Taboo

I feel like it's taboo to discuss being burned out on riding.  You've got Denny Emerson telling you you're not a real horsewoman unless you drag yourself out of your house and ride every day come hell or high water.  You've got your own brain saying, "We spend way too much on this every month to not participate."  And opposing all that you've got the reality of your real adult life.

Things I did while not riding: decorate my house for Christmas.
I didn't realize I was burned out until a couple of weeks into Connor's training month.  I was really enjoying not having to go the barn, between my trainer riding him and amazing barn worker Liz reading my mind on blanket changes.  At first I felt guilty, then I accepted that I must have been burned out, and then I let myself enjoy my reprieve.  My horse was happy, being ridden five days a week, and well-cared for, and for the first time in five years, I spent an entire weekend not leaving my house.

It was glorious.

Things I did while not riding: Watch YouTube videos of African Grey Parrots with my African Grey Parrot.

I feel like we overlook it while we're in the middle of it, how much we give of ourselves to this hobby and how demanding it is.  I've spent five years doing the hour and a half round trip to the barn four to five times a week, and I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it - but it is a lot.  A lot of money, and a lot of time out of a busy adult schedule.  It's completely unthinkable for a lot of people.

Things I did while not riding: spend a lot of time with my husband, little dog, and not pictured, big dog.

So I didn't let myself feel guilty, and I wondered when - or if - the day would come that I unbearably missed it.  Of course I missed Connor, and I made a few trips out during the month just to feed him cookies and groom him which was great for both of us.  But I wondered whether I would feel the need to be there again, and to push myself to become a better rider day in and day out.

Things I did while not riding: Finally broke down and put a TV in the formal living room.  And I like it.

That day came two nights ago.  I was out there to stuff a cookie in Connor and drop off a video camera with my trainer, and I looked out over the white rail fences and the outdoor I probably won't ride in again until spring and the cute little red and white barn and I missed it.  All of it.  That was the moment.  I left knowing my lesson the next night would be the nail in the coffin, and I would be back.

"I'm back, bitches"
Don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty for checking out (responsibly) for a while.  We're in this hobby for the long haul, you do what you need to do to make it sustainable.

25 comments:

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with this! Especially during the holidays, I tend to ride less because I'm so busy with other things. I usually feel really guilty, but this year I'm trying to remind myself that this is my HOBBY and it's okay to not go to the barn 5-6 days a week, 52 weeks of the year. Every year.

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  2. I'm kind of in the same place right now and getting guilt trips from other people, which is frustrating. But as long as my horses are happy and healthy and being taken care of, it's fine for me to take a step back and give myself that mental break.

    You've certainly accomplished more than me with your time away from the barn. Your Christmas decorations are awesome!

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  3. I'm the type that needs to check out every now and then because riding honestly isn't my #1 priority. Lately, however, I've been struggling with the idea of checking out permanently - or at least for a few years. *shrug* dunno.

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  4. yea..... idk. if i let myself feel guilty or stressed about needing a break, then i kinda undo all the good effects of the break anyway. sometimes you just gotta let it go. the ponies will be there when you get back! and, for me at least, that feeling always comes back eventually!!

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  5. There's definitely guilt about not riding or seeing your horse regularly. I think some of that is reasonable because honestly, nobody is gonna look after your horse like you will, unless you are REALLY REALLY lucky and have amazing barn help (it does happen but it's rare). OTOH, burnout is real and you need to be careful about that. I mean, if I had to do my actual job 7 days a week, I'd burn out too. At least we have weekends and vacations.

    I'm pretty sure our horses like downtime too.

    I've often wished that I could throw the boys out in a giant pasture for the hottest part of the summer and we could all have a nice summer vacay. Maybe someday!

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  6. I completely get you on this. Now with 9 equines and a small business to manage, not everybody gets worked as much as they should and sometimes I just don't feel like working them even when I do have time. And that's okay. There is no reason to feel guilty about it as long as they're being fed and are happy.

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  7. Fellow Indian-ian here (random fact, I rode with your barn owner's daughter in college for a hot second) and I had that mentality during the time that I got burned out. I was riding 5 - 6 days a week anywhere from 45 minutes to over two hours a day for about almost two years.

    And I didn't dare think about not "loving" every second of it. After it all went away (out of my control) I felt sick over being relieved about it, until it had been several months gone by without riding.

    Then in college I was able to ride once a week and a little more frequently some summers. And now it's been over a year again (unless you count a pony ride at the Hoosier Horse Fair in April - yes, I was that desperate haha) and my whole perspective on riding has changed. I used to want to be a prelim eventer or show jumper or whatever, but honestly I don't know if I'll ever want that because riding and horses themselves have become much more valuable - in the future I'll do what's enjoyable/challenging, and if it becomes something I have to remind myself to do, I'm not doing it for its own sake.

    I don't judge those that compete however! If someone's (or if I am) in the place to do that and enjoy it, go forth! In a way, I'm thankful that I've had so much inconsistency in my riding resources, because pretty much any opportunity to ride now is the highlight of my week even if it ends up just being a pony ride!

    Basically a long-winded way to say I absolutely agree.

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  8. Thanks for this. It's lovely, and was just the reminder I need.

    Also: https://www.reequinesaddles.com/collections/saddles/products/devoucoux-dressage-saddle

    I think that's a wide tree? It's spendier than the last one I found, but I can't resist looking when I come across one.

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  9. I feel ya. Every once in a while I just don't feel like riding. So I don't push it and allow myself the break. I come back in a week or 2 missing it and ready to jump back in.

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  10. Great post!

    Maybe it is me getting older, but I have totally embraced and accepted that I do what I can do, and I don't feel guilty about the rest. I'm an amateur. I do this for fun. I refuse to make myself feel guilty about it anymore. If it slows our progression, so what? My horse certainly doesn't care.

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  11. Yes yes yes. This x 100. This post resonates with me SO MUCH right now.

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  12. I love this post.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It IS such a taboo topic, but sometimes you just need a break.

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  13. :p No one judges me for not wanting to ride C.

    Wait. Different problem.

    But yes, the way horses interact with our lives definitely has to change with us.

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  14. So agree with you! Starting in July, I started riding Tony less and less. August and September I hardly rode at all. I felt guilty that I had this horse that I should be riding, but...I was totally burned out and exhausted. Now that I have Lines, I feel a different kind of guilt- although I am out at the other barn 5 days a week riding, I haven't even sat on Tony in probably 2 months. I feel badly that he is getting neglected, but he's fat and happy and couldn't care less, so I guess I shouldn't feel so guilty.

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  15. Back when I owned Carlos I hated having breaks away, but with Ramone I enjoyed all the mini breaks and I think he did too and it helped towards him being so cool with everything.

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  16. Yes I hate feeling guilty for this :( I do admit that having a broken foot in winter isn't the worst thing. Pony just eats and naps all day and I can focus on myself a little more.

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  17. Everyone needs a break sometimes!! Although I do miss it a lot when im not around horses, my life revolves around them and sure its nice to leave it all for awhile, its good to come back.

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  18. Nothing wrong with a break at all. I always find me and Hampton are refreshed after little breaks. Heals sore muscles and stressed brains. And in Connor's case, he is going to be fit when you jump back on and you can pick right up! :)

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  19. Great post! I know I always feel guilty when I take a break but it's so needed for me at least.

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  20. So true! Burnout is real & everyone needs rest... it can be a hard lesson to learn.

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  21. I feel you. Sometimes a break is just what we need.

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  22. This post came at just the right time for me. I actually took half a day off of work today and was planning on going out to the barn and spending it with Gavin. Then I went to Barnes & Noble, and then to the post office, and then it started snowing and my dog was so cuddly. I felt totally guilty until I remembered that Gavin really wouldn't mind the day off. And that in reality, he never minds. Lucky for you and I, our ponies are the agreeable kind that love you even if you take a little break. On a side note - your house all done up for Christmas looks lovely!

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  23. I frequently check out from riding. Especially when it gets dark and rains and I have no desire to go to my unlit, uncovered barn. That's probably why I make such minuscule progress every years.

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  24. THIS.
    I got burned out for months. I mean, months. After witnessing my mother get into a horrible riding accident and then my horse decided to pick up bucking, I decided to reevaluate. I considered leasing my horse out, that's how burnt I was. I seemed to have picked my passion back up somewhere between mid November and now, and it feels good to be back. Sometimes breaks are amazing; it was nice to have time off and I just forced myself not to worry. I still had to go feed them every day and take care of them, but I forgot about training and stress and just enjoyed life outside of horses. We have to have some sort of identity without them, after all.
    www.baysoverbaes.wordpress.com

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  25. Your beautiful house photos make me what to curl up with a blanket and watch Christmas movies! I wouldn't want to go to the barn either!

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