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  • Writer's pictureLaura

Remember Your "Why"

Trail horse.  Dressage horse.  Horse. Selfie.
Trail time with Steve-O.

We finally had some real rain last night here in SoCal... and it looks like we'll be getting more over the next few days! Lord knows our state certainly needs the rain.

"Wow, that's great, Laura! But we're here to read about dressage horses, not the weather... so what's the point?"

You're right! The point is - if you're like me or most of my clients and friends, if the weather keeps us out of the arena and knocks our riding routine out of whack, we kind of lose it...

Can you relate?

Unfortunately 'tis the season for this sort of thing... and not just for weather-related riding routine interruptions. This is also the time of year when work and family obligations and stress are at an all time high. Between tough hours at work (my folks that work in sales, especially retail/wholesale - I see you), holiday parties, kids' (or your own) school holiday programs and events, extra family obligations and pressure... oh, wait, your usual ride time? Wait, what's that? Where does that fit in? Now the usually fun, stress-relieving ride has become yet another "thing to do"... because, you know, goals and all. We are dressage riders, after all. We all have big goals - DUH!

Ok, I'm exhausted just typing all of that. And THEN... add in the yucky stuff that's going on in the world right now. Inflation sucks. Gas is well over $5/gallon (don't even ask about diesel!). Hay costs are at an all time high (over $30/bale for a 3-string bale of alfalfa, compared to just over $15 for that same bale only one year ago). People food is also more expensive than ever... and the list goes on! Just being a living human costs SO much more right now! I don't know about you, but for me, the burn out is real.

The burn out is real... but you know what, it's ok. It's totally ok to not be ok. And it's totally ok to not feel like "go, go, go - let's chase those big riding goals" right now. Feeling this way does NOT make you a bad rider or an unmotivated, not serious rider. It makes you human. And it's totally ok to be human.

Truly... roll with me on this one! I know, as dressage riders, even entertaining this idea goes against our very nature! But, you know what? You don't have to ride and train hard every day of every week to be successful. Really... you don't.

You are allowed to take down time. You need it. Your horse needs it. "Back in the day", the seasons used to force us all to take some down time. Now we live in a world where nothing stops - ever. Hell, even our horse show season runs year-round! As soon as year-end championships wrap, the winter season begins. And the winter season bleeds into the spring and then summer and then go, go go! It's fall and year-end championships all over again!

Did you get a chance to stop and breathe? I didn't.

Did you get a moment to stop and enjoy your fantastic horse? To just enjoy having a super cool horse? No? You know, it's ok to take the time to do that...

Here's the thing about riding, especially dressage training... Just because you hit the "pause" button on your training, doesn't mean the work and building you've done goes away. If you take a few weeks off, your horse will not forget how to do a shoulder-in. He will lose some fitness, like any athlete, but he won't forget all the work you've done. When you're ready to pick it back up, your horse will be there for you. He'll be game... I promise.

Trail horse. Trail ride.  Horse.
Steve-O is learning to be so brave out and about solo. We may not be working in the arena today but, mark my words, the skills this horse is learning out here will serve him well in the show pen. And you can't beat the view!

I say all this to reassure anyone who is feeling like I have been feeling lately. I've been feeling low. I see all these fellow trainers with their big sponsors and big money horses and clients killing it on the winter circuit, and I'm at home just trying to figure out how to cover basic expenses (gotta love those California prices, lol). Money for shows? What's that?

And in spite of all of this and feeling pretty crummy about it, I am still riding my crew and putting in the work... but sometimes a trail ride is way more fun and beneficial than a lackluster arena session and I'm rolling with that right now. My horse isn't going to magically forget how to half pass or leg yield because we took it easy and did a few less arena rides for few weeks.

Stella schooling in the double this week. We're absolutely still putting in the work... but are we "hustling and grinding" right now? No, absolutely not... and that's totally ok.

So if you're feeling a little crummy, too... hey, tis the season! It's totally OK! Take some down time. Take time to recharge. Enjoy your horse. He (or she) is pretty awesome. Horses are not easy. We do this because it's supposed to be fun... at least most of the time.

It's ok to take time to recharge and remember your "why." You'll be back even bigger and stronger!

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