Let’s start off with this pandemic may have been every equestrian’s dream—staying home with our horses all day. Well, except for those of us whose horse life revolves around competing. But either way, now we’re able to stay home and spend extra moments with our favorite animals—which means we’re allowed to let our horses be horses and go back to the roots of why we fell in love with horses.
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As a kid I was the one who spent more time at the barn than I did with my friends. Any moment I could spare with my horses to ride bareback, brush them, or just hang out with them I would. But as I grew older and started competing more, some of those “fun” things went away. Brushing became a chore as I groomed for shows and there wasn’t time to ride bareback if I wanted to be successful in the arena. So, my horse life started to change.
Now, this doesn’t mean I loved my horses any less. They still received treats after a good ride and a lot more pampering than they ever used to receive—iced legs, magnetic sheets, top-of-the-line supplements, days off to relax, and the list could go on forever. But my horses had become my sport. I spent every weekend possible in the arena and every other moment at the barn riding to become a better rider than I was yesterday.
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But thanks to the current pandemic, I haven’t been to a barrel race in two months. My goals for competing have been put on hold. I’m still riding my horses to keep them in shape and experimenting with new drills and equipment, so I’m ready to compete when we’re allowed to again. But I’ve also spent a lot more time riding bareback, grooming, braiding manes, reading in the paddock, and just being silly with my horses—I even started posting “workout” videos with my horses on social media. I find my breaks from work now involve heading to the barn for a quick brush and hug and the barn is where I go after I shut my laptop for the day.
I’ve become a true horse lover again. I rediscovered the reason I fell in love with horses when I was a child. I went back to my roots and I believe it’s the best thing that could have happened to me as an equestrian.
If this is your horse life already, just know I’m envious of you and I wish I would have gone back to your ways a long time ago. I won’t be giving up competing any time soon, but what I will be doing going forward is taking a few days off from riding to reset to a horse-lover’s mindset and remind myself I started riding not because I loved to compete, but because I loved the way it felt when I was loping through a pasture bareback without a care in the world.