Have you ever noticed the feelings that come up when you return to a place which you have not visited since childhood. There is almost always that feeling of familiarity, blended with the realisation that things have changed. Somethings are gone, somethings are new, and yet the essence of your original memory remains.
Returning to riding is a little like this. It all feels familiar, but at the same time it also feels different. You know how things should feel, and they do still feel that way, but at the same time, there are subtle differences.
The question is, does this mean that riding itself has changed? Or is the riding the one constant and its rather everything else surrounding it that is different?
Now, and this may be a little controversial, I believe riding is riding, is riding, is riding…
Meaning that I think the riding remains the constant, it is everything else that can change. I will explain more about this a little later, but here are a few ways to ease your transition back into the saddle.
1. Be open to new things
I truly believe that the type of mindset at which you approach getting back into the saddle will very often dictate the experience, and later success, you have.
One of the biggest ways that your mindset can hold you back when you do get back in the saddle is by being closed. Expecting things to be ‘just as they were’ when you initially stopped riding. But remember, life has gone on, for you and also for your horse, the riding school, even the tracks and trails that you ride on.
2. Realise there are ‘Cycles’ at play
Assuming everything will be just as it was before you left is only going to set you up for a fall. It is also worth remembering that, not only has time passed, but different ideas and ways have now cycled around.
Equestrian sport, like all sports, has cycles. Methods of doing things are tweaked over the years, different equipment comes in and out of fashion. Different ideas get to have their 15 minutes of fame, so to speak…
However, regardless of the changes, keep in mind that the basics will remain the same. The foundation itself does not change, it is just the exterior that gets a little ‘update’ from time to time.
If you are open to the changes that naturally happen and occur, you won’t become frustrated and will be able to see the bigger picture.
This is comforting to keep in mind as it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the same foundation still exists. Very often riders believe they ‘know nothing’ anymore… This is simply not true at all.
3. Prepare to Learn
Depending on how long you have been out of the saddle, you may feel a little like your knowledge is now ‘dated’ or ‘irrelevant’. Horses have been horses long before you began riding and they will continue to be long after you have hung up your boots.
The fact that you have ridden before means that you know something about horses and how to ride. The ‘bells and whistles’ may have changed, but the ‘nuts and bolts’ remain the same
Take what you already know and build on it. Be open to new suggestions, ways and ideas. This is where doing your homework beforehand is important. Find a community of riders who are interested in similar riding styles as you are and allow yourself to become reacquainted with all things horse.
4. Be clear on your values & your goals
Finally, the group of people you choose will depend on where you want to go with your equestrian journey this time. Do you want to return to the same discipline? Or are you looking to try something new? Do you wish to compete, or remain a ‘pleasure rider’? Is there a particular style of horsemanship you enjoy and want to use?
And also consider the financial and time aspects… How much are you willing to invest of both in your horse riding this time around? Very often the community of people you surround yourself with will influence this as well.
So, Riding is Riding, is Riding, is Riding…
Back to where we originally started. Would you agree with me now that the riding has not changed. It is all the other little things which have changed. I think this is good news for riders who are returning for one simple reason:-
No matter where you are when you do get back into the saddle, you have been at this place before, and therefore it is simply a matter of reacquainting yourself with the landscape again.
The choices you make with regards to training methods, trainers, disciplines, community and all the other different ‘exterior updates’ will all dictate how you move forward from the decision to return to riding again.
However, this is your journey, your landscape, your ‘place’ and you can make it exactly what you want.
Returning to riding is like revisiting that place from your childhood and things being changed… But depending on whether you choose to see the differences with a sense of loss, or with an open-minded curiosity – an adventure of sorts – will very often dictate your end results.
Read the post Returning to Riding – Great Expectations HERE>>
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 :)