How to take a break without feeling guilty

This is for all the non-professional riders out there.

So many riders I know struggle with time and dividing their precious spare time can often be a challenge.

Trying to do everything you ‘should’ is not the answer because in the end you will always be the one who loses out.

So, let’s take a look at how to take the guilt factor out and instead do what’s right for you and your horse.

In our crazy busy lives there is so much to do and never enough time to do it all. Most people have a full time job, family, friends and other commitments that quickly take up every minute of every day. And then of course there are the horses, and we all know how much time they take up. 

It is not just the care of our horses that I am referring too, but also the riding and training time that we put in.

Most riders are training not just for competitions but also for general improvement and when we miss some sessions it generally sets us back. A lot of riders set goals and every set back seems to move these goals further and further away. A never ending cycle.

Disrupting the regular training schedule or taking time out altogether has  consequences and is therefore often connected to feeling guilty as well.

This is the topic I want to address so that we can all make the decisions that are right for us instead of being driven by decisions according on what we ‘should’ be doing.

Start by asking yourself a couple of questions:

  • How important are the competitions to you?
  • How important is the day-to-day riding to you?
  • Are the competitions a vital part of your riding or are they more a social event?
  • What would happen if you missed a competition?
  • How does your horse feel when you don’t ride for a few days?
  • How effective is your riding when you are stressed, and you ride because you feel you have to?

We can often experience extra stress when we are driven by our habits instead of making decisions in the moment.

Most horses are absolutely fine when they have some time off, as long as they have space to move around and they are still being fed and looked after.

If competitions are a vital part of your riding then make sure you schedule in breaks for you and your horse in the off season. Plan around your competitions and adjust other areas of your life that are not so important to you.

If riding is your downtime then adjust your horse time to the things that can’t be adjusted. Give your horse time off if for example if you are super busy at work, have to study or have family priorities.

You ride better when you are able to focus on your horse and you are relaxed.

If you are not going to the Olympics, then you can afford to take a day off!

So, having said that, let’s have a look at guilt.

Guilt comes when we do something that goes against our better judgement and our intuition.

There is real guilt and there is imagined guilt.

The real guilt is when you know that you have done wrong by someone else or by yourself.

The imagined guilt is when you think you have done wrong by someone else without checking how they feel about it.

We often do that with our horses. We feel guilty that we haven’t ridden, or that we haven’t progressed enough without ever checking to see how they feel.

I don’t know about you, but my horses have never complained about a day off nor did they feel depressed when I did not receive a ribbon at a competition!

So, taking pressure off brings back more balance and enjoyment into your riding. After all most of us ride because we love to connect with our horses and connection doesn’t happen when we simply ‘show up’ but rather when we are present.

Happy riding everyone!