You’ve worked extra hard towards accomplishing a goal- be that a competition, proving yourself in a clinic or lesson, finally struggling through trailer loading practice, and more. And after drilling yourself and your horse through the exercises, you’re ready for a mental break.
So what do you do?
Do you unwind with a trail ride? Ghost your horse for a few days? Break up dressage with a little jumping? Or what?
For me, trail riding generally induces clutching the saddle in a fetal position, or reaching for the nearest bottle of wine. And with eventing, it’s hard to just walk away for a few days and sacrifice any loss of basic fitness (more so in myself than the horse!). So my mental relief for myself and my horse tends to come in the form of stretchy days. Basic suppling exercises in dressage make me more calm with their repetitiveness and knowing that they are easy to accomplish for both of us, and of course the horse gets the benefit of stretching their topline and loosening up his back. If we get bored, we throw in a cross rail for fun, but typically nothing more. It’s just a fun, low-key way to take a step back for us.
What about you? What’s your way of taking a step back from the daily grind? What do you find to benefit you most? What does your horse most enjoy?
Funny you mention this- we just had a total decompression day this weekend! We had a game day that involved us flatting around on the buckle and popping over a few tiny jumps- all while holding a glass of wine. Frankie seemed really happy to stretch and not have to perform at a high level, and I felt so refreshed having the chance to just have fun with my horse. No worries, no pressure, just having a good time.
Of course, we can’t do a game day every time we need a break (I wish). More and more I’ve been taking the trail ride route when we need a break- it used to terrify me, but I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable taking Frankie out. We also get the benefit of some built in hill-work on our loop, so I still feel like we’re getting a good workout even though we’re both relaxed.
We have a big field at the farm where we can go ride. When we’ve had too many arena rides or lessons, it’s the perfect place to go for a gallop in the grass (and also has the benefit of being a great place for fitness work!). It gets both me and the horse out of our arena rut and I think it’s fun for both of us.
Post horse show Rio gets 2 days off (3 if it’s a week long show). After that we usually spend the next 2 days doing something we consider easy, such as a 20 minute flat work session where I don’t demand anything we have been struggling with. We also like to finish our rides with a lap or 2 around the 17 acre pasture. That’s basically it! After that we are back to work as long as he’s feeling good 🙂
aw see i’m a fiend for trail riding, hacking out, and general lolly-gagging around wide open spaces. that had been tricky to do at my recent barn bc the only options were either overly-technical trails (honestly they were ppl trails not horse trails and as such were much too narrow and steep in places) or kinda boring loops around the pasture fence lines. the new farm tho is chock full of fields and wooded trails with broad smooth paths!
Our barn is actually an old racehorse training facility, so we have an awesome track to go ride around. It’s where I do most of my warmups, cool downs and alllll the decompressing. We also have some big fields we can ride in, but it’s been super super buggy here so we’ve been avoiding them.
Trail riding and toodling are our unwinding methods. I also like to just let the horse be a horse and will sometimes give them a few days or a week off of work just to relax and decompress themselves.
Beach ride for sure – somehow riding at the beach is a lot less stressful than a ‘trail ride’ for us
Henry thrives in work and so do it… we both like having a job so I don’t ever wind down … tho when I am prego he gets a vacation- unwanted for sure he hates it