How are you feeling? What keeps you going? What has helped you find more fulfillment in your riding?
When I was younger I felt very pressured to Keep Up (or keep pushing to some unknown end). I had a wonderfully athletic, incredibly capable, super lovely horse. As magnificent as he was, however, I was just a sack of potatoes who had absolutely no knowledge (and even less skill )
Once upon a time a friend told me “[horse] doesn’t care about living up to his potential, [horse] doesn’t care if he never shows himself off, [horse] just wants to be fed and watered, have a clean stall, adequate turnout, and when handled, to be handled with kindness.”
I won’t lie, that kinda knocked me off the rails for a bit but it turns out, it’s what I needed to hear. (And, free from the pressure/expectation/self imposed obligation To Perform, we actually got quite proficient.) That said - he passed away very unexpectedly in a very sudden way. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get back into horses after it, I felt like he was my once in a lifetime.
When the horse bug came nipping (as it tends to do…) and I ended up with another horse, I told myself that there would never be any expectations with her. If she wants to do dressage (what I bought her for), that would be great. If she’d rather we go event, that’s fine. If she just wants to be my very expensive trail partner, that’s OK too - because I enjoy her. I enjoy her company, I enjoy her personality, and honestly, I just enjoy spending time with her. It’s why I was OK buying a 12wk old foal, knowing it would be years before I could ride. I enjoyed her when she was an ugly unbalanced yearling hidden behind a barn because OMG would the front end ever catch up to her butt?? And I enjoy her now as a reasonably well balanced (but still ridiculous) mare.
I feel like this is more schmoopy than I meant it to be, ha. But at the end of the day…I want to be a good rider. But I want to be a good rider because I want to be a kind, effective rider, who can do all the things I’d like (and even the things I don’t know to think of, yet) with my horse.
(it goes without saying that I am really, really, really not a competitive person so while I did show in the past, I’m not really chasing the concept of it now. )
I like being at the barn on my own. I like spending time with my horse when it’s just the two of us. I don’t need hustle and bustle, or socializing. It’s always just been about the relationship with my horse, for me. As long as that’s present, I think I could be happy anywhere.