A few months ago, I really felt the burden of guilt on my soul… And during that time, my ‘whine’ was fairly constant; “I don’t have time to ride!’ Now, it is not lost on me the fact that I created all of this guilt myself. You see, whenever I was doing one thing, I was feeling like I ‘should’ have been doing something else.
So, when I was with ‘The Boys’ (my children) I felt guilty because I ‘should‘ have been riding. And when I was at the stables and in the saddle, I felt guilty because I wasn’t ‘with‘ the children. When I was working, I seemed to be continually thinking “I need to ride today”. And, then when I was riding I berated myself over my lack of planning to bring a tripod, phone, and mic with me to create some videos for work.
Why is it that, as riders, we can often feel so guilty about riding – or about not riding? And why do so many of us struggle with finding ‘enough’ time to ride?
Making a Decision
So, in order to get past all of this – and quite frankly stop whining – I decided to tackle the mindset issue I’d created for myself. And this all began with making a decision. For me, the question really boiled down to “do I want to ride? Or not?” Now, obviously, there’s no right or wrong answer here… It simply comes down to making a decision based on my longer-term goals and vision. I also committed that I wouldn’t make this decision based on what I felt I ‘should’ do based on the circumstances at the time.
Once I was truly able to decide whether or not I want to actually ride that particular week, I was then able to begin crafting a week that supported that decision, whatever I choose to do.
Also, once I made the decision, I made a commitment to myself to stick with it. Meaning that if I choose “Yes, I do want to ride this week”, I was 100% committed to making this one of the top priorities for my week. And, similarly, if I chose “No, I don’t want to ride this week, ” I was equally as committed to that.
This meant that I didn’t revisit the decision over and over again, second-guessing myself at every available opportunity.
How Often Will I Ride?
So, doing all of that, at this particular time in my life, I decided that most certainly “Yes; I do want to ride this week”. Phew, one thing off my mind and done with. Now, this is where the real work began. And I say ‘work’ because in order to make this a pleasant experience, I believe that there must be a little planning involved here. And a lot of discipline!
The first thing to do was to figure out how important or how much of a priority my riding will be on this week. My schedule is created with the most important things first… So, is riding my horse one of those things?
For me, mealtime with the boys and Dion is a top priority. Also, some ‘quiet time’ in the mornings before everything else starts. I have also recently committed to devoting more time to walking and hiking again. So, this is something I pencil in first in my schedule.
Once all of my ‘top priorities’ are in, I then think about my other responsibilities and commitments. It is easy to say that horse riding will be a top priority. However, if you have responsibilities at work that must be done at a certain time on certain days; I strongly suggest getting those on the calendar first. Otherwise, you will begin to feel that guilt creeping into your riding time again.
So, for the sake of this little ‘experiment’, I committed to creating enough time to ride on 4 days that particular week.
I ideally would have liked 5… However, the season of my life at that point was (and still is) one where things can change at the drop of a hat (hello 2 young children, 2 businesses, and 2 farms; I’m looking at you!). 4 days felt (and usually still feels) manageable, a little bit of a stretch, but doable for me that week.
What Will I Do?
Okay, so once I had 4 days chosen and penciled into my schedule for the coming week, I had to go a little deeper. You see, there is a temptation to think that, at this point, the job has been done. Nope, this is only the halfway point.
In order for the week to mean something for me and my horse, I needed to have an idea of what we would be working on.
At that particular point in time, the weeks leading up to ‘my new week’ had been focused on creating a more established rhythm in the trot. The particular horse I was planning on working with is 5-gaited. And while she only ever displays the normal walk, trot, and canter in the field. She can begin to ‘triple’ when she becomes unbalanced while being ridden. At that point, we were also working on increasing the responsiveness to the seat aids. She had been used in the riding school for some time and quite a few things need some tuning up again!
Knowing what I wanted to work on for the week, I was then able to choose 4 simple exercises that either directly addressed the topics, or complimented them.
I chose a mixture of ground pole exercises and also included some lateral work to help establish and maintain the rhythm. And, I also began tracking how each session went, so I could create some feedback for myself going forward.
Now, for me, this is the final ‘commitment’ I had to make to myself. Being disciplined enough to honestly assess if something is truly a reason or an excuse! Let me explain. So, I’ve mentioned that things are busy. They are now, and they were then. I am pretty sure you are in the same boat, right? And when things are busy, I often find that other things can ‘crop up’. Unexpected things.
Part of having enough time to ride involves honestly assessing these ‘things’ and deciding if they are more important than the commitment you have already made to yourself and your horse.
Obviously, there are certain things like someone becoming ill and needing to be taken to a doctor, vet, or, hospital. I say vet because often it can be our pets that need support and assistance as well. However, an invitation to go for coffee and a chat? Hmmm… That would fall under ‘practice more discipline and say no’ for me! What I decided to do was to actually list the things that, if they showed up, I was okay with changing my riding schedule for. Sick children and sick animals are just two of those things. I have a few more, I’m sure you will too.
By thinking about and planning for my acceptable ‘reasons’ beforehand, it makes it easier to say yes or no during the week. Especially when I may be feeling tired, lazy, or uninspired – and the ‘excuse’ to not ride is a tempting one!
Finally, in order to make this a more enjoyable experience (especially when I was feeling tired and under pressure), I created a few little extras for myself. Sort of like extra ‘clauses’ to help seal the deal! I know, it seems odd. However, I also know myself and I know what is most likely to crop up for me on any given week…
1. I am not allowed to moan or complain about ‘not having enough time to ride’.
I allow myself to question how I can move, rearrange, barter, or reschedule different things in order to create time. Especially if I feel that the schedule I created at the start of the week is not working out as planned.
However, there is absolutely no room for complaining or thinking negatively about the time that I have committed to my riding. There is enough time to ride! That feels good :)
2. I have choosen a groundwork exercise to use, if necessary, in 15 minutes or less
You know as well as I do all about ‘best-laid plans’ and how things can tend to go sideways very easily! So, in order to be prepared for this, I usually know exactly what I will work on with my horse if I do find myself within 20 minutes or so. For me, it usually is based around lunging over ground poles or working on lateral work in hand on the ground.
This way, even if time does feel a little ‘tight’ and restrictive, I can still get some quality work done with my horse. Work that will move us along. I am all about ‘creating stepping stones’ :)
3. Informing my VIPs of my decisions (and asking for support if necessary)
Finally, even though it’s only me and my horse when we are working together… This impacts the rest of my family. I feel that it is important to inform all my VIPs about any decisions and/or commitments that, potentially, impact them. This is a way to work around any potential conflicts that might show up before they actually do. And also, a great way to keep accountable!
In order for me to create enough time to ride and for it to be sustainable, I must make sure that I don’t create resentment toward my riding. Either from me or my close family. If horse riding is to remain fun and exciting, it must also work with my top priorities. And, again, for me, this is my family.
Join me on the Journey…
So, all of that being said, if creating enough time to ride is something you have also felt challenged by, use this template to help you. You can download a free worksheet I’ve created for you to help you make the decisions and plan the rides HERE
For more ‘behind the scenes’ of what I am doing throughout each week, join me inside of Connection. Oh, and you will also get audio horse riding lessons to work on with your horse. Trust me, having something specific to practice (with step-by-step guidance) is half the battle :)
You can also reach out to me on the socials by posting in our FB Group HERE, on Instagram HERE, and on the Strides for Success FB Page HERE. I would love to hear what your decision is and what you’re doing to keep on track…