Confessions of a Timid Rider

When Is It Time To Stop Riding? Part Two: The Rider

I’m a returning adult equestrian. I grew up riding, but decided to stop for a number of reasons.

  • I began to lose my passion for horses because it was not the right barn for me.
  • My trainers focused on competition rather than horsemanship, so I burnt out.
  • I began to get a sick, anxious feeling in my gut driving up to the barn.

The latter was the final straw. I was a horse-obsessed child and for me to feel nothing but a pit in my stomach just before riding. Well- that wasn’t what I wanted in life.

I stopped riding to focus on getting into college, going to school, starting a career in New York City, then getting married and starting a family of my own.

When Is It Time to Start Riding Again?

I dreamed of horses, waking in the morning, with the feeling of galloping through the woods on horseback and feeling the exhilaration. I found myself at a barn on vacation in Ireland, where I enthusiastically rode the countryside with my guide, jumping downed trees and galloping fields. It was truly a bliss that I had missed for many years, even when I was taking lessons.

Still, it would be almost 10 years before I found myself back in a lesson barn. The dreams never stopped. After having my eldest daughter, I was lonely for adult company, living with postpartum depression, and drinking too much wine to feel numb for a while. I asked my husband if I could start something for myself. That was horses. Once a week, I snuck away to enjoy some time to myself and found that the smell comforted me, soothed by the gentle nickers and sounds of chewing. For the first time in almost two decades, I felt at peace. I felt I truly was home.

Horses helped to heal me. I found friends that had something in common- a passion for horses and stopped hiding from my emotions. In truth, I had to step away to grow up and realize that it wasn’t horses that I left, but that particular situation. I learned how to find what made me happy and feel comfortable leaving when it wasn’t the right fit to help me grow.

Now, horses have become integral to my life. They are my favorite way to relax, and helping them has become my career. I can imagine my life without them, but I don’t want to anymore. Now, I envision my future with them even if that means I don’t ride from time to time. Taking a break can sometimes be healthy mentally and physically.

I found my way back. I never regret stopping riding but I had to for me to find out who I am as a person and what I want in my life. Horses have a way of encompassing every facet of your lifestyle. It’s truly an obsession for many of us. But when it stops being fun, or relaxing, or what fulfills you, there is nothing wrong with taking a step back or fully away. Sometimes you have to let things go to determine what is truly important.

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