BY JAMIE SKUBAL
How many of us have hit a stage in our riding when we just want to give up?
Currently, I’m sitting in the middle of it. Right in the heart of the show season, I have beaten myself up better than an MMA boxer could. Simply because I feel like I am not improving or even riding at the level that I should or my horse deserves.
It’s a blessing and a curse having a great young prospect. He’s wonderful minded, great mover, and a quick learner—then there is me. The one who can’t pull it together enough to sit up straight, put my shoulders back, sink down into my heel and ride him to the base of the fences looking like a train wreck on roller skates.
Everyone around tells me it isn’t so bad, that I don’t ride like I think I do. But lord, do I feel like it! And you know what? It’s time to downright embrace my feelings. You heard me correct folks. embrace it, for one simple reason.
Riding is not a sprint it’s a marathon.
Feeling burnt out, fed up, and depressed when it comes to my riding feels like it happens at least once a year. It might even happen more than that if I’m being honest… But let’s face the fact that many of us get caught up in the drive of competition. Social media is not, I repeat, not our friend in this matter. I have spent hours of work (please never let my boss read this) scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube watching amazing riders. When I compare myself to them, I can’t help but feel inadequate. They are often younger than I am, and way more talented.
In that space, I wanted to hang up my helmet and call it a day. Who am I to think I will ever ride to that level or compete against riders like that? I’m a 27-year-old administrator who works full time, takes lessons once a week if I am lucky, and have a life and a house that require my attention. Can I take lessons daily, ride multiple horses, and show at the biggest shows? No, and that is downright depressing, but what I can do is challenge myself every day to remember that I’m in this for the long haul.
In remembering this isn’t a sprint, I can take my time to accept where I am in my life. That I can continue to grow as a rider. No matter how slow the progress may be, bettering myself still results in progress.
Another amazing blessing that helps me push through wanting to give up on riding is my barn family. Without these men and women in my life I would just throw in the towel. My current barn family shows up at shows, lessons, and hangs out on the weekends. They help and give when someone needs something, and are always there to support in person or via social media. These people support your accomplishments, and pick you up when you fall.
Even more important to me is how riding through my low stage has always helped me as a person. I have grown to be independent and self-sufficient. Because of riding, I can battle any mental war I start with myself, and be the first to push back against gloomy feelings. Through riding, I’ve found my herd. And I bet that somewhere down in the sand, there is someone out there who needs to hear that they can push through these hard feelings too.
When you feel like giving up on your riding and on yourself, ride through it. These low moments are just an obstacle on a cross-country course that will fly over into the sun if you just keep your leg on and keep riding.
So the next time you feel that beaten feeling don’t throw in the towel. Keep riding and remember this is just a ditch before the finish line!
Jamie is a horse enthusiast who does administrative activities, in that order. Jamie is passionate about sharing the horse industry with the world. You can follow her adventures on instagram and her personal blog.