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Riding again after a hiatus

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  • Riding again after a hiatus

    I've never taken a very long break from riding, the longest has been 3 1/2 months for an ankle injury/surgery. The comeback time from that was fairly quick and it didn't take long before I was riding at the level I had been pre-injury.

    This time around, I'm sound and my horse isn't. I haven't ridden in 6 months. More than likely, my mare isn't going to get better and I'm going to be horseless for a while. I'll be starting grad school this fall, and I'm guessing I won't have the extra money for a new horse purchase in the near future!

    For the sake of discussion, lets assume I'm out of the saddle for a total of 3 years and I was a novice level rider before the hiatus. About how long would it take to be back to my current skill level if I was riding multiple times a week and taking regular lessons?

    Would it make a significant different in my comeback time if I was taking infrequent (maybe 1-2 a month) lessons during my off time? For the mental health aspect, I feel like it'll be easier to go 'cold turkey' but if it would make a big difference in how fast I come back, then I'd do it.

    Any thoughts or personal experience? Thanks!
    Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever

  • #2
    For me, even a weekly lesson was not enough for fitness and was worse for my mental health than not riding at all. Each week I would about be in tears over my need to ride more frequently and be working toward something with one horse, so I ended up not riding for years.

    It took me about 3 months of riding 1-5 times/week to start to feel fit... then it rained a whole lot, and I could only ride about once every two weeks as everyone else wanted to ride their horses I had been riding on the few days we could ride. Then I got my horse, and in about 3 weeks of nearly daily riding I started to feel decent again. Almost two months later and I feel like I'm really about there as far as fitness - though I don't feel like I'd be ready to go jump a cross country course fitness-wise.

    My recommendation is that you do pilates, maybe yoga, and keep your abs as strong as possible - my abs have been the #1 problem area for me, and while I don't think you can work all your riding muscles in a gym, take advantage of grad school gym access and do ab work regularly to try to keep strong.

    Sorry to hear about your mare - that's the worst part of horse ownership.
    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by netg View Post
      For me, even a weekly lesson was not enough for fitness and was worse for my mental health than not riding at all. Each week I would about be in tears over my need to ride more frequently and be working toward something with one horse, so I ended up not riding for years.
      Thanks, that's exactly how I'm guessing I'd feel with infrequent lessons. I think it would just be too frustrating and depressing for me!

      Thanks for the advice!
      Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
      If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever


      • #4
        Yoga. It makes such a huge difference. I started doing yoga a year or so before I took up riding again and that excruciating pain just wasn't there. I'm riding once a week and can ride better then I ever could in my 20's.

        It's one of the best things you can do for your riding outside of the saddle.
        Somehow my inner ten year old seems to have stolen my chequebook!



        • #5
          I was off for 2 yrs after a fall related ankle fracture. It's 100% now, and I'm back to riding 3-4 times a week. Yes, as mentioned above, it took about 3 weeks of riding before my muscle memory responded to what my brain thought I could do. So I thought it came back pretty quick.

          Not riding at all while the ankle wasn't capable was better for me also. Just too frustrating and defeating. I agree, do the best you can to stay in shape, then ride again when you can do it justice.
          "Treat people like you want to be treated" Harold Streu, my friend.


          • #6
            I am currently on a break from riding (law school) and this is the second break that I have taken. The first was for about 3 years (I was away at boarding school).

            During the first break, cold turkey was all that I could emotionally handle. I was sure that I didn't want to ride unless I could be back a the level where I was before. I had had some marginal success horse showing and had made a "name" for myself regionally. I was afraid that I would be embarrassed and frustrated if I regressed.

            Eventually I was presented with an opportunity to hack foxhunters for free to keep them fit. It was free and flexible. I started riding again and since it was not competitive (and the horses just needed to go out for long trot sets) I just did it for what it was: a chance to ride again. It actually really helped me to realize why I love riding (it's not the ribbons!).

            I am now on another break because I am living in Boston (not very horsey) and I couldn't handle riding in my budget and schedule during the 1st year of law school. I am planning on riding this summer (I will be living at home where my mare is turned out). I am just going to tool around with my mare, hack, do some flatwork, enjoy her. Next fall I am going to make a commitment to hacking foxhunters again. Riding is my meditation and it's good for my soul.

            This is a long way of saying: taking a break was hard, but the break made me re-evaluate why I love riding and I came back to it with a greater appreciation for it. I am sure that you can quickly get back to where you are now, but imagine that you might also have new and different goals!
            "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant


            • #7
              I totally agree with alot of what is being said. my first year of college i didn't bring my horse. during the first semester i took lessons 2x a week at the school barn..it was HORRIBLE..not that the program was bad but 1)going from eventing to an equtation program where i was never doing things the 'right way' was tough..also it was not enough riding to stay fit so i became frustrated w/ that. i stopped riding entirely during the second semester..way easier..though i still missed it..but like a previous poster said i have apreciated it and been willing to work much harder now than before so it was good in that respect..fitness wise it was horrible..i had been riding 6x week before all of that even with pretty consistent running i still had a tough time getting back into shape...and feeling balanced...granted i was riding a goofy green bean so that probably didnt help... but definitley yoga or strength buidling would help..my advice save the money you would spend on sporadic lessons and enjoy it again when you can commit (but im sure it's different for everyone)


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the advice everyone!
                Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
                If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever


                • #9
                  I took about a 10 year break for college and grad school.

                  During that time I got my "horsey fix" helping out with the local pony club, which led to an occaisional ride, exercising fox hunters.

                  I couldn't give you an exact timetable, but it didn't take long to get back to "where I was" when I started up again for real.

                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                  • #10
                    Are horse in your genetic makeup?

                    Another viewpoint:

                    I couldn't go without horses in some form. They are my sanity and centering point. It is like I am genetically wired for them in my life. It is similar to people who KNOW form an early age that they want to become doctors or opera singers.

                    I was miserable and depressed and couldn't find a substitute for being with horses. I contacted equine vets to find horses to ride. At one point I was at the U of Colorado. Their mascot is a buffalo. I got in touch with the football coaches, who told me who had the horses that wrangled the buffalo. I asked if I could ride with them to exercise the horses. It was an amazing experience to ride near buffalo who were much bigger and nastier than anything I had ever seen. Sure gave me a different perspective on the Plains indians!
                    Intermediate Riding Skills