6 Fantastic Things About Riding in the Evening

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Evening Ride
Snoopy and I celebrated the start of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday by going for a ride at dusk. This photo was taken around 7:20 p.m. No complaints here!

I have, in the past, extolled the virtues of going for a ride in the morning. And I stand by that. But I’m not a morning person and I likely never will be, so I feel it’s also important to celebrate the joy of the evening ride. And what better time than the start of Daylight Saving Time to do so? Here are some reasons why you should cancel your indoor evening plans and embrace the late-day ride.

1. Add an Accomplishment to Your List

Have you ever had one of those days where 5:30 p.m. rolls around and you think, “What did I do all day?” It happens. Sometimes you get bogged down in busywork or putting out small fires and while you’re doing what needs to be done, it’s not nearly as satisfying as crossing a bunch of big tasks off your to-do list. These are the days that you can go to the barn and school your canter transitions or work through the scary driveway puddle or hold your two-point at a trot around the arena until you feel the burn. You’re sure to leave with a sense of accomplishment that the non-barn life just doesn’t always provide.

2. Treat Yo Self

On the other hand, if you’ve had a wildly productive day or accomplished something big*, there’s only one way to celebrate. Enjoy an hour (or two hours, or half an hour) of saddle time to reward yourself for your hard work in your non-barn life.

*When I say “something big,” that’s open to interpretation. Finished your taxes? Great job, go for a ride! Walked past the vending machine this afternoon and didn’t buy a soda? Good work, go for a ride!

3. Unwind

When you’ve had a really busy, stressful day and you just need to spend the evening catching up on housework or work-work, that’s exactly when you need to NOT do that, and instead go ride your horse. You’re not doing anyone any favors by piling stress on top of stress. I always find that when I’m riding, whether it’s a schooling session or a hack on the trail, I don’t think about anything but riding, my horse, and the immediate surroundings. I might go back to thinking about how I need to change my oil, pay my phone bill and schedule my dog’s vet appointment as soon as I get in the car to drive home, but at least my brain got that brief respite to think about nunathat. Bonus: You can’t scroll through your social media feeds while you’re riding (well, you probably could. But don’t.) And we all need a break from that.

Evening Ride

4. Keeping the Brain Engaged

Regarding the previous point, when you’re thinking about your horse and your riding, you are still thinking. You’re not turning your brain off, you’re simply tuning into something that requires focus and concentration and tuning out the nagging stressors of the day. There’s a great American tradition of unwinding at the end of the day by watching The Real Housewives of Wherever, and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that from time to time. But it’s good to have other options.

 

5. Last-Minute Workout

Fitbit-wearing riders are divided as to whether or not the steps counted while on horseback should be included in your daily step count. I’m firmly in the “heck yes they should” camp. And there have been times when an evening visit to the barn just to groom him has become a ride because I realize I’m a few thousand steps shy of my goal. And if you are not shackled by a fitness band, it still feels good to get in that late-day activity. No, a ride won’t undo the effects of a sedentary day, but it will get your heart pumping and fill your lungs with fresh air before the day is done.

6. Go Big, Then Go Home

The early start of Daylight Saving Time creates a magical time of year. It’s still pretty cold (snowing, in fact, as I write this), but there is ample daylight in the evening. That means you can still get out and enjoy a chilly evening ride, put your horse to bed as the sun sets, then go home warm up with a blanket and a cup of tea. This might sound incredibly corny, but also kind of appealing, right? I call it “horsemen’s hygge” and it’s for sure the next big thing in the equestrian world.

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Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com

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