I'm at a point in my life where everything is just going to get busier and my riding time is slipping away. I'm a full time student, work part time, chairperson of a premed chapter at my university, etc. and lately I've only been able to squeeze in two days of riding a week, (though I usually get to ride 4+ horses per time). I'm applying to medical/grad schools this June and will be working in a biomedical research lab full time, out of state, all summer. I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to ride while in college; however, I feel that time is coming to an end.
So my question is, if you took a riding hiatus, did you ever make it back like you planned to? If you have a professional career, how long did it take you to be able to start riding again?
I've had to quit riding several times throughout my life (for various reasons) and I have always seemed to come back to it. Most recently, while I was finishing university and getting started in my career, riding was just not feasible. Once I was a little more established, I found it relatively simple to carve out the time and, just as importantly, fund riding. All said, it took me about 9 months after I started my career to get started again.
I took off 16 years between late HS (needed to focus on studies to get college scholarships) + college + residency training + 1st job where the hours were quite long and was living in a big city. I always knew my goal was to get back to riding but at times it was very painful/sad to want something so badly that I just couldn't make happen at the time. It makes it all the more sweet now that it is part of my life again.
I quit while in college. After graduation then boyfriend/now husband and I promptly moved 3,000 miles from all our family and friends for his job. I informed him that if I was going to live in a god-forsaken desert for the forseeable future, I was going to buy a horse. 6 months later, I did and have not been horseless in the 14 years since.
Don't be afraid to take a break if it is the smart choice for your current situation. Horse people always find their way back to horses.
I have a big story about this. After riding to age 33 (some of it professionally) I gave it up and went to law school, then got married, started a law practice, and had a family. Never really considered going back to it. I did not so much as smell a horse for 20 years, and thought that part of my life was just over. Then my dear brother suffered from and eventually died of cancer at age 51. When he died I resolved to not live an unfinished life, and to reclaim my passion. I had not even told my husband I wanted to ride again, but within days, he came home and told me the mother of one of his students had a horse she was not riding and suggested I come to the barn and give it a try. Planets align! Little did I know my brother had a small life insurance policy and he left the money to me; just enough to buy a nice horse and get set up with new tack, clothes and gear. Planets further aligned! It's been almost 5 years since I started again. Kids have gone to college and I can make the time for it. Every day that I ride is a gift from my brother in Heaven and I'm grateful that something so wonderful came out of the worst thing that ever happened to me. And is is NOT like that bicycle they talk about; you do forget and have to learn all over again, this time with 50-something year-old knees and hips. But it's great! I'll never stop again!
I chose to stop riding for about two years during the first part of my PhD program. I was miserable; I'd only ever known life with horses, and adjusting to non-horsey life was difficult. I'm glad I did, because while I was in the course work phase of the PhD, I wasn't able to see my horse at all. Immediately after completing my course work, I purchased a horse again. Now I'm finishing my dissertation, and have three! I love it: I think they're keeping me sane ... and they're definitely keeping me happy
On a related note: spending two years horseless refreshed my love of the sport, and I appreciate every single minute I spend with my equine family.
I rode up until I went to college, albeit at a very small level, and then had to give it up for cost. With how horse crazy I was, it's surprising that I was able to give it up fairly easily.
It took me 12 years to get back to riding at age 30, bought my first ever horse at 32 and haven't looked back. That's one of the great things about this sport, you can do it for a lifetime in some form or another.
My only real issues are that riding is different as an adult. I am SOOOO thankful that I learned as a kid because I can't imagine the fear level of an adult beginner. To twist a quote from Downton Abbey: "Riding is like love or speaking French. If you don't learn it young, it's hard to get the trick of it later." (quote is really about love being like riding or french, but that's not why it stuck with me )
Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"
I quit riding for 10+ years. It's taken me a year to get back to feeling comfortable with the basics (w-t-c-small jumps) and I'm hoping it doesn't take me more than another year to get back to where I was before (a lot more than I'm doing now) but I'm in it for the long haul.
If you're headed to med school, be prepared to not have much time for much of anything from day one, through taking your steps, the match, residency and fellowship if you choose to do one. If you're serious about getting back to riding after all of that, it would be wise to think about what specialties/subspecialties will give you the time you need down the road and start getting your extracurricular stuff/research/electives geared towards that immediately.
That being said, I know people who rode through med school and one who rode through residency as well. It's not impossible, just very time consuming. Heck, it might even be good practice for a crazy resident's schedule.
My dream from the time I was 2 years old was to have a horse - finally at 14 I got my first horse - horses became my life, my summer job and everything in between. At 22 (1985) I was getting marrid and buying a house and starting a family so I choose to sell my horses and everything connected to it.
I never thought I would have a horse again. I took lessons here and there but found it difficult to do "Just a little". It was almost easier to stay away completely.
Then in 2004 (almost 20 years) we were going to visit a client of mine that owned a dude ranch. I thought I should get my sons aquainted to horses (they played hockey, golf, tennis, soccer and baseball). So I took them to a local eventing barn (owned by someone I knew) and all three of us started taking lessons. You should see us now. I have a homebred doing the 6 yr old FEI dressage and both boys have young upper level potential event mares.
I've given up riding twice in my life. Once when I was just out of the juniors. I used to catch ride all the time and I seemed to take on one damaged (abused) horse after another trying to help them and it was heartbreaking. I finally scrounged together enough to buy my own jumper but he ended up with a bad case of navicular which wasn't disclosed to me by the vet I bought him from so he got returned. I stopped for 5 years. The second time I quit was after my favorite hunter mare got her brain fried after I loaned her to a friend. I couldn't get her brain right again so she went to another friend of mine and I quit again. In 2012 I turned 50 and I started riding again after 6 years away. Even funnier is that I got my last hunter back and we've been able to work through the brain fry issues so we can show again. If its your passion you'll always come back to it.
I took several breaks, but always came back to it. Once I started my career, I haven't taken a break other than when I broke my ankle...I was off for about two months, then got back on and rode bareback (just piddled around, really) since I had a big boot on my leg that wouldn't fit in a stirrup. It took about 9-12 months before my ankle could function properly again and riding wasn't painful, so I had to take it pretty easy that whole time. that was about 5 years ago though, so it's not nearly as bad now.
Horse crazy from as far back as I can't even remember (e.g. rode a donkey at Yosemite at age 2/3 and that's all I could talk about). Grew up horse crazy in totally non horse family. Finally got first horse at age 13 had him 4 years before I went to college (horse was smaller and I had outgrown him). Plus neither I nor my parents had the money to finance a horse in college. Went without for 20+ years. Bought my second horse at age 45. She was a four year old OTTB off the track and she has been fabulous!!!! I am so happy to be back riding again!!! She will always have a home with me.
5+ years off in a recent season of my life for various reasons...primarily I was keeping up 2 ponies and my aged retired show horse. I think I knew in my heart of hearts that I'd end up riding again but knowing how expensive it would be, etc. I tried to sub all sorts of interests for the horse relationship/riding (it's about so much more than riding). I've had all sorts of opportunities to travel that I usually wouldn't have had the money for, I've met a lot of great people from all walks of life, and I've learned a lot of new skills. i.e. kayaking...who knew??? I love the estuaries of NC and the kayak seemed like a good idea, primarily b/c I could explore and the boat required no care when I wasn't using it. I LOVE yakking!! But it wasn't a horse...
Recently the cosmic tumblers all fell into place and I ended up with a lovely TB mare who will do anything I might ever want to and we just click. The time off gave me an opp to get a new perspective on the whole riding & horse thing. It was a good break...but I'm also really glad it's over with this happy ending!!
I have never totally stopped riding but have had some periods where I rode a lot less. When I went to law school I rode on school breaks the first year and stopped showing. Second and third years I rode 6 days a week, but no shows. When I started practicing I spent 5 years riding twice a week when I was lucky. Now I ride 4-5 times a week usually (not riding this winter because I'm 8 months pregnant right now), have my horses at home but still don't have time to show (I have another young child and it's difficult to spend weekends away). I plan to get back to shows at some point.
You can still keep horses in your life without having them be *everything* the way they are when you are a teen. Frankly you are unlikely to ever be able to live that way again once you join the real world, so if you want to stay in the game you find a way to make it work with your new reality -- be that job, relationship, family, school, whatever.
I quit riding for 16 years after college, no time and no money. Always knew i'd come back to it, didn't sell my saddle etc Told my husband that he was marrying a horse person even if I didn't ride right then, he understood. Started riding again at 36 and still with it. I don't ride as much as I like because i'm busy with my daughters riding and ponies but I am at the barn every day and I LOVE it. Once a horsewoman, always a horsewoman.
I took a 25 year break, with a few trail rides in there (like less than 5). Got out of it at 17 when my mom said I could either use the car to get to riding lessons, or to see my boyfriend, who did not have a car. Mom was surprised and disappointed when I chose the boyfriend!
I wandered through college and grad school and into one career and out of it and then into a second career. When I was in a PhD program at UC Irvine in 1991-1996, there was a ramshackle boarding stable that bordered the grad student housing, but as a broke grad student I didn't allow myself to even visit it, and firmly turned my head the other way when walking past it.
When I moved to MA, I had a friend with horses who was always trying to get me to ride, and even had a suitable pony (I am short). I was just considering taking her up on it when the pony had to be put down. A few months later, another friend with horses convinced me to take lessons. That was fall of 2006... and I've been hooked ever since! The first friend, once she realized that I actually could ride, was very generous with her time and horses; we hacked out together a lot, I started jumping again, etc. I bought my horse in 2008. Thanks to accidents/physical limitations to both of us, we are confined to low level dressage and trail riding and only the tiniest jumps, but enjoying middle-aged semi-decrepitude together My husband had no idea what he was getting into when we married in 2002, but he has been extremely supportive.
I was always a bit timid as a rider, but was surprised at how much more safety-conscious I was in my early 40s compared to my teens. Also, I was heavier by 40-50 pounds (now by 20), and especially TOP-heavier (went from a "barely a B" to a D cup in those intervening years) so I had to relearn balance. But the muscle memory for riding was still there.
Took over 8 years off, just getting back into it. When I quit I did it as my profession, now I have a good enough job, I'm just one of those ammies at the barn! Both my kids are old enough to come to the barn and stay out of the way, there's just no way I could do it when they were younger.
Check out the reriders thread. A lot of us are in this situation. Personally, I rode quite a lot as a kid and did Pony Club and lower-level eventing all through my youth. I took a riding hiatus of over 20 years while I got married, went to grad school, started my career, and had children. Started up again when my DD wanted riding lessons at age 9. That was 11 years ago. Now I own my own horse again and am loving every minute of it.
I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne