By April Ray-Peterson
As someone who always thinks that she wants downtime, I am surprisingly terrible at it when it does come knocking on my door. Especially when it comes to riding.
Over the last season, there was the odd occasion when riding felt like a chore. Now I hate to admit that when so many people out there would kill to be able to ride on a daily basis, or even at all. Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky I am. But I do work hard to be able to keep my horse, which often means I get to her at the end of a long and sometimes challenging day.
After our last horse show in August, my mare, Fire, came down with a bug that was working its way through the barn. Symptoms included a fever, stocky legs, and general lethargy. I gave her a week off after trying to ride her and finding that she was feeling so rough I could barely get her to trot, let alone canter. I did, however, take her out every day to try to get the swelling in her legs to go down and just give her (and me) something to do. It was refreshing to be able to spend time with her without an agenda – no horse show to prepare for, no stress, no worries at all. It gave me a chance to reflect on the past year and make plans for the next. But it also allowed me to spend some quality time with my horse and just be still and relaxed about it all.
We came back to work slowly, trying to keep some of that relaxation in our program while still meeting training goals and getting things accomplished. Sometimes all it takes is taking the pressure off to realize it didn’t really need to be there in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in the “need to do” habit. I need to do this, and need to be that, and need to accomplish something. But I really don’t. Ultimately, I just want a happy and healthy horse, and to be a happy and healthy individual, whatever that means for both of us. All work and no play make for a miserable horse and human.
“Relax, Recharge and Reflect. Sometimes it’s OK to do nothing.”
― Izey Victoria Odiase
Photo: Farfel, Fetch! Photography