They say absence makes the heart grow fonder – and riding horses is no exception to this. Unfortunately, this ‘fondness’ is one of the big reasons many riders, on returning to riding, end up feeling quite underwhelmed very quickly when back in the saddle.
If you have ever had to take a break from riding, planned or not, you will know all about the whole range of feelings and emotions that surface when the time comes to get back into the saddle…
Excitement, joy and sheer unabated happiness tinged with a little anxiety, apprehension and lack of confidence. The good and the not so good emotions mixing together to result in a high of sorts, which usually begins to dissipate quite quickly when your bum actually touches the saddle.
Realising things have changed…
Why? Well, because most riders think they can go straight back to the way things were before. Pick up the reins and just carry on where they left off as though not a day has passed in between.
They fail to allow for the very real fact that they have changed; physically, mentally, emotionally, as a rider – as a person.
Seeing the opportunity…
So, if we cannot ‘go back’ to how things were before, is there any point in continuing on? And is there any hope of recapturing the initial feelings that caused you to become addicted to riding in the first place?
Yes of course there is! In fact, returning to riding might just be the golden opportunity you need to really make the lasting changes you are after in your riding.
So we mentioned the whole ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, but equally as true is ‘out of sight, out of mind’ – particularly where you body is concerned.
Muscle memory and ‘feel’ are very important and necessary tools when it comes to horse riding. Knowing instinctively what to do, and when, is what we are after when it comes to our skills in the saddle.
But very often our ‘muscle memory and feel are, well quite frankly, wrong! We develop bad habits over time. These habits become ingrained in how we ride, sometimes regardless of what we do to try iron them out.
However, when you take a break from riding and then return, your body has literally had the ‘out of sight; out of mind’ experience with what you do in the saddle.
Unfortunately, many riders focus on the lack of control of their body when back in the saddle; rather than being motivated by the options which have suddenly opened up for them…
Becoming a better version of before…
What if those same riders began to see this as their opportunity to restart? Relearn all the aids. Become better at knowing what to do and when. Recommit to learning to ride – and make sure that those old kinks do not appear back in the fabric of their riding.
Returning to riding is daunting for many riders. This is often regardless of how long they have been out of the saddle, or the reasons behind their break in the first place. Nevertheless, rather than becoming frustrated with what you no longer can do, see this as your golden opportunity to iron out any kinks. Then maybe, just maybe, you will finally become the rider you wanted to be.
So, should we have ‘great expectations’ when returning to riding?
Yes, definitely! Though sometimes a slight shift in those expectations is in order – before we frustrate ourselves trying to be the rider we no longer are.
Are you returning to riding? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with it all? I may just have the thing to help you get back into the saddle – and enjoying yourself there again!
With a focus on building a solid foundation, the Successfully Returning to Riding Masterclass will focus on your riding, your fitness and your mindset, overhauling all three to give you the kickstart you are looking for when back in the saddle.
Here’s to making your ‘Returning to Riding’ as enjoyable and successful as you dreamed it would be :)