Question of the Week: Where Did Our Love Go?

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Q: I am an older adult rider. Two years ago I finally bought my dream horse, a wonderful gelding. I had a lot of fun showing him and riding him on the trails. Recently, however, I have no motivation to ride, show or even go to the barn. It’s not a time or money issue, it’s more like riding has become a task. Is this normal? I don’t know what to do!

Woman and Horse

A: Riders of all ages, but especially adults, are prone to creating an idealized vision of what it will be like to own a horse. All of the good aspects of horse ownership are captivating. Who doesn’t want a four-legged best friend? And what could be more invigorating than a glorious ride on a magnificent creature? But when reality sets in—the stress over health and soundness issues, the constant cost of the upkeep, and petty things like personality clashes at the barn—aren’t so glamorous. Be honest with yourself. Were you expecting too much from your relationship with your horse? Were you really prepared for the demands on your lifestyle? A more candid approach to horse ownership may help you realize that the good far outweighs the bad, and that your life benefits from your connection to your horse.

You might also try taking a break from showing. Though you have to be dedicated in order to succeed on the show circuit, the unending scrutiny of your position and your horse’s way of going can steal away some of the sweet, quiet moments we all treasure with our horses. However, if you’re competitive by nature, purely recreational riding might not hold your interest. But there are plenty of intriguing equestrian pursuits to investigate, from drill teams to mounted shooting, arena polo, team penning and extreme cowboy racing. Your current barn buddies may scoff at your burgeoning curiosity, but you might meet an entirely new group of horsey friends along your journey.

Ultimately, though, you have to do what’s best for your horse. If you feel like you can’t provide the attention he deserves, he needs a new caretaker. But don’t be in a rush to sell him. A dream horse only comes along once in a lifetime. Consider leasing him to another rider who would appreciate the opportunity to ride a nice horse while you contemplate all of your options.

–Cindy Hale

Liked this article? Here are others you’ll enjoy:
Get Your Head Together
Overcoming Rider’s Block
Rider Insider: Finding Motivation

12 COMMENTS

  1. Try taking a little Vacation away from the Horse get off the Show circuit take a week or so have someone let the horse out and just stay away for a while. just be prepared to win his heart back again thruogh his stomach. maybe you just need a breather (I do sometimes and I’m only 13)

  2. I totally agree with the answer provided by Cindy. Horse ownership isn’t fun when it becomes stressed for any reason. The love and dedication come easy when you relax and enjoy what you are doing. Stop, Smile deep down inside, and find the love again. That doesn’t mean always riding or practicing. Get to know and enjoy your horse on a stress free level. What ever you do, do for enjoyment, fun, most of all LOVE. That may even mean taking time away from your horse. The reunion will be worth it.

  3. I returned to riding after 15 years off and was having fear issues. I went to a John Lyons clinic and he had a lot of great advice. The one thing he said that got me through those days of not wanting to ride was that it is OK to enjoy your horse where ever you are at the moment. If you enjoy feeding and brushing your horses do it. If you enjoy watching them out in the pasture do it. His advice freed me from feeling like if I wasn’t riding I shouldn’t have the horse. I relaxed and enjoyed feeding and grooming my horse. Then I started taking him for walks. Then riding at the walk. The key was I enjoyed each step along the way, I began riding again and overcame my fear. But it all started by feeling free to enjoy him without pressure to be doing more than what I enjoyed doing at that particular time.

  4. I have experienced lack of motivattion to ride as well. I have 3 horses that reside on my property. My advice is to force yourself to go the barn and just be there with your horse. Work on your ground relationship with him. There is always something to do. Building on the ground relationship with your horse will lead you back to the desire to ride him. If not, you’re spending with him.As John Lyons once said at a clinic I attended was that there is nothing wrong with having a horse for a pet. Spending time with him and building the ground relationship with him will give you a great feeling. Don’t pressure yourself to ride, when you’re ready you will!

  5. well, this is going to be kinda hard-as i love riding! But maybe instead of feeling bad about not wanting to ride-explore other options! Maybe you can train your horse to drive. (Not a car. that would be bad.)Maybe you would finding driving in a cart more invigorating and fun! Don’t force yourself to ride-it’s not good for you or the horse. Just spend time with him. Tell him you still love him by petting him, feeding him, walking him, or just watching him while he plays in the pasture. Don’t force yourself to do anything other than letting your horse know that you still care about him.

  6. Is it only riding that you experience this lack of motivation with, or do you feel that way about other activities as well? If you find that it’s not just the riding, there could be an underlying health problem draining your energy. Just something to think about.

  7. My daughter gave me a great incentive when I had that problem. She said to just go out for a 15 minute visit. Tell yourself that after 15 minutes, if you don’t want to stay, you don’t have to. So far, every visit has lasted more than 15 minutes and a lot of the times, I ride. 🙂

  8. I can relate. I live on camano island and we have 3 horses. One is my mare and the filly baby who is 6, and our retired gelding had me for 5 years. Then I got a job. Well now I work every weekend and they miss me. I work at the crack of dawn until 2pm and the time they get is turnout and nite turn in. On my days off all I want to is sleep. If I had a horse trailer I would be going on trail rides and poker rides. I had a horse trailer but had a very selfish ex husband who made me sell my first horse love all my tack and the trailer had been given to me. Also I live on someone else’s property and we have no covered arena.

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