The Cha-Cha - How I Keep Horse Riding Fun

horse blogs, april ray, relatable rider, blogs by horse riders, blogs about competing with horses
The Relatable Rider

Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster. It is a cha-cha. 

As someone who wants to be an eternal optimist, but at times can be a bit of a pessimist, I have always loved that quote. It’s something I have come back to multiple times along the journey of starting and developing a young horse. And now as my mare, Fire approaches her eighth birthday, I am reminding myself of this little dance once again. If I think back to the last time we were horse showing, we finished on a high… and then a monumental low. Competing in the 1.0-metre jumper ring at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC was a huge learning curve for both of us, and it showed what we needed to work on. After that, I wanted to be more consistent on the flat and to feel like I had a controlled ride. When focusing on this, I found holes and maybe some missteps we had taken along the way. By the end of that year, I decided to move barns and shift my focus. This catapulted Fire and me into a series of changes that brought us to where we are today. 

Looking back on 2020, there have been many steps forward and many steps back. I am focusing on flatwork and pretty much retraining my horse and myself. And that’s okay. By doing this I have found the fun again and look forward to my rides in a way I had lost for some time. I have taken so many steps forward and then many steps back. Just when things were starting to feel solid, and like we were making and holding progress, I had to take a couple of months off. For a while, I worried that I was going to lose all the progress we had worked so hard for. But I believe some time off can be beneficial for both of us, and when we are ready to go back to work, I know all the progress will still be there. 

Sure, it’s going to take a bit of work to get back to where we were after the time off, but I don’t ride horses because it’s easy. I ride them because it’s rewarding and challenging and so many other things. So, I’ve changed my mindset from looking at a break as a hindrance to looking at it as a positive. There is no schedule, no rush, no agenda, other than Fire being happy and healthy, and riding being fun again, which it certainly is. After all, it’s supposed to be fun. Just keep dancing, backwards, forwards, maybe even sideways at times. Cha-cha-cha!

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