At some point in time we have all been there, a place we thought couldn’t possibly exist—the horse slump.
Although it’s hard to admit you’re in one, it’s a place that is easily identified. Riding just doesn’t feel like it used to and going to the barn seems like a dull chore. This may have been brought on by bad weather, a laid up horse, or maybe just a lack of something new.
Sometimes a small change in your routine is all you will need to find your way back to enjoying horses again.
1. Read a training book outside of your discipline
Learning from a different discipline will not only broaden your knowledge, but you might just learn something new that you can implement or bring over to your discipline.
2. Take a riding lesson
If you ride mostly by yourself, take a riding lesson. A second set of eyes can help identify things you might not have noticed you were struggling with or give you the push you needed to advance to the next level in your riding. A good trainer will know when to encourage you and when to give you a push.
3. Audit a clinic
Auditing a clinic is both affordable and fun! It eliminates the pressure of performing well and allows you to instead watch from the sidelines and get a fresh perspective on things. Maybe something will inspire you and you’ll just be itching to get back in the saddle again!
4. Set new goals or re-evaluate old ones
Setting goals keeps you on track, but sometimes setting goals that are too big can make it seem like you aren’t progressing. Try making smaller more attainable goals and keep a log of your progress. Before you know it, you will be able to look back in your log and see how far you’ve come.
5. Enter a local show
Having a show to look forward to will help keep you motivated and staying on track with your riding. Even if you are not a show person, entering just for fun can be both exciting and rewarding, especially if you go in with no expectations.
6. Switch horses with your friend
Riding a different horse improves your skill as a rider and can be both fun and refreshing, especially if your friend is riding your horse too! Exchange thoughts and ideas and help each other out. Riding multiple horses will improve your sense of feel for a horse and make you more aware of yourself and your ride.
7. Watch a classic horse movie
Remember that favorite horse movie from your childhood? Maybe it was Black Beauty, The Black Stallion or perhaps The Man from Snowy River? Make some popcorn, curl up on the couch, and swing back to a time when owning your own horse was perhaps just a distant dream.
8. Plan a weekend getaway with your horse
A change of scenery might be just what you (and your horse!) need. Hit a horse-friendly beach, take a trail ride in the mountains, or maybe ride that trail you’ve heard people rave about. Explore a new area from the back of your trusted friend, relax, and have fun!
9. Have a spa day at the barn
Not for you, for your horse! Pamper your horse with a bath, a good scrub down massage followed by brushing and perhaps a mane and tail trim. Disinfect and re-organize your tack box and clean and oil any leather. You’d be amazed how good it feels to return to the barn when you know everything is clean and ready to go.
10. Watch a horse show live or on TV
Although equestrian sports aren’t as common on TV as football and hockey, there are many channels that broadcast equestrian events. You can also find several sites online that allow you to stream live events and watch them from the comfort of your own home. Make a night of it and invite your barn friends over to join in on the fun!
11. Do a little retail therapy
There’s probably nothing a visit to a local tack store couldn’t cure! Breathe in that scent of leather, browse around and try on some new apparel. Who knows, maybe taking home a new piece of tack might just do the trick.
About the Author
Lily Creamer is a European equine enthusiast and writer currently based out of Homer, Alaska. Her equine family consists of a young Belgian Warmblood, Enzo, and her daughter’s trusty steed, a Quarter Horse named Pt. Pellew. When not working with her horses or writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and staying up to date in the world of showjumping.