I have been having a really bad stretch (years!) with riding. Honestly, I may be getting close to giving up.
I am really struggling now because riding has really always been the thing in my life to give me a feeling of accomplishment. I have a good job, work with good people, but at work it's like "oh, I'm glad that went well." Not like "oh, what a feeling of exhilaration!" I have a great SO whom I love to pieces, but again it's like "oh, what good luck that we found each other" not like "what a feeling of accomplishment." And all the other things that keep me busy all day -- family, work, barn chores, garden, dog, household chores -- may range from enjoyment to drudgery, but none give the exhilaration or accomplishment that I used to get from riding.
I'm just wondering if anyone else has dealt with this, and how. I know it's not healthy to hinge one's sense of happiness and self worth on riding, but I am really struggling with that. I am wondering if anyone has worked through this problem themselves, either to deal with a bad riding stretch, or to get through quitting riding.
A while ago after a fall off MrBlueMoon's horse, I told MrBlueMoon I'd be perfectly content to never ride, groom, feed, or clean up after another horse as long as I lived. He chuckled and said "OK, honey.... if that's what you want." (He knows me sooooo very well.)
Then a few days later we were discussing his horse who is really a "project horse", and trying to come up with a game plan for working with him, and he asked me if I didn't "do horses" anymore, what would I do....
It took me about 5 seconds to realize what he was saying. Horses and everything that comes with them are so deeply ingrained in me that giving them up completely would be like chopping off my right arm.
I think a lot of the time, we get so caught up in working toward a goal, or showing, or training and reaching benchmarks that we just forget what truly wonderful, healing creatures horses can be for us if we let them. I've decided that I'm happy just riding for the sake of riding, and that I don't have to have a goal to work toward like I did when we were showing horses.
Fast forward to last weekend, we all packed up and went to a groundwork/despooking clinic. I worked directly with the horse and clinician, while MBM hung out at the rail, took pictures, fetched water for me and the horse, asked questions, and generally just encouraged me to push a little bit further, try something else a little bit more difficult, etc. etc. Even after falling off at a trail obstacle where I was looking down to plan the best line of attack and Scout decided to jump it instead, I was able to load myself into the truck at the end of the day and say to him "I FINALLY feel accomplished."
The motivation will certainly come and go, but I have set the goal for me to be this: "I want to be a little bit better today than I was yesterday."
I hit a roadblock a few years ago. I was so gung ho about showing, winning, and constantly bettering myself that I got grumpy and burnt out. I gave lessons, shows, and ring riding in general a break. I started going out on trails, played around with a few different disciplines, and really got into learning all about breeding.
Once I started branching out, and just relaxing a bit, I started to have more 'WOW!' moments. It brought me back to WHY I started riding, and how much I really do enjoy it.
Thanks for the posts. I am not a competition person, and I don't have any extravagant goals. But even the basics are eluding me at this point and more rides than not feel like a complete disaster! But, I hear you - I should try focusing on groundwork more wholeheartedly.
At this point I'm just starting to wish I weren't such a horse addict and could get the same zing, exhilaration, pleasure, from something else in life.
I can really relate to this. I got my mare as a 4 year old off the track and spent a lot of time feeling like I was making no progress at all. Sometimes I'd come home in tears of frustration wondering if I'd made a horrible mistake.
But one thing I'm really glad I did was keep a journal of my work with her and each day's accomplishment (or disastrous setback). And I found when I sat down and read it over after about a year or so that we'd actually come a long way together.
Point being, sometimes we get stuck in the moments and lose sight of the big picture. You may be having a bad spell where "more rides than not feel like a complete disaster" (oh, how I can relate!) but it might help if you try to look at things from a larger perspective. How do things compare now with a year ago? or more? I know it helped me a whole bunch.