When I boarded at a great place with fancy horses, talented riders, and an awesome trainer, I too felt self conscious and out of place and would cross my fingers hoping I wouldn't run into anyone. I have a mutt horse, and while I think she's worth her weight in gold, theirs really were! LOL So I'd be dinking around on my 14 3 morgan/arab/QH retired-ish mare and they'd be on these fire breathing dragon type WBs and fancy imports....
I was being totally silly. They were the nicest ladies. Yes, they were better riders than me. Yes, they had nicer horses than me. Yes, they got to take lessons and compete when I could barely afford board. But not one of them was every anything but nice to me and welcoming, and kind to my horse. What my mare didn't have in looks or pedigree she had in personality. Everyone found nice things to say about her.
So I do get it. Especially when I was working myself to death and had a house full every night when I got home.
But now that I'm not working, I feel kind of like Superminion in that I would like to have someone to ride with periodically so I'm not just...there. Alone. Just like I am the rest of the day.
There's nothing wrong with wanting quiet alone time with your horse. But if you're finding that your worries are keeping you from the barn altogether, you might consider the social anxiety angle. I doubt anyone is judging you. Heck, if you chat some of them up, you might find yourself a regular ride.
Hang in there!
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Find the times when the barn is less populated, and go out then. My barn has boarders, lessons, etc and is often very busy, but there are also times when nobody tends to be around. Or you can just do an activity away from others. I like to trail ride out alone, especially when I need time to decompress or think, so when I'm doing that it doesn't matter if there are people around the barn. I groom, tack up, and split.
Also, you worry that people might think you don't have money? Seriously? I don't own a horse and can't afford one. Everybody knows I don't make a lot and that's why I don't have my own horse. I don't get treated differently. No one cares.
I know where you're coming from. When you don't have a horse and everyone at the barn does, it does make you feel like you're not in "the club".
I have mine at home now, but I boarded my horses for years. It's hard not to compare and sometimes you feel like you're being judged...because sometimes you ARE! But I think we'd all be surprised to know how little time most people ever spend thinking about US. On the other hand, learning to ignore it and focus on your own thing is the challenge.
I agree with the suggestions to talk to your trainer about getting quiet alone time with one of the horses. It's so therapeutic. Mine are used to me singing as I clean stalls, and I love bath time when I can just fuss over them and tell them all my tales of woe. People used to think I was nuts when I'd say every year for my birthday I'd ask my husband to take charge of the kids and I'd get to spend the whole day at the barn, bathing, clipping, fussing, primping, riding, hand walking my horse. No deadline, no other people to worry about..just me and my horse. Heaven.
Even when I boarded I'd usually arrange my schedule so there were usually just a couple of people at the barn when I rode. I love to talk about horses, but I want to ride alone.
Thanks guys. I thought I was going to be totally judged for admitting that, but it helps to get it off my chest. I'm riding tomorrow and it's going to be a full barn (my coach said she has "lessons all day".) Sigh. I'm going to ask if I can half-lease her school horse, that way I can go out on non-lesson days and just ride. I don't know if it will be doable with her lesson schedule but it's worth a try. I'm finding out that I need lots of time in the saddle and self confidence before I pursue serious training which is my end goal and passion.
I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo
Are you actually enjoying saddle time? It sounds like you are almost dreading riding. Social anxiety issues aside (I am not a psychologist or dr and do not feel qualified to analyze those!), I would try and schedule a lesson when less people are going out. Is there a friend you feel comfortable around, or a few friends, who you could schedule a lesson with at a "quieter" time?
Also keep in mind that how well you ride says nothing about you as a person. We are all learning, and people who watch you ride usually just want to learn something themselves. Remember they are learning too, you are all in the same boat!
I got nervous at my new barn because everyone likes to turn up during "lesson time" (trainer travels to us so they are usually together) to watch. It's almost like a party, haha. Though I was nervous at first, I quickly got over it. It is fun to have the 'moral support' from the sidelines, and even more fun when someone videos, which they usually do. I've never seen so many videos and pictures of myself riding as I have in the past few months!
"Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
"With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
OP, I think leasing will be great, if you enjoy it. But don't let a lack of confidence keep you from lessons. Lessons are the path to greater learning and confidence!
I hope you can learn to forgive yourself for making the same mistakes the rest of us humans make all the time! I mean, do you really think the rest of us are that great? Because we are not!! Even the best riders started somewhere. The best thing you can do is really just enjoy it, mistakes and all!!
I love the learning process. I get better and better and make fewer and fewer mistakes. But it's a long, fun process!
Just get on and have fun!! And talk to your trainer about leasing, as well as your concerns. I think she can help you with a program that will allow you to learn and still feel relatively comfortable doing it.
My horse is at a small private 4 horse barn. I enjoy my conversations with the owner, but I'm usually on my own and I like it that way. Even when I boarded at a larger barn, I had a few boarder/friends that I'd chat to, but each of us would go off and do our own thing.
Being with my horse is so important to me. It's my special time for myself and our bonding time. People often ask if I do anything special on my birthday or after work and I always say "Yes, I rode my horse, my favorite thing to do".
The OP's first post could have been written by me (with the exception that I do own a horse who is kept at a local boarding facility). Social situations are so hard for me and I feel quite a bit of the same things you do, OP. I LOVE the days when I can get to the barn and I don't see any other cars in the parking lot. Like other posters mentioned, I like to chat to my horse, just hang out with him, putz around cleaning and organizing my tack/supplies, working on whatever I think my gelding and I need to work on without getting in anyone's way or worrying if the far more advanced riders are judging me (I'm highly doubt they are - they have other things they're thinking about than bothering themselves about me -, but I have to admit that the thought creeps in). It's just NICE.
Now, yes, I do enjoy riding with friends and chatting with some of the good friends I've made since I got back into horses as an adult. But I do think of the barn and my time with my horse as my refuge from the stresses of the workday and even home-life. That time is so valuable!
Socializing is a BIG part of my job. I hate socializing. It makes me feel tired and burnt out and stressed. Small talk is a serious effort for me. That being said, I love going and just hanging out with my horse. I love it when I get there and no one is there. I feel guilty turning down riding with people who are scared to hit the trails alone because well...it's not fun to go with them. People usually take away my enjoyment of something, not add to it. There's a handful of people who are the exception!
I'm not a particularly skilled rider but I do try to take it seriously so we don't really "just ride", we tend to work on things. My horse behaves better when were engaged. I like just sitting with my horse in his stall while be alternates between grabbing bites of hay and coming over for me to scratch his dish. I like getting off on the trails and just going for a walk with him in hand back to the barn. I like going off on our own and exploring. I like laying with him and reading, or just being quiet together.
[QUOTE=skydy;6714252]Life is short! You can't spend your time worrying about what other people thinking.
Ditto......who cares what people think! Just go about your business. If I worried about what people thought of me wearing a "tipp style vest" every ride, I prob would never ride my horse and be totally miserable.