Things are moving fast. There is an energy that seems blended with so much of what is happening right now, and it is not beneficial energy. So, what can you, as an equestrian, do to get through this with grace and compassion?
Quite a few things actually. Here are a few suggestions you can try over the coming weeks…
I have yet to find anything as beneficial as a loud and intentional exhale when it all is feeling just too much to deal with and handle. It works on the ground and in the saddle. In fact, it even works for ‘non-horse’ related stuff. If you are feeling overwhelmed over the coming days, weeks and months, try a loud exhale.
2. Be Present with Your Horse
Yesterday morning I was in the house feeling all the feels. Anxiety, worry, concern, stress, pressure. You name it as a negative emotion and I can bet I felt it in some form or another.
And then I opened the door and stepped outside.
The birds were still flying and singing. And the butterflies were still ‘fluttering by’. The flowers were still blooming. I walked over to one of the horses and just stood there beside her. Not asking anything. Nor expecting anything. Just present.
Within seconds, I felt grounded. I also felt that whatever happens life will go on and I felt a renewed sense of peace knowing that.
3. Realize that ‘this too, shall pass’
Yes, your life might look very different after it. In fact, I think that this will touch everyone in some way or another. However, when it has passed, you will find yourself picking up where you left off. You can use this time, right now, to begin preparing for that. Working on yourself so that you can reach that point in the best possible condition you can be in so that you will thrive.
4. Ask yourself ‘What Can I Do Right Now?’
There is always something to be done. I am a firm believer in that. Even if that ‘thing’ is not a physical thing, you can work on conditioning your mind. Your thoughts and beliefs. Or you can work on conditioning your body; so that when the time comes to get back to ‘regular life’ you are feeling great and ready to go.
Riding is the same, even when you cannot ride, there are a lot of different things you can do to improve your skills when you do get back in the saddle. Fitness programs, understanding the training scale better, or identifying your shortcomings when it comes to the basics are just a few things.
The same goes for when you are in the saddle, even if you are riding alone. What can you do? Ask it and see what ideas it sparks in you…
5. Look for the ‘opportunities’ this new situation brings
Okay, so I get that this might feel like a stretch right now, but bear with me! Have you ever noticed how you will continue to do something a certain way, habitually, until something happens that stops you? It is only when you can’t do it the ‘habit way’ anymore, that you begin exploring other ways to get the thing done.
In fact, it is true that it is only when we are actually prevented from doing the thing a certain way, that we discover better ways.
This can happen in your riding as well. It could be a new instructor or trainer. Maybe riding a different horse. Or even learning online rather than in person.
6. Who Can You Support & Who Can Support You?
One of the paradoxes of this situation is that we need to, perhaps more than ever, come together as a community in order to help each other. And yet, we cannot physically do this. Mental and emotional support is just as important in life. Right now, it is even more so.
Can you use your phone to video another rider working in the arena and then share the video with them via an app or social media channel?
When we are working alone, it can often feel like working in the dark. This will help the rider to see what they can work on. You can then ask the rider to do the same for you. “You video me (using your own phone) and I’ll video you (using my own phone)”. Then share, share and share some more!
7. Get Intentional About Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing
I can guarantee you that there are things you are doing in your riding, the very next time you get into the saddle, that are not serving you. They possibly did at some point, however, you have grown as a rider, and now your habits need to catch up!
Riding alone is a great time to really ask ‘why’ you are doing each individual thing. It allows you to become mindful of your actions.
If you are unable to ride right now, I am going to suggest spending some time learning about how you could, potentially, improve what you are doing in the saddle. If you are more novice, find clarity around the basics. A more experienced rider can brush up on how to implement and use the training scale to develop both themselves and their horse.
You can also do this using groundwork and lunging. Be mindful of every move you make; and begin experimenting with improving your aids and actions.
8. Study Yourself as a Rider
If you are confined to your house or unable to visit your horse at the barn, I am going to suggest investing some time learning about you and your riding. Get out all of the photos and videos of you in the saddle. Begin looking for patterns.
Notice a twist in your body, or a slouching through your shoulders. It could be dropping your inside hand or swinging your lower leg.
Once you begin seeing the ‘things’ (and we all have them), you can then begin matching them up with what is actually happening in the saddle. Your horse falling in or out for example. Or hollowness through your horses back.
Make a list of the things that you are committing to changing or replacing when you do get back in the saddle. Then create a plan to make that happen.
9. Continue to Move Forward
Life is going to carry on. Right now, we just have to adapt to how we are doing things in order to continue to make progress. Bemoaning the fact that things have changed will not undo what has happened. In fact, it will only serve to keep you stuck in that negative place.
Find ways to move. Physically and mentally. Explore new things and new ways of doing old things.
Connect with other equestrians and riders for ideas and to help inspire new thoughts. Enroll in an online program or course to help move you forward. Begin a workout plan! Do what suits you, but commit to moving forward.
10, Follow a Plan
If you are feeling a little lost in the arena. If your coach or trainer is no longer able to work with you and you’re feeling bewildered about what to do, HERE IS A WEEKS PLAN FOR YOU. It is free and it will suit most riders, regardless of experience or circumstance.
I’m also inviting you to join my online community of equestrians to connect with other riders. I give pieces of training in there and will be jumping in daily throughout this crisis to help and support where I can.
We can get through this. All will be well again. Maybe not immediately, but someday.
In the meantime, keep moving forward, and, more importantly, keep well