Getting Back To It After a Break

I am back at work this week after having most of last month off and enjoying two trips away. Fortunately, I feel refreshed and am raring to go with my work to help riders to make the most of their opportunities with a confident and resilient mindset.

This makes me think about work I’ve done over the years which has helped many riders to get back into the sport after a break. That break may have been for many reasons. Whatever the reason for the break the principles are the same when returning to riding so I hope this helps.

So, you’ve had a break from riding and are re-starting or looking to re-start soon.  There may be many reasons for your break, perhaps you’ve recently had a baby or maybe you used to ride in the past and life took you on a different path for some time and now you’re getting the urge to be back on horseback.  It could be that you rode for some time and your horses got too old to be ridden and you thought you’d moved onto a different phase of your life but then just missed it too much to give up.   Whatever your reason I hope you feel excited about re-starting this wonderful sport and are looking forward to having many new experiences on horseback.

There will, undoubtedly, be some riders who just simply get back on and ride away without giving it a second thought but, I suspect, there are many more who experience some anxiety or self doubt at this stage of their riding life and this is perfectly natural.  So, if this is what you are experiencing then you are most definitely not alone.

There are two main things I’d like to focus on firstly your past experience and secondly looking at where you are right now as you begin riding again.

When you’re thinking of getting back on a horse it’s common to think and feel that you have lost skills, both mental skills and technical riding skills.  However, this really isn’t the case.  All of your past riding experience is still there, much of what you do will be almost instinctive due to muscle memory and having developed an unconscious ability to know what to do with and on a horse.  Of course, you may feel pretty rusty and have lost some physical strength and balance but that will return pretty quickly once you get going.  So, do give yourself credit for all that you have done in the past, it may be a little bit hidden at the moment but scratch the surface and you’ll find it’s still there.

One of the best things you can do at this stage is to work out where you are now i.e. today or the day you are getting back on a horse. This is your starting point and the place you can move forward from.  Looking at your strengths and challenges is a useful exercise and I suggest writing them down as this will help you to formulate a statement of where you are.

For example you may have the strengths of many years of experience, a nice horse to ride and a supportive family.  Your challenges could be limited free time and a lack of physical fitness. Once you have your list of strengths and challenges then you can make your statement and will know where you are now and what you need to work on in the immediate/short term. Everybody’s strengths and challenges will be different so take some time with this exercise and write your lists down so that you can refer back to them regularly and update them as necessary.

Giving yourself credit for all of your previous riding and deciding where you are right now will help you to avoid the feeling of “I can’t do it anymore” or “But, I used to be able to do it”.  Your use of language in your self-talk and when speaking to others is critical in helping to determine how you will feel about your riding. Change the above phrases to something along the lines of “I’m unsure about my skills at the moment but I’m looking forward to regaining competence and learning new things” and “I’ve done it in the past so I’m looking forward to doing it again in the future”.

Our lives are dynamic and constantly changing and that is part of the fun of it all and with a bit of hard work you will soon be enjoying riding again.

If you need help with the mental side of horse riding then I would be happy to help you. I work both face:face AND online so it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. You can contact me here.

If you are looking for a coach to help with your riding skills then I have many excellent coaching contacts and will be able to advise you.