out and do stuff outside when the anxiety hits. Not to mention if I’m not calm and relaxed my mare tends to get worked up and nervous and that just sends the whole situation spiraling (again, I’m working on it).
Since coming back to ride my anxiety has started to ease off, although there’s a lot of stress in my life still. I’m handling it as best I can, and making time to ride. I don’t know how things will work out come fall when I pick up a heavier class load again (only doing one class over the summer so I can have a bit of a break) but I’m hoping that I can stay strong and make the time to ride at least 3 to 4 days a week. Even if that means waking up at 5 or 6 AM just to drive the half-hour and go for a quick hack on the trails. Whatever it takes to keep myself, and Bella, in motion and happier.