What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- Recognise some of the red flags that it may be time to make a decision
- See that holding on to something that is not working, is unfair on you & your horse
Being a team leader for the team that is you and your horse means that, every now and then, you have to step up. Step up and make those types of decisions that are not easy to make. Difficult decisions are part and parcel of life, and one of the most difficult for riders is calling time on their relationship with a particular horse.
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast I chat about how you can more easily recognise when it is time to move on, where your partnership with your horse is concerned.
I think this is an important topic to be addressed, as sometimes riders are ‘shamed’ into remaining with a particular horse long after they should have cut ties.
Many equestrians believe in the ‘forever home’ and, if the circumstances are right, I too believe in this. Our first pony, Holly, was an important part of our family for well over 20 years until she passed away. However, this is just not the case for a lot of riders and this is when a tough decision should at least be considered, if not made.
Sometimes the situation is just not working out, or no longer working out. If this is the case, both you and your horse could benefit from having a different team member to work with going forward.
Here are a few ‘red flags’ that may just indicate this is the case for you with your horse…
The ‘Passion’ and Enjoyment are No Longer There
Horse riding should be enjoyable. Actually, it should be something you are absolutely passionate about. If you think back to when you first began on your journey to becoming a ‘rider’, I can bet that very little stood in your way of getting into the saddle!
There was this excitement present leading up and throughout every single ride. Things like your schedule, the weather and other responsibilities were worked around so that you could make the time to ride.
The more passionate we are about something, the more likely we are to ‘bump’ it up on our list of priorities. Simply put, we make time for the things we love to do.
However, if you find yourself getting into the saddle less and less, that is a definite ‘flag’ regarding how you are feeling about your riding. Horse riding no longer features on the list of your current priorities.
If you are making excuses as to why you can’t ride, do yourself a favour and try to figure out why horse riding is no longer as enjoyable for you – and, possibly, your horse.
You Are No Longer Growing and Developing as a Rider
Maybe you find yourself in the situation where initially, you and your horse were well matched. You were both growing and learning on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. However over time it became obvious that one of you was struggling to ‘keep up’.
When you and your horse become ‘mismatched’, it really does become a challenge for all involved to remain interested in the work being done.
Often a rider will take a horse to as far as the horse can go. Taking the horse further becomes a struggle or challenge for the horse. It requires a monumental effort on the horses part to ‘perform’. Put yourself in the horses shoes here; that cannot be enjoyable on a day in, day out basis!
Being mis-matched is also frustrating for you, the rider. You want to do ‘more’, however you know that it is unfair to keep pushing and asking ‘more’ from your horse…
This can also work the other way, in that the horse can do ‘more’ and the rider either doesn’t want to, or is not able to. In this case, you have to ask yourself is it fair to hold the horse back from reaching his true potential. Especially if the reason you are holding on is a sentimental one…
You and Your Horse Have Different Talents or Interests
We all have different talents. As a rider, you are probably good at specific things. Horses are the same, they often excel at a few specific areas. When we start riding initially, we are generally open to all sorts of disciplines and activities. We ‘test the waters’ with regards to what is possible from the saddle.
However, over time, most riders find themselves focusing more and more on developing their skills in a specific area of riding. They feel more attracted to a specific discipline.
Our horses are the same. They often enjoy doing certain activities more than they do something else. Maybe its going on the trail, or perhaps they prefer to stay in the arena. Maybe they love going cross-country, or they prefer honing their skills in the dressage arena.
Is it fair for either of you to, day in and day out, do something you don’t really enjoy doing? Surely it would be better for all involved to move on, and actually devote your time and attention to doing something you enjoy and are passionate about improving?
If you find yourself here, I feel that making the decision to move on will allow both you and your horse to do what you actually enjoy doing on a daily basis. A win for all involved.
The Decision to Move On Simply Feels Like the Right Thing to Do
This is often the most difficult situation to find yourself in when it comes to making a decision. You might not be quite sure why, but it just feels like the ‘right thing to do.
Imagine if you could take all the other circumstances off the table? How does it feel to just actually make that decision? If it feels like relief or ‘lighter’ – it might just be that it is the right choice.
Things are rarely black and white. How does it feel in your body if you just ‘pretend’ you sold this horse? If it feels good, then I am going to suggest looking into making that a reality for you both.
All Relationships Have Challenges…
The final point I want to leave you with is to keep in mind that, if your relationship with your horse is growing, there will be difficulties. Things will show up. I am in no way suggesting that you sell your horse at the first hint of a challenge!
However, if you have been trying for some time to ‘change’ things. Or you have been merely ‘putting up’ with the situation for any length of time, it may be time to move on.
Keep in mind that if you are feeling this way, there is a good possibility your horse is feeling a similar way.
If we truly have our horses best interests at heart, sometimes making the uncomfortable and difficult decision to move on, is really the best decision for all involved.
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