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Forgetting to Have Fun...

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  • Forgetting to Have Fun...

    I realized something today. I have forgotten how to ride for fun...

    I had one of those, "We are getting nowhere...", rides last night on my coming 5y/o mare.
    We were working on simple excercises that I know she knows yet she was trying every way but the right and easy way to get it done.
    I was so frustrated after several attempts and eventually thought, we are just stressing each other out. Let's quit for today.
    I was so upset after my ride!


    Long story short... my whole life I have just trained greenies and now again after more than two years of training with my current mare I am burning out and have realized I don't really know how to just HAVE FUN with my horse.
    My whole mind set has been, train 'correctly', train, compete, place, rinse, repeat.

    Has anyone ever gone through this?
    How did you make it fun again?
    http://dotstreamming.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    I bought a long yearling gaited horse. I have trained her, and we ride trail. She is coming 7 this year.

    No more of the stuff you describe, which I used to do also. My last "show" horse just died over the summer. I was not riding him at all.

    Now I do all gaited. Fun. I did down size all horses, and stuff.

    I wish I had gone gaited long ago, but was doing what you ARE doing, train train train train rinse and repeat.

    Much more fun on the gaited side. Or perhaps you can get a quiet trained already non-gaited horse if you do not want to go gaited. I had never ridden much gaited so it was new, but not rocket science.

    Comment


    • #3
      Definitely. For me it was getting to ride something other than my horse for awhile. Don't get me wrong I love her and do miss riding her, but she is a major challenge for me and there were many times where I every lesson feeling really discouraged. So my trainer started putting me on other horses. I eventually got to ride a total packer 3'6" jumper who has been helping me remember why this whole jumping thing is fun (and that it doesn't have to be a fight or so hard)!

      And while the feeling of jumping this dude around is not as big of a high as really nailing something with MY horse (where I had really high highs, but then horrible lows), he is just consistently fun and easy-ish which has made a big difference for me. I also get to jump him higher, at heights and fences I never would attempt with my own horse. So there is also some new, added challenge.

      I guess what I'm trying to say is do something that gets you out of the training rut you're in. Decompress a little. Mix it up. Ride a really nice made horse. Trail ride. Try a different horse sport (reining, polo, etc). Heck, take a mini vacation away from horses in general. Just do something different!

      Comment


      • #4
        Yep, been there too. I finally have a horse that is so good-hearted, we don't have to work all the time to keep it together. I love the fact that we can just putz around and really just have fun together. It took me a long time, but I have finally realized it doesn't have to be all work work work, get it right, repeat.

        Comment


        • #5
          It's important to remember what made you wanted to ride in the very beginning; for many of us, when we were kids. "Pony Love," or the thrill, or the smell of the barn, or just enjoying the sensation of moving about on a big, warm, fuzzy animal.

          Ask yourself if you didn't have arbitrary goals and outside validation--ribbons, trophies, approval from a trainer, perhaps; WHAT would you have?

          If the answer is, "maybe nothing," then take a break from riding and see what else is out there that isn't an achievement/stress trip.

          If the answer is, "the relationship with my horse," then drop the other stuff and just enjoy him/her!

          Comment


          • #6
            I had been there – back when I was a working student, full training, full show schedule bla bla.

            Then – I took my horse HOME and had FUN with him. We went on trail rides, we jumped ditches and pompus grass, we went on hunter paces. All the joy of riding returned.

            Now – I have a rising 6 year old who I have owned since she was a weanling. We have some serious FUN – I do not have big show goals, so while I try to concentrate on riding and training correctly, it’s not so serious, and there is NO rush.

            We spend as much time out of the arena as possible (3 -4 days a week, limited by light in the winter) and when we are in the arena, we keep it low stress. BABY steps, I ask for just a little at a time, and ask for more only after that becomes comfortable.

            While this route won’t get us to the top in short order, we have progressed consistently over the years, with minimal frustration on both of our parts.

            For me the keys are – Lots of VARIETY, taking my TIME, keeping it POSITIVE.
            APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Oh thank goodness! I am glad I am not alone.
              My mare is a dream on the flat 99% of the time but when it comes to over fences... one day it is there and it stays for months, then all of a sudden it is gone and we now have problems to deal with. It can be a complete yo-yo with her.

              I have been ingrained that we ride to train and train to compete since I was a kid and I think I am too hard on myself and my horse sometimes.
              I have to remember, "Don't get upset when you get the wrong answer, you need get the wrong answers before you can keep the right answer"


              These are all great replies... I am feeling better by the minute!
              http://dotstreamming.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                part of the roller coaster ride probably also has to do with her being a mare! My mare is a dream in the summer, starts getting witchy in the fall, gets better in the winter, and then is horrible for a month or so when she goes into heat hard for the first time in the spring. Its really hard to work on progressing when you also have to deal with hormones! Oh, and mine is not young. She is 16 this year! I waiver between having total mare love when she's awesome and then vowing to never own one again when she's horrible. Its like an abusive relationship They can just be SO SO brillant when they're good, it keeps me hanging on!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I understand. By October I start to get a bit burned out from teaching, training, showing, etc. So I started taking October as a fun month for my horses. I still teach and work the training horses, but my horses and I just putz. Ride bareback, go on trails, try new things etc. And it works really well for me. Though you should hear the reaction of some people when I say I took the jumpers out bareback in the xc fields for fun.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Oops duplicate post

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You are not alone. Ive trained mostly greenies all my life. Last year I had the chance to ride and show a friend's schoolmaster for several months and I realized how fun I was having. Ive shown tons of horses but showing him was the first time I really had fun showing. Ive ridden other schoolmasters but always felt pressure not to "mess him up". I had no fun riding these horses.

                      Honestly, it made me sad to realize that Ive put so much into this sport and am no longer having fun. I do enjoy training green horses and it is rewarding but has gotten boring and sometime frustrating.

                      I miss the light heart fun I used to have. Galloping, cross-country jumps, bareback, etc. I just dont have a horse I can do that with right now.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I do gymkhana In English gear, and I, personally, don't go faster then a trot. My horse and I do it more for the social atmosphere I guess, he likes just hanging at the rail with the rest of the old gymkhana ponies that are shuffling around their youngins.

                        We're both TOO serious about jumping, and he's an incredibly hard horse to jump and I'm green (I didn't buy him as a jumper prospect!) so frustrations get high with us. This is where fun shows come in handy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Many years ago I was a working student, riding many different horses in mostly dressage schooling (entry level stuff). When I got my own horse, I continued taking lessons on him only. Always trying to improve, getting frustrated over little things. I moved to another barn and continued this with that horse and my next one.

                          I haven't had lessons in many many years. Yeah, my horse is old now, but still full of pep. We boarded at a farm with a trail system and would go out alone all the time----and it was fun! I was always a timid rider outside of a ring but this was fun and interesting for both of us.

                          Now we play in a large 15 acre field (weather permitting) and just school, sightsee, visit ponies next door. I tell myself it makes our rides more interesting for him, but it's for me as well. He goes in a sidepull bridle with no change in communication and I feel so much closer to him now that we enjoy just hanging out together.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I quit lessons at one point because it wasn't fun anymore for me or my horse. I did go back to taking lessons but from a different coach and different format (several lessons in one week, then weeks before the next several lessons in one week). It's easy to forget the fun when you're dealing with a green horse, because you do want to improve and they do backslide for various reasons. It really helps to have a well trained horse to ride as a break.

                            As for making it fun again I did a lot of bareback riding, trail riding, short "work" sessions followed by a trail ride. I found some fun things to do with my horse that involved going places (like hunter paces, or shipping out to ride a trail). I try to hack at minimum once a week, though it can be hard in the winter if the weather doesn't cooperate. I used to try to jump once a week too, though I kind of lost the habit in the last couple of years. My horse enjoyed jumping and was really smart about it. I'd set up some oddball exercise and he'd get it right the second time, perfect by the third, and if I kept going he'd get bored and start to make it interesting (like speed, or changing strides between elements, or tighter turns) and then I'd just have to school the heck out of him to get him to do something he'd already done perfectly. It was fun, if annoying because I didn't get to practice jumping as much as I needed. But our jump schools were about 10 minutes long once we'd warmed up, so we usually went for a hack afterwards.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That is good that you realized you are/were getting burned out. Your horse may also be picking up on your stress level. Do something different for a year, like team penning, or trail riding. A change of scenery/branching out into a different discipline probably will rekindle enthusiasm. Good luck, and keep us posted!
                              Jeanie
                              RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I have a tendency to do that to EVERYTHING (I am constitutionally incapable of being a social dancer, for example) so I could kind of feel it happening with the horse. Moving him was kind of a blessing because not only can I not ride as often I'm not really set up to work an organized training plan, which has resulted in things like just riding all over the property, going in the woods, riding on the road, and doing all the sorts of stuff I used to do with my best friend's QHs when we were kids, before I got old OTTB and lessons and kind of had the fun sucked out of it. It sort of on some level helps that vet thinks he does have arthritic changes that would make jumping less than fun for him, so I don't feel quite as obligated to "do something productive!" but OTOH I like just toodling around playing. I actually feel like getting on the horse instead of feeling guilty if I ride and don't 'accomplish something.'
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by KateKat View Post
                                  part of the roller coaster ride probably also has to do with her being a mare! My mare is a dream in the summer, starts getting witchy in the fall, gets better in the winter, and then is horrible for a month or so when she goes into heat hard for the first time in the spring. Its really hard to work on progressing when you also have to deal with hormones! Oh, and mine is not young. She is 16 this year! I waiver between having total mare love when she's awesome and then vowing to never own one again when she's horrible. Its like an abusive relationship They can just be SO SO brillant when they're good, it keeps me hanging on!
                                  For those having mare issues, Regumate can be a beautiful thing. Been there and done that. It's not just for breeding anymore...especially when a mare thinks every creature walking wants to breed her!
                                  America dialed 911. Donald Trump answered the phone.

                                  Stop pumping money into colleges and start getting ready to earn money in the projected tradesman shortage of 2024. Make Trades Great Again!

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by pryme_thyme View Post
                                    I realized something today. I have forgotten how to ride for fun...

                                    I had one of those, "We are getting nowhere...", rides last night on my coming 5y/o mare.
                                    We were working on simple excercises that I know she knows yet she was trying every way but the right and easy way to get it done.
                                    I was so frustrated after several attempts and eventually thought, we are just stressing each other out. Let's quit for today.
                                    I was so upset after my ride!


                                    Long story short... my whole life I have just trained greenies and now again after more than two years of training with my current mare I am burning out and have realized I don't really know how to just HAVE FUN with my horse.
                                    My whole mind set has been, train 'correctly', train, compete, place, rinse, repeat.

                                    Has anyone ever gone through this?
                                    How did you make it fun again?
                                    Yup, I used to do this with my QH. I wanted to be an eventer. So most days I would work on dressage (since he is a fantastic jumper) and after every ride I would be ready to cry. One day we were doing a 20 m canter circle and my horse just stopped. I mean canter to sliding stop, I got thrown onto his neck and he gave a little hoppy buck. So I finally realized we were both miserable, and I stopped riding. For a few months we worked on ground work. I taught him tricks, we handwalked on trails, free lunged, etc.
                                    Then one day I just got back on and we went on a trail ride. He was so happy on the trails, and so was I. It was FUN! We galloped, and jumped some logs, and pushed through low hanging branches and over logs and down hills, through water, mud, ditches, etc. I was smiling, my horse was walking with his ears forward, and I never looked back. Once in a while I still work in the ring, doing dressage work, but most of the time we hit the trails. I'm in love with it, I love the adventure, the excitement, the idea of going somewhere on my horse. I can ride to friends farms, visit neighbors, explore areas I didn't know existed. In muddy conditions its not very fun, I pretty much gave my horse the winter off, but hey, it's better than having a horse trying to kill me as we work on dressage.

                                    And I mean, my horse LOVES IT. We go to a new place and he's literally dragging me towards the trails. He just gets that "let's go, NOW lady" attitude and I just smile and I'm like okay. He takes care of me on the trails, rarely does he spook, and it's nothing like when he used to spook in the ring. Ring spook consisted of seeing an imaginary object, and doing his best impression of a rodeo horse. Trail spook is when a deer jumps out in front of him and he side steps a few steps. My friends all comment on how happy he looks on the trails. He loves to lead. I swear he is so proud of himself when he tackles a "complicated" obstacle like a bridge or odd water crossing. He literally shows off on the trail. ok maybe I'm exaggerating but you get the picture.

                                    Obviously I'm passionate about what I do now, no it isn't as thrilling as galloping over 3 ft fences, but man is it rewarding and fun. But my point is that you need to find a discipline that makes you want to ride. Training greenies is rewarding to some, but not everybody. So think, if you could ride any horse right now, whether it be a gp jumper, dressage horse, a reining or cutting horse, or just a pokey trail pony, what would it be? And go for it!!
                                    come what may

                                    Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

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