I showed AQHA all-around (everything from showmanship to hunter under saddle to trail) all throughout my youth. Sold my nice horse when I went to college, spent a year riding reiners on the Auburn equestrian team, but didn't continue because the labs and research and only-offered-at-one-time classes associated with my major left me with too little time. Then I went to law school. I stayed involved throughout my younger sister's show career, going to shows and grooming and keeping in touch with the barn, but I have not ridden regularly in 7 years. I've just finished my first year as an attorney. I'm busy with work and networking, and my trainer's barn is 45 minutes away, but I want to ride.
I'll start out with a weekend day and maybe 2 weekdays per week, after work. No lessons at first, just riding whatever's available at the barn and trying to get some riding muscles back. After a few weeks I'll start taking some lessons, until daylight savings time ends - I'll probably have to cut back to once a week during the winter, because of work. Though I don't know what my plan will be, the lofty goal floating through my head is to do the Rusty Stirrup division at our local hunter show sometime next summer. After that, who knows.
The important part, for me, is that I've let go of the notion that I can't ride unless I'm working my butt off, top of my game, devoting everything to it, striving towards the highest highs. I never enjoyed trail riding, just riding for fun, or riding without some lofty goal in place, like "qualify for the World Championships" or "break this 3yo to walk, trot, and canter by the end of the summer." In short, I'm finally comfortable with having a riding life that pales in comparison to my youth career. I'm sure this is an issue that plenty of working adult riders experience - the feeling that it's not worth doing unless you can be back at the level you were as a junior. I know I'm going to hate how the muscles aren't cooperating with the muscle memory, and how tired I get after 5 minutes, and how I'm practically starting over. But I guess I've missed it too much. So tomorrow, I'm going to ride.
I stayed away for longer than I wanted, mainly because of apprehension that I wouldn't be as good (actually, my thought was that I'd be HORRIBLE, lol). It was a cycle- oh gosh it's been a year since I rode, I'm going to suck, can't go back... Then a few months later, same thing but worse because it'd been a year PLUS a few months...
Finally I realized I didn't have to get on a horse in front of anyone minus my trainer. Didn't 'have to' show or even compete in anyway. I even told myself I didn't have to ride if the weather was too extreme.
I've found I ride much more enthusiastically now than ever before! Those barn days keep me sane. :-)
Have fun, and enjoy it!