Considering giving up riding

CaptainBeaky

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Mar 13, 2016
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This is a really tough post for me to write so please be kind. I've decided to do this somewhere where I can remain anonymous as I don't want any 'real life' horsey people to find out yet.

I'm considering giving up riding. Right now I have a 4yo ex racer of my own, who I've owned for a year and have slowly slowly rebacked and started hacking. Due to being in my final year at uni she had a very easy time of it just being a horse. I also exercise an Irish draught mare for a friend, usually two times a week.

I'm just feeling a bit disillusioned with everything. For years I have been trying to get somewhere with my riding and I feel like I'm going nowhere. I had a beautiful horse on loan for two years (2018-2020) - I loved her to bits even though she wasn't easy, I put hours of work and care into her, schooling her, loving her, rehabbing her for nearly a year after she had an injury, all with the hope that I'd get out competing. I was promised I'd get chance to compete (lifelong dream that has never been possible for me) but this never materialised, then her owner took her away and that was that.

Family circumstance meant I was in a position to buy my ex racer last year. I adore her, she's the sweetest, kindest mare and I've taken everything so carefully with her. I get a little nervous sometimes about riding her out on hacks but I worked super hard to push through it and she was so chilled. We were just getting started riding properly this summer when her physio said she seemed a little sore, so I rested her, did more physio, got the saddle fitter out. She's all good now and I should be back on board making the most of the good weather, but I can't bring myself to do it.

It's not that I'm nervous. I can usually push through that if I am. I just have no motivation. I'm working constantly - I run my own business but it's not quite enough to support myself fully yet so I am working three other part time jobs on top of it. I know I am burnt out, and I am due to begin a masters in September. I normally love getting to ride my friend's horse but even that has been more of a chore than enjoyment for me. I feel like I am going nowhere, I ride her to keep her fit for her owner, who goes out and competes and trains xc and does pleasure rides - stuff I long to do but I can't afford to, I don't have transport, and I don't have a horse who can do that sort of thing yet. I feel like it's always been me putting in work at home with other peoples' horses, to watch them go out and compete. I want to take lessons but can't afford to. I guess I am just feeling stuck with it and like I am not going anywhere.

I also don't get the impression that said horse's owner wants me helping anymore..? I know she likes the help to keep the horse fit but if I tell her what we're up to or send videos she doesn't seem to want to know, and if I make a mistake or forget to tell her something she really gets on at me about it. I also struggle at my yard. I'm autistic so talking to people doesn't come naturally, but it's been made worse by a situation between my partner and her family, who keep their horse at the same yard. I feel judged, and when I do work with my ex racer, people are very quick to comment on what I'm doing wrong, but never have anything nice to say when things go well.

This is a long post and I'm sorry if it's a bit garbled. It's breaking my heart that I no longer seem to have the drive to ride - it used to bring me enormous joy and has helped me as I have battled with depression for years. I used to be itching to get to the yard, but now I don't want to go at all. I'm considering putting my ex racer on another long break and telling my friend that I can no longer ride for her, but I am scared that I'll regret it or cause hard feelings. I am worried that if I tried to explain this to people at the yard that they just wouldn't understand. I don't know what to do for the best anymore. I miss my old loan horse so much, if she was offered to me I'd take her back instantly, but I will never sell my ex racer as I love her too much. I had big hopes for what I could do when I finally bought my own horse and now it feels as though my own mind is betraying me.

Any support would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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I was going to suggest doing what you're already thinking of. Your ex-racer is still young and she will have worked hard from an early age, to me giving her a complete break from riding until next spring seems like a good idea, physically and mentally she can unwind and grow up. You can still bring her in and groom and handle her but it sounds like you'd both benefit from doing nothing more. If the owner of the other horse is making you feel unwanted then politely say that you're going to have to end the arrangement for now because you really are too busy and are even giving your own horse time off because you're struggling to find time on a regular basis. Say thank you so much for the riding you have had and you're sorry to end it and hope it won't upset the friendship.

One thing I will say is don't let yourself get jealous of people who go out competing etc or who have transport. You have a horse that you love, and in the future you may be able to do those things, transport can be hired or you may hit lucky and be able to get a lift with someone. When your business gets off the ground you may well have more time and money to get out and do the things you want, in the meantime appreciate what you do have.
 

Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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All of that ^^^^ plus, don't worry about people judging and criticising - we've all been there on yards. Just do what you want, cherry pick the constructive advice, and ignore the rest.
 
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Doodle92

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Apr 6, 2021
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I also agree. I think you say to the owner the truth that you are just too busy just now so you will be unable to carry on riding. Stress you are starting your masters and so you will be even more busy rather than you don’t want to ride/feel unappreciated. You could always say something like “maybe next summer when things have settled down again I may have more time”. That way you are not closing any doors.

Give your mare some time off. She won’t care. You can bring in for a pamper and a groom when you have time but won’t feel you have to ride.

I think all yards are the same. My horse was really ill this winter and everyone had an opinion on what I should do, they usually varies wildly. It is really hard to ignore so I tend to just nod and agree and move on. Or if need be move yards.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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I'd agree with @carthorse, but also to add, a lot of us loose our MoJo from time to time. For no good reason riding just doesn't give you the warm fuzzy it once did, the best bet usually is to take the pressure off yourself and tall yourself it's ok to have some time out and then one day you find yourself wanting to go ride again and you do and it's back.
 
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CaptainBeaky

New Member
Mar 13, 2016
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Thank you everybody for your replies. Following your advice I have spoken with the owner of the ID mare and she's happy for me to take a step back for a while, but seemed equally keen to keep me on board and said she won't replace me with anyone, so that's reassuring. I've said I'll still do one day a week for her and see how it goes.

I've also decided to take the pressure off myself with my ex racer and am already feeling happier. I went down to feed / poo pick earlier and it was just much nicer to be able to enjoy her as she is and not be beating myself up or feeling guilty about her not doing much. She seems happy enough so that's lovely to see.

Thank you again for your advice :)
 
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