When we first learn how to ride or own our first horse, the newness of the horse world consumes us. Every time we are with the horse and a teacher or trainer, we take giant steps forward because everything is new and we can easily measure our progress. There is a constant sense of excitement, and we can’t wait to see the horse, the stable, fellow riders or the riding instructor again.
Life does however throw us roadblocks, and we may have experienced a fall that made us apprehensive, or we need to give our pocket book a break and stop taking lessons. Our riding buddies may not be available to ride with us, and we have to look for new riding partners, but it can take a while to find someone compatible. And then there is the weather. The winter months may not allow us to be out riding as much as we used to. After several years of riding we still love it, but there may be times when we feel we are not making any progress. On the contrary, we may even feel that we are losing our edge or can no longer do the maneuvers we used to be able to do when we were on a rigorous lesson schedule.
We are in a rut, and it is frustrating. What should we do? I have found that when I get to this point, I need to do two things. One is to work on my attitude. It is easy for me to dwell on the frustration and become preoccupied with my own inability to make progress or to see the sense in it all. It helps to remember that my horse, even though she may not display the best of her abilities, has retained most of what she learned a while back. I just need to bring it back. I also need to remind myself that not progressing doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what we have. I need to live in the moment and once again appreciate just being with my horse, thus turning what seemed like a “rut” into a mantra. Me and my horse, being together and just enjoying each other with whatever we are doing, even if we have done it a few hundred times.
The other strategy I use is to work on a few changes. If I can afford to take some lessons with a new trainer, it may help me to get a new perspective and new things to work on. I may put some energy into finding one or two new people I can ride with, since new riding buddies bring new riding experiences. I may watch a training video or read a book and pick one new thing to work on with my horse. I may create a new, simple challenge for myself, like pushing myself to ride a bit longer every time I am out, or riding around some new obstacles I put up. I like trail riding and have my favorite trails, but maybe it is time to find a new trail, even if it takes a bit more time and effort to get to it.
The main thing to remember is: Don’t let the rut take over. Fight it. Be inventive. Find inspiration in other horses and riders by watching them, going to a horse show or visiting a horse rescue. Connect with other riders in your area by going online or posting on local bulletin boards. Soon you will have that excitement again that you had when you started out with your horse adventure.