Remembering to have fun

For the last few months, the only horse I’ve been riding is Candy. Work kept me busy in the fall, and I was focused on getting Candy ready for hunting. Gina and Moe were being ridden a couple of times a week by their lesson students, so I didn’t feel like I needed to add to their workload.  While riding Candy is exciting and satisfying in its own way, it’s not always that fun. Candy is still very green; she’s not a very confident horse, and she’s a slow learner. Spending a couple of hours trying to sit quietly while she jigs down a trail or attempting to persuade her that ground poles are not horse-eating monsters isn’t my favorite activity. Riding her is often as exasperating as it is enjoyable. That’s not to say she’s a bad horse or that I dislike riding her; on the contrary, I felt so much joy while galloping her out hunting and total satisfaction when she nailed canter to trot transitions in this month’s lesson. She’s just a horse who’s a lot of work, and sometimes that work is frustrating.

As I headed out to the barn yesterday, I realized that I was feeling like riding was something I had to go do. It felt like a chore. Go chase down Candy, see how anxious she’s feeling today, try to have a productive ride while she’s having a panic attack about all the jumps in the outdoor arena. I didn’t want to go ride. So, I decided to saddle up Moe instead of Candy. I haven’t ridden him since his EPM diagnosis, despite him finishing treatment and responding well to it. I’ve seen his lesson students ride him, and he’s looking just as good as ever. I was nervous about getting on him myself, though. I was nervous he would feel off, or different, or just…not like the horse I know and love so much. But I knew that even if Moe did feel unlike himself, it wouldn’t really matter that much. I would have a nice time tooling around on my favorite fat and fuzzy Thoroughbred.

It was super windy!

I shouldn’t have been worried about Moe. Sitting astride his short, narrow body was like settling into a favorite comfortable chair. He marched away from the mounting block feeling enthusiastic and energetic. I had a great ride on him. We didn’t do a lot- after all, he is fat and old and out of shape. We walked and trotted and cantered in a reasonable frame, practiced leg yields, and had an exciting time trotting over the wooden bridge that’s part of the working equitation course. (By “exciting”, I mean Moe trotted up to it, jumped on to the middle of it, and cantered off of it.) It felt really good to ride him- it was fun! And it’s always nice to be around a people-oriented horse, even if he’s constantly mugging for treats.

“more cookies plz”

It was good to remind myself that heading out to the barn shouldn’t feel like a chore. Sure, riding won’t be rainbows and sunshine every day- the struggle is part of the process. But horses ought to bring us happiness, too.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

10 thoughts on “Remembering to have fun”

  1. Mow! We haven’t seen enough of him lately!
    I’ve definitely been in this same spot so many times. It’s so wonderful to have a heart horse hanging around that can remind you of all the good things about riding. I’ve always said getting to sit on Rio feels like coming home. When I got on him for the first time TWO YEARS after his EPM dramatics it was just the most amazing feeling in the world. I’m glad you have that too.

    1. I always feel guilty when I see him sweet face watching me lead Candy into the barn- he always has this “PICK MEEE!!” kind of look! I was glad to get on him, and I’m looking forward to a good year on him.

  2. aw yea, the struggle is part of the process…. but gosh i <3 Moe tho!! so glad he was there to give you that fun familiar and uncomplicated ride!!!

  3. Yes absolutely, sometimes it can feel like a total job and I still show up to those days too. I just always try to remind myself how awesome it is I get the opportunity to ride horses and that I have had some lovely ones in my life.

  4. Moe Moe! I’ve missed his sweet face <3 I'm finding it's really, really nice to have a well-schooled horse you know super well and trust while you're working with a green horse.

  5. I struggle with the same “chore” feeling lately. It’s so important to find the fun in it all. Glad you had such a wonderful ride with your old guy <3

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