Can’t Handle This Shit

I had a lesson last Wednesday that I never posted about. Truth be told, it went just fine, but my instructor hit a bit of a chord with me. We were working on slicing fences, i.e. jumping across them diagonally, and we did a few lines of those, plus some small bounce fences. The goal here was to get comfortable lining them up, no biggie.

Over one of the bounce fences, Gracie started pooping. Not cause for concern, but I don’t tend to notice when my horse is pooping. She’s very smooth, so it’s tricky to notice when little things change on her. However, she started pooping before the bounce, and I did notice that she had slowed down a bit. Weird, considering we were halfway through our course and rolling before that. I added more leg, got nothing back, and instead of whamming on her and insisting that she listen to my leg, I did nothing.

At first, my instructor called me out and said that I need to be more decisive about when I put my leg on and I need to mean it when I use it. This really hit me hard that I wasn’t more assertive, so naturally I did some major thinking on this.

At first, I thought it might be because at other barns, I’m usually “that girl” with the “spirited” green horse. Yee haw. Although I don’t mind this, you ride a green horse differently than you ride an experienced show horse. For example, if I were riding a green horse, and he started slowing down, my first instinct is to figure out WHY, not to go slamming on his sides. Maybe he has a legit reason (most likely not, but it’s worth looking into), and so before asserting myself and going crazy, I would typically pause, think about what happened, repeat, and try something different until I figured out the cause and how to solve the problem.

As Gracie is far from inexperienced, my instinct should have been “hey horse, I know you’re distracted by something, but since this isn’t your first rodeo, GTF over it” and to leg her on.

But I didn’t.

I didn’t mention this before, but I left my old job at the end of June. I’ve been feeling a bit out of sync ever since, and for whatever reason, incredibly indecisive. Friends and family even noticed, and I couldn’t figure out why. I recently started a new job, assumed these feelings were simply growing pains, and promptly ignored the issue until now. It’s become very clear that my indecisiveness is a deeper issue, and it’s not just a load of crap (pun intended). I’ve started to work through these issues with a professional now, and it’s been so helpful, but sometimes I end up kicking myself for letting it get so bad that it seeped into my riding career. As an aspiring future barn owner, the last thing I want is to have anything holding me back from those dreams. I’m hoping I can move past this shitty situation (pun pun puns) and not let it affect me this Friday at Culpeper HITS, fingers crossed!

I’m not sure what my overall point is here other than I think it’s important to be a mindful rider as well as a skilled one, and to know when the bad starts to ruin the good. I’ve heard countless stories of ex-horseback riders who just stopped enjoying the sport for “no reason” and never returned, and I think I understand why now. It’s almost as if horseback riding stops being the escape and starts becoming work. Sort of defeats the whole purpose at that point. Just have to keep remembering that I work to ride, I don’t ride to work, and nothing makes me happier than having fun and #killingit in the jumper ring.

You’re mine, Friday.




  1. i’m glad you’re taking the time to pay attention to these feelings and make sense of them. as a rider who dealt with rebuilding after a complete loss of confidence, it definitely resonates – and i agree that being ‘mindful,’ as you say, is critical. hopefully tho it’s just a syndrome of having ridden green horses for so long and needing to re-calibrate for the more broke horses. in any case, good luck!!


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